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We've been in beta for almost 8 years. A look at Astronomy's vitals on Area 51 shows this:

enter image description here

Our beloved Astronomy SE can't graduate until these issues have been resolved:

  1. We only have 5.3 questions per day, which is on the low end of the "Okay" section.
  2. 90% percent of the questions are answered, so we only need to answer a few more questions (108, to be exact)
  3. Each question only has 1.6 answers on average, while a healthy beta needs at least 2.5.

Do we have any solutions that can solve these problems within a timescale (preferably within the next 2 years)?

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    $\begingroup$ SE has told us repeatedly over the past several years not to use those metrics as a guideline for site graduation anymore. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    May 12 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage Okay, so do you have any suggestions on how to improve the site? One important section I am thinking of regards answering unanswered questions. $\endgroup$ May 12 at 13:08
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    $\begingroup$ Improve the site for the site's sake, not for graduation's sake. SE has said there's really nothing we can do to speed up graduation. In other words, focus on making quality questions and answers when you ask or answer, help edit other people's posts when appropriate, make sure questions are tagged well and that unnecessary tags don't get created, etc. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    May 12 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ I know that's a boring answer. Sometimes the boring answers are the right ones. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    May 12 at 13:13
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    $\begingroup$ further reading: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/257614/… $\endgroup$
    – Connor Garcia Mod
    May 12 at 14:11
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    $\begingroup$ More recently: meta.stackexchange.com/a/344432/228367 $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    May 12 at 15:03
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As called2voyage has pointed out, those metrics are both obsolete and . . . honestly, kinda awful when it comes to determining whether a site should really graduate. If I can steal the syntax of a particular Jack Sparrow quote, a community isn't just questions and answers and users and tags. That's what a community needs, but what a community really is . . . is something else, something intangible. I don't know what it is - a group of users? A place to interact? A set of established norms? All of the above? Something more abstract? It seems like a foolish question to ask, and maybe even a trivial one. But I've been trying to figure it out for about seven years now, and I'm really no closer to a simple well-defined answer.

I joined Worldbuilding at the very start of its public beta in the fall of 2014, and when it graduated a bit over a year later, it felt like it was ready. Granted, that graduation was triggered because we had consistently maintained the requisite question levels, those 10 questions per day, and this was in the age when these metrics were still driving graduation decisions. But we also had that little something extra, and fortunately, intuition about whether a site has that intangible edge has always been taken into account when making decisions about graduation. It wasn't just that our stats were good. I could feel it.

Even if graduation was still part of a site's expected life cycle - and it certainly isn't anymore, let's be clear - I don't think that at the moment, we have what it would take to reach that point. More relevant to your question, I can't even put my finger on what it is that we're lacking, what Worldbuilding had that we don't. Maybe we don't have enough users, or enough questions. Maybe we haven't really created a culture here that would survive many of the most prominent users suddenly disappearing in a puff of smoke (or a supernova - take your pick). I think it's all of those and then some.

Reflecting on it, I'm really glad that the idea of graduation has faded. Those stats (more like guidelines, as Mr. Gibbs would say) are certainly characteristic of many graduated sites, but don't mistake correlation for causation. You can achieve them without building a truly healthy, successful, stable community. As called2voyage said, let's just work towards a better site; if it really is crucial to the site's success, maybe we'll find the missing piece. But keep in mind that whether a site graduates is ultimately a meaningless, artificial and arbitrary goal. Whether a site is healthy and stable - well, ultimately, that means everything.

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    $\begingroup$ Well said! And I agree, we don't seem to have that special sauce here yet. I see some positive signs, but it's not something you can force. I just hope the signs I'm seeing reflect more growth (read: maturity, not numbers) to come! $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    May 13 at 13:02
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    $\begingroup$ +n! In An “Escalate to an Astronomer (in related field)” button? and more recently and "focusedly" How can we can bring questions about radio astronomy observational techniques to the eyes of radio telescopists? I've touched on how to reach out to more astronomers (which should certainly include the more numerous graduate students as well). Many astronomers use twitter but I wonder if most folks here are not adept tweeters. Maybe we need a "social media officer" to help promote us. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    May 14 at 5:22
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    $\begingroup$ (note: all of his is about community-building, not graduation) I have no idea how social media works (I still don't really even understand how Stack Exchange tags work) but if there were a way to tweet-reply a Stack Exchange question to a popular Astronomy tweet, it may raise visibility and then awareness of our existence (and relevance). Maybe I will post a new mesa question "Does anybody here tweet much? If so, would you like to help us promote the site and bring in more astronomers?" $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    May 14 at 5:22
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    $\begingroup$ Of course academics are always already too busy, but if we can make participation more attractive and enticing somehow... $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    May 14 at 5:23
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I have a decent presence on Twitter, including some astronomy followers. Not sure how much I want to rep Astro SE over there though. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    May 14 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage kudos! (and oh, you do!) I'm terrified of social media, it took me a half-decade to even get half-way used to being uhoh in Stack Exchange :-) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    May 16 at 1:07

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