Looking at the area51 health report, we have finally gotten past the 1,500 visits per day, leaving the number of questions per day the only red item:

Health report

How do we increase this to an Excellent level, getting the site to go out of beta?

Do we start a competition, like Programmers did a few months ago? Do we start posting about it in linkedIn and other work related social media sites?

What do you think? What are your suggestions?

  • A contest would be a great idea, but afaik SE will not sponsor events for beta sites.
    – yannis
    Oct 24 '12 at 14:03
  • @YannisRizos they will, but the budget is probably more limited. Need a solid plan + community acceptance for an event on any site before they'll do it, though
    – Rarity
    Oct 24 '12 at 14:07
  • Contests don't need to be expensive. Mi Yodeya (when in beta) had a contest with an $18 gift card as the prize, plus of course the satisfaction of making the site better. Board Games currently has an informal contest where soembody is offering games from his collection for winners. What could we offer? Cubicle toys? Dilbert books? Oct 24 '12 at 14:28
  • @MonicaCellio Mi Yodeya wasn't really a normal beta though, if I'm not horribly mistaken it was a SE1.0 site?
    – yannis
    Oct 24 '12 at 14:34
  • @YannisRizos, it was a 1.0 site, and then went through the 2.0 beta process to eventual launch. (I joined at the 2.0 beta launch, so I don't know details of that transition.) BGG contest, Mi Yodeya contest (for ideas). Oct 24 '12 at 14:42
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    btw we (currently) get more questions per day than Skeptics (4q/d), Bicycles (3.6q/d) and AskPatents (2.6q/d), and almost the same as Seasoned Advice (5.1q/d). All of them are launched sites (but AskPatents is special, not really a fair comparison).
    – yannis
    Oct 24 '12 at 14:48
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    @YannisRizos - Interesting statistic. I don't know how SE decide to graduate a site, but I did assume those scores were the main consideration.
    – Oded
    Oct 24 '12 at 14:51
  • @Oded Well I have no idea how many questions those sites got back when they graduated (you can find all available current stats here - set the list in "list view"). Anyhow, the stats are just a very high level view of the site, they aren't really that important (let's not fixate on numbers). That said, we could always use more questions...
    – yannis
    Oct 24 '12 at 14:52
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    I would put my bets on fostering avid users base, those supposed to contribute regularly. Counting at about 300 now, it doesn't feel particularly wide. I'd try to motivate (actually I already did just that) known question askers to return back and ask more questions. For that, one could go over existing questions (including digging to the old ones) and upvote good ones, to give askers positive feedback and incentive to increase their participation. Some bounties wouldn't hurt, either (I did that, too)
    – gnat
    Oct 24 '12 at 15:49
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    RE: graduating a site, growth is the main thing. Generally sites are graduated when they look like they're "taking off" and are solidly healthy. The stats are a part, but they ignore lots of other important things, and they're not all super-vital, especially questions asked (few recently graduated sites have had 15+ questions per day at graduation)
    – Rarity
    Oct 24 '12 at 18:54
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    Maybe not being so aggressive to close comments. And have some way to let people post anonymously and forego any rep that might come with the question, because some workplace questions can have a really negative impact on the asker if the wrong person sees it. Oct 27 '12 at 19:45
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    I'd even go so far as to say moderators should just outright delete any comments that attempt to debate the closeworthiness of the question on the question itself. Any comment that doesn't help the asker improve the question only serves to be harmful, either to the asker, the site itself, or both. If there's debate, it should go to meta so it's not right up in the asker's face.
    – jmort253
    Oct 27 '12 at 21:34
  • @AmyBlankenship You can post anonymously if you want, registration is not required, all that's required to post a question is a username (that needs not make sense) and an email (that needs not be real). Even if you already have an account, there's no problem in creating a secondary account to post questions you don't want to show up in your main account (just don't use it to interact with your main account in any way, especially voting). Furthermore you can ask for any post to be disaccociated from your account if you want - just flag it for mod attention.
    – yannis
    Nov 1 '12 at 20:49
  • Thanks for the info, Yannis. Nov 1 '12 at 23:19

First things first, that's not necessarily a huge problem; lots of people see the red and think "the site is doomed". Depending on the topic, many sites get well under 15 questions per day and remain quite healthy and even graduate to full sites. It's quite probably the hardest metric to satisfy.

So, we're not doomed, we could just use more questions to keep getting more fresh content.

As for getting more questions, I really think they key things are growth and engaging new users. We've got a pretty good base of experienced Stack Exchange users who fulfill community moderation duties and plenty of people to answer most sorts of questions. However those experienced users don't tend to ask all that many questions, which is common on these sites.

So the focus is really on new users. We should share relevant questions and answers as much as reasonable and invite people to the site. Once new people are on the site, they should be given a warm welcome and informed of how to use the site. If a new user makes a mistake, help them. Tell them how to edit their post to get it in shape, or edit it yourself and tell them why. Invite them to chat (if they have enough reputation; 20 points as long as we're in Beta) and engage them.

We have a fair amount of one-off question users. That's not uncommon either, but remember each new poster has the potential to become a regular. Also remember the FAQ, Meta, privileged, the philosophy of this site...all this crap is pretty complicated. There's plenty of Just-In-Time help around the interface, but when there isn't UI help text, other users are the Just-In-Time help.

  • 3
    I think on BAD questions it might be for the site's benefit to not just downvote but include a lot more coaching types of comments, too. I know I've been turned off to a few question sites in the past because I had no idea how they worked, and got banned/downvoted/etc without explanation. I would like to think I am capable of doing things well after I understand them... I don't frequent those anymore, though, primarily because of the "F U" attitude that gives to a new user
    – enderland
    Oct 24 '12 at 16:55
  • @enderland yeah, I'd recommend turning to (polite) automatic comments via this script (Chrome/Greasemonkey users only I think) to give pointers to new users on those "not THIS question again" cases. It's easy to get fatigued by the same off topic/low quality questions again, but at the same time it's easy to come up with a quick template comment to give them a heads up on why they're getting downvoted/closed
    – Rarity
    Oct 24 '12 at 16:58
  • is there an easy install guide for that? Maybe I'm missing something but I cannot install stuff outside the Chrome appstore now (and I didn't see that there?)
    – enderland
    Oct 24 '12 at 20:27
  • @enderland oh, yeah. What you gotta do is drag and drop the file/link onto the Extensions page. It's kinda annoying.
    – Rarity
    Oct 24 '12 at 20:28
  • @enderland: Great point. jmort253 had similar thoughts over here: meta.workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/497/…
    – Jim G.
    Oct 26 '12 at 1:00

What I would like to see is more users coming from industries other than IT. I would also like to see more HR professionals here answering questions from their perspective.

But how to get the word to those people?

I did bring up Workplace to several people at the SQLPASS conference last week (including someone who was speaking on workplace issues and someone who manages a virtual chapter on professional devlopement for PASS) and intend to point a young lady I met there to the site as well as she is having some sexism based troubles that might make for some interesting questions.

  • Spreading the word is a big part of growing into those unrepresented areas. Unfortunately I'm not sure there's much the community can do other than act as individuals and recruit those people.
    – Rarity
    Nov 15 '12 at 14:04
  • If you are actively involved in other active, professional online communities then cross posting discussions is a good way to drive traffic; the LinkedIn groups are good in this regard. I would see that this board has huge value for training/development for HR and management in providing an excellent source of material for discussions, reflection and analysis. This won't drive questions from larger organisations, but as long as the tone of the site is supportive it will encourage others to post.
    – GuyM
    Nov 23 '12 at 21:20

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