Reason for a slow pace?

+6 votes
118 views
asked Aug 13, 2015 in Meta by kenorb (430 points)

It seems the activity on this site slowed down a bit.

Is it because we've too less people engaged on the site, something is not clear enough or people are on vacations?

Is that normal and we are going forward, or not? What you thoughts?

How we can engage people in asking more quality questions?



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commented Aug 17, 2015 by kenorb (430 points)
@FranckDernoncourt So if more people thinking like that, then in other words they come into the conclusion at some point of time that it's not worth to participate further, as the site is going to be trashed anyway, is that what you're saying?

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by Franck Dernoncourt (540 points)
I would tend to guess that some others think the same. Not that many people are happy to contribute to some content that will eventually disappear in a dump (that's why I tried to only asked questions that I could move to other SEs in case of deletion, and didn't invest much time in answering). So in one word: self-realizing prediction. But SEs with initially low activity managed to survive, e.g. data science. So I mostly wait and see.

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by kenorb (430 points)
See: [Private betas, launches, relaunches, rules for promotion, and community partnerships](http://meta.stackexchange.com/q/263540/191655), it can give some insight about these kind of decisions.

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by kenorb (430 points)
The same with [Embedded](http://meta.embedded.stackexchange.com/questions/69/closing-this-site-on-friday-august-14), it's going down today.

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by Franck Dernoncourt (540 points)
AFAIC I tend not to participate much in early stage of an SE as I haven't understood the criteria SE mods use to [close SEs](http://meta.sexuality.stackexchange.com/q/120/266).

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3 Answers

+5 votes
answered Aug 16, 2015 by Daniel Mietchen (1,145 points)

Open science is about sharing as widely as possible as early as possible. A non-public platform is antithetical to that.

Plus, when the private beta started, a note somewhere (probably in Area 51) said that the public beta would start a week later, which it did not, and it is not clear to me why, nor when the public phase will start in earnest, or what that depends on.

In my view, extending the non-public beta will not do much good, but once the beta is public, things should get interesting.



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commented Aug 17, 2015 by Zizouz212 (320 points)
The point of a private beta is to prove that a site can go public, to prepare the site with quality content that it will do fine. The community needs to prove how this is going to happen. Perhaps you could explain your position on why the site deserves to go public?

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by Daniel Mietchen (1,145 points)
Not sure what the criteria are for "deserving" to go public, but as a community, open science people just do not use non-public platforms. We even write lab notebooks, code or grant proposals in public and share our data well before formal publications, so why should we hide Q & A threads?

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by just_curious (60 points)
Exactly, to reach out and attract its targetted audience, the site has to be publiblicly accessible. Maybe we should make vigorous use of the feature to send out private beta invitations and encourage as many people to do so as possible? An idea how to achieve this would be to write an appropriate meta post and feature it, such that it appears on the main page ...

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by just_curious (60 points)
@Zizouz212 I am surprised to see the amount of hostility you display towards this community, this probably also explains why this reasonable and more constructive than yours answer gets downvoted. Daniel is right, doing open science in private (beta) is a contradiction to the very definition of open science. Also, as I said below your answer the targetted audience of researchers can only be brought in when the site is public, and researchers need more time to create high-level content, than communities formed around lighter hobbyist topics such as ga mes, music, etc ...

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by Zizouz212 (320 points)
@DanielMietchen I'm available in the site chatroom so I can talk about this more in-depth. I have invited just_curious as well. Here is a link to the chatroom: http://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/26588/open-science

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by Zizouz212 (320 points)
@DanielMietchen Once again, I'm in the chatroom for further discussion. Regardless, the purpose of a private beta is to prepare, or prime the site with expert level questions before going public. The purpose of this is to create a tone for quality, and so that there is some partially established community leadership. All sites that start must go through the private beta phase, and as such, it is a key component in site development. The private beta is the moment to prove that a committed community exists, and that it will be read face the challenges of going public.

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+5 votes
answered Aug 16, 2015 by Bolo (120 points)

It is unfortunate that the private beta started in August, in the height of the vacation season. In my case, the launch was just two days after my (offline) vacation started.



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commented Aug 17, 2015 by Zizouz212 (320 points)
@DanielMietchen I wouldn't be so sure. You have quite a few people around here who are fairly experienced with starting up sites on Stack Exchange, and a few of those people actually moderate those sites too. You are correct that SE makes their decisions, but I wouldn't say that community members aren't familiar with these decisions.

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by just_curious (60 points)
@Zizouz212 I guess Bolo is not talking about the SE people who are of course familiar with the Area51 procedure, but about the targetted audience of researchers and open scientists of this site, who are used to a different slower pace of contributing to online communities than SE expects in private beta. See also [this](http://communitybuilding.stackexchange.com/q/922/437) Community Buidling discussion about properly discerning between a site that simply will never work, and a community that naturally has a slower turning time without there being anything wrong with it.

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by Daniel Mietchen (1,145 points)
There are other factors - not everyone is familiar with the SE rules around betas, which means, amongst other things, that they are not aware of the potential deadline-like nature of these phases and the need to contribute immediately. On many platforms that open scientists frequent (think Wikipedia, Zooniverse, GitHub or PubMed Commons), it does not matter too much whether you contribute today or some weeks later.

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by just_curious (60 points)
Oh yes, the for many academics unfortunate timing should definitively be taken into account by SE ...

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+2 votes
answered Aug 15, 2015 by Zizouz212 (320 points)

Warning: These are my thoughts, and you may not necessarily be liking them...


Let's take a look at some numbers first:

At the time of this writing, you have...

  • 11 Days into beta
  • 13 Avid and 269 total users (an avid user is anyone with over 200 rep)
  • 55 Questions posted
  • 37 Visitors a day
  • 19 Questions on the first day... Yes I counted by myself

Great! These are numbers, so what do they mean? Let me tell you what I think they mean, especially when it comes to this site's health:

This site looked incredibly interesting when I first met it on Area 51. I was kind of hoping to be more active, but within the last week, I fractured my wrist, got a free waxing from asphalt, and pretty badly hurt my knee. The result of a cycling accident. But even then, it still isn't really an excuse.

In terms of site health, here's some issues that I've been seeing:

  • What's up with questions?

    Face it: I've seen practically little to no activity that I would've liked to see both on meta and on main. 19 Questions on the first day of private beta is sort of... meh. 55 Questions over the span of 11 days doesn't look too good. Is there a main focus with questions? Many questions will of course be artificial, but there is no excuse for them to be bad either. I haven't really seen distinctive questions: Can't I ask most of these on a general science site? Or even on Open Data SE?

  • Is there a community?

    Don't take this the wrong way: There definitely is a community, but is there an active community? I haven't been seeing much voting, and not much participation on meta. It's okay if you don't have experience starting up SE sites, there are other community members that do, and are more than happy to assist with any site-building issues that the community has. However, I should be seeing much more activity when it comes to providing answers to questions on meta: Any question should really be seeing an answer or two within the first few hours.

    Voting is another important part too. Many SE sites die off because nobody votes. Don't underestimate the power of voting: It helps sort out the good questions/answers from the not-so-good questions/answers. They allow you to unlock privileges, mainly those within moderation. If you haven't noticed, the rep required for privileges is significantly less than even a private beta. So it's also important that you use them wisely. See a question that you think is off-topic? Close vote it. Raise it on meta: You always one a community feel during these critical site moments.

    13 Avid Users isn't a whole lot either: Sites should be able to get a decent amount of good users: Open Source I think went public with 51 avid users in 20 days. If you don't have a lot of avid users, it means a whole lot less that the rest of the community can do. There is a direct correlation with voting here: No voting, no users can really attain privileges.

  • Will this site make it?

    To me, I don't think so. Community activity and engagement is what killed numerous prospective sites. It looks like the lack of involvement will kill this one too.



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commented Aug 17, 2015 by Zizouz212 (320 points)
@just_curious I'm available in the site chatroom in case you would like to talk more in-depth about this: http://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/26588/open-science

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by just_curious (60 points)
I thought SE had improved their attitude towards smaller high-level communities, in a Mother Meta thread they explain that smaller slower high-quality public beta communities are supported now as long as they keep being moderated and spam free, but maybe I am wrong (?). Also already from its name, the private beta phase is obviously not the stage to reache out and call in people, or what does the word private mean?

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by just_curious (60 points)
@Zizouz212 obviously you dont know how high-level research communities work, in such communities it takes much more time to think about and write well thought out questions and answers. In such high-level communities consisting of active researchers, activitie is measured in day per question and not in questions per day, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it as for researchers quality is more inportant than quantity.

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by Zizouz212 (320 points)
@just_curious If you think the statistics are *stupid*, you need to rethink that. What makes you think the site will grow if no one takes the initiative to post genuine, thought-out questions? And no quality answers? How will you share the site and make it appeal to experts? Statistics show perfectly that: don't ever underestimate and misinterpret their value. If you have less than 5 questions a day within 10 days of beta, *there is something wrong: not enough activity to sustain a site*. If you know so much, perhaps you could write an answer of your own that clearly states your perspective?

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by HDE 226868 (320 points)
Damn it, but your thoughts are exactly mine.

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by just_curious (60 points)
-1: This is a private beta at the time of writing, so to see more activity the site simply has to go public beta, such that more people can take part. I really hope that SE seemingly having learned a bit to appreciate smaller high-quality communities does not exclusively hold for the public beta stage but already for the private beta phase too ...! These days, where we have copyright fanatics threathening to stiffle the free exchange of information and knowledge among the international scientific communities, this open science site is urgently needed!

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by Zizouz212 (320 points)
@just_curious I believe I can say this on behalf of HDE and I (we have experience starting up sites) and I can tell you that the private beta is what sets the precedent for the site: the tone, the quality, the engagement. If you say that an open science site is urgently needed, then fill the site with the obvious: quality content to give a good impression if this is ever to go public. Get people to participate. If there is a need, then bring that international community to this site: you have the ability to personally invite you.

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by just_curious (60 points)
The need for the international scientific community to get serious about open science is increasing for example with publishers such as Elsevier becoming more and more off base etc ... I really hope SE will not repeat again the silly mistake of shooting down high-level communities just because their question rate is a bit smaller than for sites that naturally have a more general broader audience.

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by just_curious (60 points)
@HDE226868 as some questions on the main page have shown, copyright issues threathening the efficiant use of the good means of sharing information the science communities have in principle these days, is a real issue that is becoming more and more urgent. Forget about the stupid statistics, they are useful neither for private betas (because the reachable audience is limited), nor for high-level science communities that naturally have longer turning times. Both, the issue this site should help solve and the audience are out there, as soon as we will be able to reach out, activity will increase.

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commented Aug 17, 2015 by HDE 226868 (320 points)
@just_curious Perhaps, but the point is that the stats are extremely low *even for private betas*. Since day 1, we have had low stats. Going public won't necessarily catapult us to where we need to be.

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