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It seems to me that the success of Stack Exchange sites is largely due to the user reputation engine, which naturally surfaces good questions and answers.

However, how does the site get started?
When there are very few users / questions, can anyone up/down-vote a question or an answer?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 19 down vote accepted

There are two ways this happens.

  1. New sites start in private beta where the reputation requirements are different.
  2. Users from existing sites get a 100 point bonus (assuming they have 200+ on one other site).

As each new site has to have a minimum number of users to get started there are hopefully enough users to ask and answer enough questions to get the site going.

Moderators are appointed once the site reaches public beta, but in the meantime the Community Team does any moderation that's required.

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Sometimes sites also write a bunch of questions, or just start with the most common issues, and go from there. StackOverflow was initially seeded with questions from, I believe, the now defunct JoelOnSoftware forums. –  jefflunt Dec 22 '11 at 15:31
    
@normal no, it wasn't -- we don't seed and we don't recommend any kind of artificial seeding. see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/55639/… –  Jeff Atwood Dec 27 '11 at 10:02
    
Oh, really? I thought the original version of SO came from existing .Net questions from another platform? Maybe I got that story completely wrong (I've certainly done worse in life). I guess that's beside the point that you make in the meta you referenced here, where quality suffered as a result, and it therefore being a bad idea regardless. –  jefflunt Dec 27 '11 at 18:14

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