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The Libraries & Information Science proposal currently has about 541 people who have committed to it. Unfortunately, only 81 of those people have more than 200 reputation on the site, so the site is stuck in the commit phase (for now).

This is going to be a bigger problem as more users start creating proposals that don't interest the majority of Stack Exchange users with 200+ rep, but do have a sizable audience elsewhere (the Chinese Emigration proposal is a great example of this). Those proposals are going to be stuck in the commit phase, where they will not have enough interest from experienced users, because the majority of Stack Exchange is interested in other things (such as programming).

However, a solution to this problem would be to ask some of the existing moderators on other sites to give these sites a hand for the first few weeks of their creation. They could educate the other users about Stack Exchange, and make sure the site is fulfilling the goals of Stack Exchange. By the end of the few weeks, the "normal users" should have enough experience to run the site on their own.

I think that this would be a much better solution than forcing users to register on other Stack Exchange sites where they don't know anything about the topic, and try to get reputation there (it wouldn't work, anyway).

EDIT: user badp pointed out that without experience, people wont be able to moderate a site successfully. There are a few solutions/alternatives that would solve that:

  1. Counting users as having 200+ rep after a mod has a chat with them in the chat room, and explains to them how stack exchange works.
  2. SE asking some experts in this topic field to commit to the proposal, and explaining to them how SE works. Then, those experts make sure the site does OK, and after the beta is over, they leave.

I think that it's a problem that area51 is limiting the sites that can be created to sites that interest people who already use se, which is mainly programmers. I don't really care how this is solved, but I think this problem should be fixed.

Edit (#2): Another option would be to start a heavily moderated private beta on the commit phase, and let users learn how to use stack exchange, and start getting an idea what the site is about. Once 200 people commit, the best questions could be migrated to the actual private beta.

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Mods are kinda overburdened as is, aren't they? You could take other high rep users, though. –  John Apr 6 '12 at 22:26
    
@John taking high rep users is exactly what you're supposed to do, but they should be committed to the proposal, not recruited ex post facto –  Ben Brocka Apr 7 '12 at 21:13
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I really hope that proposal can get the traction it needs. Not much crossover between the rest of the network and library sciences, apparently, which is unfortunate. It's been stuck with needing more 200+ rep users for months now. :( –  Anna Lear Apr 12 '12 at 15:51
    
I'm not sure using mods is the answer, but this requirement is definitely a hinderance right now. I'm pushing to get the Salesforce proposal through the commit phase, and although there are quite a few devs around (most of us accounted for) there are plenty of potential users who don't have interests crossing over with the rest of the network. Everything is still closely tied to developers / power users right now it seems. –  LaceySnr May 1 '12 at 4:09
    
This question should be asked on discuss.area51.stackexchange.com. –  kiamlaluno May 1 '12 at 21:24
    
@kiamlaluno I thought discuss was about specific proposals, not the process. –  tepples Dec 12 at 6:34
    
@tepples The Discuss site is now their meta site; it still is called Discuss because it's the place to discuss proposals, but that is not anymore the only purpose it has. In fact, there are tags like bug. –  kiamlaluno Dec 12 at 6:40

4 Answers 4

Those proposals are going to be stuck in the commit phase, where they will not have enough interest from experienced users, because the majority of Stack Exchange is interested in other things (such as programming).

SE is already expaning into LOTS of interest areas well beyond programming and in time those proposals (like DIY) are bringing in many non-programmers into the mix. We are growing organically even if Programming, Tech and Comp Sci related proposals get a lot more traction. Not to mention all the programmers that might be interested in Library Science or any other topic.

Growing organically is a good thing and keeps the Stack Exchange model sustainable. Community moderation is vital and to keep that up new sites need a substantial base of users familiar with the SE system.

We cannot simply throw mods at a site and hope it works. The Stack Exchange community team does step in and handle flags and some minor moderation on very, very early SE beta sites, mostly in the Private Beta stage when no one else can handle flags. However, if the site was composed entirely of non-SE users...who would flag? People might not know how to flag, and they might flag totally invalidly.

SE only works with Community Moderation, full-fledged mods are supposed to be exception handlers and can't police every single question on a site. And they most certainly cannot police every single question on multiple sites consisting entirely of novice SE users.

SE 1.0 failed because it was a system where just anyone could make an SE site and moderate it. That doesn't work, SE works because of the community, a knowledgeable community. We love new users, but they need an existing, nurturing community of knowledgeable users to thrive.

As for your "have mods talk with them in chat" proposal, I don't think that's feasible. How the heck do I know who's an expert? Even if I did, how do I know an expert is going to be responsible and use the SE system right? The only real way is to look at their contributions on SE sites. That's exactly what the 200 rep requirement is for. Having a chat with everyone would also be time intensive and complicated.

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the idea with the mods having a chat with a user isn't that they will know who is an expert, but that they will be able to check whether they understand how the system works. Yes, there is a chance that they will abuse the system, or that they don't know anything about the subject, but that is a risk that happens when anyone commits to a site. –  Christofian Apr 7 '12 at 20:25
    
In addition, if you check stackexchange.com/sites, you will see that there aren't any sites related to say, Immigration, or Medical Research (which I think was a goal mentioned on the podcast, which will show that SE has expanded beyond the programming "sphere"). it's going to be hard for anyone to start a site about those subjects, because no one with 200+ rep will be interested. Yes, we are expanding, but we still don't have the diversity of interests required to create those sites. –  Christofian Apr 7 '12 at 20:29
    
@Christofian there is a LOT to the SE system to understand, individually chatting with users would be a really bad way to teach/verify the SE system with someone. –  Ben Brocka Apr 7 '12 at 21:12
    
out of curiosity, if you had to explain SE to someone and you couldn't make then use an SE site, what would you do? –  Christofian Apr 12 '12 at 22:42

However, a solution to this problem would be to ask some of the existing moderators on other sites to give these sites a hand for the first few weeks of their creation. They could educate the other users about Stack Exchange, and make sure the site is fulfilling the goals of Stack Exchange. By the end of the few weeks, the "normal users" should have enough experience to run the site on their own.

The problem with this is that you really cannot moderate something if you don't know the first thing about the topic. We have this problem even inside Gaming when the CHAOS team led a very successful promotion that led to a ton of League of Legends content being posted on our site by new users, as far as I know.

Obviously quantity does not mean quality, however, and much of the content was mere plaintext gibberish full of game-specific jargon to the non-initiated. That would be 4 out of 5 Gaming moderators.

Now, how can you honestly check things such as the six guidelines if you don't actually know what the hell people are talking about?

Consider this:

How many health potions should I buy when I return to base?

How many health potions should I buy when I return to base?

Let's say you return to base and have 300 gold left over. You obviously not going to buy 8 potions. How do you determine how many to return with?

This would look fine to me, a no-hoper LoL player. Here, we have a practical problem seeking an expert answer. It doesn't look particularly bad, it doesn't appear to be subjective in the slightest. Yet, our community closed it as not constructive and one of our resident LoL experts had this to comment:

I'm voting to close your question because it's not a constructive question for the site. The number of pots you should buy is incredibly subjective based on your laning situation, whether it's early/mid/late game, what other items you want to buy, whether you have gp5 items or not, and more. There's no one, single definitive answer you could choose for this situation, as it's all very subjective based on the state of your particular match. Discussion-type questions do not fit well in our Q&A format here.

Is this a valid reason to close? Is this question actually too wide to be useful? Is this question actually lacking one single definitive answer? What the hell is a gp5 item? I have no idea!

This question smells to me like it is answerable with "It depends on this and this and this and that and while it's impossible to give general advice you probably should do this when in doubt because of that," but a smell is not enough for me to reverse this closure.

I can't moderate because I don't know what the hell we are talking about, even if I am what you would normally label a 'gamer' without any doubt.

Going back on topic, adding moderators to a site isn't going to do any good to a site if they don't have sufficient knowledge about your field. If expert users did know about that topic, they would have committed to the proposal in the first place.

So no, I don't think this is a good idea.

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I think it's a good time all of us admit that we have absolutely no idea what "not constructive" means, and we just use it to troll users. ;P On a more serious note, this is the answer. You can't moderate a site when you don't know what the hell it's about. –  Yannis Apr 7 '12 at 9:24
    
@YahooAnswersenthusiast: But you can help moderate it, right? There will obviously be a few high-rep topic connoisseurs. They can overview the moderating--but it is good to have some moderator's minions who know what they're doing... –  Manishearth Apr 7 '12 at 11:43
    
@Manishearth Depends, if the site has use of my uncanny ability to delete all the things, then I don't see why not. ;P No, I don't think it's feasible, especially since most Area51 sites are way out of my expertise. Would you ask a doctor or a gardener or any non programmer to moderate a thread about Brainf*ck? –  Yannis Apr 7 '12 at 11:49
    
@YahooAnswersenthusiast: Ohh lordy noooo. I see your point :P –  Manishearth Apr 7 '12 at 11:52
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@Manishearth But what you're proposing happens already, albeit unofficially. Experienced users, especially mods on other sites, can do a lot of moderating without needing access to the tools. A few strategically placed flags can do wonders, you don't really need to be the one processing them, and not just for beta sites. –  Yannis Apr 7 '12 at 11:56
    
Besides, @Manishearth, in a way you already get this through the SE employees who have moderation powers to all websites and can give precious advise in most situations. Again, though, actual field knowledge is invaluable for the grayer cases like the one I pointed out above. –  badp Apr 7 '12 at 12:00
    
good points. Can you see my revised question (basically, how do you feel about having users qualify for having 200+ rep if they have a chat with a mod who explains how se works)? –  Christofian Apr 7 '12 at 15:59

Well, what I feel is that certain users be allowed to curate such sites. These users do not add to the committed total, but they do add to the 200+ total. These users, aside from SE staff, can help get a community on its feet.They should get most moderation tools{*}, though their closevotes &c should NOT be binding. Their main function will be to educate the community and tend to it. They need not post content, though. Voting seems OK.

After the site reaches public beta, these guys can melt away.

I guess not everyone should be allowed to curate a proposal--maybe a rep requirement and/or approval by area51 mods? I dunno... I'd like to do this, but I'm sure I won't meet any requirements ;-)

*This need not mean 10k tools--I was talking about 3k tools and/or 5k tools. Or maybe a custom, relevant ruleset.

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51 mods? Now I'm curious, why 51? –  Yannis Apr 7 '12 at 9:15
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@yahoo area51 mods –  Manishearth Apr 7 '12 at 9:16
    
Oh, how foolish of me, how did I miss that. –  Yannis Apr 7 '12 at 9:20
    
@Yahoo now I have this image in my head of fifty-one mods having a powwow about some poor user :P –  Manishearth Apr 7 '12 at 9:29

I guess I'm not sure why the 200 rep threshold even exists.

From my (admittedly limited) experience with SE Betas, it sounds like OP's idea already happens. When Literature.SE first started out, Shog and, I believe GraceNote, were there on Day 1 to help the community get organized.

If this is the status quo for all SE Betas then I would just recommend dropping the requirement that so many new committing users have 200 rep.

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Community team members are there to handle flags for the most part, they're not there to read every question and comment and find problems; that's what the community is supposed to do. –  Ben Brocka Apr 7 '12 at 16:43

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