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One of the major challenges of new Beta sites is visibility; particularly in areas which don't have a strong correlation with the core demographic of SO and our major sites, it can be very difficult to reach out and attract new members - even if appropriate communities already exist.

I'd like to propose a means of promotion that could be appropriate to a wide range of sites: create ebooks showcasing great questions and answers from the site.

The primary use of these ebooks would be offering them on Amazon for free. Free Kindle reads often do quite well; odds are good that people would at least take a look at them. These books would pop up in Amazon topic searches and in "Related Books," granting them easy exposure. A particular advantage here is that Amazon searchers are looking for general resources, not a particular problem/solution - which makes this avenue practically orthogonal to Google searches (which generally key to specific questions).

As an extra bonus, such ebooks might also be handy as digital promotional material, serving as an easy but direct demonstration of what the site (SE in general, and the beta site in particular) is all about.

Implementation

  • eBook creation and formatting is not difficult.
  • The SE team might contribute some graphic design (most or all of which could be consistent across all such ebooks).
  • If it were considered worthwhile, perhaps a tool could be developed to make conversion of SE questions to ebook format even simpler.
  • The individual communities and moderators at each site can choose which questions and answers would be best for a showcase. If the process is simple enough, a single site could produce several ebooks, showcasing different topics or appealing to different segments of the target audience.

TL;DR: Beta sites have some great content but not enough regulars; let's wrap that content up in ebooks and get people in through Amazon!


Is this a viable avenue of promotion for beta sites? What kind of support for this can SE offer? If this proposal proves popular, then can community liaisons, CHAOS operatives, etc., trickle this suggestion down to individual beta sites?

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That actually sounds pretty awesome. –  David Thomas May 4 '12 at 8:09
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Similar thingy: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Books –  Manishearth May 4 '12 at 8:16
    
@Manishearth: Cool, I didn't know Wikipedia had that! Yes, that's a great example of an automated system to compile a particular selection of existing content into a snappy package. –  Ziv May 4 '12 at 9:24
    
@Ziv: It's not automated--but it's got enough features that compiling a book is easy. –  Manishearth May 4 '12 at 11:09

2 Answers 2

This sounds like an excellent thing for communities to set up and try out. You can figure out on your meta which posts you might want to include and how you might want to distribute an eBook, since I imagine it'd vary by subject matter a bit.

The main thing I want to make sure you remember is to keep our trademark guidelines and content reuse policy (section 3 of the Terms of Service) in mind when designing these eBooks.

It can be summed up with "don't make it look like Stack Exchange produced it" and "make sure the content is attributed to the community/individual posters", but do give the actual guidelines a read-through as well.

Oh, and let us know how it works out. :)

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Hi Anna, Jeff's Attribution Required post is very online oriented. Any chance of some clarification of what SE expects attribution wise offline? –  Alex Chamberlain Aug 8 '12 at 12:04
    
@AlexChamberlain In offline attribution we still require a URL to the post, the name of the site, and then the name and the URL of the author. Basically all the same stuff. –  Anna Lear Aug 8 '12 at 18:37

This is a fantastic idea. I've started a project on Github to dump a question and the accepted answer in HTML. This would then need to be converted to the right format for ebooks.

I would love to collaborate with others to produce a fantastic tool for producing these books, so let me know what features etc. are needed.

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