What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 133 Stack Exchange communities.

Here are the last few weeks of the "visitor" metric per Google Analytics, on each Trilogy site:

meta.stackoverflow.com

serverfault.com

superuser.com

stackoverflow.com

They are ordered in terms of least visitors to most visitors. Stack Overflow is the blockbuster here. Which makes sense, as it's the oldest, and the site that is most in tune with the Joel on Software and Coding Horror audiences we originally started with.

Meta is only included for completeness; we don't actually need any particular traffic level there (aka, "here") due to the nature of the content.

I am not showing the larger trend graphs here, but the deeper concern is that Super User and Server Fault are not growing much (if at all) over time. Google traffic levels are one sign of a site's maturity:

  • SO has 90% google traffic
  • SF has 77% google traffic
  • SU has 67% google traffic

So we're not quite "mature" yet, but we're getting close.

I am not sure we've done a good job of reaching out to the power user (superuser.com) and sysadmin/it pro (serverfault.com) communities to make sure they're at least aware of these sites.

Why this matters: I worry that if we don't attract a critical mass of users there, questions and answers will languish. They don't need to be enormous, I just want them to be useful. And that implies some growth, at least!

So, this is my question to you: what should we be doing to reach out to the power user and sysadmin communities? How can we attract more of the kinds of power users, sysadmins, and IT pros that we'd like to see asking and answering questions on superuser.com and serverfault.com?

Suggestions welcome.

share|improve this question
26  
Interesting that meta has the same mon-fri peak as so/sf. Suggesting that people are wasting time at work on meta. –  Martin Beckett Oct 21 '09 at 19:59
2  
A to-scale combined graph of all the sites would be very nice and useful to have. You should be able to export the data as CSV and graph it in excel. Also, a graph showing the general trend (and perhaps comparing the growth from the initial start) would be very interesting to demonstrate your no-growth point. –  Adam Davis Oct 28 '09 at 20:45

36 Answers 36

I hope I'm not flogging a head horse here.

I've become concerned about the level of activity (and the merits of what activity there IS) on Server Fault lately, and have read every answer on this question. And most of them I feel are valid. But for me it keeps coming down to the sense of community ownership of the site (or lack thereof).

I raised concerns about this a long time ago here and it was shot down. But since then I've seen the same feelings arise here (check the comments, users jsut ASSUMED that MSO was not suitable for SF because it has SO in the title), and in a few other places around on MSO (mainly comments on answers to other questions, I can't locate them at the moment).

I often feel like a 2nd class citizen in the shadow that is Stack Overflow. Now, obviously new users are never going to know about this, especially not hit-and-run users (which is perfectly OK), but if you're going to get the kind of 'expert' retention required, and not end up with more jaded people like this guy, then people really need to feel involved in their own community, not feel as though they're just operating in a side-show alley in the Stack Overflow circus.

As to how to achieve this? No idea. I'm not a marketing or community expert!

share|improve this answer

I wonder if you would reach your target audience with Trade Publication advertisements. SQL Server Magazine and InfoWorld. Or if that would hit more of the 'policy' guys and less of the 'trenches' guys.

share|improve this answer
5  
that seems .. unlikely, as the magazines are all dying due to online pressure. –  Jeff Atwood Oct 21 '09 at 4:47

This is when I feel like pointing and laughing and say "ha, these verticals should have just been part of Stack Overflow like I said all along!" But I think the trilogy helped usher in the development of Stack Exchange, which is awesome.

I don't really think there is a way to grow these things without putting a lot of money behind it, ie advertising. Good programmers read programming blogs and as such, Stack Overflow hit the ground running with a huge audience because two of the best programming bloggers were behind it. And that initial momentum naturally carries over into Google indexing which enables Stack Overflow to continue to grow.

But what about good IT guys? Are there IT blogs out there with huge followings that are written by thought-leaders in IT? I don't think so. So unless you're sponsoring conferences and setting up a booth and what not I have no idea how you can capture the minds of people in the IT profession.

It's even harder for super user, because the target audience there is everybody that has a computer. I've told friends about it but they just don't get it. Probably because they don't feel like dealing with OpenID or having to author a question.

Maybe it's too late now, but it's not like when Digg.com decided to branch out from technology news they really had much of a problem with "one size fits all." Just sayin.

share|improve this answer

As I mentioned here I am thinking serverfault could use a couple more moderators to close or move off-topic posts.

On the Ask a question page (http://serverfault.com/questions/ask) you have a good description of what is appropriate for the site you asking questions at. I am thinking that you may want to consider making it more obvious (feature-request) that the other two sites exist so people won't be tempted to ask off=topic questions on the wrong site.

share|improve this answer

One thing is that sysadmin and user questions are harder to express in text. Perhaps it should be easier to post screenshots.

P.S. I myself help some users with CoPilot, and that's actually from Fog Creek? Maybe you can setup CoPilot sessions for people trying to help each other on Superuser.

share|improve this answer

Here's a thought:

What if people were able to ask superuser questions via Twitter?

It's an idea that would need a lot of refinement but twitter is often used as a question-asking service. Maybe something like @superuser with a 140 character description of your computer problem, and it becomes a question on the site. That page is thus indexed by Google and people will find it when searching.

share|improve this answer
1  
"please consider adding a comment if you think this post can be improved" –  bpapa Oct 28 '09 at 20:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .