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I've noticed a very popular Area 51 site proposal: Myanmar IT Pro

At the moment it is the second most followed proposal with well over 100 following users. The problem is that most of these users are new, with no previous experience with the Stack Overflow network and with no understanding of the goals of site-definition phase.

As a result the whole proposal is filled with „meh” questions and the users who are not aware that this is „meta”-question stage are more than eager to use comments to discuss the questions as if it were on an active site, not a site proposal. Since the questions were „meh” in the first place, those comments quickly devolve into pointless chit-chat and even minor political flames.

So…

  • How do we educate those new users? They probably aren't really bad users; they just don't understand the concepts behind Area 51 site proposals. It's just another web forum for them.
  • Should we radically clean-up proposals such as this (possibly discouraging users by deleting most of their contributions)?
  • Maybe we should just leave it alone, since it will not get a critical mass of experienced users and will be discarded after a while?
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It's not just them. I have to resist answering questions too. –  waiwai933 Jun 6 '10 at 15:51
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Indeed. It's happening for Persian IT proposal too. Most users following the proposal have never used the trilogy. –  LeakyCode Jun 6 '10 at 21:30
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The popularity of that proposal is probably caused by the link to it on the main page of myanmaritpro.com, "Need your support! Support Q&A site for Myanmar IT professionals" –  Peter Mortensen Jun 7 '10 at 1:29

2 Answers 2

Remember the definition phase is just the beginning.

The commitment phase (not this week, unfortunately, but early next week) will rely pretty heavily on users having some level of reputation in our ecosystem.

It will be extremely difficult to reach the commitment threshold without substantial amount of aggregate multi-site reputation.

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Is there something to prevent a couple thousand clueless users with 51 rep (earned from verifying email) to reach the threshold? If that's not the case, from what I'm seeing on the proposals, it can become a disaster. –  LeakyCode Jun 6 '10 at 21:35
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@meh (sic), what I understand is that you will need reputation on other sites in the trilogy –  jmfsg Jun 6 '10 at 23:41
    
@Mehrdad: There were plans to count not only pure rep, but also badges. For example a proposal needs commitment from 10 "Taxonomists", 20 "Strunk & Whites", 5 "Civic Duties" etc. –  Tadeusz A. Kadłubowski Jun 7 '10 at 5:59
    
@Tadeusz: Taxonomist strikes me as a particularly bad requirement; S&W and Civic Duty look useful, maybe even Electorate, but I don't see any others. Requiring a certain number of "Nice/Good/Great" type badges doesn't appear useful. Do you have a Meta link about this? –  Gnome Jun 7 '10 at 14:59
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@The Cat: The actual numbers aren't decided yet, but the general idea was mentioned by Joel in the original SE 2.0 blog post: „For instance (and I’m making these numbers up), we might require that a site get at least 100 commitments from people with the Teacher badge, at least 20 from people with the Enthusiast badge, and at least 50 from people with a reputation of 1000 or more on some of our sites.” –  Tadeusz A. Kadłubowski Jun 7 '10 at 16:53
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@the we aren't using badges initially, we convinced Joel that would be a micro-optimization at this early stage –  Jeff Atwood Jun 7 '10 at 21:13
    
Considering it again: S&W and CD just repeat the rep requirements. You have to have 2k to edit for S&W, and the 300 votes for CD is hard to legitimately achieve without already participating. –  Gnome Jun 7 '10 at 21:29

Familiarity with at least one established SE site seems to make all the difference in the quality of example questions. (Counting SOFU/Trilogy as SE sites.)

The issue you point out will only get worse as Area 51 moves gets out of public beta and wider, more diverse audiences are attracted, too.

I've been thinking about it the past day or so, and the only idea that's stuck around as viable is to require some familiarity with an existing SE site. Something like a longer new user introduction, no matter how short it actually is, will just be a wall-o-text they quickly click through to get to the stuff they want to see.

That familiarity can be measured in terms of rep, maybe something low like 100-500, and will be much easier to get once there are more diverse SE sites (i.e. right now you have to get it on SOFU). The rep requirement could be fulfilled across multiple sites, too. For example, 100 SO + 400 SU = 500 and meets the requirement.

In addition, requiring an account of a certain age (e.g. 30 days) may be better. A low limit like a month really isn't that long to wait, and I get the idea that Area 51 is intended for—or at least works best with—a select audience who are more committed to their proposals than the average visitor of the established site.

However, it will preclude users that don't speak a language currently used on any site, which could hurt proposals like Persian IT. Given its popularity, it seems inevitable that foreign language Area 51 proposals will be accepted, possibly even the norm. Perhaps there can be enough bilingual users to reach a low rep limit on other SE sites?

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