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The poster child for proposals with a very large scope would be the biology proposal.

Its audience is described as:

Proposed Q&A site for biologists, including biochemists, molecular biologists, cell biologists, physiologists, and ecologists.

That's a wide range of experts, and it's missing some like microbiologists and geneticists.

Don't take my word for it, just look at Wikipedia's list of branches of biology. While all of those fields fall under the biology umbrella, an evolutionary biologist is not trained to answers to questions about if deer sleep standing up or the differences between various types of kidney surgery. You'll need a zoologist or (I think) a physiologist to answer those questions.

Each of those field could probably make a successful Stack Exchange site on their own. That's how large the Biology proposal's scope is.

Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Stack Overflow demonstrated that a site regrouping all experts from the same field under one room could be successful. However, you can't launch a site with so many different kinds of experts and hope it does well with the same initial population as, says, a site on the English language where an expert could answer most questions on the site.

So, what I propose is that a proposal's minimum commitment score and minimum committed users could be changed manually depending on a site's scope. There would be a default value, of course, but it should be modifiable if deemed desirable or necessary.

This way, proposals with very large scope could launch with communities of the appropriate size.

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1 Answer 1

While this makes sense on paper, in practice it is not really necessary. I'll bring up Gaming, because we had to deal with the exact same kind of problem. We had a staggering and variable rate of questions getting answered, mostly due to the fact that our pool of actual users during the private beta was very small. We had very small set of scope intersections, not unlike the breadth that biology would offer. And, well, despite one of the (at the time) more abysmal performances of a private beta, Gaming now is one of the highest traffic sites of Stack Exchange 2.0.

The point of the private beta isn't to get the whole community at the start. It's to shape the growth of the community. It's a whole lot of administration, testing the flows of how the topic works, and most importantly setting the tone for the site when it finally opens up. Those first questions and answers you make during the private beta are the example that people follow when the 7 days are over. This activity is much easier to manage, as a community, when you have a small set of users that can coordinate together much more easily. When you have thousands of users trying to set the tone of the site from its onset, it gets easily overwhelming.

When you hit the public beta and the doors open up, that's when you start getting all of the input from hundreds of expert domains. And that honestly only takes 7 days of private beta. So use those 7 days to shape it up to a place that will get all of those experts. That'll do a lot more for the site's success than starting off with way more people than can coordinate together.

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I was about to bring Gaming up as a counter-example, but as always Grace is faster and more eloquent. –  Mad Scientist Feb 2 '11 at 13:58

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