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I have seen Area 51 proposals closed after 90 days in public beta. Why not just leave those sites in beta forever?

Example: Atheism

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

From the original Stack Exchange 2.0 announcement:

Why is the plan to close down sites that don’t get enough traffic?

This harks back to our corporate goal to “make the Internet a better place to get expert answers to your questions.” A ghost town, without traffic, does not get people answers, but it does draw a few people away from other sites that might do so. We do not believe that the Internet benefits from putting up placeholder sites with negligible traffic that do not attract high quality communities. And we want the Stack Exchange brand to be synonymous with great community Q&A sites, even if we don’t necessarily cover every topic under the sun.

As Joel adds in Pruning Season,

A site that’s not really functioning is a trap for the unwary. The few users who do, accidentally, land there are lured into asking questions which will not be answered or will not be answered well. Even if are a few people around, if they don’t have enough collective expertise to give good answers, the site is a net negative for human knowledge.

Eventually, a site that doesn’t have critical mass becomes a spam attractor and a public nuisance, and we don’t want to be behind that. We’d rather close the site and channel users to other sites which are working.

In the specific case of Atheism, it just was not working. The scope of the site was just too limited to work. Atheism isn't much. It's a rather simple position: you do not believe in the existence of any god. There isn't much to ask questions about. The few questions asked were usually disagreement over semantics, weird crackpot questions or get closed for whatever reason.

I was the user with the second highest reputation on Atheism, and I'm happy it got closed.

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