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Currently, the sites list drop-down goes something like this:

  1. The current site, and its related sites (e.g.: Meta).
  2. The next top five StackExchange sites according to the user's reputation.
  3. All other StackExchange sites.

I would like to suggest that any Private Betas the user is committed to should show up somewhere in or near that #2 item. This would help remind users that there is a brand-new site which they have dedicated themselves to, which is in need of their attention.

  • I don't think auto-sorting a private beta to the top of a list just because they signed up to it is a great idea that a lot of people would enjoy. I'd rather users manually move it to the top if they choose via a feature like this. – animuson Jan 22 '14 at 22:07
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I like your motivation for this feature request; private betas definitely do better when the people who had committed to the proposal remember their commitment and are active on the site often in the early days.

That being said, I don't agree that auto-sorting private beta sites to the top of the list is the right solution. Since the primary purpose of the site switcher is navigation, it seems a bit strange to have the system make a change that is inherently ephemeral. (Sites are generally only in private beta for a week or two.) Having the order change in the matter of a few days, without the user actively deciding anything, seems like it might do a little more harm than good. I suspect a lot of people would file bug reports asking why X site disappeared from their list when it was just there yesterday.

Animuson pointed out that there's an outstanding feature request to allow users to customize the sites that appear at the top of the list. I think this solution solves your problem nicely, though it requires an active decision on the user's part. It does require that a user join the private beta, then remember to move the site to the top of the list, but it's a one-time action that will provide a reminder to them to visit the site every time they're in the site switcher.

I'm not going to decline this request outright just yet in case someone else comes along and makes a compelling case for this, but in my opinion, this problem will be mostly solved soon when we allow customization in the site switcher.

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    On the other hand, since private betas don't show up in the network profile, they're already less reachable than other sites. I usually reach private betas by typing the URL (and then keeping the tab around), which may not be instinctive to all users. – Monica Cellio Jan 22 '14 at 22:45
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    I agree that removing the site from the list after a private beta would not be desirable, mostly because it would be very confusing (“hey, where's the site gone?”). But making it an option doesn't solve or invalidate this issue. The private beta should automatically be added as a high-priority item. – Gilles Jan 23 '14 at 0:55
  • @MonicaCellio That's a fair point; I had forgotten that private betas don't show up in network profiles (because I do what you do and keep a tab open for any private betas I'm involved with). I'd have to do some digging to be sure, but I don't think many people use the network profile to navigate between sites anyway. Worth considering, though. – Laura Jan 23 '14 at 14:05

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