I respect the discussion about how much work goes into making a Beta site into a full site, particularly from the design perspective.

From Robert Cartaino's answer:

Sending a site to the "graduation queue" and getting a design published are currently two different things. We recently hired some fantastic new designers to help clear the backlog, but there is a still about 9 sites waiting for a design, last I checked.

I'm excited about this and I really hope we get some amazing new designs.

And as stated by animuson:

Whenever there is a backlog of sites which have already been determined to have reached a point where they are ready to graduate, it is entirely up to the design team in which order they get done.

Designing sites takes a lot of time and a lot of inspiration. They not only have to write custom layouts and CSS, but they also have to think up ideas that would fit with the site nicely. Some sites are just plain harder than others.

This certainly is a lot of work and I respect people who can do it... I certainly can't... I think that the pressure would be released to a large degree if there was an intermediate step that maintained the default site design but gave the sites the "big boy" abilities, like being able to migrate questions, hold Mod elections, have community ads... and, yes, even the new rep levels for privileges.

Essentially, when a site goes into the "graduation queue", it activates the abilities and the site design can come later.

I'm not talking about this question: [Replace graduation with an incremental process] I don't want to come up with some gamified "if you reach certain bars, you get this ability!" path to graduation.

I want to release the "site design" from being the excuse for these sites not having the benefit of being a true SE site.

The most obvious downside would be that, if there's no other necessity for site design, they might not happen, or they may take even longer. I think that site designs are one of the things that make each site really unique but I also don't feel that it's the main benefit of graduation, only the most visible one.

I feel like I spoke with someone in chat on one of the Beta sites who mentioned that this might actually be what is planned for some sites but I couldn't find a question that discussed it.

2 Answers 2


I feel like I spoke with someone in chat on one of the Beta sites who mentioned that this might actually be what is planned for some sites but I couldn't find a question that discussed it.

This was planned for Network Engineering, but this changed and now it is graduating regularly and apparently soon.

Given the information in the linked post I would guess that the former was due to Network Engineering short a moderator and was then changed because the design was finished unexpectedly soon; so I would not assume that this idea was generally abandonded.

Also, yesterday it was announced that Blender will have a moderator election without having a design (thanks to hichris123 for pointing that out).

  • 2
    Also somewhat on Blender.
    – hichris123
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 20:49
  • 1
    Ah, this is very helpful! At least it shows that they are considering this model. By the way, the site design for Network Engineering is beautiful. The colors are lovely!... though after reading the comments, it doesn't seem you guys like it much. :( Sorry.
    – Catija
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 20:51
  • @Catija: You better express your appreciation here. I am not affiliated with Stack Exchange, let alone responsible for the design.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 20:55
  • 1
    I'm not a Network Engineer, so my commentary on the design doesn't matter. I'll never use that site. I was talking with someone on ELL.SE but I don't believe that we've received a similar Meta topic.
    – Catija
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 20:57

YAY! Design-Independent Graduation has been discussed and approved by the community and several sites have graduated without a custom site design starting in September of 2015. Congrats to those sites and the future beneficiaries of this decision.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the discussion and made this possible.

So my celebration may have been a bit hasty... as Shog9 pointed out in the comments recently, while most of the benefits of graduation have been conferred on graduated sites awaiting designs, they have not yet been granted the increased privilege levels as this is part of "Phase 2", so this is incomplete. But I think that, with the implementation of elections, migration abilities, community ads, and the removal of the "Beta" logo, this is at least moving in the right direction. Whether the increased privilege levels stick with site design as a second celebration will remain to be seen.

  • You should accept this answer so that it is shown first.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 8:20
  • 3
    @Wrzlprmft Self answers don't appear first even if accepted.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 12:51
  • Sounds like this should be tagged status-accepted?
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 18:06
  • 1
    @gerrit only staff can do that... shrug feel free to ping one if you see them around.
    – Catija
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 18:15
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    Status slow-progress is more apt I'm afraid; privilege levels are the last hold-out here.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 22:29

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