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So there's news on SE's policies regarding beta sites and graduation. One important take-away was that perpetual beta status is definitely a thing, which doesn't have to mean the site isn't being successful. So some people have objected to the use of the "beta" label in these cases, and I've actually shared that sentiment for a while.

I obviously don't have data for this, but I've come to think that the beta label might actually hinder the growth of the community. Here on SE we all know that the "beta" label doesn't have to mean that the site isn't a full-fledged community. But to people not familiar with the network, especially if they're not from a tech-related background, I could see the "beta" label being daunting, as in "Oh, this is still being worked on, and isn't entirely polished yet... I'd rather wait until this is an established community." Especially since "beta" might evoke the impression that the software is still in beta, not the community (which is a legitimate assumption if you don't know the entire network behind that one beta site).

Since no one has followed the call to create a separate meta post yet, here it is. Can we do something about this? Rename "beta" to something else? Remove it entirely? (People on the network will recognise beta sites by the design.) Remove it for some semi-graduation as this answer suggested?

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    I recommend renaming it to "gupy". – Shog9 Jun 2 '15 at 0:12
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    We could just remove "beta" altogether and let the theme indicate if it is a graduated site or not. – absinthe Jun 2 '15 at 0:32
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    @Katya Yeah, as I said "Remove it entirely? (People on the network will recognise beta sites by the design.)" If you make an answer for it with some arguments, the votes would probably show what the rest of the community thinks of that idea. – Martin Ender Jun 2 '15 at 0:33
  • If the other sites are still going to be referred to as graduated, maybe stick with the academic theme in some way. Associate sites? Certified sites? – BSMP Jun 2 '15 at 1:58
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    A lot of people in the network don't know that the "beta" label doesn't have to mean it isn't a full fledged community. I've seen more than several instances where Code Review was referred to as "only a beta", even though the site has had it's graduation announced. The "beta" label is indeed detrimental to the growth and health of a site. – RubberDuck Jun 2 '15 at 12:30
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    My two cents? Permanent beta sites should be called "stable" and graduated sites should be called "premium". – Cool Fool Jun 9 '15 at 2:48
  • You have my vote for renaming it. The above suggestions look great. – user6035379 Nov 22 '16 at 16:02
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I've been a long-time proponent of removing the "beta" label when it no longer makes sense. I agree that labeling a site as "beta" creates a lot of confusion… and a certain stigma when it looks like a site is never going to <quote> "get out of beta."

But let's be careful not to replace this system with another set of labels and arcane visual queues that few people are going to understand (more on that below). This is what the basic life cycle of a site should be:

Proposal ⇒ Private Beta ⇒ Public Beta ⇒ Site

We just need to use those labels as they were actually intended. Here are the basic phases and the use of those labels as I see it:

Proposal
The Area 51 process we use to gauge interest: Yes, this needs a lot… a lot of improvement, but that is outside the scope of this post.

Private Beta
Essentially the same we have now: a two three week limited trial to see if the site can work in actual practice. The site has a 'beta' label, but a system banner more-or-less describes what is going on. I work a lot with the newer sites, and I am exploring ways to better convey the expectations and progress of a site through these phases. It's essentially a checklist or calendar of where we are and what's coming next. Stay tuned.

Public Beta
This should be a 90 day period when a site is in its formative stages. The 'beta' label is a lightweight notice to anyone who happens upon a site that this is a work in progress — that the scope, community moderation, and basic site administration is subject to change.

90 days corresponds nicely with the earliest a site would ever be eligible for graduation. Typically a graduation takes much longer, but the post that sparked this discussion (Graduation, site closure, and a clearer outlook…) describes how a site would have to be under pretty dire collapse to be closed. So the public beta is essentially the lead up to that point where we can finally say that a site is no longer "in testing"… and will be allowed to continue indefinitely.

After 90 days, remove the "beta" label; they're clear. Enjoy!

But what happened to Graduation?

I actually would like to unbundle many of the features of graduation — allow our growing middle class of smaller, non-beta, non-graduated sites to benefit from the features they need, like elections, etc. It's essentially a meritocracy where we provide access to the features you need when you have sufficient support to use them effectively. The graduation "bundle" is too restrictive; unbundle those features.

That leaves the custom site design and increased reputation levels that define "graduation." Call it whatever you want — call it a custom site, or call it nothing at all — but personally, I really dislike calling it "graduation" at all. Outside the tiny minority of people who read these meta posts, graduation is always going to sound like the ultimate goal of this entire process — you pass, or you fail:

"you are not graduating" = "you have failed"

That's the reality of the English language, so why embrace a widely misunderstood premise? I have been writing about this for years, [two], [three], [four], and expecting everyone to RTFM is an an entirely ineffective way to run a site.

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    You've been a long-time proponent... from which I gather there are some long-time opponents, too. I hope we'll hear their side of the argument. – user259867 Jun 2 '15 at 20:34
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    @HomegrownTomato Knowing the other side of the argument would be interesting, particularly as it doesn't make sense to me why the design and the other benefits be inexorably linked. – Catija Jun 2 '15 at 20:37
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    90 days seems awfully fast to call a site "done". Even on Worldbuilding, which hit the ground running and never looked back, I don't think we would have merited that status then. (By a few months later, yes -- you could graduate Worldbuilding today, metrics-wise.) But most betas I've been on have spent more than three months figuring out what they should be. Have I seen a disproportionate sample, or would 180 days be a better milepost than 90 days? I realize that we are quibbling over details; I like the broad idea. – Monica Cellio Jun 2 '15 at 21:01
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    @MonicaCellio Put a big ol' set of quote around the word "done". All site are perpetually 'under construction', but that doesn't mean they are still in "beta testing." That was the entire purpose of Ana's post, to say that once a site reaches this point, it would take a pretty big cliff to get it closed. So it's not "in testing" and they don't need the label that says (in software parlance) "this is not fully-functional <strike>software</strike> site." – Robert Cartaino Jun 2 '15 at 21:22
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    @RobertCartaino oh, I think I see what you're saying. Yes, past a certain point a site's future existence isn't in question (absent some catastrophic change), but "beta" doesn't only mean "not sure we're gonna make this real"; it also means "we're still building major parts". As soon as a site settles down I agree it should lose the "beta" label; it's just that, with one exception, the sites I've participated on have needed more than 90 days to get there. I don't think we disagree in principal; I just think the marker should be a little farther out, or evaluated per-site. – Monica Cellio Jun 2 '15 at 21:28
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    @MonicaCellio The premise of removing that beta label sooner rather than later is to get rid of that angst when sites are wondering if we're going to shut them down. "Why are we still in beta? What's left for us to do? What are we doing wrong?" Coming out of beta testing (per Ana's post) is tantamount to saying, finally, "you're clear, carry on." – Robert Cartaino Jun 2 '15 at 21:41
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    If the programming analogy persists, then perhaps what we think of as "graduation" fits into the flow (as its terminus) this way: proposal ⟹ [private|public] beta ⟹ stable ⟹ forked! That is, "forking" a site indicates that it is hived off, tweaked into a new but related form, building on what went before but now in a new idiom. ... Maybe? :) – Dɑvïd Jun 3 '15 at 6:29
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    @Davïd to me, "forked" means the original is still around, like when vendors fork an OS or a platform to make their own customizations. When a site graduates it's transformed, not forked -- there's still just one site. (No I'm not suggesting "transformed" as the term. Maybe "promoted"?) – Monica Cellio Jun 3 '15 at 13:16
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    @MonicaCellio Quite right - I didn't really think it through sufficiently, and the analogy does break down too quickly. I think there are aesthetic reasons for rejected "forked", too, so the reasons begin to pile up. The only other programming analogy that comes to my mind is some form of "2.0" language, but that's a bit ambiguous and easily confused with other "2.0" usages. So maybe "promoted" does it? Or "upgraded"? or "enhanced"? Maybe we need a thread like this one, but: "Can we do something about the 'graduated' label?"! – Dɑvïd Jun 3 '15 at 19:06
  • "2.0" also runs into SE 1.0 vs SE 2.0. Technically, everything you see on SE now is SE 2.0. There was an earlier phase where SE licensed the software to people running their own sites; those were the SE 1.0 sites. I believe all of those have now either migrated to SE 2.0 (e.g. Mi Yodeya) or shut down. I think you're on to something with "Can we do something about the 'graduated' label?". – Monica Cellio Jun 3 '15 at 19:16
  • @RobertCartaino related: meta.stackexchange.com/q/303727/162102 – Monica Cellio Nov 27 '17 at 20:44
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    @RobertCartaino I think we both agree that the "beta" label lingers far too long and well past the point where there's anything provisional about a site. Yet the label sticks like tar to sites for years past when it should have been shed, harming the sites in the process. Is there anything you can do to help with the really egregious cases, even if your teammates resist solving the general problem? – Monica Cellio Jan 13 at 21:44
  • @MonicaCellio I'm back and writing up a comprehensive (sane <grin>) new site lifecycle workflow again as we speak. Completion and implementation would likely be a few months out — I don't even know if it will be any better received than last time — but honestly, you probably know more about when/how partial graduation exceptions occur than myself. – Robert Cartaino Jan 14 at 17:14
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The beta label shouldn't have to be forever. If a site is in that stable "not graduated but not in flux either" state, the label should be removed. Right now the "beta" label lingers far too long and well past the point where there's anything provisional about a site (more than eight years for some sites). Yet the label sticks like tar to sites for years past when it should have been shed, harming the sites in the process.

The distinction between beta and graduated doesn't matter to most people, but it's occasionally necessary for SE insiders to know which sites have which status so long as these categories exist, which might be changing. (Can I migrate to this site? Can I run community ads here? Is the site's scope still in flux?) This doesn't need to take the form of a great big "beta" at the top of the page, but -- if we're going to allow styling changes -- there should be something that we know to look for if a site's status is relevant. 500+ moderators need to occasionally look at sites they don't participate on because of cross-site matters; please give us a hint.

One way to do this would be to keep the current logo scheme even if other aspects of the site change. We all know that a site logo in that shade of blue with (usually) text is a beta site. If the "stats block" on a beta's front page remains (the one that links to Area 51) then that's another way to tell. There are probably other ways, but it should be passively available, not something you have to go look up in the Help Center.

Finally, I would suggest keeping the "beta" label for a site's first year. The early days of a site are when the scope, guidelines, and general character of a site are in most-active development. It's appropriate to let visitors to know that things are under active development here. Visitors who like what they see can jump in, and visitors who don't like what they see might remember, if they come across it again a year later, that it was in flux and they should take another look rather than automatically clicking away because they didn't like that site last time. (Granted, I am speculating here -- I don't have data.)

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    This makes a lot of sense. It has been clearly observed that sites can "morph" in the early months -- sometimes longer -- so "beta for a year" seems very sensible. One can expect (or at least realistically hope) that sites that get established have clarified their ethos and modus vivendi in that year. To my mind, the obvious analogue to "beta" is "stable" -- any explicit "beta" labelling/graphics (which is fair and meaningful warning) could simply be removed for "stable" sites. – Dɑvïd Jun 2 '15 at 7:12
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    @Davïd right, we don't need to explicitly label "mature beta" sites; I just mean labeling the ones that are still in active churn. On a few sites that stage lasts longer (we both know one where it was 2-3 years), but with luck most sites settle down more quickly. And if the CMs, who have more data, say that point should be 15 months or 9 months or something else, they should adjust the number -- I picked a year based on my own observation but the exact number isn't important. – Monica Cellio Jun 2 '15 at 12:53
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    Monica, you've veered into an excellent point about needing better feature discovery. I'm just not sure we should preserve these arcane UI elements so a "shade of blue" (for example) is how you can tell a site can receive migrations. I'd much rather see a comprehensive feature request so even the newer SE mods can find this stuff. After 143 launches, I still don't know when a site leaves private beta. And egads, I really want to fix that tangled flag-handling UI and expose all those back-door tricks only a few mods know. Great point, Monica! – Robert Cartaino Jun 3 '15 at 14:26
  • Thanks @RobertCartaino; I'll see if I can come up with a feature request. I mentioned the 500+ mods but it's also other users at times, e.g. the ones who suggest (or review suggestions of) migrations, or the users on a young beta gearing up an ad campaign (can we advertise on that site?), people coming in via hot questions who might decide to stay a while, etc. Arcane UI folklore isn't great but we have it; if we can come up with non-arcane, discoverable lore instead I'm all for that! (Also, yeah, please fix the flags and sneaky tricks. How can I help?) – Monica Cellio Jun 3 '15 at 14:38
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    All that said, knowing what the functional differences are between a permanent beta and a graduated ("promoted"?) site will be relevant. For example, can permanent betas run community ads? Receive migrations? Knowing what differences exist will affect how we expose the information, so a feature request may need to wait. – Monica Cellio Jun 3 '15 at 14:54
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    @MonicaCellio Yeah, it's a bit too early for an actual feature design, but we're starting to look at the site lifecycle and what stats/progress to display (like we do in Area 51) to show that progress. Once we flesh that out, it might provide a good method/location to also show a site's "capabilities." That will be a good time to readdress this. – Robert Cartaino Jun 5 '15 at 0:21
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+200

What does "Losing the BETA" do to a site's activity?

It is hard to anticipate the impact of the "graduation" process. The following is a SEDE query that shows the graduation impact on all the sites I am aware of that have graduated in the past 2 years or so (using this SEDE query to identify elections). Each image is a link to the SEDE query that generated the image, each date is the date of the first "election" (when the first caucus badge was issued)

pay careful attention to the scale on the left margin too, the absolute numbers can be interesting. Also, not all charts go back to the same date, so some are more 'compressed' than others.

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    Great effort here! – Lightness Races in Orbit Jun 2 '15 at 14:45
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    And what is the point you want to deliver with this? What are you trying to say? What conclusions are we drawing from the graphs? – Simon Forsberg Jun 2 '15 at 15:44
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    @SimonAndréForsberg - from the OP "I obviously don't have data for this, but I've come to think that the beta label might actually hinder the growth of the community." - now there's data - and, for the most part, graduating gives a (permanent?) boost to site activity. – rolfl Jun 2 '15 at 15:46
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    You're arguing causation when there may only be correlation. Nothing changed on several of the sites at graduation: Christianity, Math Overflow. Some sites were already on an upward trends: Movies, Travel, Academia. Some did show a change but there's no data to argue that it's due to being out of Beta. Your answer would be more helpful if it explained the graphs and what you're seeing them say. – Catija Jun 2 '15 at 17:13
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    @Catija - I'm not about to guess why the numbers did what they did, but I can say that the election-date is a landmark of the end of a process, not the start of the process. The months after the 'announcement' of graduation, and the actual election are telling. You can see in the charts how the activity increases before the election, as people become aware, dependent, and active. Looking through the sites, and correlating them with this tracker you can see the activity actually starts increasing with the announcement, not the election – rolfl Jun 2 '15 at 18:09
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    Then it seems that charts showing side design roll-out or announcement of graduation would be better to prove your point than ones showing election dates. – Catija Jun 2 '15 at 18:14
  • @Catija - you are probably right, but identifying those dates is much harder to do. – rolfl Jun 2 '15 at 18:17
  • These graphs are interesting, but (in addition to Catija's comment about upward trends) do you have evidence to suggest that this is due to a logo/title/"beta"-related change rather than, e.g., blog/meta mentions, general excitement over graduation, other social media mentions, etc.? Activity graphs like this would only really be relevant if a study was done where the "beta" logo and site design were silently changed, perhaps A/B tested to attempt to remove other time-based factors from the study. As it stands, they're very interesting, but not really useful, and potentially misleading. – Jason C Jun 2 '15 at 20:25
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    I certainly appreciate the work you went to generating these charts. The burst of activity surrounding the first election is interesting. A few sites (The Workplace and Graphic Design) do seem to have a permanent increase in activity following graduation. But many of the other sites seem to settle back into seasonal patterns of activity. Not surprisingly, the initial excitement of a new design, new privilege levels and new elections seems to dissipate over time. I'm afraid I'm not convinced that the beta label hurts much if at all. – Jon Ericson Jun 2 '15 at 21:25
  • @HomegrownTomato - I have removed the MathOverflow metric. It was borked. Thanks. – rolfl Jun 2 '15 at 23:36
  • @Catija - I have taken the time to correlate and include the site graduation announcement date, as well. Now you can see where in time the activity picks up.... if relevant. – rolfl Jun 2 '15 at 23:37
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    @JonEricson - Academia, Money, Graphic Design, Travel all show significant "up-ticks" in activity after the announcement, and again following the actual graduation. The other sites are all special cases, etc. If Stack-exchange graduated a few more sites in the past 3 years it would have been helpful. Since 2013, only 8 sites have reasonable data... that's 1 every 4 months or so. – rolfl Jun 2 '15 at 23:40
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    @rolfl But that doesn't show an association with the removal of the word "beta" itself. Remember, the topic of this conversation is the specific word "beta" and alternative words, not graduation / announcement effects in general. Your work here is totally awesome, but I wonder if it's too misleading. Too many things happen at the same time as the removal of the word "beta" from the pages on a site to make this data interpret-able. – Jason C Jun 3 '15 at 0:10
  • Apparently folks are still referencing this answer, so I think it's worth noting that until the change in policy that prompted this discussion we were looking at much of this same data as our means of determining when a site should graduate. Which is to say, when we saw evidence of a broad, upward trend in activity, we'd graduate a site. This is going to make it really difficult to separate cause and effect for most sites after, say, early 2012. – Shog9 Dec 1 '17 at 22:21
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I would suggest removing the "beta" label altogether, and simply let the theme indicate if is a beta site or not.

This removes the possible stigma of the "beta" label on sites drawing new visitors away, while still allowing experienced Stack Exchange users to identify it as a beta site.

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    I like this option the best. However, the only concerning thing about this solution is that it becomes hard to define where the line is between "beta" and "graduated", especially with calls for custom CSS. – Nathan Merrill Jun 2 '15 at 1:03
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    I don't believe this would conflict with custom CSS (I support both). I think we should separate the concept of graduation, which deals with how a site operates, from the way the site looks. – PhiNotPi Jun 2 '15 at 1:27
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    My main issue with this suggestion is that it doesn't in any way address the other things that being "beta" means. There's a big difference between a beta and graduated site. – Catija Jun 2 '15 at 2:25
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    No - I think not: as another post points out, there are real and significant differences between early-days-beta sites and beta-forever sites that are long established and functioning. The complete removal of the "beta" nomenclature obliterates this meaningful, and helpful, distinction. There are other options. – Dɑvïd Jun 2 '15 at 9:22
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Let's not remove the "beta" language but rather, make it meaningful. The programming analogy has its roots in SO's raison d'être, the hoary origins of the SE network, and suggests the obvious solution.

  • beta sites are "early days" sites, still finding a voice, refining what is on- and off-topic, establishing a community of users, attracting specialists and the merely curious as the stock of Q&As makes the web a better place;
  • stable sites are what I think of as the "beta-forever" sites, which continue as relatively low-traffic (or <10QPD, anyway) sites, but where consistent activity builds the site's special interest resources.

My suggestion would be to demarcate the "beta" sites, perhaps by the simple expedient of the β symbol, and then quietly remove that demarcation for "stable" sites. The "stable" sites might even be blessed with some light-touch refinements.

This is simple, preserves SO/SE nomenclature, but uses it in a meanginful way, now that the whole SE ecosystem has evolved to its present state.


P.s. This Q&A is about the "beta label", not about "graduation" language, although these are related issues. Still, using "beta" meaningfully (which is the central point of this answer) implies that the term "graduation" is ill-suited to this context, and for the reasons Robert Cartaino points out. My own suggestion for a replacement term appears as a comment to his answer.

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    Ah, I just saw this answer after replying to your comment on mine. Yes, that. – Monica Cellio Jun 2 '15 at 12:55
  • But how do you address the other things that mark a site as "not beta"? – Catija Jun 2 '15 at 17:21
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    "stable sites" -- I really like this wording. – Ana Jun 3 '15 at 3:08
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In my mind, "Established" is the correct word to replace "Graduated."

  • It suggests a site that's been here a while.
  • It suggests a site that's part of the culture.
  • It suggests something worthwhile.
  • It suggests something relatively stable.

For public beta, "Developing" or "Growing" are my suggestions.

  • It suggests something not quite finished yet.
  • It suggests that effort is needed, but people are putting effort into it.
  • It suggests that you're welcome to come join.

For private beta, we could just keep the name. I think it holds the connotations it needs:

  • It suggests that it's currently closed off to everyone else.
  • It suggests that it's in a strictly-testing phase.
  • It suggests that there's a process required to get involved.

These names are both more accurate and leave us room to better define them in the coming years as Stack Exchange grows.

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    (Nearly) all sites are growing and developing, and all of them require effort to keep things from falling apart. Also, my understanding of the new Community Team approach is that some sites are never going to graduate, and that is fine: they love them as they are. I agree that "private beta" = "beta" de facto; this is the actual "trial by fire" stage for the sites. – user259867 Jun 2 '15 at 1:18
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    @Homegrown Growth isn't the goal of existence for a graduated site; it's a side effect of the primary goal of producing high-quality content. Developing sites both need to maintain content quality and grow, but growing is much more critical for a public beta site. – Aza Jun 2 '15 at 1:21
  • Why is growth critical? It seems that getting 2-3 questions per day for year after year is perfectly fine. – user259867 Jun 2 '15 at 1:24
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    @Homegrown I would also argue that such a site might be better considered for graduation, as it sounds like this hypothetical site has established itself already. – Aza Jun 2 '15 at 1:29
  • If the point of the big question was "Some sites will be "beta" forever", how can you classify sites like that... that aren't growing as "growing" or "developing"? How do either of these terms allow for these "mini SE" sites? By your seeming definition, they would fit into the top category but SE just said these sites won't really ever attain "graduated" status. – Catija Jun 2 '15 at 3:35
  • @Catija If a site isn't developing further, and it isn't at a point where it can graduate, then people need to take a serious look at the site to figure out why, and what can be done, or otherwise just close the site. (This is also a vague redefinition of what it means to graduate.) – Aza Jun 2 '15 at 3:38
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    @Emrakul Have you read the big meta post that spawned this entire conversation? : "If there's enough moderation for a public beta site to consistently remain free of spam, for flags to be cleared, and for our Be Nice policy to be upheld, your site will remain open." – Catija Jun 2 '15 at 3:40
  • @Catija I am aware of this. This is a vague redefinition, like I say, of what it means to 'graduate.' – Aza Jun 2 '15 at 3:52
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    But half of your statements go completely against what is said in that question. SE has just said they will not "graduate" sites with fewer than 10 questions per day and they will not close sites that follow the minimum guidelines I just posted. – Catija Jun 2 '15 at 3:54
4

I think we should split the sites progress in five steps.

  1. Chaos - The time in Area 51 where nothing is set yet other than "it might sound interesting".
  2. Discord - The private beta where the basic rules are set up. Lasts a week or so.
  3. Confusion - The "public beta" where new users flock to the site and the topicality of the border zones must be defined, shouldn't last too long (90 days till a year or so).
  4. Bureaucracy - Thats where most sites will end. There is a steady stream of new questions and answers, the rules are pretty much set, nothing ever changes but everything works about fine.
  5. Overflow - The "graduated" super sites that have their own design, domain, etc.

That way we have each step clarified by the kind of feeling one gets when interacting with them. In the first three there are too many changes in short time to keep track of everything except the really engaged. In the forth everything works as expected and in the last you get what you expect when you go on a site with > 100.000 active users.

I would suggest that question migration only works to sites of stage 4 and 5, but not below. Sites do get a little own design in stage 4.

Best of all: we get rid of this confusing "beta" notion in all places.

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    … those are not positive-sounding labels, to my ear! – Nathan Tuggy Jun 3 '15 at 15:50
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    5 stages sounds right, but to be consistent with SE developers, it would be better to use Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. – user259867 Jun 3 '15 at 19:40
  • @HomegrownTomato Yeah, but that doesn't fit to forth stage as well as bureaucracy. – Angelo Fuchs Jun 4 '15 at 8:41
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I think that removing the stigma of the 'beta' label for long terms beta sites would probably be a good thing. I'm sure there are people who haven't committed to Robotics on the assumption that it might go away.

However, I'm not sure that a single beta / established / graduated site distinction is the best option. I feel that some of the benefits of graduation should be more widely available.

Maybe, in the same way that individuals have privileges according to their personal reputation, sites should have privileges according to site statistics. maybe this is what Robert Cartaino is already suggesting, but my initial thoughts suggest something like:

Age

After a year, moderators should be asked to get the approval of the community to continue in their post. People who are no longer interested in, or have no time to continue as moderators can then step down gracefully, and people who want the position can be voted in.

While I am happy to continue to serve as a pro-tem for as long as Robotics needs me, I would feel more comfortable with a mandate from the community to continue in that role.

Users

The reputation required for privileges could be set to increase only when the number of active users at the new thresholds becomes high enough (so that you ensure that there are enough established users, and enough users with access to moderation tools after the switch).

Activity

Sites could get 'allow migration in' privs when their questions answered and questions answered percentages reach an appropriate threshold.

Finally, sites could get the redesign when they become popular enough that they become a promotional asset to the network (though I can't see any reason for not allowing community ads before this point though).


I should have finished reading all of the answers on Graduation, site closure, and a clearer outlook on the health of SE sites before writing this answer, as the answer by Wrzlprmft does a better job than I did above.

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