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This question arose from discussion on Should we rename or remove the "beta" label?. Sites fall into three main categories:

  • Young betas that are still very much in beta. Consensus seems to be that these should be labelled "beta".

  • Long-running betas that probably aren't going to graduate. That's fine, but people have pointed out that "beta" isn't really a good label for a four-year-old established site.

  • Graduated sites. These are the sites that have higher privilege levels, custom designs, elected moderators, and other differences.

"Graduated" implies that only this last category has really "made it", but SE has now determined that the second category is a reasonable end state that no site should be embarrassed about. So talking about those as "long-running betas" or "niche sites" or whatever, in contrast to those other guys who actually made it and graduated, feels a little off. We do need to talk about the differences between the second and third categories sometimes, so we need some label.

Is there a better way to talk about "graduated" sites? Maybe, since these are the ones that get custom designs, they're "promoted"? Not getting a promotion feels different from not graduating. Is there a better term?

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    Honestly, Robert's answer on the Beta post you linked to addresses it by simply removing the terminology entirely and releasing the "graduation benefits" as needed, with site design being done when it can be handled. Removing "beta" makes all sites simply "Sites". – Catija Jun 3 '15 at 21:16
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    @Catija It's not like this new label will necessarily actually appear on the sites. But surely, we as a community will still want to use a word to refer those sites that have assumed their ultimate form? (Especially for the SE team to communicate things to the communities.) – Martin Ender Jun 3 '15 at 21:17
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    If the benefits get decoupled and distributed, so that there might be a site that's pure-beta (as we know it now), one that has beta privs but elected mods, one with beta mods but higher privs, one with a new design but nothing else, etc, then there's no longer a "graduated" category and it doesn't matter. I suspect it'll be a while before that happens, and in the meantime we might be able to find a different word. Also, as Martin said, this isn't about something in the UI, but it comes up in documentation (help center etc) and in discussion. – Monica Cellio Jun 3 '15 at 21:19
  • @MartinBüttner I'd argue that the likelihood is that, short of banning the term "graduated" to mean "sites with custom designs", it will continue to be used, regardless... Though, I guess that's why this question is here. – Catija Jun 3 '15 at 21:21
  • @MonicaCellio I'm pretty sure there won't be sites with custom designs but no other "graduated" benefits. It seems to be the final step of the entire process. Also, for some sites they are already decoupling... Blender is getting elections without site design. – Catija Jun 3 '15 at 21:23
  • @Catija maybe, but we'll see. (That wouldn't be a full-on design, but changes like that could make "beta" sites look different enough to raise the question.) – Monica Cellio Jun 3 '15 at 21:24
  • I'd guess they'd just make an interim design that would be the same for every non-beta non-graduated site... probably identical to the beta design but a different color (perhaps) and without the beta word. That's not the same as a custom design. – Catija Jun 3 '15 at 21:27
  • Okay - my latest (and -- promise -- my last!) shot at this: ① "young betas" ⇒ beta; ② "long-running betas" ⇒ stable; ③ "graduated" ⇒ bespoke. There -- simple terms to cover the three SE categories, in neutral, descriptive, and appropriate (IMO) language. IMHO, of course. :) Mind you, this has probably all moved on since I last looked... :/ – Dɑvïd Jun 23 '15 at 19:53
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I think we should consider doing away with the label entirely. The whole concept of waiting for "graduation" to get the features you need is too restrictive… no matter what you call it.

Instead, we should be looking at unbundling all the features that communities can really use when they have sufficient support to use them effectively.

What does this hierarchy really mean anyway? We have this growing middle class of "non-graduated" sites that doing fine in their own right. Some have totally dominated in their subject. Some are bigger, some get more answers, and some have well-established partnerships… and some are having elections and waiting for custom designs, and some desperately need to support migrations. Trying to line these up in some sort of labeled hierarchy is misleading and often misinterpreted; it's also overly restrictive and ultimately self defeating.

There should be a simple workflow for sites:

Proposal ⇒ Private Beta ⇒ Public Beta ⇒ Site

Features are added as they can be supported. We don't need another label beyond that saying "you still haven't made it." That's the entire purpose of removing the "beta" label once a site is no longer "in testing." The site is clear. Let them be and enjoy their site. Not all sites are going to be the next Stack Overflow and that's okay; it's not a failure mode. And it serves no purpose to call them un-graduated, unestablished, unpromoted, or incomplete… or whatever term we are looking for to replace "graduation."

Whatever you call it, they all say the same thing… you haven't "made it."

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Maybe the problem is that we're using words that have too much connotation already. While "Promoted" or "Established" fit the new site evolution model better than "Graduated", they can still mean very specific things to people and they don't necessarily fit the model perfectly.

So how about using a somewhat vaguer term that gives us more leeway in how we interpret it? For the sake of definiteness, I'd like to throw out Gold, but I'm sure someone else would come up with a better suggestion along these lines. The idea of "Gold" specifically is that it's the ultimate achievement a site can strive for, but it is not necessarily something every site has to obtain at some point in its life.

Another benefit of this is that, at some point in the future, the exact definition of (not-)"beta" and "graduated" might change again, and with a less specific terminology we can avoid having the same discussion again two years from now.

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    Established is the best I've seen so far. As far as I'm concerned, "Promoted" is identical to "Graduated" and has all of the same pitfalls. – Catija Jun 3 '15 at 21:28
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How about:

Young - Beta
Not Graduated, but not Young - Growing
Graduated - Established

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    I hope that all of them are growing, though. "Established" could work, though in a way the long-running beta sites are established too. They're not going to go away, so in that sense they're established. – Monica Cellio Jun 3 '15 at 21:12
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    Why not just use "Established" For both the second and third category and nix the whole idea of "graduation" entirely. – enderland Jun 3 '15 at 21:20
  • @enderland, in that case 'Promoted' as Monica suggested would be good. You need some way of differentiating between the different types of sites. – Lance Roberts Jun 3 '15 at 21:22
  • @enderland because we still talk about whether mods are elected or appointed, or whether you need 2k or 10k rep to see deleted posts, or whether users can migrate to a site, or why this site has a nice design and that one's generic. – Monica Cellio Jun 3 '15 at 21:23
  • But as per the other meta post, a site which is "growing" may actually be "established" but simply not large enough to be "graduated" (or justify SE spending resources designing themes, etc, I guess). – enderland Jun 3 '15 at 21:23
  • Yes, I realize that I haven't necessarily found one word for each that completely encapsulates them, just what I could think up at this point in time. – Lance Roberts Jun 3 '15 at 21:24
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    In the case of long-term beta sites, we're okay if there isn't much growth to speak of. In that category, what's really required is consistency. I know, it's a nitpicky distinction, but probably important here. – Ana Jun 3 '15 at 21:48

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