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I have read a number of posts that give the target number of questions per day for a site to graduate from Beta status as ten. (Another said fifteen but apparently that is out of date.) I do realize that graduation decisions depend on much more than this, but still, I would like to know: when the stats are calculated, do questions posed in the associated Meta site count?

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    I really don't think so. Users can post 1000 discussions in meta, but do nothing on the main site. So even if they do count, they shouldn't. – Shadow9 Feb 7 '18 at 16:01
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    @ShadowWizard - I'd argue that they should count, because so much of what needs to happen to build a good site has to happen in Meta. But that's not my primary focus with my question. I'd like to know whether they currently count or not -- I'm just asking what the rule is. – aparente001 Feb 7 '18 at 16:03
  • But the amount is not relevant, maybe content... and I believe SE staff take into account the overall meta activity when deciding if a site is ready for graduation. – Shadow9 Feb 7 '18 at 16:04
  • @ShadowWizard - "But the amount is not relevant, maybe content..." I don't understand. // I do understand that site graduation considerations are complex and involve both quantitative and qualitative factors. I'm trying to ask a simple rule question here. – aparente001 Feb 7 '18 at 16:06
  • The Beta stats quoted in the 15 per day are old... they're no longer quoted on Beta as being 15, it clearly says 10. – Catija Feb 7 '18 at 16:30
  • @aparente001 I know and I only speculate, hence comments and not an answer. – Shadow9 Feb 7 '18 at 16:40
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Child meta participation is an important part of getting to the point of being ready to graduate but I'm pretty sure that the questions per day asked there are not part of the ten questions per day metric used to determine whether a site is ready to graduate.

I'm a moderator on a relatively active new beta (under a year at this point). We have about 5-6 questions per day in general. But meta is really hit and miss. Some days we have people posting 2-3 questions per day and others we have only one for an entire week.

There are two factors that will influence a meta question being asked:

  1. There's something to discuss that needs to be hashed out by users.
  2. There's someone who sees that this is the case and is willing to take the time out to ask the question.

Meta questions are spurred by need and posed by people who have reached a threshold of wanting to express that need. We only ask them when there's an issue on the site that someone feels needs to be discussed.


Low Meta Participation

As such, there are two possibilities in relation to low meta usage:

  1. There's not much else that needs discussion.
  2. There's not anyone interested in starting such a discussion.

The first of the two is fine. If you look at some mature sites, many of them have very little meta discussion because there's not much else to figure out. So, as a site ages, they may actually have very little going on on their meta site - because they know their scope and what's going on. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

When it becomes a bad thing is when we do have discussions that need to happen but there's no one who will take the time to ask the question (or answer it). This low meta participation by users is a sign of poor engagement and may lead to difficulties finding users willing to maintain the site - which would be very bad for its longevity.

A few sites, recently, have had problems finding users willing to stand up to moderate and I see this as a symptom of this second point. If all we have are people who want to use the site but not who want to care for it, the site has a problem and that needs to be discussed and addressed before a site leaves beta.


High Meta Participation

Following from the above, high meta participation could be caused by a similar two factors:

  1. There's still a lot of stuff that needs to be discussed.
  2. There are lots of users willing to participate in meta.

One could argue that a site that still has a lot of meta activity still has a lot to figure out, and may not be a good candidate for graduation for that very reason - but it's really going to depend on what sort of things are actually happening on meta. If there's a lot of meta questions (but few answers or votes) then that indicates that a site needs help. Questions are being asked but no one is helping determine what should come of those questions.

Alternately, if there are a lot of active meta users, they may be doing all sorts of "fun" meta activities that don't really relate to the health of the site (e.g. challenges/contests, announcements, getting-to-know-you posts). Or, they may be working out tagging minutiae or figuring out why a question is open/closed or was reopened/reclosed. These have little to do with whether the site is graduation-ready.

So, this requires really looking at the questions being asked rather than looking at a number. There's no way to know - based solely on a number - whether the activity is indicative of a site not ready to graduate because they still are figuring out their scope, or one that's got its ducks in a row and is comfortable and ready to go.

I discuss a lot of this from the other direction in my feature request to change the "Graduation" process.


So, to recap, I think the above shows a strong argument for why the team wouldn't use meta questions per day as part of the 10 QPD metric required for the removal of the beta label.

Both low and high meta participation can be a sign of a site that's ready for graduation and a sign that it's not. As such, the raw number is a poor indicator of readiness.

  • Thanks a lot, Catija. (How do you pronounce the J in your userid?) I don't think the site I was thinking of is ready to graduate yet, but I was giving some thought today to how we get from Point A to Point B and I wanted to understand the rules better. // "A few sites, recently, have had problems finding users willing to stand up to moderate." About this -- we have two wonderful, relatively recently added moderators. We also have two that were appointed many years ago who are rarely active nowadays. I see several very active participants ... – aparente001 Feb 7 '18 at 17:14
  • ... who I think could easily morph into a moderator role (not me, by the way), and I think the two active ones need a third person to bolster their efforts and spread out the responsibility a bit. But I don't know how to suggest that another moderator be appointed, and I don't know if a prerequisite is to do some thinning first. I've looked high and low and can't figure this out. This is tricky to ask openly -- I don't want an inactive mod to think I'm targeting them, and I don't want the two active mods to think I don't think they're up to the job. Do you have any suggestions? – aparente001 Feb 7 '18 at 17:19
  • The Team tends to like there to be at least three active mods on a site but it's ultimately up to the moderators whether they ask for help. If they feel like they have the site under control, they will demur... but if they're struggling and don't realize they can ask for assistance, it might be worth bringing up... but do it once and leave them alone if they say that they're fine :) Based on your sites, it looks like all four mods have been active today. Whether they're actually moderating, that's unclear but moderation doesn't necessarily show up to users in a public way. – Catija Feb 7 '18 at 17:30
  • Much of what we do is behind-the-scenes, unattributed to the regular users... mod messages, flag handling, deleting spam accounts, etc. These are all things moderators do that you can't see. If they're in active on the child meta, that could just be how they moderate. Moderators are not expected to be the voice(s) of meta; sites are communally run, with moderators either cleaning up the trash or being exception handlers, depending on how you look at the job... Moderation teams fall into habits and often some mods will do one job while others do other things. They can look inactive but aren't. – Catija Feb 7 '18 at 17:33
  • Also, the j is a y... so it sounds like "ka-tya". – Catija Feb 7 '18 at 17:35
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    Another way you can have lots of meta activity but not in a bad way is if people are asking about specific posts or tags. One of my sites gets a "why is this question {closed | still open | deleted}?" question every day or two, but it's not because we're full of controversy and churn. Cultivating tags is good to do at almost any point in a site's life and they tend to cluster (hey, as long as we're talking about that tag, how about these others?). – Monica Cellio Feb 7 '18 at 18:20
  • @MonicaCellio - Oh, I think the Beta site I was thinking of has had lots of positive Meta activity. That's why I was hoping the questions there would add to our count. But I understand now why they don't. – aparente001 Feb 8 '18 at 3:43
  • @aparente001 no. Meta is important, but it's not the main site. SE evaluates sites based on what happens on the main site. – Monica Cellio Feb 8 '18 at 4:04

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