If a site in beta seems to have taken a wrong turn somewhere and has serious issues in developing and retaining an active user base and community,

  • Can the residual community somehow recommend the site for closure?

If so,

  • What would be the path to reopening?
  • How could any existing high-quality content on the site be preserved (simply for posterity, or possibly for re-incorporation into a successor site) ?

(I'm not thinking of this in relation to all sites that simply currently have low levels of interaction - many of those are still useful and developing resources and have well-functioning communities.)

  • 6
    re-opening is unlikely, you need to go through the area 51 process again. As for the content, most closed sites get their posts preserved in a data-dump that can be found on the closed proposal page on A51 but that is not done consistently (or is somewhere on a 6 to 8 weeks schedule)
    – rene
    Apr 7 '18 at 9:07
  • 4
    @rene Hey now, AFAIK we're only missing one or two data dumps from some years back. All the recent ones should be up. I do them as part of the closure process.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Apr 7 '18 at 22:17
  • @AdamLear I'm sorry, I was reciting from memory, I didn't actually do fact checking, my bad, you're good ...
    – rene
    Apr 8 '18 at 5:46
  • @rene All good. :)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Apr 8 '18 at 5:51

This process (more or less) is happening right now on Health. This post on their own Meta pretty much sums it up: Should we initiate assisted dying? and the post score indicates it is representative for the community's opinion and not just a single person. The Community Managers are taking this seriously and the outcome is (as of yet) unclear. There is a new Medical Sciences proposal which aims to restart with a scope limited to 'professional' questions.

Reopening the site is unlikely; in the past, a Startups beta site has been closed down, a new proposal appeared but it's closed again now due to lack of (posting and moderation) activity. An example of a successful relaunch is Literature, but again, this happened via a new Area 51 proposal.

As @rene mentioned, a data dump is made available of the 'final state' of the site, which you can download from Area 51.

  • Weird, the link to the second Startups site just goes to the generic page for non-existent sites rather than redirecting back to the proposal. Mar 7 '19 at 20:42
  • Health ended up changing its name to Medical Sciences
    – Laurel
    May 14 '21 at 18:30

I can give some suggestions about what can be done with the content if a site closes.

As others have said, if a site closes, it will have a data dump of all its content that can be downloaded. If a new site opens up (this is usually done via Area51) where the content is on topic, the content of the old site is licensed CC-BY-SA (as is everything here) and you are free to salvage any good material from the data dump as long as you attribute it properly.

Also, there may be another home for some of the questions. This won't be an option for every site, but it is possible to have some of the questions of the closing site migrated to other sites. In very rare cases, site overlap is so great that all the questions can be migrated. Of course, even if a new site is opened, the questions won't be migrated away from a site where they are on topic. I know of at least three sites (taken from the list at When do we merge the content of a closed beta site with an existing site?) that were completely absorbed by other sites when they closed: Theoretical Physics, (the old) Astronomy, and Guitars.


The final word in close/reopen decisions belongs to the SE. The results of the A51 proposals are more like suggestions to the SE as a rule. If they don't want a site, they will find a reason to not start it.

Typically, sites don't ask for their closure - its only possible reason if their user base evaporates and thus, nobody remains to ask for the closure.

About the reopen: the SE absolutely don't like to reopen sites. Maybe if it goes through the A51 again, but they don't do it very gladly even it this case.

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