Writing.SE has raised the issue of our desire to graduate a year ago
Here it is: we're tired of being a beta site. We believe we have been a consistently successful site, we've been around for more than eight years, we have over 1,000 avid users, we have 100% answered questions, and we get over 12,000 visits a day. We might not be as big as Stack Overflow, but we're certainly not "beta" anymore. Here are our stats, take a look for yourself.
The "beta" status causes our site actual harm in multiple ways:
- We are in need of migration paths to other SEs: Worldbuilding, Academia, Legal. As a beta site, we can't get those, and all those migrations fall on the shoulders of our three moderators alone — we are reduced to notifying them via flag that a post needs to be migrated. The whole process takes several days, when it could be done in a few hours if we had those migration paths.
- Reputation thresholds for privileges are very very low. As a result, users are reviewing posts, casting close and reopen votes on questions long before they are familiar with the workings of the Stack. As an example, over the past three days, I have received 540 reputation on the back of one post alone. 500 reputation is the threshold for casting close/reopen votes on beta sites. Would anyone here claim that a person who posted one good answer, and has been a member for 3 days, has enough knowledge to cast this kind of votes? Low reputation thresholds make sense for fledgling SEs with few users and few upvotes, where reputation gain is slow — not for us.
- The "beta" status is demoralising. Look here to what extent even our mods are demoralised. That's just not right. We're feeling rejected by Stack Exchange. We're a large community that feels stifled and hopeless. We keep saying all the above, and nobody listens. Every day that we look at the huge ugly "beta" label staring off the top of our page is an offence. You're going to tell us we're wrong to feel this way, you're going to say that this is illogical — but that is how we feel. The overwhelming vote for graduating has been standing for a year now, with no progress. How else would we feel?
We have been told we cannot graduate until we have 10 questions per day
In and of itself, this is demoralising. Writing is different in its nature from programming. It does not raise as many questions that can be answered within the SE format. We are never going to sustain 10 questions per day, no matter how strong of a site we are. We sustained it for a few weeks with a community push; it didn't help. Our community is focused on quality, not numbers. Are we then to remain in beta forever? Are we to suffer forever all the damages mentioned above, and never enjoy the advantages that a graduated site gets?
Furthermore, having done some research, we came to realise that the "rule" is being applied to us selectively, and has not been applied to a significant number of other SEs. Here is the total of what we've found. Some examples:
- Photography, Christianity, Bicycles and RPG, among other examples, all graduated with less than 5 questions/day, three out of the four were also merely "okay" on another stat, while the fourth had a mere 3.4 questions/day upon graduating.
- Multiple active, graduated, "successful" SEs continue not to have 10 questions/day, and it is considered OK: Puzzling - 9.7, Mi Yodya - 9.4, Photography - 9.4, Cryptography - 9.0, Webmasters - 8.6, Movies & TV - 8.3, Seasoned Advice - 8.2, AI - 7.6, Japanese Language - 7.2, UX - 6.1, CraftCMS - 4.9, Bicycles - 3.9, Christianity - 3.9, Theoretical Computer Science - 3.1, Quantum Computing - 3.0, Skeptics - 2.4, Patents - 0.9, Expression Engine - 0.6, Stack Apps - 0.5. (source)
- Most strikingly, Quantum Computing is 10 months old. So it was allowed non-beta status with only 3 questions a day at the same time as we were denied it. Within a month from telling us 'no', Stack Exchange told another site with worse stats 'yes'.
This unequal treatment surprises us, to say the least.
This problem is systemic. SE's rules brand smaller sites with an inappropriate "beta" label long past when it applies.
This proposal to remove "beta" from sites like ours was made in 2017 and gained a lot of community support, but nothing has happened since, even though its author now works for SE. Read the answers there and see how frustrating and demoralising being branded "beta" for years and years is.
Robert Cartaino, one of SE's most senior community managers, deleted his answer to this question with the following explanation:
@MonicaCellio Deleting this because the proposal to remove beta labels and unravel graduation as we discussed is going nowhere. I'll post something if anything ever becomes with it. – Robert Cartaino♦ Jun 27 at 18:39
For all the talk of fixing beta and graduation, even he hit a brick wall. How can we remain hopeful in light of that?
In light of all the above, we, Writing.SE, ask for graduation, now.
Design elements take time, we understand. But, as a first step, we ask for the immediate removal of the 'beta' label, and for an official announcement that we are moving towards graduation. Surely that's not much to ask for?
We have been told that "soon" graduation will no longer be a thing. But we were told this a year ago, and have heard nothing since then. SE has been talking about it for at least four years. How long must we wait?
For a year since we've made the request, we have waited and suffered, and the damages of the site remaining in beta accumulated. "One day" the whole system would be redesigned. "One day" graduation would cease to exist. But when would that day arrive? They say there's nothing more permanent than the temporary. Well, how much longer must our "temporary" beta status last?
If there are objective reasons why we should not graduate right now, why we should continue to be called "beta", we would hear them. If there are any recommendations as to how we could help our SE grow further, we would appreciate them. But we cannot stand to be mislabeled any longer.
Other "beta" SEs — if you feel as we do — join us, speak your mind on this issue! Does the "beta" status stifle you as it stifles us? What changes do you need, that only graduation can bring?
SEs who have graduated without the "excellent" stats required of us — what can you tell us about graduation? How has it affected your SE? Was it a positive change, or did graduating without perfect stats cause problems?