473

If you're a user on a long-toiling beta site that's been waiting 7-8 years to get out of beta, this may be the post you've been waiting for.

The 29 Beta sites that are 7+ years old no longer have the "Beta" label!

I'm on record as saying that we need to ditch the "beta" label for our older sites and get rid of the graduation process - or at least make some major changes to it - and I'm not unique in that. We're well aware of the growing absurdity of sites that are years-old, yet still weighted down with a "beta" indicator for little defensible reason.

The first major step, Design-independent graduation, was an important change that separated graduation from getting a full-site theme... but this still left sites in limbo that couldn't meet the 10 questions per day metric for graduating.

Around the same time we recognized that "small sites" may never hit that target but they can still be successful sites and they wouldn't be at risk of closure unless they failed to maintain moderation levels to keep spam at bay and the questions on-topic and of good quality. This was a great step towards helping y'all feel that your communities would be safe from closure.

In the almost four years since that announcement it's become clear on many of your meta sites and even here on MSE that being unable to get rid of the "beta" label in your banners is a major concern to your communities - and it's time to address that.

What does it mean?

For now, if a site started private beta before July 2012, that site is no longer "beta" - it is a full site by our definition. We've removed the word "beta" from the site banners because we believe that these sites aren't really beta sites any more, even if they don't get ten questions per day.

Banner that reads "Congratulations" in three-dimensional white text with red, yellow and blue confetti.

The sites that qualify will:

  • have the "Beta" removed from their banner
  • be moved to the "Launched" sites list on Area 51 - which will also remove the A51 info box from the right sidebar
  • retain beta reputation levels
  • have their full-site elections delayed, but scheduled eventually

This is the start of a process that we are already discussing internally and will be bringing to the network for public discussion once the plan is finalized. My hope is that this will mean the end of the monolith we currently refer to as "Graduation" in favor of a well-defined set of small targets to achieve the various elements that made up "Graduation".

If your site isn't one of these 29, don't fear! This update shouldn't leave you worried that your site may be shut down. Our decision that low-volume sites are still valuable hasn't changed. Some sites being released from beta now doesn't mean the others are failing.

I'm sure you have many questions, please feel free to ask (in an answer) and I'll answer what I can. It helps me out a lot if you can limit answers to focus on a single question/subject rather than asking a dozen questions in one answer.

Thanks so much for your patience and stay tuned!

Full list of sites (ordered by creation date):

  • 59
    Does this mean I have to get used to 29 new icons in the HNQ list? – Mr Lister Aug 2 at 6:24
  • 86
    Are Русский язык and Russian Language two different things? Does it also mean that "German/French/Spanish/Chinese Language" are actually English-only communities, and we would need some "Deutsche Sprache"/"La langue française"/"Lengua española"/"中文" if we want a local Q/A? – Cœur Aug 2 at 6:41
  • 42
    @Cœur The two Russian language sites are similar to English Language & Usage vs English Language Learners. Most language sites don't have enough traffic to split into two - this is part of why ELU and ELL split. Русский язык was created as part of HashCode and acquired when we took in Russian Stack Overflow. The two are different enough that we have no plans to merge them. We also aren't creating sites with non-English UIs right now, so the other sites wouldn't get through the Area 51 process. – Catija Aug 2 at 6:47
  • 6
    @Cœur Spanish.SE is aimed both at expert Spanish language scholars as well as people just learning Spanish. Because of this, we allow questions and answers to be made in English, Spanish, or both. AFAIK, every other language-oriented stack applies the same policy to their own language. The only exceptions are the stacks for English and Russian, which are splitted into learners (ELL / Russian) and experts (ELU / Русский). Currently, we don't see the need to split up like these sites did, so you are more than welcome to come over and make your Spanish questions in English :) – walen Aug 2 at 7:58
  • 3
    @Catija I would never want to split, but instead it could be merged: try to imagine a Stack Overflow for beginners and a Stack Overflow for experts... – Cœur Aug 2 at 8:06
  • 12
    Can there please be logo designing competitions for these sites? Because this network is for community and is also runned by the community – Black Thunder Aug 2 at 9:13
  • 3
    @MrLister not until the sites get their site design (which take quite a long time). These sites are only graduated, but not getting designed yet... – Meta Andrew T. Aug 2 at 9:50
  • 1
    @Cœur That sounds like a great idea actually. It would definitely solve all the issues causing drama over on MSO the past 2 years or so. – TylerH Aug 2 at 14:29
  • 44
    Yeah, even as a long-time fan and hold-out user of Windows Phone... the platform is dead. The site will likely be completely dead in another year or two. – Hosch250 Aug 3 at 3:59
  • 8
    @23fc9a62-56de-47fb-97b4-737890 Well... I mean, that's a good amount of time... a year or two of not being "beta" isn't going to hurt anyone. :) – Catija Aug 3 at 13:59
  • 5
    As a former moderator of Psychology and Neuroscience, a big congratulations to everybody who helped make that community a success! I know we were concerned about of that site would graduate. Very happy to hear this. And congratulations to all the other sites as well, of course! – The Unhandled Exception Aug 6 at 17:40
  • 21
    For a moment I thought there was an entire site dedicated to bricks. I confess, I'm a little disappointed it's actually for Lego. – Tyler Aug 6 at 18:48
  • 2
    @Cascabel There's an SEDE chat room somewhere with people who will help or create queries. You can also get help in the main chat room here on MSE, the Tavern. – Catija Aug 9 at 1:17
  • 39
    Windows phone? The poor guys get out of beta now that their OS is dead? :( – Andreas Hartmann Aug 16 at 17:00
  • 4
    Does this still need featuring after 32 days? – Luuklag Sep 2 at 14:57

15 Answers 15

102

As an avid user of a site in a similar situation that is not seven years old, I'm very pleased to see this. I do not share the worries expressed in other answers here that similar but younger sites may find this bad in some ways.

I too think that the 10 QPD criterion isn't a good one. Retrocomputing is exceeding all other current criteria, sometimes by a lot. We have a 97% answer rate (far above the 90% criterion) and nearly three times the criterion for number of visits per day. But given the niche appeal of the site, I find it quite possible that it might never meet the 10 QPD criterion.

Yet for someone interested in the topic, Retrocomputing provides an extremely valuable resource not just to find answers to questions, but also as a permanent, stable home for small pieces of original research that would otherwise probably be relegated to some obscure corner of the Internet, or even entirely lost to history. (Take a look for example at this answer which is decidedly non-trivial: it took me several hours of research to find more than half a dozen different sources and extract that information from them. And there's still more that should be added to that; hopefully that will happen over time as I and others stumble across further sources. Without Retrocomputing that would have languished in my private notes, if I bothered to write it up at all, since I have no blog suitable for it and it seems too detailed for Wikipedia.)

A key point of StackExchange sites is to have quality questions. When the QPD metric is the one metric that isn't being met, that provides an incentive to do things that result in more questions, even at the cost of quality. That's not really the kind of incentive that SE wants to be providing. So the message you're now sending, "your velocity isn't important any more" as you said in a comment here is very encouraging.

I also find taking those other sites out of beta now to be encouraging and heartening because it shows you're serious about reworking your criteria. I don't consider it "unfair" to other sites like Retrocomputing, nor do I take it as "stick around for seven years is the new rule." (That rule would indeed be a poor permanent criterion, but it's fine as a heuristic to use once in this situation, where it's clear that the current graduation criteria are were producing the wrong answer to the question, "should these sites remain in beta.")

The job now is to figure out, "what are better criteria that would have gotten these sites out of beta by now." That's likely to take some time, and I see no reason that those sites should have to wait for that to happen, nor do I see any issue with newer sites that are perhaps less obviously "out of beta" material waiting a little longer.

After I wrote this post, JNat confirmed in a comment here the impression I had of this:

Consider this a progressive rollout of a plan still being worked on...the old rules still apply, for the most part; but when the new rules come out, all of these sites would definitely leave Beta — so we just decided to take that step now while all else is being worked on. So this is neither "an extra rule being added" nor "an exception being made," but rather a step forward into a whole new rule set (that's not yet fully defined).

  • 17
    "I also find taking those other sites out of beta now to be encouraging and heartening because it shows you're serious about reworking your criteria." Yes, absolutely. Although there are a number of newer sites that may be deserving of graduation, the fact that 29 other sites that are equally if not more deserving are now graduating bodes well for these other sites! – Thunderforge Aug 2 at 16:07
  • And maybe some of the older sites that didn't really deserve graduation. I am looking at you, Windows Phone – Niels Brinch Sep 5 at 5:39
82

It's a bit odd to see the Windows Phone site graduating. Microsoft discontinued Windows Mobile in 2017 and official support is ending in four months (December 2019).

Is the future for Windows Phone guaranteed? Why graduate a site for a discontinued product?

  • 34
    Non-beta sites can be closed too, so it's not like removing the label makes a difference there. – JNat Aug 2 at 13:59
  • 4
    Lack of microsoft support, has little bearing on continued use, this is particularly unfortunate if you are tasked with supporting the product in your enterprise. Chances are that Windows Phone site, will have an increase in visitors. But like JNat said... – James Jenkins Aug 2 at 15:46
  • 37
    RetroComputing.SE is full of stuff that's discontinued, so that alone shouldn't be a criteria for keeping it from graduating. – Thunderforge Aug 2 at 16:11
  • 41
    @Thunderforge: Well, Retrocomputing is about all the stuff that is discontinued, which is considerably more. Also, it thrives at least to some extent on nostalgia and curiosity. I don’t think Windows Phone has much to offer here. – Wrzlprmft Aug 2 at 18:58
  • 5
    @Thunderforge RC is exactly for this. WinPhone is not. In my opinion, WinPhone should be waited some years, until it becomes really retro, and then incorporated into the RC. – peterh says reinstate Monica Aug 3 at 12:05
  • 47
    @peterh Ooh! We could petition for a cherrypicking tool, using which we could vote to migrate posts from defunct sites to Retrocomputing. As more and more tech-related sites die, Retrocomputing will only grow stronger! Mwahahahaha! – wizzwizz4 Aug 3 at 18:51
  • 1
    @wizzwizz4 Wow, exactly this is what also I like to suggest, although in quite different context (community migrations). And yeah, RC will really grow stronger. Some people still like to use commodore 64, others will like to use windows phones. Btw, the current stats of the RC suggest that its size won't be nowhere to comparable to the SO in some decades. After they pass, around at 2040-2050, we might consider to start the Archeocomputing SE. ;-) – peterh says reinstate Monica Aug 3 at 19:07
  • 2
    @wizzwizz4 Depends on whether English.SE changes the definition of retro over time. – mbomb007 Aug 5 at 13:57
  • 3
    Windows Phones may well come back yet in the guise of Windows 10. That's what I'm hanging out for anyway, it's been a couple of years since I switched back to Android and there's still plenty of features I miss from Windows Phone. And as a mod of RC along with @wizzwizz4, it's definitely not the place for WP questions ... yet. – Matt Lacey Aug 6 at 1:05
  • Simply migrate everything from WindowsPhone.SE to RetroComputing.SE ... problem solved ;) – 0xC0000022L Aug 10 at 19:37
  • 1
    @JNat Would closing the site mean it is deleted or that it becomes read only. It would be a shame if all that info was inaccessible since many people continue using hardware well after official support is gone but it makes sense to not have to moderate and check for spam on a website with next to no active posters. – Qwertie Aug 12 at 3:26
  • @Qwertie There's prolly a Meta post out there somewhere that explains this, but basically the site gets archived/deleted, and a data dump is made available for download. – JNat Aug 12 at 8:09
  • It's nice to see that Windows Phone has been given artificial respiration and a cardiac massage. Community♦, is bumping thing to front page non stop, hoping that a relative notice and choose to unplug the poor thing. – xdtTransform Aug 21 at 6:34
80

When will the reputation criteria for privileges on these sites be updated?

For example, I can still vote to close questions on the no-longer-beta Writing, despite the fact that I don't have the amount of reputation there that would normally be required on a graduated site (3,000).

Is this something that will catch up to the status change—and, if so, when?

  • 103
    This is by design. Not all sites that are older sites necessarily have had the voting culture to support the standard reputation levels, so we can't just apply them everywhere. We need to do it intelligently. For now, they will stay the same as the beta sites and once we've figured out the full process, we'll check in with these sites to see whether the standard reputation levels are appropriate or not. – Catija Aug 1 at 21:19
  • 16
    @Catija What, then, does it mean to say that they have become full sites? Is it just removing the beta label and saying they will not be closed? Because, to me, a full site implies several other things—not just reputation levels but also things like how moderation works (which I would consider a separate specific question). – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 1 at 21:22
  • 19
    Even the "graduated without design" sites don't have full site reputation levels. That change is currently tied to getting a site design. There's a list in the question of what this means for sites. Other than that, as the question says, we're still figuring it out. – Catija Aug 1 at 21:24
  • 1
    @Catija Okay, I see. So, can we consider all of these former beta sites to now be "graduated without design"? – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 1 at 21:27
  • 57
    The idea of "graduation" is undergoing some change. Meanwhile, there's a meaningful space between "still preliminary" and "active with 10 QPD", and that's what's being fixed here. Removing that "beta" label is a huge win for us IMO. Do we still want higher privilege levels, full elections, community ads, and a design? You bet. I look forward to seeing a process for changing those roll out. – Monica Cellio Aug 1 at 21:28
  • 9
    As @MonicaCellio says, we're in the process of re-envisioning what it means to be a full site. A lot of the questions you're asking are ones we're trying to understand, too! I'd love to see what y'all think about it, too... I love that you think moderation is an important part of that... I agree that the site culture and moderation is a factor - but one that's difficult for us to assess. It'll be interesting to hear your thoughts. On top of that, figuring out when the different bits associated with "Graduation" should be awarded. – Catija Aug 1 at 21:51
  • 2
    @Catija it would be nice if the auto-deletion script was also cleverly applied, e.g. taking into account how many visits a Stack Exchange website receives, instead of having the same criteria for all Stack Exchange websites. E.g. see 39 questions of mine deleted, and counting. How do you expect users to write well written questions? – Franck Dernoncourt Aug 2 at 1:57
  • 4
    @FranckDernoncourt That's not a problem with the auto-deletion script, it's a problem with the site community not upvoting good questions. – curiousdannii Aug 2 at 2:41
  • 3
    @curiousdannii It's less likely to receive upvotes in a less frequented website. – Franck Dernoncourt Aug 2 at 2:47
  • 13
    @FranckDernoncourt that applies to many SE sites (including graduated & designed one) when there are not many active regulars (or even casual users), and thus even fewer (up)votes. A few users have an idea to upvote all questions regardless of the quality to prevent this (but that makes the vote as content curation meaningless). But looks like this discussion is tangential to "beta removal", so post a new question for this topic instead? – Meta Andrew T. Aug 2 at 2:56
  • 1
    @MetaAndrewT. Should we really have RemoveDeadQuestions on smaller sites?. The issue indeed affects many Stack Exchange sites. – Franck Dernoncourt Aug 2 at 9:32
  • 2
    In my opinion, the rep privilege levels need to scale with the site. On several, they're about right, but some sites need the beta levels, and SO priv levels need to go up to scale with the massive rep inflation they've experienced over the years. – Hosch250 Aug 3 at 4:00
62

That's great! It didn't make sense to have well-established sites with stable policies, an established community and sustained activity carry the label “beta”. You haven't found the perfect formula to decide when a site comes out of beta, ok, but that doesn't mean you should do nothing: an imperfect approximation is a lot better than doing nothing.

However, for the foreign language sites specifically, this isn't so great. All the non-English language sites apart from Русский язык cater to three audiences: native speakers, learners who prefer English, and learners who prefer the subject language. Only the second category is currently well-served. These sites accept posts in both languages (English and the subject language), have moderators (both in the sense of reviewers and in the sense of diamond mods) in both languages, but the interface and most of the help text is in English only.

So for us language site communities, the site is still in beta in a very real sense: the interface has a major technical limitation that makes it unappealing to a large part of the target audience, and unsuitable to a significant part. It's hard to recruit French natives when the interface and the help are in English only, and it's hard to retain French natives when there's no progress on the technical front and a scarcity of questions that are interesting to natives.

I'm not saying you shouldn't go ahead and remove “beta” from the name of French Language and the others. After all Japanese Language has been non-beta for a while and doesn't have an interface in Japanese. But for us, this is mostly cosmetic. We're still waiting for proper support for non-English sites. Any incremental improvement towards that goal would be welcome, including an interface in our language and better support for bilingual tags.

  • 43
    Does this have anything to do with removing the beta label? Seems like a different issue entirely. – Robert Cartaino Aug 2 at 0:19
  • 17
    @RobertCartaino How is “the site is still in beta” not related to removing the beta label? – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Aug 2 at 6:05
  • 6
    @Gilles But are those sites “still in beta”? I would say no. Whether non-English sites (beyond the very few Russian ones already in existence) will ever be supported on SE is quite a different matter from individual sites’ status as beta or non-beta. It’s a very core decision that affects the entire network, and while it affects these language sites the most, I don’t think it’s fair to say that it’s tied up with their beta status. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 2 at 8:48
  • 29
    @RobertCartaino, from a user's perspective, a site that targets users in my native language but that isn't translated into that language, would be considered to be unfinished/"in beta" status regardless of it having a beta label or not. – Bart van Ingen Schenau Aug 2 at 10:02
35

Can we have these sites added to the footer list of SE sites? This was one of the prerogatives of graduated sites and does seem like an easy thing to do :)

  • 11
    We need to find a better solution for the footer. While there's room on most of the tabs, the technology tab is pretty much full already. This is something we're going to figure out but I'm not sure what the result will be. – Catija Aug 3 at 14:00
28

Wonderful, but...

  • If there are no elections,
  • There is no unique design,
  • They have no community migration pathes,
  • The privilege reputation levels are like on the betas,

then may I ask you, exactly what differentiates these sites from a beta?

  • 55
    The beta label. And believe it or not: that's a very big thing for these sites. – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Aug 2 at 11:19
  • 4
    @Secespitus While I agree that it is a very big thing, it is still only a small, administrative step in the graduation process. Renaming things to others does not mean that a real change had happened. – peterh says reinstate Monica Aug 2 at 11:21
  • 4
    It seems like the graduation process has become something like a continuous process with many small steps that can be taken. – Trilarion Aug 2 at 12:15
  • 14
    In essence, the current site lifecycle framework is flawed, @peterh: while according to it this is pretty much just a name change, these sites were essentially in an almost permanent status of beta due to an acceleration in Q/D they would almost never reach, despite having already amassed a great volume of questions, and sizeable and healthy communities — that's what we're trying to solve with this, a first step in what'll hopefully be a much fairer way of thinking about site lifecycle. – JNat Aug 2 at 12:15
  • 3
    The reason why none of the things you mention are part of this is because it's still a work in progress. Though, I might add that some of them are already, even under the current framework, not tied to the "getting out of beta" phase — rep levels and design are tied together, and only happen later. – JNat Aug 2 at 12:15
  • 2
    @JNat Thank you very much! It is a very fair and rational explanation. (Please, don't forget the Space SE, Astronomy SE and Engineering SE, too.) – peterh says reinstate Monica Aug 2 at 12:56
  • 35
    It's a step in the right suggestion. Let's not derail this by implying... "until you fix everything, you shouldn't roll out anything at all." – Robert Cartaino Aug 2 at 12:58
  • @RobertCartaino I tried to imply this: if you rolled it out, make at least a single one from this 4. However, as the part of a larger process (as a preliminary step in the change of the site lifecycle), is it imho okay. (I hope A51, or some A51-like thingy, will remain!) – peterh says reinstate Monica Aug 2 at 13:00
  • 24
    @peterh think about it this way - its an acknowledgement that these sites are valued and have waited far too long for any sort of acknowledgement. And well, the size, health and scaling of sites vary. With elections, design and turning on higher rep and community migration - there's a few things that need to be done. this can be done now. – Journeyman Geek Aug 2 at 13:30
  • @JourneymanGeek Ok, I hope it will be soon. – peterh says reinstate Monica Aug 2 at 14:13
  • IMHO elections on beta sites are less useful than you'd might think. See my answer here. – Martin Tournoij Aug 4 at 14:38
  • 1
    @MartinTournoij It might be the case on the vi SE. But, for example, on the space SE (unqualified for the bunch now) there would be multiple real candidates. Maybe some stat could determine, if there are enough long active, high-rep contributors on the site. Another problem: increasing the rep levels for the privileges would result a huge decrease in the reviews. Rep inrease can happen if there are enough active high-rep users. Maybe these two could have the same criteria. – peterh says reinstate Monica Aug 4 at 14:51
  • (side note to my previous comment: I am satisfied with the current Space SE mods and I think, they would likely win an election, if they nominate) – peterh says reinstate Monica Sep 4 at 17:30
26

I figure I might as well ask about the elephant in the room:

Is 7 years the magic number for Beta removal?

Politics.SE, for instance, is 6 years, 8 months old and still Beta. Is graduation now automatic at 7 (which we hit in 4 months), or is this just a one-off "Let's do something about Beta!" event that might happen again in 6-8 weeks?

  • 5
    It's been indicated in some of comments that 7 years is not going to be an automatic/established criterion for future graduations (instead, the plan is to come up with better criteria): "We need to find a better signal to tune to when deciding a site should leave beta. – Catija♦ 2 days ago [...] "stick around for 7 years [...] isn't really the signal we want to send, either... because that's not going to be the eventual "solution". But we want to find the right solution and we don't really have any concerns with these sites getting an early departure from beta – Catija♦ 2 days ago" – user306255 Aug 4 at 6:08
  • 4
    Comments from JNat♦: "We can't really go with "rock solid assurance" [that a site will automatically graduate if it's been around for more than 7 years] at this point, [...] since it's still being worked on — but we can tell you that we're trying to come up with something much fairer than the 10Q/D threshold, that is hopefully actually attainable by any site. [...] And as for the cutoff at >7y... any other cutoff would've been just as arbitrary, and prone to the same concerns — that's just where we decided to draw the line for now :) – JNat♦ yesterday" – user306255 Aug 4 at 6:16
  • 1
    Politics.SE is probably more out of beta than many of the others listed in this questions if one looks only at the stats/activity. – Trilarion Aug 4 at 9:11
  • I can see where the confusion arises but in the end, it's only the removal of the beta label. Before any of the 29 sites get a makeover it will be at least a year. Wait six months and then Politics.SE can post a discussion/request post asking for promotion. Maybe the team should have promoted only the five oldest sites? The ten oldest sites? The twenty...but then maybe there were five or more sites that were created at the same time. Who knows but lifting the beta label on any site that was close to 9 nine years old was the best decision taken in a long time. – Mari-Lou A Aug 4 at 11:24
  • @Jnat Thanks for the clarification. There were a lot of comments and I missed that. – Machavity Aug 4 at 13:01
  • @sumelic BTW, you can add a link to a comment by right-clicking the date and selecting "Copy Link Location." – jpaugh Aug 12 at 18:06
23

These 29 sites are no longer labelled as Beta sites due to having completed 7 years, without meeting the current graduation criteria, and presumably without being required to meet any future graduation criteria.

This is great for those sites, and I congratulate them on their many years of striving towards the goal of graduating! However, some of the remaining Beta sites will also pass 7 years within the next few months, and it sounds like they will become subject to new graduation criteria. No matter how easy those criteria are to meet when they have been finalized, I think those communities will be disappointed when they realize how close they were to losing their Beta label too.

While the remaining Beta sites continue to work towards the current, and then towards any future graduation criteria, I think that the "amnesty" given to these 29 sites should also be given to them, but not today, and not necessarily even on their 7th birthday.

Perhaps each year (maybe on 31 December), the Stack Exchange network can recognize the resilience of any Beta sites that completed their 7 years during the preceding calendar year and remove their Beta label.

  • 25
    It seems like you're really worried that we're going to create bars similar to the 10 QPD that won't be attainable by many sites... the opposite is true. We're working to create a process that is attainable by any site that actually wants it, with enough time and a little community building. And we want to have a solution that is clear and easy to meet, even for sites that aren't experts at "doing" Stack Exchange. – Catija Aug 2 at 5:28
  • 2
    @Catija That sounds reassuring, but playing Devil's Advocate, if the intention is that Beta sites approaching their 7 years will most likely lose their Beta label "soon" anyway then why not make that assurance rock solid by supplying a fallback of saying that if they are still around on their 7th birthday, or no later than at the end of that year, then that is to be congratulated, and recognized by deeming them non-Beta.. – PolyGeo Aug 2 at 5:39
  • 9
    If the graduation requirements are currently being entirely rethought because they don't seem to be working for certain smaller sites, adding a "rock solid assurance" for something that is not certain to be part of the new requirements seems like a bad idea to me. Saying "these sites obviously ought not be beta" and fixing that problem now rather than waiting until new requirements are in place does not seem unreasonable to me. – Curt J. Sampson Aug 2 at 7:33
  • 5
    As to "spar[ing] a thought for the remaining Beta sites": as an avid user of one of those sites that is well above the requirements for all critera but number of posts, I am very much encouraged by this event. Even if I don't know now what the new criteria will be, knowing that they're changing the critera so that sites like mine are more likely to come out of beta makes me very pleased. – Curt J. Sampson Aug 2 at 7:36
  • @CurtJ.Sampson How do you feel about the certainty given to 29 sites today, some 2 months past 7 years, against continuing uncertainty regarding removing of the Beta label for some a few months short of 7 years? – PolyGeo Aug 2 at 8:29
  • 3
    @PolyGeo Those sites being actually taken out of beta (as opposed to being listed as "these should come out of beta, but we're not doing it yet") greatly increases my confidence that, so long as we maintain our quality level, Retrocomputing will eventually come out of beta too, regardless of its QPD level. – Curt J. Sampson Aug 2 at 8:45
  • 6
    Why do you care about the beta label? Your major concern should be that your small SE site continues to exist. And since they are graduating a SE site on Windows Phone, which is a 100% dead platform, I think you can stay safe. – Federico Poloni Aug 2 at 10:11
  • 1
    @FedericoPoloni I am not sure if your comment is for me or Curt but my answer is not about site existence. It is purely about losing the Beta label at 7 years like 29 sites did today. I envy them. I hope they will empathize with the sites who have worked towards the same criteria for almost as long and support rewarding them at the same point in their history. – PolyGeo Aug 2 at 10:57
  • 2
    @PolyGeo It's for both. Why do you envy them? Why are you working towards graduation? What would be the advantage for you and your community? – Federico Poloni Aug 2 at 11:28
  • 4
    @FedericoPoloni a site is easier to advertise to prospective users without the Beta label. That’s one reason why some sites have been clamoring to lose it - others of us have been more patient. 29 sites were liberated today. Some sites went within a whisker of it. . – PolyGeo Aug 2 at 11:48
  • 4
    We can't really go with "rock solid assurance" at this point, @PolyGeo, since it's still being worked on — but we can tell you that we're trying to come up with something much fairer than the 10Q/D threshold, that is hopefully actually attainable by any site. Think more of "getting from A to B, even if it takes some time" than of "getting from A to wherever, as long as you go X fast." – JNat Aug 2 at 12:32
  • 7
    And as for the cutoff at >7y... any other cutoff would've been just as arbitrary, and prone to the same concerns — that's just where we decided to draw the line for now :) – JNat Aug 2 at 12:34
  • 6
    @PolyGeo speaking as one of the noisiest users on the noisiest finally-out-of-beta site, my reaction is "yay, we're finally fixing the process!" and not "yay, I got mine!". I for one plan to keep pushing for better site-lifecycle processes here. – Monica Cellio Aug 2 at 15:13
11

Even though I'm happy for those sites, I have a mixed feelings on this.

  1. SE had metrics for beta sites to graduate.
  2. This sites have been doing their best to fit them.
  3. And now you just said: "Forget it, it doesn't matter. Just 7 years...".

I'm sure you had a lot discussion with team... For me it looks like you don’t know what to do with beta sites, they aren't met your metrics and they have been in beta for long time, but you don't want to close them. And you took this step. Neither this nor that.

I was expecting more details about graduation process in a public message =/

  • 11
    I understand the confusion. Thanks for mentioning it. Here's the thinking I can share... I've known for (at least) 18 months that this 10 QPD limit we have was just unworkable. I explained my thinking on it at the time. When I was being interviewed for this job they asked me for a writing sample of a persuasive essay - that's what I sent them. So, a lot of my thinking about this is wrapped up in that post. I'm not unique on this team in feeling this way - I think it's become clear to everyone that this needs to change... and we wanted to get the ball rolling. – Catija Aug 2 at 5:16
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    Most sites haven't been doing their best to meet them because it's likely impossible to ever hit 10 QPD for some sites, particularly without us doing anything to support them. I'm honestly so proud of our sites' resilience in sticking with us through all of this... we needed something to show that we were being serious about it and, sure... this is a huge departure from the old style but that's sort of the point. We need to find a better signal to tune to when deciding a site should leave beta. – Catija Aug 2 at 5:21
  • 18
    This group includes sites that have anything from 0.1 to ~ 5 QPD... and that's the signal that we want to send... your velocity isn't important any more. Now, it also sends "stick around for 7 years and you'll finally get there... which... isn't really the signal we want to send, either... because that's not going to be the eventual "solution". But we want to find the right solution and we don't really have any concerns with these sites getting an early departure from beta. – Catija Aug 2 at 5:24
  • @Catija could you link to that post you mention on the first comment? (Maybe I missed the link of the question) – llrs Aug 2 at 8:41
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    I feel doubtful about your assertion that the "sites have been doing their best to fit [these metrics]." Certainly over at Retrocomputing we're not anything that I'm aware of directly to increase QPD. If it goes up without changing question quality I'm fine with that, but as an active member of the community I don't feel any burning need for "moar questions!" – Curt J. Sampson Aug 2 at 9:07
  • 1
    @llrs First link in the question - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/303727/… :D – Catija Aug 2 at 14:02
  • @CurtJ.Sampson I'm trying to push for it, subtly encouraging people to "ooh, that might make a good question!" – but it's really not a priority compared to quality; Raffzahn has a point. – wizzwizz4 Aug 3 at 18:54
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    @Catija If the message is not “wait 7 years and you’ll get out of beta”, perhaps editing the question to remove that implication would be a good idea? Honestly, a lot of the comments from you and the rest of the team are great and really belong in the question itself... – Heretic Monkey Aug 3 at 22:46
7

So as @MrLister asked in the comments of the main posting, does this mean these sites will be able to have their own identifying icons?

5

The arguments are:

  1. The sites didn't met the required conditions for departure from beta.
  2. The sites were existing for 7 years which is a long time.

Best case scenario:

An extra rule is added. Future sites will depart from beta if they are available for minimum 7 years.

Worst case scenario:

An exception is made. Now the previous rules do apply or not? It is ambiguous which is an enemy of stability.

  • 4
    For me the best case scenario is that they spend whatever time they need to do a considred reworking of the graduation requirements so that sites like this are more likely to come out of beta. As a user of a site younger than but otherwise similar to the sites just pulled out of beta, stability is not what I'm looking for because stability means an otherwise high-quality site being in beta possibly forever. – Curt J. Sampson Aug 2 at 7:41
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    Consider this a progressive rollout of a plan still being worked on, @debo.stackoverflow: the old rules still apply, for the most part; but when the new rules come out, all of these sites would definitely leave Beta — so we just decided to take that step now while all else is being worked on. So this is neither "an extra rule being added" nor "an exception being made," but rather a step forward into a whole new rule set (that's not yet fully defined). So, since we're actively changing things, stability kinda goes out the window, you could say :) – JNat Aug 2 at 8:05
  • This seems more like a comment than an answer or question about the announcement. – TylerH Aug 2 at 14:32
1

There are cryptic references to "future rule changes" here, but it seems to me the SE "voting model" depends critically on having a site with a sufficiently large community that there are knowledgeable members who are not "committed to keeping the site in existence" and as such are happy to downvote poor content wherever it comes from.

As such, this sounds a bit like the spread of "grade inflation" from the US education system in general into SE!

It would be unkind to name specific sites, but I know at least one where several professionals in the field have left, simply because there are a group of prolific contributors who (judging by what they post) don't actually know much about the subject, but who (probably from perfectly innocent motivation, i.e. "when ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise") post poor quality questions, post poor quality answers to them, upvote both of the above, and therefore have rep at levels where more knowledgeable newcomers are unable to catch up, simply because their better quality (i.e. objectively more accurate) answers are not voted up by people who don't know they are good answers.

Of course those problems will tend to affect small sites with more "opinion-based" subjects, not the hard core of STEM and computing sites where most answers can be judged objectively, not subjectively.

  • I agree that this can happen. Voting relies on the integrity and knowledge of the voters. Basically, communities here could fail over time because of let's call them "voting clubs". Communities could also die of inactivity for example. It's all a dynamic process. Out of curiosity: Is any of the sites listed in the question part of the specific sites that you say are failing? – Trilarion Aug 2 at 12:19
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    This seems a bit disconnected from what's being discussed here, to me: can you clarify how this ties back to sites being in Beta or moving out of it? I also don't see how the voting system and having a community "committed to keeping the site in existence" are at odds :) – JNat Aug 2 at 12:21
  • 1
    @JNat Maybe alephzero relates to the low number of questions per day in these new half out of beta sites. They might be more vulnerable. – Trilarion Aug 2 at 13:50
  • Re: Windows Phone, @JJJ, see this other comment. But, in any case, how does your comment relate to or help clarify this answer...? – JNat Aug 3 at 9:14
  • 1
    If that's the case, @JJJ, feels like you're attacking a straw man, as the concern raised in the answer and in your comments on voting is tangential to the announcement. Furthermore, I still fail to see how the voting system and having a community "committed to keeping the site in existence" are at odds — just last week we closed a site (Augur), and it's not like the community saying "let's upvote everything, so the site doesn't shut down" would've saved it, which appears to be what you're suggesting would be the case. – JNat Aug 3 at 9:47
  • Feel like we're back where we started on the discussion, @JJJ. If you can explain to me how that ties in to the issue this question talks about — a site having or losing a "beta" label — I'll be glad to try to continue this discussion. Otherwise, I probably can say nothing more without just repeating myself :) – JNat Aug 3 at 10:19
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    @JNat: I think it's more a matter of why it is losing the "beta" label. These sites seem to be becoming non-beta for reasons that have nothing to do with whether the site produces quality information; it's solely because it's considered sufficiently active for a long time without being shut down. No questions are being asked as to whether (from an objective perspective) these sites are actually doing good work or not. And if "beta" is not about ensuring some level of quality, then what is its purpose? – Nicol Bolas Aug 4 at 20:55
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    You raise some valid concerns, @NicolBolas, though I can't read these in this answer or the comments under it — might make a good answer, if you wanna debate that a bit more. In any case, I can assure you that a lot of these sites have been doing good work and generating quality content for years, and the only reason many of 'em haven't lost the beta label before this was simply because they couldn't reach a level of acceleration — we're just trying to fix that with a new process that aims to be fairer, especially to sites that'd have a hard time keeping a constant acceleration level in QPD. – JNat Aug 5 at 9:04
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    What I take from this answer is that the removal of the beta label removes an incentive to overpost and overvote, allowing the sites to progress at their natural velocity rather than trying to reach a metric. I think this is a good thing for any sites that are affected (to any extent) by this counterproductive incentive. If for most sites this incentive was having no ill effect anyway, the removal of the beta label still has other benefits, such as giving new users a more positive and more accurate impression. I'd be in favour in removing the beta label for all sites. – trichoplax Aug 10 at 0:46
  • This is an important point: the fear to shut down can fuel increased superficial activity without raising the actual quality. Is this not obvious? – Dmitri Zaitsev Aug 25 at 4:53
0

The removal of the beta label for these sites is a good thing, and I see no downside. I love the idea of graduation being a series of gradual steps rather than a single huge event that therefore gets put off indefinitely.

I would like to see the new process omit the beta stage for all sites, so any site that survives private beta loses the beta label immediately. Is this being considered as one of the possibilities for the new process?

  • 3
    On every beta site I've been part of, it took at least several months, and sometimes a few years, for the community to settle the key issues -- scope, what kind of support answers need, and the other essential questions of beta. Private beta works for initial seeding of a site, but many of the real issues only arise when there are more than a few dozen users. (Not my downvote.) – Monica Cellio Aug 11 at 3:42
  • I agree that any site will take a long time to establish its identity, and I don't think removing the beta label early will change that. I just think that the beta label sometimes drives efforts from members to speed up that process, when letting it progress at a natural rate might be more beneficial. – trichoplax Aug 11 at 10:23
  • I think loosing the beta label requires a manual audit of the health, rather than specific rules of what has to be in place. It should be some guidelines to what makes a healthy site, but not some absolute demands to stats. – awe Aug 27 at 10:08
-3

Congratulations.

Maybe a good milestone to launch https://beta.stackexchange.com

  • 5
    A Stack Exchange dedicated to beta sites? That would be area51.stackexchange.com – Glorfindel Sep 4 at 12:13
  • 1
    @Glorfindel never heard of that site... it must be secret – bart s Sep 4 at 12:13
-4

Perhaps someone has discussed this and I miss, but I see one problem: what if because of the low interaction rate of the site, its moderation from the community (upvote, downvote, closevote, reopen-vote, mod nomination & election, etc) cannot function properly? I mean, the threshold is not a random number, it's there to assure that community moderation can work properly. If we allow sites to graduate sooner, would that mean questions are not voted early voted often?

This concern stems from a question that I believe should be reopened, but being unable to reach the threshold. I think the reopen-vote is distinct from other types of vote, because it's about fixing community's mistake, not just expressing one's opinion. On the site of that question, it seems that the core users are just around 10, so the variety is limited.


Somewhat related: A main-page question that can also be interpreted as a meta question. What to prepare before asking it?

  • 7
    We don't have any expectations for voting in the graduation system, so I'm not quite sure I understand your concern. – Catija Aug 18 at 13:32
  • hmm, my concern stems from a question that I believe should be reopened, but being unable to reach the threshold. I think the reopen-vote is distinct from other types of vote, because it's about fixing community's mistake, not just expressing one's opinion. On the site of that question, it seems that the core users are just around 10, so the variety is limited. – Ooker Aug 18 at 18:12
  • 4
    Even on large active sites, reopen candidates can fly below the radar -- on an active site the edit bump gets pushed off the front page within hours, on a busy site there are many reviews, and so on. Fortunately, meta and chat are also available as places to raise the issue. Plus, don't discount the possibility that people do look at it and disagree with you. – Monica Cellio Aug 18 at 18:58
  • 4
    Have you brought it up on meta? Reopening is about the asker fixing their question. If it's not fixed, it won't be reopened. If you think it was closed in error, that's what meta is for... but it's not a reason to keep a site in beta perpetually. – Catija Aug 18 at 18:59
  • @Catija yes, I have. I didn't bring it up at first because I'd like to generalize the problem, but perhaps this one can illustrate my concern. The original question is single-closed by a mod. After I raise it to meta, it turns out that its on-or-off-topic-ness depends on the interpretation of the readers. However, probably because the topic itself is not interesting to many, it is still left closed even though another mod agrees that it can be on-topic – Ooker Aug 19 at 6:18
  • Not to mention that the OP has stated the correct interpretation, but still there is no one tries to fix that. (Ping @MonicaCellio as well) – Ooker Aug 19 at 6:19
  • 1
    The same moderator who said it could be on-topic said "Feel free to edit it accordingly if you would like to see it reopened". It doesn't look like you did that, @Ooker. (You edited, but not in a way to depersonalize it.) – Monica Cellio Aug 19 at 14:11
  • @MonicaCellio hmm, I think the OP has stated already that this is not a question about themselves, but an observation that is answerable. I also left a comment below that mod's answer, but there is no agreement or disagreement about that – Ooker Aug 19 at 14:15
  • 1
    Stuff that's only in comments doesn't really matter, @Ooker. Posts are evaluated based on the contents of the post. You've received guidance on your meta about what needs to happen; if you want it to be reopened, a first step is to do that or get the OP to. – Monica Cellio Aug 19 at 14:23
  • @MonicaCellio no... In the original post, the OP has stated that in the last paragraph. Plus that my edit also implements the accepted interpretation in the meta question (emboldening the words) – Ooker Aug 19 at 14:27
  • 1
    You'll need to take that discussion to the affected community, @Ooker. I can't help you further. – Monica Cellio Aug 19 at 14:43
  • 1
    @MonicaCellio I understand. That's why I'm reluctant to give the link at first. In here I just want to discuss the generalized problem – Ooker Aug 19 at 14:46

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