So I just committed to Statistical Analysis proposal and would already like to be able to start asking, answering, and rating. While I understand there are different proposal phases, why can't committed users start seeding all aspects of the topic while the proposal is still moving through the commitment and beta phases?

p.s., I love the Area51 idea and am so amazingly stoked about a Statistical Analysis version of SO!!! Help it become a reality - go Commit to the Statistical Analysis proposal!

1 Answer 1


There are 3 Phases

During the Definition Phase, you can propose questions and rate them on whether or not they are a good fit for the site. During this time, users can follow the proposal.

Then there is the Commitment Phase, where users commit and refer other users to commit to the proposal which means that they will be active during the beta phase.

Finally, the Beta phase is where the proposal has a live site and is being watched for whether or not it is good enough to become an active site.

During these phases, you are only able to do the activities related in that phase. Once a proposal gets out of the definition phase, you cannot vote on questions or propose new ones. This is because the site has already been defined, and now is just looking for enough users to warrant a Beta phase.

Likewise, during the Beta phase you cannot commit to the proposal. You've either already committed, or you will be able to access the site when it goes into public beta.

This is because it would be really wrong to get 200+ people committed to a site when people are still deciding what the site is about (Questions). So naturally, once the definition phase finishes, the questions are set and you can't vote on them.

You can always look at the questions that got picked by choosing 'Definition' at the top of the proposal box. But you cannot actually act on any items, as we have moved past that phase.

  • 1
    So maybe a better question is - what's the reasoning behind having a private beta sub-phase? Why not have the private beta be part of the commitment phase, i.e. as soon as a user commits they become part of the private beta; then when the commitment phase is completed, move straight into a public beta with an already active base community?
    – A Lion
    Jul 7, 2010 at 5:38
  • @A Lion The beta phase doesn't get achieved very fast because the SO team has to design the site. Therefore Beta comes after Commitment to give the team enough time to design, prepare, and do anything else necessary before starting the beta. For instance, you'll notice some of the top proposals are locked in at 90%. They will reach 100% when the SO team is ready to put up the site. Furthermore, there is no reason to design a site if no one will use it. By requiring a lot of people to commit before launch, you increase the chance it will succeed. No use in a ghost town beta site. Jul 7, 2010 at 5:58
  • @A Lion I probably put too much emphasis on the site design. It is very crucial for the proposals to get enough people committed to the site before opening it for it to be successful. You need to have people asking and answering questions in a decent timeframe in order to have an active community that will thrive. If the site opened at the beginning of the commitment phase, there wouldn't be enough people to do that. Jul 7, 2010 at 6:00
  • @A Lion right now if all the sites in the commitment phase got sites, we'd have 2-3 sites with a lot of traffic, and 10-15 that barely got any traffic at all. That really isn't what we want. We want a community that will end up building a site that is a resource much like StackOverflow, Superuser, and Serverfault are. Having a site with 500 users committed to asking and answering questions gives a better chance of actually succeeding at that. (Even though some of them might flake out, you still have enough to counterbalance that) Jul 7, 2010 at 6:04
  • @ALion One thing to note is that in the ideal future, once the whole proposal process as a whole is fine-tuned, the team actually expects sites to clear the commitment phase in a matter of days, if not within hours.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jul 7, 2010 at 12:02
  • @Chacha102 - I don't think you're giving committed users enough credit. I'm only speaking for myself, but: (a) I've done enough beta testing, that I can deal with a site that's not well designed, (b) I understand that the proposal sites don't necessarily have a critical mass of users and may therefore take longer than a full blown site to see much activity (that said, as I'm writing this SO has 126,145 questions with no upvoted answers, one of which is one I submitted over a month ago; so even a full blown site may not be able to answer every question),
    – A Lion
    Jul 7, 2010 at 14:23
  • (c) if you let the committed users start using them, and 2-3 sites are getting a lot of traffic while 10-15 that barely get any traffic at all, how different do you think those sites will fair once they're out in the wild? If anything, I suspect immediately opening the sites up to the committed users will be a better test of site viability than waiting to reach a hypothetical tipping point of users who say they are committed but can't actually do anything other than send friends/colleagues a link to the Area51 proposal. But that's just my 2 cents.
    – A Lion
    Jul 7, 2010 at 14:25
  • @Grace Note - I can see something like Statistical Analysis reaching a critical mass quickly, but do you also expect more niche proposals (e.g., Android Does Blightly) to reach a critical mass in a matter of days? Maybe I'm assuming to much, but I get the impression that the reason there is only 1 proposal currently in the beta phase, and the reason that the number of committed users isn't directly correlated with phases, has to do with the SO team. If that assumption is correct, than when the SO team has their ducks in a row, ...
    – A Lion
    Jul 7, 2010 at 14:39
  • ... I agree that proposals like Statistical Analysis should move through the process quickly. But what about sites with a small but committed cadre of users, will they actually be moved through the process quickly or will they languish in Area51 with lots of "committed" users who can't actively ask, answer, or rate?
    – A Lion
    Jul 7, 2010 at 14:40
  • @A Lion it isn't about giving you credit. I don't frankly care how good you are at Beta testing. Anyone in the world can commit to a proposal, and they don't have similar experience to you. Therefore, the way to best ensure that the site is active is to have the site be well designed and have a critical mass. And I don't think the SE team will budge on that... Jul 7, 2010 at 14:43
  • @A Lion the reason there are email notifications and stuff built in is because sites aren't suppose to take 2 days to start up. They are suppose to take awhile. It is more important that we get enough users ready and willing to use the site than it is to speed up the process. This is especially true in the future when we won't have so many proposals all trying to get through at once. In a year, I imagine the average turn around will be a week or two for each site. Jul 7, 2010 at 14:45
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    @ALion That is correct, Web Apps is the only one in Beta because of development reasons. Technically, Gaming and Pro Webmasters both have 100%, but all proposals are being throttled at 90%. As for the sites which may not attract enough attention in the commitment phase, I don't want to sound harsh but isn't that really the point of commitment? But we can only estimate at this point - no one, not even the team, has hard numbers for what critical mass is yet. So it's really up in the air, how easily niche proposals will get through.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jul 7, 2010 at 14:47
  • @Chacha102 - No, it's not about me, or anybody else for that matter, being good at beta testing; it's about underestimating committed users' understanding that a site is in beta. You say that, "It is more important that we get enough users ready and willing to use the site than it is to speed up the process." and as I see it, there is no better way to do that than to let users, who are ready and willing, actually start the process, with the caveat that it is in a beta state.
    – A Lion
    Jul 7, 2010 at 15:47
  • @Grace Note - In looking at my own frustration, with a proposed topic that looks to me like its going to make it well past beta, I couldn't help but see the possibility for a potentially active and strong but niche group to suffer from similar frustration, without the realistic possibility of their proposal even making it to the beta. Frankly, I think quantity of activity is just as important a criteria as quantity of users. For example, if you have 1000 users who interact an average of once a month is that group more important than a group of 100 users who interact an average of once a day?
    – A Lion
    Jul 7, 2010 at 15:58
  • @ALion Technically, commitment says you plan to participate at least 3 days a week. Not quite 1/day, but the point is, quantity of activity is very much a criteria that is expected. There are users who have interest in popular proposals but decided against committing because they don't want to promise that frequency and fail to follow up on it.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jul 7, 2010 at 16:12

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