I'm all for the conversational tone that Area 51 uses. However, in my opinion, the public beta announcement has gone a little over the top:

The new Web Applications Stack Exchange site is now open to the public!

After just 7 days in private beta, we’ve already got 415 users who have asked 477 questions and written 1,081 answers. We’re off to a good start, and it’s time to unleash this baby on the public and see if it flies. (Sorry; mixed metaphor.)

Tell all your friends, blog about it, tweet about it, and write the URL (http://webapps.stackexchange.com) in chalk on the sidewalk in front of your neighbor’s house. Or paint. No, never mind, better use chalk.

Most importantly, go to the site now and start earning reputation and badges! We’ll see you there! Right now!

http://webapps.stackexchange.com <-- that is the URL again
http://webapps.stackexchange.com <-- it has not changed in the last 10 microseconds

All the best,

The Stack Exchange Team

I've added emphasis to the parts where I think the email goes a bit overboard. Chalk? Including the URL twice in a row, with a statement that it "has not changed in the last 10 microseconds"?

Stack Exchange claims to be attempting to attract professionals, but the email that's sent announcing that the site is open is quite unprofessional, in my opinion. Any doctor or lawyer or professor that received an email like that would immediately trash it and not bother with the site. Also, it's been over a year and the email hasn't changed - the material has gotten stale.

  • 13
    Ya... how are we supposed to tell our friends to commit to the proposal knowing they'll eventually see this? Jul 8, 2010 at 1:08
  • 2
    Dang. How did I miss that part about using chalk? My neighbor's going to be really mad.
    – tvanfosson
    Jul 8, 2010 at 1:29
  • 5
    @tva: Not as mad as if you would have used paint. Jul 8, 2010 at 1:50
  • 8
    I think bolding out allegedly obnoxious bits of an email (bits that are clearly intended to be playful and humorous) then rewriting the email so it lacks all personality is obnoxious. I also think some people need to lighten up.
    – Darko
    Jul 8, 2010 at 3:58
  • 2
    Is this question meant as a joke? I'm guessing no, but I'm not convinced.
    – LKM
    Jul 8, 2010 at 6:56
  • Oh gosh, I laughed so hard on the mixed metaphor. I still smile while reading it. You deserve a big fat -0, but just because you question is totally understandable, even if I don't agree. Jul 8, 2010 at 8:20
  • 4
    It sounds like something I would write at 11 PM, and then delete with extreme prejudice the next morning. I don't mind each of those bolded parts individually, but it adds up really quick.
    – mmyers
    Jul 8, 2010 at 19:53
  • 1
    This needs some editing maybe with which site you think it is obnoxious for. Because I'm confused with your new edit about the whole doctors, lawyers, professors stance.
    – phwd
    Nov 10, 2011 at 22:53
  • @phwd I was trying to list examples of professionals, not to reference any specific site. Nov 10, 2011 at 22:57
  • Repeating the same URL three times in the same email can trigger some spam filters.
    – finnw
    Jun 21, 2012 at 23:04

7 Answers 7


This appears to be . The Artificial Intelligence public beta e-mail that I just received reads as follows, formatting intact:

Good news, everyone! The new Artificial Intelligence Stack Exchange site is now open to the public. Congratulations, and welcome to your new site!

Maybe you've supported this site since the definition phase in Area 51, or maybe you just checked out the private beta invitation your friend sent you yesterday. No matter your level of involvement, your support has helped to build a strong fledgling Q&A site. Now all the hard work starts to pay off.

We'd like to thank everyone who helped found this community by volunteering their time, their passion, and their leadership to make this site a success. You are building a place to share your interests, hone your skills, and have some fun – all while contributing to a high-quality Q&A resource for the greater community.

Tell your friends. Tell your colleagues. The early success of a site comes from founding members like you. Spread the word, ask questions, and help solve the problems this community encounters every day, and Artificial Intelligence Stack Exchange will flourish.

Enjoy your new site!

All the best,

The Stack Exchange Team

That's much better, in my opinion. The really important part (telling people about the site) is no longer diluted by humorous but potentially distracting verbiage.


I think this email is wrong as well, but not for going too far. I feel they didn't go far enough! Write the URL in chalk? I say no!

We should write the URL in the blood of people who think this email is obnoxious.

  • 1
    i wish i could vote you up more than once. that is all.
    – Darko
    Jul 8, 2010 at 4:02
  • 1
    @Darko Z: Start a feaking bounty man! I need all the meta rep I can get.
    – Kredns
    Jul 8, 2010 at 4:08
  • @Darko Z: Oops, looks like you don't have enough rep. Ok get like 500 rep, then give it all to me.
    – Kredns
    Jul 8, 2010 at 4:09
  • Where does that URL go to?
    – random
    Jul 8, 2010 at 4:11
  • @random: I think mytextgraphics.com but I'm not sure. I just googled for bloody text.
    – Kredns
    Jul 8, 2010 at 4:17
  • 1
    Thanks you insensitive clod - when I was at school, I did a cover for an assignment on a book called "The Machine Gunners" - written in blood. I got a D for it - purely as the teacher was grossed out by the use of blood. It was a bit brown. Thanks for the painful memory ! Jul 8, 2010 at 4:18
  • @Michael: WOW, that sucks. It also sounds just like my high-school. I would say its safe to assume this teacher is not a big fan of the Dexter series:
    – Kredns
    Jul 8, 2010 at 4:21
  • 3
    I found the content of your response worrisome when I saw your name is dexter... Jul 8, 2010 at 4:22
  • @Darren: Ha Ha. I just really love that show. Also I use Dexter as my name on meta to keep google from using the stupid crap I say here against me in the future.
    – Kredns
    Jul 8, 2010 at 4:26
  • The bloody URL transposes A and H.
    – random
    Jul 8, 2010 at 4:28
  • 4
    +1, as beer flies out of my nose.
    – user50049
    Jul 8, 2010 at 10:10
  • @Dexter check back here tomorrow... Nov 11, 2011 at 13:48
  • @TheUnhandledException: Should I be worried?
    – Kredns
    Nov 11, 2011 at 21:41
  • No need to be worried. I just thought this was hysterical and deserved 250 unicorn-dollars. But I have to wait 15 hours more before I can award them to you. Nov 11, 2011 at 22:04
  • @TheUnhandledException: Sweet, thanks!
    – Kredns
    Nov 14, 2011 at 8:01

For once I'm in full agreement with Jason Fried, who writes:

"Your company's story, product descriptions, history, personality -- these are the things that go to battle for you every day. Your words are your frontline. Are they strong enough?

"Unfortunately, years of language dilution by lawyers, marketers, executives, and HR departments have turned the powerful, descriptive sentence into an empty vessel optimized for buzzwords, jargon, and vapid expressions."

Jason's article was in Inc. Magazine, "Why Is Business Writing So Awful?"

For a book-length explanation, you may enjoy "Why Business People Speak Like Idiots"

Or go to Woot.com once in a while.

  • 9
    The snark wears thin after awhile. I get groupons emailed to me everyday, and they just as snarky as the woot copy. It reaches a point where the snark no longer has any impact, and yet they are forced to be snarky each and every day. It just grates. (not saying we're at that point, but .. eventually you get tired of whimsy and just want to get s**t done) Jul 8, 2010 at 4:08
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    I don't think "snark" means what you think it means. Jul 8, 2010 at 4:12
  • 4
    @joel not saying our stuff is snarky, but a little goes a looooong way. That's all I'm saying, man. Jul 8, 2010 at 4:23
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    @Jeff & @Joel: The SO entry on Wikipedia will forever read: "However after obtaining much success with StackExcahnge, the sites founders went their separate ways after an argument on meta about the defination of snarky. Thus leading to the downfall of the greatest Q&A sites ever."
    – Kredns
    Jul 8, 2010 at 4:31
  • 1
    I guess we have to choose sides now. Count me in Team Spolsky.
    – Kip
    Jul 8, 2010 at 13:59
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    @Joel, I think you guys probably got it just right for this one. It's exactly Wooty-Facebooky enough. That said, when you announce the public beta for SeriousDialogueOverflow.dull, you may need to tweak the tone to fit your audience there. I can't wait for the Poetry site announcement- just don't get sucked into all that Haiku media hype. Limericks are WAY classier.
    – Jaydles
    Jul 8, 2010 at 18:13
  • 2
    I agree with Jeff, except that I agree with Joel about what "snark" means. As near as I can tell, it means "snide remark"; while the email is annoying, it is not snide.
    – mmyers
    Jul 8, 2010 at 19:51
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    This kind of announcement makes me think it was written by a 12-year old with a poor grasp on language and an inflated ego, and makes me fear that the site is full of such. Fortunately (?) for SE, this kind of email goes to my junk bin mostly unread. Nov 10, 2011 at 22:50


I am not sure how accurate Wikipedia is, but perhaps we could have a Stack Exchange for this deadly serious subject.


Clarification (for a newcomer)

Please: is the contentious email a generic default, or specific to the Web Applications SE?

If generic

I agree that wording could be better.

Well-placed playfulness can be extremely effective, if not overdone. The one example that comes immediately to mind: events around the time of a major upgrade to CrossOver (Blogs - Jeremy White — January 28th, 2011 — Celebrating the silly — CodeWeavers).

However for some of the betas that I have my eye on at the moment — where I might encourage participation from colleagues — at least a handful of people at a 'high' level could take an understandably dim view of that wording being used for a publicity-related milestone.

If the text is easily and unmistakably alterable before the email is sent

I'd be less concerned but still, a little surprised at the template.


  • 1
    it is a default for all new sites Aug 2, 2011 at 4:32

Hmm. I don't know if I'd go so far as to call it obnoxious. It's a little casual. Then again, it is for a site whose primary users are likely to be FaceTwitterers, no?

  • 1
    It's not too bad for this site's audience, but I suspect that it's intended to be used for all sites. "The new {{x}} Stack Exchange is now open! After just {{y}} days in private beta..." Jul 8, 2010 at 2:16
  • No, a lot of business professionals will ask gmail questions and so on. Jul 8, 2010 at 2:20
  • @Kyle, I'm with you there. This is a little more playful/fun than I might have picked, but it seems to fit this one. I'm less sure it'd really set the right tone to draw out the target audience for PlumberOverflow, say.
    – Jaydles
    Jul 8, 2010 at 2:21

First some clarifications,

Don't most people who get the Public beta email, get a private Beta one first?

Hey everyone!

The Code Golf & Programming Puzzles Stack Exchange site, for code golfers and for those who interested in code golfing (from beginners to experts), and programming puzzles, is now in private beta.

Since you committed to the site, we’ve granted you access at:


Please help us fill up the site with awesome questions and answers so that when we open to the public, the site will be stocked and ready to go. The questions on the home page when we launch to the public will set the tone and topic of the site for a long time, so make them great!


Q: Why am I getting this email?
A: Because you committed to support this new site on Area 51.

Q: Who can access the site during the private beta?
A: Only the 211 people who committed to it.

Q: How do I log in?
A: Use the same Open ID you use for other Stack Exchange sites. You will be creating a new account on codegolf.stackexchange.com, but it will be automatically associated with your account on other sites from the network.

Q: When will the private beta end?
A: The private beta will end and the site will be opened to the public in exactly one week, at 7 PM UTC on Thursday, February 3.

Q: How can I help the site succeed?
A: During the private beta, ask questions, answer questions, tag questions, edit questions, and vote.

Q: What else?
A: The minute the public beta opens on February 3, invite your friends. Spread the word via Twitter, blogs, and email far and wide. Hang out on the site answering incoming questions during the first few hours so that newcomers understand what a great experience a working, popular Stack Exchange site can be.

Remember – the private beta is now open, but the public beta will open on Thursday, February 3: US Pacific - 11 AM US Eastern - 2 PM UTC - 7 PM London - 7 PM Sydney - 6 AM Friday

Q: Where do we talk about the site?
A: We don’t want to talk about the site on the site itself, so we set up http://meta.codegolf.stackexchange.com as a place to talk about things like what questions are appropriate, what tags we should use, etc.

Q: How long is the beta?
A: The beta will last at least 60 days. At the end of 60 to 90 days, if the site has enough ongoing traffic and enough questions are getting answers, it will graduate to a full-fledged, permanent Stack Exchange. At that time the community will decide on a web design and a logo.

Q: What else?
A: Nothing! Go to it! Here’s the URL again:



The Stack Exchange Team

That did not seem obnoxious at all to me, so most people got a relatively alright email the first time around. So the second time the SE Team, thought the user was comfortable with the environment? Not really sure. You will have to ask them about it.

What's the second way to get the public email invitation?


There is a cartoon rocket... next to the link, if a professional still wants to click that link then I think it's fair to say he/she is okay with the email.

Third way? He/she gets the invitation another way?

Okay sure then,

Maybe the SE team needs to tailor the public beta announcement emails based on the specific topic and age group of the audience. And maybe with the same tone as the first Private Beta announcement email. For a site like WebApplications, it was casual, it was one of the first sites to launch (we didn't even know it would make it this long). The same goes for Gaming, this announcement worked well there.

Now knowing, that this is a problem for the more academically/professionally oriented sites that care more about the flow of information, rather than the reputation itself then yes, this message comes across a little over the top.

Parts that I think can/should change change

We’re off to a good start, and it’s time to unleash this baby on the public and see if it flies. (Sorry; mixed metaphor.)

This could definitely use some custom tailoring, not sure what but I get what it is saying, just wished it came out differently.

write the URL (http://webapps.stackexchange.com) in chalk on the sidewalk in front of your neighbor’s house. Or paint. No, never mind, better use chalk.

So the post used humor more than once, a little pinch is good but not too much so either dump the humour in the first or the second. Cannot have both.

http://webapps.stackexchange.com <-- that is the URL again
http://webapps.stackexchange.com <-- it has not changed in the last 10 microseconds

Yeah, I could see how this could be a push in the face, there needs to be some balance of emotion. AppSumo is an example, in my opinion of someone who goes over the line. But it works for them.

We need professionals to build communities but communities are not made up of just professionals. So say, this one professor throws away this message or he/she doesn't , it's still up to the community to make the site itself something professionals want to contribute towards. Remember the period after private beta is still public beta then launch. So yeah, I think the email may need some work but that one email is not going to change the success of a SE Site.

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