Take Web Apps, which will have its progress "evaluated" in a mere 5 days.

Reputation   Users Notes
Diamonds         9 with at least 102 rep
3,000+           0 non diamonds - closest at 2,826
2,000+           3 non diamonds
1,000+         (17)non diamonds

1k users are listed merely for reference. 2k and 3k are the reputation milestones.

Basically, if Web Apps went live today with definitive reputation tables, there would be no vote closing at all. Even assuming Simon Brown can make it to 3k in these five days, the next nearest user is still at 2,049.

In other words, the fifth highest non-diamond user is neo at 1,931 rep. Until he reaches 3k rep, Web Apps just cannot vote to close.

Take the second oldest community, the one I'm active in — Gaming: (yes, my perspective is skewed)

Reputation   Users
Diamonds        6 with at least 102 rep
10,000+         1 non diamonds - next closest at 6,425
3,000+          9 non diamonds
2,000+         17 non diamonds 
1,000+        (42)non diamonds

Despite having less mods, Gaming's "reputation economy" looks healthier. If we went live today, we'd be able to function more or less normally.

I've been told that this is not a problem at all: just put the site in "bootstrap mode".

We're in Bootstrap Mode

Bootstrap Mode helps to shape the community before the site is released to its full audience.

Reputation requirements are relaxed while we grow the site. All users can:

  • Post Questions
  • Post Answers
  • Comment *Create Tags
  • Re-Tag Questions
  • Vote

You'll earn reputation normally, but you won't be hampered by it.

from UXExchange, or pretty much any SE 1.0 site that still has this enabled.

Ugh, this is such a bad "solution" I don't know where to begin. If you peel the beta sticker off only to put a boostrapping sticker on, you really haven't changed much.

If you think a beta site needs a bootstrap mode, maybe it should just stick around in beta instead. :)

  • 3
    I got the impression the SE betas were "bootstrap mode", and we just weren't calling it that anymore -- that's an SE1 term Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 14:03
  • I don't mean to claim that you're inventing a problem, but I haven't seen anyone suggest using Bootstrap Mode. I also haven't been looking for such suggestions. Where is this happening?
    – Pops
    Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 15:24
  • @Pop, it came up in chat with Ivo and C. Ross, who both have access to the Teacher Lounge.
    – badp
    Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 15:32
  • Wonderful, "access denied" for nearly everyone. How useful. (Not blaming you @badp, it's not really anyone's fault.)
    – Pops
    Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 15:43
  • @Pop, [status-bydesign] (I don't have access to it ether btw)
    – badp
    Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 15:58
  • @badp then how do you know about it?
    – Pops
    Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 16:07
  • @Pop leaked room list screenshot and ensuing discussion. :)
    – badp
    Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 16:09
  • @badp, ah. Scandalous. Or something to that effect.
    – Pops
    Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 16:12

3 Answers 3


If you think a beta site needs a bootstrap mode, maybe it should just stick around in beta instead.

I think you're kind of missing the point of beta.

Beta is not a period where we're waiting for people to have enough rep so we can use the preset system.

Beta is a period in which we can try to develop a community to find out if the site is worthwhile.

From the area 51 faq

Beta. Perhaps the most important phase. This is the actual, live site set up on a "probationary" basis to see if people will use it. It is very important to participate early. The earliest questions will set the tone and topic of the site for a long time. This is also the time to spread the word via Twitter, blogs, and email far and wide. If the site does not get used, it will be deleted.

The probation here isn't for rep, its for usage. We're trying to see if the site "works;" does it get used? Now part of this period means we have to be in bootstrap mode (since no one starts out with rep), and part of it means we have to argue in meta about scope and tags; but these aren't the goals of Beta (and some of them we'll keep doing forever), they're merely necessary evils. Things that have to get done so the site can function. The real goal here is to see if the community grows and to evaluate the topic to see if it continues to be worthwhile as its own stackexchange.

When we bring a site out of beta we aren't saying "ok, you guys have the rep economy to function, you don't need to be in beta anymore."

We're instead saying "ok, this site has a thriving community and its not going to become another ghost town on the internet."

So no, if a site finishes beta that doesn't mean it can't still be in bootstrap mode. It most certainly can be in bootstrap mode (as that's largely tangential) and I'm going to go even further and say it should.

If the rep economy hasn't developed to the point where the rep bars set on the original trilogy apply, then we can artificially set them at a point where they do apply. It may be that Webapps never has the same rep economy as SO, but still functions as an excellent source of questions. In that case we should adjust the rep thresholds appropriately.

Sometimes the right answer is duct tape.

  • So you want another step in the Area51 path to "goldness" - definition, committal, beta, bootstrap and "gold"? I just don't see the value in this bootstrap period. It just takes meaning away from becoming a full grown, 1st class citizen site that is supposed to become just as important as trilogy sites. Also -- Jeff and Joel didn't need 90 days to figure out Gadgets wasn't working. They also needed much less to decide the others SEs were healthy and answering.
    – badp
    Commented Sep 28, 2010 at 21:02
  • 2
    @radp no, I think bootstrapping isn't a step. I think adjusting the rep thresholds is a parallel process.
    – tzenes
    Commented Sep 28, 2010 at 21:04
  • We discussed about this on chat, here's the transcript.
    – badp
    Commented Sep 28, 2010 at 21:26

What happens is, they get released anyway with the high tier reputation requirements kept at 2k, 3k and 10k.

No, what happens is they get delayed until there are enough people with enough reputation.


A solution for the lack of closers is to simply keep the ability unlock sequence for Area 51 sites. By putting vote to close at 3k (was 500) and global editing at 2k (was 1k), Web Apps can quite easily overcome this problem in the next few days.

  • 6
    So now there's sufficient people to close, but nobody that can edit posts? That also seems bad Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 14:04

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