I just did a casual check of the site's user list, and noticed that a good number of Area51 committers (self-identified as expert or research level) have not yet registered with the beta site.

In addition, I peeked at some avid user's SE-network profile activities, and noticed that their activities come in bursts: 10+ days of silence, then 10+ good quality questions and answers on a few single days. It seems they are having a busy real life doing important businesses.

Combining those thoughts (or perhaps just my own subjective interpretation), I'm a little bit uneasy about going into public beta automatically - based on a pre-programmed countdown clock.

My request:

Can we set a public beta threshold based on the number of committers actually registering on the site and have at least one activity (commenting/voting included) before going into public beta?

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    $\begingroup$ I do like the idea of honing the site a bit more before launching, if only to get a better sense of what questions we should be targeting for $\endgroup$
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 11:31

2 Answers 2


Yes, that can be done, and coming here for a discussion is a good idea. Usually the SE team evaluates the activity, quality of questions, and the number of active users (I don't think there are hard numbers for any of these) before opening up to the public. The one week of private beta is the absolute minimum that a site needs to be in before opening up.

There is also precedence of this happening. Cryptography.SE stayed longer in beta not necessarily because of poor quality questions or low activity, but because the nature of the site was highly specialized and they felt that it might help if they waited a little longer for more questions and answers. Freelancers.SE also remained in private beta because of extremely poor questions and zero activity and was eventually shut down.

However, I probably wouldn't do it the way you've described. Requiring a certain number of "experts/researchers" to register and participate is yet another barrier to the site's growth. What if they cannot fulfill this commitment now? They might've signed up a year ago when they thought they could, but things could've changed.

What's more important during private beta is a good list of questions that will attract the experts outside, not necessarily answers. Self-professed experts are not of much help if they won't participate and we need to open up to those that will.

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    $\begingroup$ I think we should hold it back until we have enough users with a high enough reputation to do at least basic site maintenance, like closing questions. I think 5 users at 500 would be great. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ I definitely agree that we need a bit more time in private beta to establish the site better. I wish I had known some things from after the dba.se launch to apply to the beginnings of dba.se so that I could've gotten the NoSQL crowd more involved on the site too. $\endgroup$
    – jcolebrand
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Pearson - No, we already have those privileges at 100 rep. Plus, SE staff is active on the site, and privileges are severely reduced in the beta phase. Also, once we go to public beta, we'll get pro tempore moderators in addition to the SE staff. These pro temp mods will be knowledgeable about signal processing so they can make informed decisions. Everyone on the site leaving lots and lots of commenting and meta posts for a few mods and SE people to act on is far superior to 5 users with 500 rep in my estimation. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 22:45
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    $\begingroup$ @KevinVermeer No, he is correct. In public beta, you need 500 rep to cast close votes. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ Also, here's a quick reminder to vote early, vote often! Voting is always important, but especially so when we're defining the site. Plus, it raises rep, which brings more people privileges. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ @yoda - My bad, it's been a while since I was in a public beta, and I assumed the privileges didn't change from private to public. In hindsight, probably a bad assumption. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 22:48

Combining those thoughts (or perhaps just my own subjective interpretation), I'm a little bit uneasy about going into public beta automatically - based on a pre-programmed countdown clock.

Well, put your mind at ease - we evaluate each site before letting it move out of private beta. If we don't think you're ready, you won't move on.

But, uh... you have a few more days. Instead of worrying about needing more time, maybe spend it asking / answering questions? See if you can get the edge-cases nailed down at least, in case some more folks show up over the weekend...


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