TL;DR: we're doing pretty well, but there's more to do
This is a "state of the beta" post. It's purpose is to provide an update of where we stand and, ultimately, to solicit ideas on what else we can do to make this site a success. Our raw stats suggest that we're doing reasonably well, but there's room for improvement.
Some useful reading
Overall, it seems to me that we're doing pretty well on a number of metrics, but there's still work we can do. (Note that Area 51 does 7-day moving averages.) As of day 82 in public beta, we're at:
- About 150 avid users and nearly 1900 users, many of whom are high-rep ("Excellent"), with about 800 visits per day ("Okay").
- About 12 questions per day ("Excellent"), 91% of which are answered ("Excellent"), with 1.8 answers per question ("Okay").
Ask more questions!
We're at a respectable number of questions per day, but it would be great to see more. Ask the questions you've always wanted to ask! There's a core of extremely savvy people on this site who can probably answer you. I, personally, have asked a number of "no way anyone will know this" questions and had nearly all of them answered -- and those answers have made my Emacs experience noticeably better.
Don't think you've got any interesting questions? You probably haven't realized that you do. Pay attention to your daily use of Emacs and look for things that you find puzzling, irritating, repetitive, or that otherwise break your concentration. If you ever catch yourself thinking "there's got to be a better way to do this," you're probably right -- so ask about it. Dollars to donuts, you're not the only one who wants to know.
Answer more questions, and clear out the deadwood
We're at about 91% of our questions answered. That's pretty good, but we can probably do better. There are two basic steps we can take. First, hunt down the questions without answers yet, and try to answer them. Second, some of the unanswered questions may be low quality or otherwise unanswerable -- we should start closing them.
We can also provide multiple answers to questions. Area 51 suggests that about 2.5 answers/question is pretty good, and we're at about 1.8. Since there are multiple ways to address a given problem, we should try to get those answers up on the board. Don't post an answer just to pad our stats, though: do it when it adds new information to the post from which someone else can benefit.
Remember: you're trying to help not only the original poster, but many other people down the line who come across the post. Those other people may have similar but not identical problems and could benefit from an alternate answer.
Help people learn about Emacs.SE! The more users we can attract, the quicker we'll get to critical mass on the site.
We're close to the 90-day public beta minimum -- what happens now?
We're creeping up on the 90-day minimum for a public beta. Let me emphasize the "minimum" part. The site can stay in beta "as long as it takes."
As a matter of fact, the good folks at Stack Exchange have suggested that we could be in beta for another few months because:
- "We want to give y'all time to work out any problems," and
- "We have a large backlog of site designs."
Sometime a little after the 90-day mark, there will be an internal evaluation of the site, and there will be a self-evaluation announcement posted on the meta that will summarize S.E.'s thoughts at that point.
What can we do right now?
The Stack Exchange folks have a lot on their plates, so we're not up on a hard deadline here. That works to our advantage, because, as they suggested, it gives us a chance to work out any additional kinks we've run up against.
So: let me solicit feedback:
- What problems exist that we can rectify?
- What great things exist that we can perpetuate?
- What norms do we need to encourage?
- Should moderators be more or less proactive in culling questions/answers?
Let me suggest that answers be fairly discrete to make discussion possible -- feel free to provide multiple answers if you've got multiple ideas to bring up.