# Has the site stalled?

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The site has witnessed relatively little traffic (questions/answers) for the last few days. Moreover, the influx (via invitations, I suppose) of new users, let alone new active users, has been very small. More than about volume itself I'm worried about its d/dt. Maybe these worries are premature, but at this pace, I don't see us going public soon. It's 10 days of private beta now and if the private beta state continues for more than a week or so, I'm afraid we might lose the momentum.

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Keeping it still at private beta state may also be beneficial.

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I also notice a slowdown in the activity on the site. I am not sure precisely what the reason is, but here are a couple of ways to jump start it again:

1. Ask questions: we have an active discussion on the level and quality of questions and the scope of the site, but maybe we are worried too much at this stage. Most questions are fine, we've had only 2-3 bad questions that were closed pretty much immediately. Not every question has to be profound and original and revealing incredible insight. More mundane questions have their place, especially as the site is starting up.

2. Enlist more experts: spread the word offline and try to get more participants, especially more active participants (whose number is actually pretty low). If the site fills a real need for theoretical physicists, at least some fraction of them should be interested in joining in.

Those are of course obvious points, hopefully having this discussion will help increasing the volume of activity.

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answered Sep 25, 2011 by (2,395 points)
Maybe obvious, but important.

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Speaking for myself only, I don't think that I can generate more than one question per week, because that is the average time I need to digest the answers of the last one. (Actually that takes usually much longer than that, but you get the point.)

BTW: Should I tend to accept answers that are preliminary like Urs' answer to this question, in order to get the site out of private beta?

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answered Sep 26, 2011 by (745 points)
While I don't think you should accept an answer just to help this site to public beta, there is nothing wrong with accepting an answer for now, maybe leave a comment what further elaborations you're hoping for, and later accept another answer instead. You can use the [now improved](http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/09/bounty-reasons-and-post-notices/) bounty mechanism stating this

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As far as I can recall, CSTheory went through a similar U shaped period. I think what happens is that people initially ask whatever backlog of questions they have, so you get a high rate of questions being asked, then it drops, as the backlog is exhausted and instead you start getting asked questions at the rate they are generated, and then as the site grows in public beta, the number of people asking questions increases and so the rate goes up again. That's not to say that we shouldn't try to improve the rate. It's probably also worth keeping in mind that activity here seems less over the weekends.

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answered Sep 26, 2011 by (3,570 points)
except that we exited private beta in a week, and so were able to spread the word.

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@Suresh: Yep, but I'm not sure there is much we can do about that at the moment. SE seem to have changed their policy.

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true. I was merely being persnickety :). FWIW, I think the site will do fine eventually - it just might take a bit longer than expected to get momentum going.

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Perhaps its normal for SE beta sites, but only 50 contributed to any degree out of 293 committers. When it comes to that 50 - well, for a research-level site, a single user cannot produce that many questions as for other topics, and also has limited possibilities to answer others. It's not a hobby site were a macroscopic percent of experts know answer to a macroscopic percent of questions.

I am afraid that being stuck in private beta phase (without possibility to show unanswered questions to your colleagues) can kill the page.

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answered Sep 29, 2011 by (1,260 points)
related: [feature-request to show unanswered questions to your not yet registered colleagues](http://meta.theoreticalphysics.stackexchange.com/q/107 "shameless plug, I know, sorry")

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I think this is quite natural. Most people who committed to the proposal asked their questions, and it would be silly to ask lots of questions just for the sake of asking. I am not sure how important it is to go public quickly. Maybe it is more important to go public when the site reached its "mature status" (i.e., enough answered questions).

But nevertheless we should be more active. Maybe the first disappointment holds some back.

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answered Sep 25, 2011 by (275 points)
Sure, maybe a part of initial committers had their most promising questions "stockpiled" and already used them up. That's natural. I'm simply worried that with slow traffic, even the enthusiasm of initial users may dwindle away. There's a damping effect here, so it's not true we can safely stay in private beta indefinitely long.

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True, your question addresses an important point. I think my point holds at the moment, but if there is no change, we are in trouble.

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I think this is the right moment for asking questions; certainly research level questions, and even questions aimed at exploring the scope of the site itself. Of course, the main burden of asking and answering is on the shoulders of phycisits - graduate students and researchers.

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@Gil: I agree completely.

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@gil i hope research level questions means everthing apart from standard theophys lectures in a master/diploma study (qft, art, many particles physics, particle physics...). imho QM, stat. mechanics problems can be asked on physics.SE, but only currrent research seems pretty narrow to me based on my view how few questions professional expters often actually ask on SE

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"imho QM, stat. mechanics problems can be asked on physics.SE" How are these fields different from anything else (say, QFT)?

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@marcin as far i understand you dont want to discuss basic QM/lecture stuff here? In Germany students get exercises and tutorials for those basic lectures. For non-standard stuff like ART/QFT much less teaching time is invested. So this would be good place to ask questions. Basic QM questinos you can probably better ask on physics.SE. Im unsure what you actually mean by research, only stuff on a phd level? Are you ok with basic QM questions here? I dont see how this fits research which is mentioned here everywhere.

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Three questions per day is what would be expected if the ratio of questions asked here to physics.se is the same as mathoverflow to math.se. Physics just isn't as popular as maths if you look at the numbers.

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answered Sep 25, 2011 by (0 points)
thats no question of popularity. There are more smaller practicals problem/questions in math than in theophy. That simple. Alot of questions to solve problems in theophy you can actually ask a mathematician, so its apples and pears. These metrics comparisons of diff. topics dont say you very much... There are simply less questions in theophy fitting a Q&A format but better a discussion format vs. math where you can break down many questions in smaller sub-questions

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where do questions come from? users learning a scientific branch. afaik most commiters here already have a degree or came casually to physics.SE when learning on their own around programming Q&A on SO. So we have not much graduate and phd students imho currently here. We can only invite them one by one. Thats counterproductive to grow this site imho

I dont give the area51 metrics much value, esp. for scientific sites not related to programming or programmer's hobbies. Easy examples i visited for a while now: astronomy.SE and philosophy.SE.

These sites got pretty fast few 100s questions and out of private beta, BUT are currently imploding, as nearly no student of philosphy or astronomy is visiting these sites (its below a dozen experts on these sites), many interested in, but no one really learning astro/phil and asking more and more better and more deeper questions. Were the area51 constraints and metics valuable/helpful to establish mid and long-term quantity & quality on those sites. IMHO not very much. I really hope it gets better, as interesting topics, but you clearly see the problem of those sites. Alot programmers where hobby interested in it (just look on most upvoted questinos - black holes dark matter (where most user dont have any math/phy background to really understand anything) theology god proof etc. but not really questions about modern problems in current research of astronomy/philsophy). It will be very hard to attract any astro/phil students to these sites now with current user base and quality.

So please, dont care too much about area51 metrics, they will not guarentee you any quality/quantity if not directly related to programming and alot smart & highly educated & experienced commiters in it. Thats why CSTheory works, but mentioned sites not.

I hope this sites gets as soon as possible in public beta so students can invite other students exponetnially and not only commiters their friends linearly. TheoPhy is no niche branch like CStheory. People in theo. Biology, Chemistry, Neuroscience, Meteorlogy have to deal with it and i hope to see here more questions apart from particle physics. There is no risk to lower the quality by starting public beta now with less questions than on astro/philosophy, as this is a isolated topic (without academic background in math/phy you will not Q/A here in contrast to astro/phil)

imho the SE guys created a top-notch system, but as i stated on area51 and metaphysics they fail to see that while thier voting and metrics systems works for topics related to programming excellently, its not so well suited for evaluating and starting dynamics and quality of topics on natural sciences. In the worst case you block up community dynamics like imho here or draw the wrong conclusions based on a misleading comparison of metrics of other successful sites, but with totally different topic and user base. apples and pears...

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answered Sep 27, 2011 by (0 points)
Apples and pears are both members of the rose family and have an enormous amount in common.

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@matt sry, but your comment is a bit pointless as you counter-argue a explained metaphor with another one. Just one note. Its funny how my posts get highly voted, either up or down, despite they say all pretty much the same http://discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/questions/2766/what-should-we-do-to-increase-visits-of-area-51/2769#2769 A good comment from you would have stated why my reasoing on astro/phil is wrong, the metric numbers are obvious. But i often earn pseudo-logic without arguments and fast downvotes as some people dont want this discussion, doenst hinder me to say my 2cents.

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I actually agree with most of this. Upvoted. I see Philosophy and Linguistics as likely to go the direction of TheoryEdge (ie, not in a good direction) in computer science.

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@aaron just out of curiosity, was theoryedge a failed area51 site? didnt find hints in SE search... Im not sure about linguistics, as many programmers deal with machine translation, creating programming languages. So imho there is some serious expterise coming from SE programmers. But its just horrible to read the Q&A on philosophy if you took some courses at uni, the level is low and most seem to mix it up with theology/meta-/pseudo-reasoning. Imho you cant save this site besides a expertsphil.SE proposal. The area51 metrics and process was more damaging for long term quality than productive.

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No, it was/is a discussion forum on computation theory that never attracted professional theorists.

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