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I do not fully understand what the parameters are that graduate the site. It's like studying hard for an exam and writing the paper, but not knowing how the answers are evaluated or what the passing marks are :)

First, the statistics for all the sites can be viewed here. Next, if we look at current graduated sites compared to Money SE:

  • The "Questions per Day" is less than Money SE's for the following sites: Role-playing Games, Bicycles, Seasoned Advice,

  • "Visits per Day" is less than Money SE's for the following sites: Role-playing Games, Mathematica, Theoretical Computer Science, Mi Yodeya.

Similarly, on other parameters like "Number of Users" or "Percentage answered", Money SE is above quite a few graduated sites.

So, I think to me the options are:

  • Continue doing what we are doing without worrying about whether we pass or fail the exam – we are here for the fun of learning and not graduating? ...

    OR

  • Chase the guys at SE to understand what is their evaluation & pass criteria and then work on (by whatever means) to pass (graduate)? ...

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+1 for your question.

I've been concerned about the lack of specificity for some years now. Stack Inc.'s policy appears to be "we'll know it when we see it, and not before then". These metrics we are given are to keep us busy working on some of the things that are important, but not to actually set the bar, because the "other stuff" they're looking for is nebulous and subjective. Frustrates me.

Personally, I don't see the harm in graduating our site now, given metrics like those above, and it would make oh-so-many of us happy to finally pass and get a real site branding/design treatment ... that would help make it a home, instead of these temporary-looking "beta" living quarters.

Nevertheless, to anybody reading, can you please complete the current site self-evaluation? Thank you.

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    I think we need to buy some of those twitter followers I keep reading about. – MrChrister Sep 12 '12 at 18:05
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    The self-evaluation is now closed. Not sure the point to it. Some questions are better than others and all in all, I think the good questions get good turnout, while the awful ones get closed. We've fielded over 4000 questions, and I've offered answers to 800 of those. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Sep 16 '12 at 1:31
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There are no "parameters that graduate the site."

You're struggling against a broken metaphor I've been trying to get repealed for a year now. Graduation isn't like high school where four years or 44 credits means picking up your diploma at the door. That's the entire point behind

Does this site have a chance of succeeding?

"Graduation" is a horrible misnomer that suggests that if you are not graduating, you're somehow being held back while the bigger kids go on to real world. That is not the case, and you're getting all worked up over labels which mean very little in this context.

The Meaning of Graduation

Every once in awhile, a site takes off like a shot with inexorable growth that virtually guarantees the future success of a site that comes with long sustained growth.

The Earmarks of a Graduated Site The Earmarks of a Graduated Site

In our nomenclature, that when graduation occurs.

A more accurate term might be something like "tenure" — the permanent post you achieve when you've reached a point of self-sufficiency and inevitable lock-in. Similarly, some sites achieve sustainable growth that all but guarantees you can keep it all going for the foreseeable future. That's the major difference between graduation (sic) and beta.

So Why Not Just Graduate Us?

You're trying to force some sort of binary decision on us, that we should right now either guarantee the future health and growth of this site, or shut it down in failure.

You tell me.

The Growth of Money SE The Growth of Money SE

In terms of lock-in and long, sustained growth, you're not there yet. You can make light of our lack of specificity when that will happen, or act like we're just pulling some sort of charade just to shroud the process in secrecy, but I don't know any other way to say it beyond 'you simply are not there yet.'

So why are we in beta?

Personally, I'd rather call this phase of your growth — (drum roll)nothing. Traditionally, the beta label was used to give notice that a product or service was in the wild west days of development… a time when things are subject to wild changes when you're still establishing what a site is about. Ideally, a beta label should be removed after a few months, once you assert your identity and scope.

Stop thinking of yourselves like you're some sort of helpless underling. You are a fully-featured, fully-functional Stack Exchange site helping people get answers to their questions with a 98% success rate. That's quite an achievement.

On a more resolute note, we are working out a new workflow to create and grow Stack Exchange sites. The changes being proposed will one day apply equally to both proposed and active site. So maybe my disagreement about the labeling issues carries over to another day. Who knows.

But stop worrying about graduation. You got a new design only six months ago that was designed to let you carry on without looking like some sort of half-baked start-up.

The New Stack Exchange Beta Theme

Not to minimize your concerns, but I'm with you on the whole labeling thing. But also consider the reality that you're building up a canon of knowledge where 2,500 people visit every days and have about a 98% chance that they'll get a good answer to their question. The horrors.

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    Thanks for the answer. On the design, it would still be nice to get something unique to Money. The new "beta" theme suits new sites, but this place is 3 years old now. 3 years old! Can we have a unique design, please? Call us Beta, call us Nothing, whatever .. I don't care so much about the graduation but make us a home that looks nice and not like all the other new sites? Couldn't a site design be a step between beta and graduation, instead of a perk of graduation? I'd be less concerned about the label if this place actually looked like a home. – Chris W. Rea Sep 18 '12 at 0:57
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    (p.s. You compared "Number of Visits" in the first graph to "Total Page Views" for Money. Not quite apples/oranges, but consistency is a virtue.) – Chris W. Rea Sep 18 '12 at 1:05
  • (p.p.s and the time scales differ, too .. if I look at Money's Number of Visits over the same time period, I actually see the kind of shape forming that you are looking for, although it follows a period that was busier likely due to tax season ;-) – Chris W. Rea Sep 18 '12 at 12:30
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    While some sites would show continious growth ... ie start with small number and keeping going up ... this may well fit the criteria ... however money is more or less consistant with the growth and has reached a stable number, there are sporadic variations with tax seasons and other stuff ... so if the evaluation is initially the site should do 100, then 200, 500, 1000, 2500 etc for it to assume growth, it may not be the case with money with keeps oscillating between 1500 to 2500 ... so it will not show a consistant growth ... but a more or less stable site ... is this right way to compare – Dheer Sep 20 '12 at 4:43
  • @RobertCartaino Why did this other brand-spanking new "beta" site get a design and we can't: patents.stackexchange.com ???? – Chris W. Rea Sep 23 '12 at 14:53
  • @ChrisW.Rea Because that was a special project with its own dedicated resources launched outside the Area 51 process, which is sometimes possible with this type of Act of God scenario — blog.stackoverflow.com/2012/09/… – Robert Cartaino Sep 24 '12 at 14:05
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    That addresses the first half of my question. Now the second half: why can't we get a site design, now? Is there anything stopping Stack Exchange Inc. from having one done for this site before we graduate? (FWIW, I'm not referring at all to a custom domain name; simply a site design treatment to replace the beta look. Kind of what was done for UX before it graduated.) – Chris W. Rea Sep 24 '12 at 15:03
  • @ChrisW.Rea Because we defined the terms for when a site is redesigned... which is intrinsically linked to the "graduation" that comes with growth. That's how the process stands. But citing the Patents design as a reason to get your own only reenforces why its so problematic to just break the workflow for those who ask loudest. I tried to explain why you're not graduated above and why you shouldn't even care. We even redesigned the beta theme six months ago to get rid of that unfinished look that plagued this site. Unfortunately, you didn't like that design either. – Robert Cartaino Sep 24 '12 at 15:54
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    UX got a design before graduation – Chris W. Rea Sep 24 '12 at 15:56
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    And yes I'm asking frequently (not "loudest") because I care how this site looks, and I care much less about processes SEI may claim to have, or their inconsistent application. The beta design will always look "unfinished" as long as it doesn't help this site look like it is about personal finance and money. Try being a moderator on a site that's been in beta for 780 days and counting and you'll understand my point of view, why I want SEI to do more for this site than others. Help us for Pete's sake. – Chris W. Rea Sep 24 '12 at 16:04
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    @ChrisW.Rea I am so impressed with your persistence and counter-examples. You would be a great person to work for, truly. Anyway, I looked, read and contemplated. My concern is the same as yours, in that we have this non-descript beta look, with no end in sight. I have another concern, re the shuttering of two beta sites that I participated in, Literature and Economics. Robert has given various explanations why we must remain a 780-day old beta site. My fear is this: If SE doesn't want to move us out of beta and into production status, I worry that the alternative is taking us off-line. – Ellie Kesselman Sep 26 '12 at 4:01
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    ... Yes, I am being difficult. But the criteria for going from beta to full-fledged is not quantitatively rule based. Nor is the criteria for going from beta to dead. I am looking for signs of reassurance that Money SE will remain a going concern as a site. The most convincing form is a visible one e.g. doing something to make our site look less tentative. Right now, we are no different than the other beta sites, for all intents and purposes. That is just... so... discouraging. (Maybe you could make us green? Like for money?) – Ellie Kesselman Sep 26 '12 at 4:08
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    @FeralOink Thanks for the support! – Chris W. Rea Sep 26 '12 at 13:05
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    @jmort253 Re: "The beta theme isn't the reason why your growth hasn't skyrocketed" -- Correct. Lack of growth is a complex issue with a host of reasons. Competitiveness of the topic landscape for SEO is one. But, SE visibly keeping this site in a holding cell is not helping. As for "making an exception" and helping us, yes, that's exactly what SE should be doing for betas that hold promise but haven't been able to break out of a stable traffic pattern. Help is precisely what I expect! Instead, most resources & attention go to launched sites. Not-quite-there-yet betas? Neglected! – Chris W. Rea Sep 28 '12 at 23:07
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    I think it is time to make a decision. I think the fact that we have not graduated is keeping us from growing. If SE is not willing to graduate us let us reset and try to grow anew. This site is used as a cautionary tale on A51. That is not right. We are a good site with experts and a community. SEI may feel that it is not a slap in the face but I think most of us in the community do. – Chad Oct 1 '12 at 13:29

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