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With the recent closure of the site "On Startups" and seeing this site still in Beta I have to ask what is its future? Is it under threat of similar fate?

Site “On Startups” is closed - what to do now?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Just curious - what was the reason for the downvote of the question? \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitri Zaitsev Dec 11 '13 at 14:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ No clue, I upvoted :) \$\endgroup\$ – Mathieu Guindon Dec 11 '13 at 14:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ this is a good question I upvoted as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Malachi Dec 11 '13 at 14:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could be anything, but I suppose one aspect is that this is still highly-speculative. We cannot tell the future, nor can we control the community managers. :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Jamal Dec 11 '13 at 16:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jamal Surely we cannot control the managers but I find as contributor spending my time on writing answers, I deserve to have some clear picture. If all my contributions can disappear one day like that, it is simply not worth my time, simple as that. \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitri Zaitsev Dec 11 '13 at 16:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DmitriZaitsev: We all have that to fear, unfortunately. Based on what Grace Note (a community manager) has said, we'll stay online as long as there's activity. The length of time we have to spend in Beta does not impact this. \$\endgroup\$ – Jamal Dec 11 '13 at 16:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also see Jamal's answer to another question \$\endgroup\$ – Simon Forsberg Dec 12 '13 at 22:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SimonAndréForsberg When I post on Quora I don't have to fear! When I post on the worst and most deserted forum on Earth, I can still link there ages after! Why do I have to spend my time worrying about it here??? Isn't my time better spent on helping real people with real questions??? Sorry I just find it unfair to be forced into this discussion of "site viability" or whatever. Can't I just contribute to what I can the best and be sure the link won't disappear? Is it too much to ask??? \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitri Zaitsev Dec 13 '13 at 5:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DmitriZaitsev You have some very good points. I think you should ask some of your questions on Meta Stack Overflow, which is the main meta for the entire StackExchange network. All I can say is: At least you can get the data dumps for closed sites. A StackExchange moderator, or a more experienced StackExchange user, might be able to answer you better. \$\endgroup\$ – Simon Forsberg Dec 13 '13 at 11:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SimonAndréForsberg Good point, thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitri Zaitsev Dec 13 '13 at 13:31
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Code Review has significantly more traction than On Startups. Let's compare the stats:

            | Code Review | On Startups |
=========================================================
daily Qs    |        20.8 |         4.9 | 15 is healthy
answered Qs |         92% |         98% | 90% is healthy
users       |      30,417 |      18,139 |
  >   200   |         971 |         749 | 150 minimum
  > 2,000   |          42 |          58 |  10 minimum
  > 3,000   |          25 |          34 |   5 minimum
A/Q ratio   |         1.9 |         3.1 |  2.5 is healthy
visits/day  |      12,914 |       2,778 | 1,500 is healthy

Both sites have their issues: Code Review has few answers per question, while On Startups had almost no question at all. This lack of content after more than three years of being in Beta may have been a motivation to shut it down. CR has a lot more users and a higher question rate, and is only in its second year of Beta.

I have never visited On Startups (I never knew about that site before your question), so I don't know what kind of questions were asked there. It could be that the proposal simply wasn't a good fit for the StackExchange model. I personally don't think that code reviews are a good fit either, but this site has some degree of awareness in the programmers and stackoverflow communities with questions being moved back and forth – it would be missed by more than the Code Review community shoult the beta be unexpectedly terminated.

I am quite certain that CR will graduate soon, as there has recently been a lot of effort by the community e.g. to increase votes and to hunt zombie questions.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So all depends on those technical indicators with someone deciding what is minimum, what is healthy and so on? Really sad! \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitri Zaitsev Dec 11 '13 at 16:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DmitriZaitsev I don't think it's that simple. Have a look at Grace Note's recent review of the site. It's more than just “this number is too low, increase it”. \$\endgroup\$ – svick Dec 11 '13 at 16:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @svick What I miss is the analysis of the actual primary reasons. Lack of votes is secondary. Lack of people and their interest is primary. Most people simply aren't aware of this site. And they would love too. So instead of trying to push people playing with votes (or else everything is lost), maybe they can just increase the awareness and everything else will follow. Simple really. \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitri Zaitsev Dec 12 '13 at 4:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DmitriZaitsev I disagree that a lack of awareness in other SE communities is a problem: At least 30K people know about this site. Why many of them don't stay here to write answers is a better question. Lack of answers, and lack of votes is not secondary, because reputation (which used to flow particularly slow here) is needed for sustainable self-moderation. More votes are also a better motivation for people to stay active. Shorter, faster answers – even if they may be incomplete – would make asking questions a more enjoyable experience. It's good that we're aware of this: now we can fix it. \$\endgroup\$ – amon Dec 12 '13 at 7:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sadly I don't see any way to fix it, if a site is under threat to disappear again like that. Maybe this is the actual reason for people to leave? Would you rather not go to the site that is meant to stay? \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitri Zaitsev Dec 13 '13 at 10:47
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That's an unfortunate outcome, sorry to hear that. On the bright side, failed betas have all their data available in the Data Explorer, so you can mine it and possibly learn more about what went wrong.

As for Code Review, arguably a not-so-good fit for the StackExchange Q&A format (works pretty well regardless), we recently had an assessment of our beta status.

This assessment was our wake-up call. We went on a mission to dramatically reduce the number of unanswered questions zombies and of questions without upvoted answers targets. This "mission" snowballed and had several indirect side-effects:

The only thing holding CR back from graduation, is the lack of high-rep users. This is a side-effect of abandonment issues the site had (has?); if we graduated today, 3 users (soon 4!) would be above the 10K mark, and no one above 20K. Not that the moderators are drowned in a sea of flags, but still.

There's only 1 solution: more votes!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Would you provide a link for Data Explorer of "On Startups"? I was unable to locate it. \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitri Zaitsev Dec 11 '13 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Might not be online right now, but it should be somewhere around here \$\endgroup\$ – Mathieu Guindon Dec 11 '13 at 14:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/188465/… \$\endgroup\$ – Mathieu Guindon Dec 11 '13 at 14:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are only active sites as far as I could see. I've tried there but could not find "On Startups". \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitri Zaitsev Dec 11 '13 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer mentions data dumps are available for failed betas: meta.stackexchange.com/a/190653/197901 \$\endgroup\$ – Mathieu Guindon Dec 11 '13 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ It mentions but does not provide any link :( \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitri Zaitsev Dec 11 '13 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DmitriZaitsev I believe the data dump will be available on the area51 proposal page. It will probably take a little while before it becomes available there though. But that is where you will find it for other closed betas. \$\endgroup\$ – Simon Forsberg Dec 11 '13 at 22:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SimonAndréForsberg Take a while? Shouldn't it be automatic? Can't see it anywhere nor find any information? This lack of transparency is really frustrating :( \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitri Zaitsev Dec 12 '13 at 3:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DmitriZaitsev Look at the link I sent you now and you will see that the data dump has become available. \$\endgroup\$ – Simon Forsberg Dec 12 '13 at 22:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SimonAndréForsberg Seen it, thanks! I hope someone can put it somewhere in more digestible form. I'm not great with huge XML files. :( \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitri Zaitsev Dec 13 '13 at 5:26

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