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It's been over a month since the last graduation update and your new mods are settled in. Time for more news!

First, a quick recap. As many of you know, we on the SE team approved Code Review for graduation a long time ago, and then tripped up on delivering most of the actual features of graduation to you after telling you about it. More recently, we announced some changes to the way we think about the site lifecycle, and the response to that announcement made us start work on separating the elements of graduation into independent pieces.

Our devs have had their sledgehammers out day and night for the past few weeks breaking up the pieces of graduation. You already experienced the first bit, a moderator election, about a month ago. Now we're ready for a test run of a few more pieces:

  • removal of the much-reviled "beta" label currently attached to your site's name
  • opening of "full-strength" question migration paths with the rest of the network
  • activation of community ads

Next Monday (August 17, 2015), Magento is going to be the first site to try out these new features (simultaneously with their first election). I'm here to offer you the chance to participate in the same trial. Are you interested?

If we do this, please remember that you'll be the first site to get these features outside of dev, so there may be more bugs than normal. Please report any that you see here on meta like you would any other bug.

Update: based on the reaction below, we are not going to start the trial of design-independent graduation for you today (or at any planned time). For the longer-term future: as usual, you should hear from us here on meta before any major changes occur.

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I voted no, and here is my reasoning.

The specific proposed changes are:

  1. Community ads

    At the moment, we have three ads that might occupy the slot. This is a good thing, but it's not a feature that makes any difference to the way the site works.

  2. Migration paths

    Due to some significant unresolved UI problems, which are hindering our ongoing education campaign aimed at Stack Overflow users, I'm hesitant to open a migration path from Stack Overflow to Code Review right now.

    I'd consider a CR-to-SO migration path, but with a 500-point threshold for closure, I'm not sure that that would be a good idea.

  3. Drop the "Beta" label

    I'm in favour of losing the stigma of the inaccurate Beta label. However, if the reputation thresholds aren't changing, and the only distinctions between "Beta" and non-"Beta" are the ads and migration paths, then losing the Beta designation becomes meaningless, or demeaning.

Therefore, even though design-independent graduation is in principle a good thing, dropping the reputation threshold change misses the point and detracts from the community's achievement. After all the hard work we have done to prove that the community is mature enough to operate like a "real" Stack Exchange site, we are now being told that we have earned some minor inconsequential changes. That's hurtful, and I want to see an offer of substantial change: the reputation threshold change that is needed for the proper operation of a mature site.

Another way to look at it: we're not being offered design-independent graduation. Rather, we are being offered a new official post-beta limbo status, with no clear path or date for obtaining graduated status (by that, I mean everything but the design). And the new process isn't design-independent: we're still at the mercy of the design team to claim the status that we thought we had been offered.

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Pops, Community Managers, and Stack Exchange management. It's Saturday, so I don't know if you're on duty, but I want to make sure you see this before you pull the trigger on Monday.

Currently, the votes are:

  • Yea: +17-4 = 13
  • Nea: +10-5 = 5

However, the votes on the explanations tell a more complete story:

  • 200_success: "No, because you're giving us a new post-beta state with no rep threshold change, and we're still at the mercy of the design team". +19-1 = 18 (posted 1 hour after the poll)

  • Mast: "Thanks. We want the Beta label gone and privilege levels changed now for the health of the community, even though I only have 1k. The 'celebration' excuse for bundling with design makes no sense." +7-0 = 7 (posted with 14-hour handicap)

  • Rubberduck: "I agree with @200_success, but couldn't bring myself to vote No." +5-0 = 5 (posted with 12-hour handicap)

I think that CR is unanimously stating that this is a step in the right direction, but not enough. We all want the privilege levels changed now. We fear that if you strip the Beta label, we would be officially out of Beta, you can declare Mission Accomplished, and leave us waiting indefinitely again.

Why do we care so much about the privilege levels? Partly because it's genuinely necessary and overdue given the current user statistics. A lot of the blame, though, falls squarely on you. In the two community reviews prior to approval, Community Managers told us that our collective low reputation scores were the major obstacle to graduation.

You scolded us, and the community responded. We worked hard to change our voting culture. We developed terminology memes as a propaganda tool. We came up with new gamification incentives. We wrote Data Explorer queries to correct historical wrongs. We fought hard, and we succeeded. And now you're telling us that communal reputation levels don't really matter that much.

There may be sites for which the delayed increase that management is proposing makes sense. The proposed policy to tie reputation threshold changes to site design is not appropriate for Code Review, due to our size and our history. Sensitivity and flexibility in this regard would be much appreciated. We don't want to continue nagging you and the overworked design team. Please just give us the reputation threshold changes now, and we can all be happy.

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    \$\begingroup\$ So, we're not offering you this trial because we think it's the best thing for you; we're offering it because it's available (i.e. the stuff that our devs have done enough work on to be ready for real-world testing). As you may know, when we roll out big feature changes, we tend to do it first on Meta SE and then distribute to other sites. Can't do that for design-independent graduation, though, because MSE is already set to "graduated." I mistakenly thought that after everything you guys had been through, you'd rather see any progress than wait for upped rep levels, which aren't ready yet. \$\endgroup\$ – Pops Aug 15 '15 at 17:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ I just came back to see if there were any new responses here and realized that the last line of my previous comment might have come off as snarky if read in a certain tone of voice. No snark was intended, that honestly was my thought process. Regardless, I apologize for any confusion. \$\endgroup\$ – Pops Aug 15 '15 at 20:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pops I for one wouldn't mind being a guinea pig, but I also don't pretend to speak for the community. At the least, I do want to thank you for thinking of us and giving us the opportunity, whatever decision you all make back at HQ. \$\endgroup\$ – RubberDuck Aug 15 '15 at 21:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ In fairness. (and catching up, because I have been out of town.....)... This answer best reflects how I feel about things. It's progress, but not enough of what this site specifically needs. Additionally, also in fairness, even if higher provs were implemented, we would, as a community, still lament the lack of colours. As a community, we want all the benefits of graduation, and will not settle until then... but giving us the most "useless" first (not first, elections were first, and also very important), and calling that a major milestone, seems somewhat empty. \$\endgroup\$ – rolfl Aug 15 '15 at 22:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pops This may deserve it's own question, but why aren't the upped rep levels ready yet? Is there something as a community we can do to speed up the process? \$\endgroup\$ – Mast Aug 15 '15 at 23:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mast for now, increased rep levels and design are still tied together, so it was last priority to be decoupled. The reasons for that are a bit long for a comment... there should be an update about that early next week on Meta SE but if not I'll write more somewhere on this meta. \$\endgroup\$ – Pops Aug 16 '15 at 2:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @rolfl as I have said before (low on chars, links in Q body), CR deserves real graduation, and the delay in implementing graduation features/benefits is entirely the fault of us on the SE team and not y'all. But regardless of fault, the fact is that there's still a bit of road ahead. A little "squeaky wheel" can be helpful when there's an unacknowledged problem, but we're way past that point, now. I'm doing my best to show you that we're working hard at making progress. If the community wants to wait to deploy until everything is ready, we can do that, but it won't change much on our end. \$\endgroup\$ – Pops Aug 16 '15 at 14:47
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First I want to thank you for the update. This graduation procedure has been taking so long already that we sometimes feel a little forgotten. I also want to thank you for asking us this question instead of forcing it on us.

There are things this community has, needs and doesn't need:

What we have:

  • Active community which wants the best for the site.
  • Multiple high-reputation users which are dedicated to assist the moderators where necessary by doing their part.
  • Multiple mid- and low-reputation users which are dedicated to keep the community going by keeping the site active, posting questions, killing zombies and even learning new languages just to provide answers to questions long deserving of one.

So we got the community part covered.

What we need:

We need a valuable graduation. A graduation with content. Not a mock-up. So what gives graduation value?

  • Elected moderators

    We got those last July, so thank you for that. :-)

  • A raised reputation threshold

    One of the biggest differences between beta and graduated sites is the reputation required for privileges. We need that reputation threshold raised so the users which aren't supposed to have certain privileges don't have them any longer and to be accepted as one of the big guys.

    Yes, this will hurt a little for those who lose privileges. I'm one of those users. But waiting any longer will increase the amount of people losing privileges. Waiting doesn't solve the problem, it makes it worse.

Note: We propose keeping the lower privilege thresholds in place until designs are ready because we think raising them without giving you something to celebrate just wouldn’t be that much fun.

Privileges should be used to keep the community healthy, not for fun. We have Winterbash for that.

We want our reputation threshold raised. Please implement this as soon as practically possible.

Which brings me to:

What we don't need:

  • Removal of the 'beta' label

    Of course, we want that label gone. But get the rest straight first so we don't end up in some pseudo-beta state. Having the label removed should indicate the process is finished, not that it has just begun.

  • Community ads

    We only have 3 lined up. We have a lot of meta and discussion about when we finally get to graduate. To me, this indicates we're more interested in the total package of graduation and will sort those community ads out later.

  • Design

    While new colours look nice, they do just that. Look nice. They add UX, no 'real' value (for some values of real). We already survived beta for over 1.6k days. We can survive some more without a new design. We do want those colours, but they are definitely not on top of our priority list.

So, can we just not do this and get what we need instead?

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YES!

At this point we'll take any progress toward full-fledged graduation. This is more than welcome, and nobody will miss that "beta" label.

Bring it!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I was writing the same thing \$\endgroup\$ – Caridorc Aug 14 '15 at 21:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ But changed idea when I read 200_sucess ' answee. \$\endgroup\$ – Caridorc Aug 24 '15 at 21:27
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Nope!

What we need is reputation score thresholds, more than cosmetic changes.

We waited 4 years in beta, let's wait another 6-8 weeks for the design and get the real deal, at once.

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    \$\begingroup\$ More like 6-8 years with this speed... \$\endgroup\$ – Mast Aug 14 '15 at 21:49
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Yes. I would very much like to see this happen, but only because removing the "much reviled" beta label is part of the changes and because somebody has to test it. That somebody might as well be us. In some ways, we're already a very "experimental" site, so why not?

That said, I do tend to agree with the things @200 said in his answer. All of it. I want to upvote that answer badly, but I want that beta label gone even more.

The problem with the "beta" label isn't that I see it. It's that everyone else sees it. I've heard more than once "but it's just a beta" long after we had already "graduated". I know it's silly, but it hurts my pride. We've a great community here that's worked hard to get to where we are. We deserve a full fledge graduation, but removing the beta label would be a nice show of good faith.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But, did we really graduate? \$\endgroup\$ – Mast Aug 15 '15 at 13:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hence the quotes @Mast. Technically yes, but it sure doesn't feel like it. \$\endgroup\$ – RubberDuck Aug 15 '15 at 13:15
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Can we have full Graduation without a site design?

Maybe I am missing some information about everything that goes into a sites graduation.

This Meta Answer says this

The usual process is that the site gets a "proper" theme and loses the sketchy theme of the beta. Also reputation privilege levels are reset to the same higher level as the trilogy sites. And that's it.

I really doubt that this is all that is involved.


My proposal is that we flip the switch without site (re)design and implement everything.

Have we not earned that much? I think we are more than willing to wait for the design (or there might even be a couple of us willing to work on the design as well)

This Meta question proposes almost the same thing, except it keeps us from getting the privilege hike, which I think is something that we need on Code Review


Maybe we remove the beta and replace it with stage in the site Header

Site Header

Then users will know that we are nearly 100% Graduated, that we have a few tweaks to make before we go full production.

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