16

I looked at the criteria on the "Area 51" listing and it seems that Musical Practice & Performance has exceeded every one of the criteria to get out of "beta" stage with the exception of only one: we don't average many new questions per day. But this site has been "beta" for more than two years.

I know nothing about the inner workings of StackExchange; perhaps one of the company employees could enlighten me about this.

  • That could be the limiting factor, but there have been a few sites that graduated with less than 5 QPD (role playing games, for example). However, the vast majority seemed to be at least in the yellow as far as QPD. I will say from experience that SE does look at many other things when considering graduation. For example, are we steadily getting new users? Is there a lot of participation (e.g., edits, voting, etc.)? What percentage of our visitors are finding us by search engines? There are other questions SE will ask, but I'm also interested to hear from the team about what's holding us back. – American Luke May 19 '13 at 12:24
  • I assume "QPD" means "questions per day". – user1044 May 19 '13 at 12:26
  • Yes. I hit the char limit and had to abbreviate. :P – American Luke May 19 '13 at 12:27
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    We do not get many new questions per day, but it seems to me that we do get a high percentage of questions by brand-new users, whom I assume must come in from search engines. Unfortunately many of these seem to be poor-quality questions, often from people who are obviously not musicians and appear to be asking out of idle curiosity. I find this somewhat frustrating. – user1044 May 19 '13 at 12:28
  • Howbeit, I'm not an "insider" at StackExchange so I have no idea how this site's metrics compare to other StackExchange sites. Thanks for the insight. – user1044 May 19 '13 at 12:30
  • Only the mods and the community team have the exact numbers (which they usually don't share). – American Luke May 19 '13 at 12:57
17

That Questions per Day number is a problem, and while we are not allowed to go into detail on the analytical data, this seems to be down to not getting enough new users in.

Our total page views and number of visits are increasing and the curve trend is upwards, which is excellent, but our new user graph is pretty flat. I think we'll have trouble hitting the threshold until this picks up - simply to be able to get enough questions per day. The upside is we are growing, slowly, and as the SE devs remind us we can stay in beta for an extended period, as long as it looks like we can keep growing. Interestingly, we are getting lots of new visits - so one problem seems to be the conversion ratio.

In trying to remember similar points in Sec.SE's history, we did a strong piece of publicity work (actually a few) identifying hot topics in security in the news or on the internet and making sure we had posts about them linked from blogs etc. thus ensuring we built credibility on a lot of sites.

Music.SE is going to be a different beast, but we could do something like have some questions related to Eurovision (yes, I know...but it has a large audience, so piggybacking off the #eurovision hashtag would be not necessarily bad) or SXSW or around popular music (I am a bit of a fogey here, with most of my favourite bands dating from the 60s and 70s so pop music isn't really my forte, but if a popular artist has some special technique or style that could make a good topic)

Active voting is also essential - not only to help encourage good questions and answers, but also to enable a higher number of 10k members of the community.

As a reward for voting, we have the shiny Electorate badge - which only two people have so far (@MatthewRead and @luserdroog) earned here! We don't seem to get many highly voted posts on Music.SE. Perhaps our regulars should revisit older questions and check for posts which deserve upvotes, or ones which could do with better answers.

Update 30 Aug 2013 Did some more thinking on number of visits. As I moderate two other sites, I can do a read across of how we stack up, and I have a couple of points to note, without giving away too much of the in depth statistics:

  • On Security, by end of private beta we already had more visits per week than Music has. In remembering back to those times, the core things the entire community did was to tell their friends, encourage posts on bulletin boards and forums and generally encourage people to come and check it out. A large number of those people in security also use computers as part of their day job - so it is easy to get them involved here. A large number are active across the Stack Exchange network.

  • On Music we have a small core of active users, almost all of whom are active elsewhere on Stack Exchange, and then a much larger number of occasional visitors who have no other SE accounts. These feel to me like non-IT folks, so our challenge here is how we make this site as welcoming as possible to them.

I think our scope is correct (despite the occasional post suggesting we allow 'who is this singer' type questions) - but can we target music schools or music theory and practice courses at colleges and universities, maybe?

Also, everyone follow the StackMusic twitter account and retweet good tweets!

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    +1 for more voting. It's a shame I've barely seen any subject on this SE site above 10 votes. And there's some gold out there! – user6164 Jun 7 '13 at 7:06
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    Matthew Read has earned that badge recently. And I expect to be #2 any hour now. – luser droog Jul 14 '13 at 2:21
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    Congratulations to @luser and @matthew! I checked mine and I am way behind on question upvotes... I am as guilty as the rest of the folks. Lets get up voting those good questions and answers! – Doktor Mayhem Jul 15 '13 at 15:53
  • +1 for "make this site as welcoming as possible to them". Could it be an idea to get it's own design even if still in beta? (I remember UX got it while still in beta) – awe Feb 5 '14 at 12:25
14

What Dr. Mayhem said is mostly right. Music.SE is doing just fine. It is a healthy site that has great numbers in nearly all beta categories.

That said, the private beta isn't a "hit the target number" game. We don't want to graduate a site just because it got the right numbers and, conversely, won't hold a site in beta just because it didn't perform in a certain metric.

What we look for are signs that the community is growing and can sustain that growth after graduating. Graduated sites work under a different, stricter, set of rules, so we need a diverse (reputation wise) user base that can remain active after the switch, voting, flagging and editing to ensure the quality remains great.

Music.SE is doing very well, but it needs new users to come and stay, to remain active and grow with the site. Right now the best thing you can do to help the community is to bring more people in. Tell your friends, your band, your students, your family. Show them this is a great place to get your questions answered on a lot of topics.

As Dr. Mayhem also said, piggybacking current trends is a good strategy as long as it doesn't pull the overall quality down. Use events like the NAMM Show, SXSW, Eurovision, or whatever, that you know will generate a lot of interest online and make the site relevant to that subject. As long as the content is great, there's no harm in playing for popularity.

So don't worry that the site is still in beta. It isn't a race.

Keep posting, keep voting and tell more people to come join the fun!

9

Lately, I have been coming to the conclusion that the moderation is too strict here. Though many would disagree, I am also active in TeX-SX which is relatively a bigger one compared to here and there is a familiar pattern from the early days that there is no flexibility on the rules. I agree that without moderation it would be a disaster but too much of it is equally hurtful.

Every potential nice/fun question is closed with downvotes which is scaring new users away and making the site very dull (my personal opinion). With dullness, I mean only chord progression, instrument maintenance and a few other recurring themes.

As an example, we have almost unanimously dropped the use of downvotes in TeX-SX. It doesn't serve any purpose outside SO and there things are ridiculously hostile. And we have the highest voting users over the whole network. Rep points are useless and we use it as mark as read to be honest (at least that's what I'm doing).

I don't understand how something like music is so boring when it comes to Music-SX. I know everyone is dying to tell me about the difference between a forum and a Q&A but I emphasize I am familiar with the format (check my profile if really an evidence is needed). A discussion does not need to be a post under post, it can be different answers covering different aspects of the topic plus we can use the community-wiki option extensively instead of downvoting and closing questions. Otherwise this SX is destined to stay like a lonely 5-star intercity hotel.

I don't think I have to repeat that these are my personal thoughts, that doesn't have to be correct or accurate.

  • What are some examples of questions that were (or, you think, would be) closed that shouldn't be? – Monica Cellio May 28 '13 at 15:49
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    Your second paragraph is quite important - we don't want to lose nice/fun questions if they are on topic and structured correctly for the site. Personally I see a lot of excellent and challenging questions, some so far out of my experience I just read and try to learn. At the end of the day, SE is about answerable questions, and CW is generally out of favour across much of SE. As Monica said, can you let us know some of the questions which were closed? – Doktor Mayhem May 29 '13 at 9:25
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    Anecdotally, I've been a part of more than one Beta site that closed because of a failure to focus on and curate the kind of focused core subject Q&A that SE specializes in. I strongly believe that the format and moderation is the reason for SE's success. However, I am not familiar with the TeX site. – Matthew Read May 30 '13 at 16:07
  • @DrMayhem I will definitely not post the questions I have in mind because that's exactly where I'm trying to avoid the dissection and redirecting the discussion. But for example this is one music.stackexchange.com/questions/10853/… shouldn't be closed but I won't discuss whether that closing vote is relevant or not. This is a music site it doesn't make too much sense to discuss on qualitative terms whether it is discussion or not. (ctd.) – user1306 May 30 '13 at 21:25
  • There are other questions but discussion is an ill-posed notion on SE sites and varies greatly from site to site. It is a matter of keeping control not strictly following rules. If you check all the succesful SE sites you will find many publicity related questions. I don't know how to make it a meaningful argument when I'm asked for evidence. It cannot work like that and that's why I don't really pay too much attention. It's too much details if compared to enjoying music questions and answers. – user1306 May 30 '13 at 21:28
  • @MatthewRead I don't agree but I'm not really too motivated to research and construct counterexamples. Music.SE cannot follow the rules of programmers or SO rules. It's just doesn't make sense to me. Either you make new rules for undecidable topics or you don't include music in the SE network as there are very few known things in terms of music. – user1306 May 30 '13 at 21:29
  • That's why in very light terms I have to see Music.SE as the SE site where nerds who can play stuff hang out. Most the answers given here are nothing but opinions written in an authoritative tone. But they are still opinions so that SO argument doesn't hold here. But that's just me. – user1306 May 30 '13 at 21:34
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    We don't moderate based on "correctness", so I don't see how it's relevant that many areas of music don't have fixed rules. We have many open questions with two upvoted answers that disagree with each other but still manage to support rational points without devolving into open-ended discussion. SE as a platform isn't suited to such discussion, whether you like the stricter Q&A format or not. – Matthew Read May 30 '13 at 22:44
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    @MatthewRead Let me reword it; there are not too many interesting topics that can be answered without actual discussion and/or personal/opinionated answers. Most of them are required to be addressed by nonfactual opinionated answers. But I don't agree with the correctness detail. You might not moderate based on it but the SE is quite affected by belittle the wrong ones attitude. – user1306 May 31 '13 at 9:54
  • Assertion: The underlying issue is that this site deals with an artistic endeavour; this naturally brings in aspects of subjectivity. A particular danger of this is that its easy to have questions that lack objective answers, and the moderators have been quick to jump on questions that lead in this direction. The only other SE site that might share this problem (feature?) is the Writers one, but I don't have time to assess if/how they handle more subjective questions. – Dave Jun 7 '13 at 13:47
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    Different assertion, aimed at no one in particular, and please try to take this constructively... A lot more musical questions have objective answers than people who close questions seem to realize. This issue is almost certainly due to a lack of subject matter knowledge on the part of these people. That's not to say that all questions posted are objectively answerable in a non-discussion format; some are not. However, questions appearing superficially to invite discussion may actually have a near-consensus among professionals, or there may be just a few leading theories/ideas. – Andrew Jul 7 '13 at 5:01
  • And, a site like Christianity.SE manages to hold such potentially-subjective questions by (a) requiring rigour in answering; (b) requiring a particular point of view to be identified [doctrine differs from denomination to denomination]; (c) requiring rigour in answering; (d) squashing questions which do not fit; (e) requiring rigour in answering. On this site, identifying a focus on "Practice & Performance" is difficult to say the least; and answers need to be rigorous, which does involve a scientist's precision in describing the art. – Andrew Leach Jul 10 '13 at 17:29
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    @AndrewLeach We have a simple example; tex.stackexchange.com/questions/94889/… . Notice that it's not community wiki and nobody is complaining. Because rep points mean nothing and if it is fun it is fun. We don't care if folks in shark tank = StackOverflow are eating each other. A community driven site can and should define its own rules. SO is the worst place to look up to for building a community. – user1306 Jul 18 '13 at 15:34
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    The difference to TeX is that at TeX, the topic limits itself. Anyone having a question about TeX will have to have some minimum knowledge about it to be able to ask a question. On Music, it is different, as the relevant topcics does not include "everything that can be somehow related to music". If we open up Music.SE to allow everythin, we will end up with less than 5% relevant to the original site topic, and the rest being general music questions from people that like listen to music. – awe Feb 5 '14 at 12:56
  • @awe Not quite. Everyday we have a lot of questions from people who have just started using TeX. And TeX is reaaaaally an obscure thing. I'm not arguing for letting the leash completely go all away. It is just the academic tone of the site doesn't bend for anything that is truly artistic. It's just bunch of links and references and classical music. Done. And regarding your final remark what's the problem? Are we pretending to be elite already? Because I don't see any experts staying around here. – user1306 Feb 5 '14 at 23:40

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