Edit: If you're reading this post, do whatever is within your power to help. Ask questions, post answers, and most importantly, share the link with people -- publicize on your blog, website, etc.

We're not trying to decrease quality or "game" the system; we want to do whatever we can to legitimately create a high-quality site. And if it fails despite that, then whatever is meant to be is meant to be.


First, I refer to all vitals for this site from the Area 51 Proposal page.

If you've been watching that page for a while, you'll notice that the number of questions is dangerously low (3.x per day instead of 15+ per day). As is the number of visits per day. I'm not an SEO expert, but I think that getting quality questions should push up the visits significantly.

15 questions per day over 90 days comes out to 1350 questions in total. It's no surprise that getting a site proposal requires 150 committed people -- at 10 questions each, you more than make it.

So let's get serious and start tracking this site's survival. Most of us are software developers, but we've dabbled in project management. Start pulling out those deep, dark, hard-to-solve questions. You know a few, I know you do.

I'll track the progress here, based on the formula that on day D, we need 15 * D questions asked. Hopefully, this will suffice to save the site.

  • March 2nd (day 22): 140 questions (330 expected); 42.4% of target
  • March 7th (day 27): 161 questions (405 expected); 39.7% of target
  • March 10th (day 30): 174 questions (450 expected); 38.6% of target
  • March 14th (day 34): 187 questions (510 expected); 36.6% of target
  • March 22nd (day 42): 218 questions (630 expected); 34.6% of target.
  • March 31st (day 51): 251 questions (765 expected); 32.8% of target.

Scope change: as pointed out in this meta question, we just need to hit ~5 questions per day. Since closed questions don't count, we can't use the actual number of questions, but will approximate by targeting 6 questions per day.

Based on that, the expected number is 6*D on day D:

  • April 4th (day 55): 275/330 questions (83.3% of target).
  • April 5th (day 56): 279/336 questions (83.0% of target).
  • April 7th (day 58): 292/348 questions (83.9% of target).
  • April 9th (day 60): 298/360 questions (82.7% of target).
  • April 24th (day 76): 333/456 questions (73.0% of target).
  • April 29th (day 80): 346/480 questions (72.1% of target).
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I think the statistics you've documented actively demonstrate that the site is growing, and that's a good thing. Thank you for continuing to document this information as it's inspiring to see that there is organic growth! –  jmort253 Apr 3 '11 at 23:07
    
Agreed. Still, the goal was to track expected vs. actual, and how far we have to go. –  ashes999 Apr 4 '11 at 13:58
    
Happy to see the number of questions growing! Hopefully, the tweeting, facebooking, etc is paying off. –  Mark Phillips Apr 7 '11 at 16:57
    
I think it is. Did anyone else notice an abundance of new users? –  ashes999 Apr 7 '11 at 19:36
    
seems that way. I've been focusing on the traffic (rather than answering questions, since that seems to be taking care of itself on this site). –  Mark Phillips Apr 8 '11 at 21:55

8 Answers 8

There's nothing wrong with reminding everyone to use this site in their everyday work. But simply saying "ask more questions" is not really a maintainable way to grow this site. The only way to maintain healthy, organic growth is through promoting a broader interest in the site.

enter image description here

Only ~14% of this site's traffic comes from search engines. A successful site gets about 60-90% of its traffic from search. This site is very young so there is a lot of potential for growth in that area.

We have found that, by far, the most effective way to bring new users into a site is to link to interesting questions. Most of the network's largest spikes in traffic were due to linking and passing on interesting questions! Use those social bookmarking tools!

enter image description here

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Thanks Robert. We're going to do whatever we can on our end to try and make this site survive. That's the goal of this post. I know I have a few deep questions I didn't ask yet. –  ashes999 Mar 4 '11 at 14:40
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I want to suggest that everyone read Robert's article on social networking tools. It's important to realize that to get the Announcer, Booster, and Publicist badges, you must use the permalink hyperlink from clicking on the link hyperlink, located under the question. I had been just pasting the real links on blogs and forums. It still helps drive traffic, but I want to make sure the people who do this get credit and recognition for it. –  jmort253 Mar 7 '11 at 4:48

I don't think we'd have problems with either active members or answer ratio or percent answered so I'd avoid tricking the system at the moment. My only concerns are the number of questions and number of visits per day.

Regarding questions I threw one idea here: How to catalyze adding more great questions?

And here's discussion about dragging more people in, which basically means more visits: How do we get some project managers on here?

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Absolutely. I read those threads before posting; that is not sufficient. We need (ironically) project-management style tracking of this project to make it survive. Failure is not an option! –  ashes999 Mar 3 '11 at 16:18

I don't think that our goal is to get traffic. By "us" I mean project managers, not the owners of stackexchange platform. We, the managers, don't need traffic. We need professional answers to our professional questions.

If we get a growing volume of non-professional questions and answers they site will die much sooner.

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Our goal is not traffic. Stack Exchange has gifted us a great platform for seeking professional, expert advice in our various domains on Project Management. We should do everything we can to try and make this platform succeed. –  ashes999 Mar 4 '11 at 14:38

@Robert is right on the money. We need to let people know about the great questions, experts and answers on this site. Social Bookmarking tools and social networking tools are an easy way to spread the word.

I'm going to shoot for tweeting about at least one question a day from this site (I don't Facebook). The platform makes it really easy to do it.

I'd ask others to do the same so we can survive and thrive through the public beta.

When you tweet it, add #pmot which is the hashtag for project management on twitter.

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Tweeting is good! I need to get better at using my Twitter account, right now it's pretty unused. One article I read suggested doing searches for the topics, and if we find people asking questions that are answered here on PM SE, that's the time to tweet the link. What do you think? Any other advice for effective use of social networking tools? My goal is to avoid coming off like a spammer. Thanks. –  jmort253 Mar 7 '11 at 4:43

Last night I did some searches for some of the topics that are included already on this site, like How to Avoid Micro-Managing a Software Development Team.

I limited my Google search to articles posted or updated within the last 24 hours. I then went around and posted follow up comments to those comments and questions. I attached a link to the questions here, just as how I normally would attach a resource from another site to the answer to a question here.

I plan to do this periodically with some of the most popular questions. Hope it helps.

I also want to add that anyone doing this should read @Roberts article on using the social networking tools so they get credit for bringing in the traffic.

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I've asked a question on SO-meta about moving the SO backlog of PM questions to here.

Hopefully whether or not the migration happens it will (re-)publicise the site to the large SO-meta audience.

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We also need a core number of folks who have 2000+ and 3000+ reputation. Some folks don't like it, but that sometimes means we just have to upvote certain posters to get us close to those numbers.

Some sites, like the DBA site, have so few questions and answers that such a tactic isn't possible to promote enough users over the 2k and 3k humps. For example, the current #2 rep person on that site hasn't answered any questions in more than a month.

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Excellent point, but I feel it's unwarranted. There are enough people cresting 1500 rep that 3000 should be easy enough. People on this site are not shy to vote up good questions and answers. –  ashes999 Mar 3 '11 at 16:17
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@Tangurena: If you target specific users, your votes will likely be removed automatically by our "suspicious voting patterns" script. You're not supposed to vote for people, you're supposed to vote on content. So just focus on voting for good questions and good answers. You have 30 votes per day; Use them and there will be plenty of high-rep users to help moderate the site. –  Robert Cartaino Mar 4 '11 at 16:02
    
@Robert, I've had some removed due to that script, so I'm pretty sure I know what it does and how it tracks things. However, the "core users" score is one of the metrics for whether the site succeeds or not, and sometimes it is all I can help remedy. –  Tangurena Mar 4 '11 at 16:24
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@Tangurena: I think you are offering poor advice. You are optimizing your behavior to force the numbers rather than focusing on genuine, organic growth. My caution based on watching almost 3,000 SE 1.0 sites fail with exactly this problem. They were more focused on the mechanics of "upping their numbers" rather than encouraging true, maintainable growth. Enjoy yourself, use the site, and reward good, positive behaviors (vote) and this site will be fine. –  Robert Cartaino Mar 4 '11 at 16:46
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I was the upvoter on this answer. After reading Robert's answer, I agree. You can't force a site to become successful. I think it's also important to note that the Area 51 stats are just guidelines. They're not hard rules that define the health of a site, but just goals based on results of previous SE sites. –  jmort253 Mar 5 '11 at 5:26
    
@Robert -are we are the path to surviving the beta? –  Mark Phillips Apr 11 '11 at 15:24

Actually as Jeff pointed in an answer to this question Are the Area 51 metrics right? measures on Area51 take into consideration only last two weeks so I'm not sure whether the measure we track here does make any sense.

Nevertheless we shouldn't stop encouraging people to ask questions.

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How are we going to know how we're going to stack up those last two weeks if we don't track now? Hence the question. –  ashes999 Apr 8 '11 at 10:42
    
We can check Area51 metrics. And then it's not about generating content in some artificial way. If we're going to make it on the day 90 but then stream of new questions will take nose dive the site still won't survive. –  Pawel Brodzinski Apr 8 '11 at 15:52
    
It's not about the last two weeks. It's about monitoring and getting early warnings if things are going bad to see what we can do. We already started publicizing more (and getting a lot of new users) -- that's what we're after. –  ashes999 Apr 8 '11 at 16:57
    
It's not about any two weeks. It's about steady growth. I look at area51 metrics and despite a good number of new questions (many asked by a single user) and a good number of new users we have pretty steady traffic, which is my biggest fear at the moment. –  Pawel Brodzinski Apr 8 '11 at 17:01
    
Yes, it is a big fear; one outside the scope of this thread, I think. Maybe we should address it in another meta.pm question. –  ashes999 Apr 8 '11 at 17:04

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