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I was paying attention to the Equestrian site proposal and I was a little surprised today to find that it had vanished without trace.

I realise it had relatively little interest ( I guess the crossover between existing Stack Exchange sites and the Equestrian community is pretty narrow ) and I'm sure that however it vanished it was for a what counts as a sound reason within the logic of Area51.

However there are a few of things that as a user I found a little surprising.

  • There is no record of the proposal ever existing. No mention that it was tried at all. This leads me to expect that it is likely that from time to time people will come up with this suggestion again and I guess at that point others will say We tried it! It didn't work! Go home! If there is not record of what has or hasn't been tried, then how are people to know?
  • I can't find details of how the decision is made to close down a proposal. Admittedly I only searched here and in the FAQ and maybe I didn't read every point in detail, but I feel as though the process is still mysterious to me and given that we're relying on community support for proposals it seems a little unfair not to explain to the community why their proposal failed or what they could have done to save it. A little easily-found documentation here would give me a lot more confidence in the system.
  • As a member committed to the proposal, I would have liked to be warned that it was at risk of being erased. Maybe there would have been some way I could have intervened further to prevent that happening. At the very least I could have been able to come here and ask what the problem is, in the absence of the documentation mentioned above.
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No, we most definitely do not want to tell someone "We tried it! It didn't work! Go home!"

The Area 51 process is not a measure for the viability of an idea. Area 51 measures if you have a good idea and the people, the desire, and the talent to build up that idea into a workable solution. Inactivity means ONLY that the author and the supporters did not rally enough activity to launch a site at that time — all the pieces were not in place.

Most definitely, users should be free to propose a site idea again if they feel they are better able to recruit a critical mass of supporters. But, if no further efforts are made to promote the site idea, the site isn't likely to be created.

If you were following the proposal, when visiting that URL, you would have seen:

Area 51 >> Proposal Removed

This proposal has been deleted

Inactive proposals that do not receive any activity for one month are subject to deletion — etc.

As part of the routine maintenance of Area 51, proposals that have ABSOLUTELY NO ACTIVITY for a period of 30 days are subject to deletion. That means absolutely NO activity; no new questions, no comments, no voting, nothing.

It takes only a tiny, tiny fraction of the activity actually needed to create a site to keep the proposal alive. But the abandoned Equestrian proposal did not even have that.

We're not here to keep proposals with lackluster interest on life support. Getting a site started and making it successful in the long term takes a lot of work and dedicated attention. If we geared this system to constantly prod people "Oh, please, please continue to pay attention to this proposal nobody seems to care about", that is not likely to create a very promising site.

The bar is set pretty high, by design. If ALL the pieces are not in place — if you do not have the the right people with the right knowledge in the right place at the right time — the process falls apart. The process should fall apart.

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