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Proposal: Bitcoin

Here are the guidelines for an Area 51 beta:

15 questions per day on average is a healthy beta, 5 questions or fewer per day is worrying. A healthy site generates lots of good content to make sure users keep coming back.

90% answered is a healthy beta, 80% answered is worrying. In the beta it's especially important that when new visitors ask questions they usually get a good answer.

Every site needs a solid group of core users to assist in moderating the site. We recommend:
150 users with 200+ rep
10 users with 2,000+ rep
5 users with 3,000+ rep

2.5 answers per question is good, only 1 answer per question is worrying. In a healthy site, questions receive multiple answers and the best answer is voted to the top.

1,500 visits per day is good, 500 visits per day is worrying. A great site benefits people outside the community. Eventually, 90% of a site's traffic should come from search engines.

Based on the forums, if we directed specific questions directly to the Q&A site, would we have the volume?

See Bitcoin Forum - Statistics Center for reference. Note especially the overall trend.

  • 7
    Not only do you need critical mass, you need a critical mass of existing Stack Exchange users. I don't know if you have sufficient overlap for that – Ivo Flipse Mar 31 '11 at 8:24
  • I don't know, but why not find out? If Stack Exchange decide there's not enough activity, we could always move to OSQA. I would set us up with an OSQA instance right now, but truth is I don't have the time a.t.m, and I'd like to try the Stack Exchange route first. Another alternative is Shapado - setup a site in 8 seconds. – ripper234 Mar 31 '11 at 9:01
  • 6
    There are a lot of bitcoin users, such as myself, who spend a great deal of time answering questions on the bitcoin forums. If there were to be a bitcoin stack exchange site, I think that I would rapidly become a big Stack Exchange user, as would others. After all, where do Stack Exchange users come from in the first place? – eMansipater Apr 1 '11 at 1:13
  • @eMansipater - Here's a blog post with the geographic answer to your question. Speaking from experience, the vast majority of your users will come from Stack Overflow. – Kevin Vermeer Jul 20 '11 at 19:10
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I think we should try and see. The Bitcoin community has been growing very rapidly over the past few months. There are a lot of people interested in it, and the forums (which are the de facto place to get answers) really suck (usability wise).

There should definitely be a Q&A site on Bitcoin. If Stack Exchange turns out to be "not the right place", we can always set us up on one of the open source clones. Still, I'd like to give Stack Exchange a try first.

9

The forums are becoming extremely difficult to navigate, and it's naturally more discussion than Q&A. I've seen quite a few communities benefitting from adding a Q&A system like Stack Exchange and Bitcoin is very likely to do so, too. Also, since Bitcoin is a crypto-currency I do believe there's some intersection between the Stack Exchange userbase and the Bitcoin forum user base.

4

I am not sure about this.

I agree that Stack Exchange is a system superior to everything else out there, but Bitcoin discussions should be done on a platform that supports Bitcoin transactions (such as witcoin).

People have been asking for Flattr integration to Stack Overflow in the past, and the response was quite negative, so I assume the same would apply to Bitcoin.

So for the moment, I'd stick with the official Bitcoin forum, and with witcoin.

Also, I suppose one could get away with posting Bitcoin questions on Super User, and I do not like the fragmentation that Stack Exchange is having (Stack Overflow vs Programmers vs Theoretical Computer Science, Super User vs AskDifferent vs Ask Ubuntu). So if there should be a new Stack Exchange site, I'd rather have it for online payment or e-commerce or even money in general (where it can be contrasted with PayPal and VISA and Flattr and TipTheWeb and so on).

  • 3
    Re: "money in general" ... check out money.stackexchange.com – Chris W. Rea Apr 1 '11 at 19:02
  • 1
    Witcoin seems to have a lot of chaff, though, since it's not exclusively a Q&A site. – André Paramés Apr 2 '11 at 23:29
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    Witcoin is very feature poor at the moment, and is not a Q&A site (before SO, there was Digg). As for bitcoin question on superuser ... not really (bitcoin is not just software). Also, I don't see any requirement for a bitcoin Q&A site to support bitcoin transactions. – ripper234 Apr 3 '11 at 8:08
  • @Thilo: what is "AskDifferent"? Do you mean Unix and Linux? – WikiSpeedia hang-around Apr 5 '11 at 1:51
  • @WikiSpeedia hang-around: apple.stackexchange.com – Thilo Apr 5 '11 at 3:29
3

Yes, Bitcoin is big enough. There is definitely overlap between Bitcoin/Cyrpto-currency and the rest of Stack Exchange, everyone I have met in person that is into bitcoin, half a dozen people, are all member of other stack exchange sites.

3

I think the bitcoin community itself is large enough; but I think asking if bitcoin is large enough, and basing an expected answer on the size of the forums, is the wrong question.

What you really need to know is:

  1. If enough users from the forum are interested in politically neutral discussion about bitcoin for SE to appeal to them, and are willing to migrate here, and

  2. If this site will be sufficiently attractive to new users of bitcoin to bring them here and encourage them to participate and continute to grow the community.

I think the answer to 1) may be "Yes", with a "but" - the majority who would come over are not the "big names" or the well-known posters. That is probably a good thing, but it makes it harder to get them here.

I think the answer to 2) is absolutely yes. Stack Overflow has shown that this type of communication medium actually works surprisingly well and provides a means of communication that goes well beyond Q&A. The technology itself may lend itself to a Q&A environment but discussion has managed to be much more lively than "ask a question, get a list of answers." After all, the software does not force you to put a question mark at the end of your post title.

This comment notwithstanding, I've also observed that the SE format helps keep posts short and to the point by making it visually obvious that your own content is not very important (and honestly.. it almost never is).

2

The community is definitely large enough, but, I think more to the point.. The bitcoin forums suffer severely from spam posts and it's very hard to keep a conversation on topic sometimes, which can be quite a hindrance when you're trying to figure out complex aspects of bitcoin. The stackexchange system would be greatly beneficial to people initially trying to pick up the technicals, or say start a bitcoin business, find out how to go about what they want to do without having to search through an almost un-navigable huge extent of forum posts.

1

I assume you are looking for an improvement over the cesspool that is the bitcoin forum. It seems that the forum threads consist of a mix of

  • bitcoin related news and announcements
  • FAQs
  • criticism and suggestions (e.g. a dozen "shift the decimal point" threads)
  • humor, polls, market predictions, trolling, rants, name calling, conspiracy theories...

None of this content fits well on a Stack Exchange site. The FAQs come closest, but those should already be answered in an authoritative fashion on the wiki. (If not, start editing!)

The forum could still benefit from a voting mechanism like Stack Exchange, but given the type of content I believe the bitcoin subreddit would be a better alternative. We need a place to vote up interesting bitcoin content in general, not a pure Q&A site. The bitcoin subreddit would serve that purpose well, and it already has thousands of readers.

  • 1
    We don't want to just transplant all the crap from the forum over here. I think the SE model has a lot of potential as a user support site. The bitcoin subreddit is more geared towards current events. – Chris Acheson Jul 15 '11 at 3:49
  • Every platform has its benefits and detriments; forums are designed for conversation and so conversation happens. It's too casual an environment for serious discussions to flourish - SE is designed for serious discussions. – David Perry Jul 26 '11 at 17:21
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    @David: SE is not designed to have discussions at all, but rather to find the best answer to a given question, which is determined mainly by upvotes and downvotes. To quote from the stackoverflow FAQ: You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page. I still think reddit is a better fit. – Wim Coenen Jul 27 '11 at 10:30
  • @Wim: Who said I was talking specifically about the one question and the one answer on each page? We're having a conversation right now aren't we? – David Perry Jul 27 '11 at 14:23
0

No harm trying, more exposure should benefit the project as a whole and stackexchange will probably show up on searches more as well.

0

I personally doubt that the Bitcoin topic is broad enough to sustain a stackexchange site. There are of course many bitcoin users, but the amount of unique questions is rather limited IMHO. I don't think that it will survive the beta.

  • There are several fairly narrow stack exchanges already, some for specific software packages, and they all seem to do just fine. I think you underestimate the complexity of the Bitcoin ecosystem. – Chris Acheson Aug 10 '11 at 16:56

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