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Proposal: Engineering

There's a few other online communities for engineers about. I'm wondering if we should start to advertise the (upcoming) engineering SE.

Pros:

  • shorter time till completed commitment phase
  • larger, more diverse pool of users in the beginning of the new SE site

Cons:

  • The SE format might scare away user more used to classical forums, so maybe the site should be fairly active before we draw these users
  • I at least don't know if the new SE site we are building wil be great, so I hesitate to tell anyone 'hey, support this great new site we're building!'

If you think we should 'advertise' already, maybe we can create a small text about what we hope the new site will achieve and how the format differs from other sites and what 'commitment' would mean right now, that one can adapt for specific forums.

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I think it would be a good idea to advertise the existence of this proposal on those other sites. Certainly it has to be done carefully and politely, since a successful Engineering.SE may pull traffic from the other sites but I think that could be done. There will certainly be people who would prefer to use the other sites, in part because the SE format doesn't encourage much informal back and forth which is a fixture of many forum sites, but I think many people would either migrate or use both.

The best people to point folks towards this proposal would be people who have an established reputation on another site. Maybe if someone here is active on Eng-Tips, they could post a pointer to here. It doesn't look like there are any over there, and they have a big population of engineers.

  • I'm somewhat active on eng-tips (but that does not translate to 'having a repuation there) and was actually thinking about eng-tips when asking this question. I think your idea was that it would seem strange if someone made an account just to advertise this new SE, I'd agree to that. – martin Oct 11 '14 at 20:08
  • Yes, that's exactly what I mean. I have an account over there, but since I'm pretty much just a lurker, I don't think people would appreciate me advertising for another site. If you've been somewhat active there, I think it would be appropriate for you to make a post that this exists, and encourage people to commit to it as a companion to eng-tips. Certainly most of their user base would be good assets to the proposal. – Ethan48 Oct 13 '14 at 13:12
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I can tell a big advertizing campaign is the fastest way to fail private beta.

It was so with Digital Fabrication AKA Maker Professionals. The Digital Fabrication commitment was following at a steady pace, reaching about 100 committed. Then someone changed the name of proposal to Maker Professionals, and advertized it in the "maker" community. The site reached 325 committers within some 2 weeks, and the name changed back to Digital Fabrication.

I think it was then when most of previous committers gave up (personally, I retracted my commitment, many others didn't do so 'physically', but gave up on the proposal).

The results?

committed users

325 users committed
35.7% signed up for beta
0% fulfilled commitment

True, the name change shenanigans surely contributed a lot to the failure, but essentially dragging lots and lots of new people who don't really understand how Area51 works, who just clicked "commit" without really committing - just to let the site reach beta faster, was the ultimate downfall of the proposal.

So, yes, inform people that such a thing is being created, but definitely don't drag them in during commitment phase. Feel free to start a full-blown advertisement campaign once the site reaches public beta.

  • The physics SE regularly closes questions for being off-topic:Engineering (vigorously). I'd like to make an effort to direct people here. Maybe it would be a good idea to preferentially contact people with strong reputations on other SE sites (not just anybody who wanders up and posts on them). – Dan Nov 11 '14 at 6:45
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I would say posting to other discussion forums would be a good idea. I've done some of this at Reddit in /r/AskEngineers and /r/engineering. It resulted in a significant spike in commits. What I said was this:

The Stack Exchange is a network of structured Q&A sites. The best-known is Stack Overflow, far and away the best site online for programming questions, but there are a multitude of others.

There's also a community-driven process to create more exchanges. This proposal is for an Engineering Stack Exchange, and has been progressing through the steps for about a year. It's doing well, and closing in on Beta status. The Electrical Engineering SE is already a great resource, and having one for other disciplines of engineering would just make the world a better place.

Modifications, suggestions, and corrections are always welcome.

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I would have to disagree with the statements saying an ad campaign on forums would scare them away. The stackexchange format allows for questions being answered more quickly.

Every time I visit a forum, its almost full of specific questions from desperate developers about specific problems. Since forums aren't quick, they usually don't get their answer there. The stackexchange format allows for those specific questions to be asked faster thus allowing the other forums to be less populated. While that could be interpreted as them dying, it also allows for more people to get involved in deep discussions at forum boards.

I'd say we should advertise on forums so that those desperate developers don't flood the forums with questions nobody wants to get involved in.

Quite frankly I'd much rather tell my peers, "Go to the Engineering SE" rather than "Go to X.SE for this, go to Y.SE for that, and go to Z.SE for that"

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