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Proposal: Economics

Besed on trend commitment rates, we look to have a little over one month left before entering beta. I was shocked to learn today that the Game Theory SE beta was closed after nine(!) days for having insufficient activity.

We have a couple of discussions about attracting commitment, but is there anything you think we can do to ensure a healthy beta for the Econ SE? Judging by the Game Theory beta we need to target approximately 15 questions (90% of which are answered, most of which have multiple answers), a couple of hundred quite active users, and 1500 daily visitors.

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    of the 1500 how many will come from google, that depends on how many unique questions we can generate, or at least some unique keywords, I already have a couple of questions I have been asking everyone who ever told me he is an economist waiting for Beta, and I am sure if each one of us bring in questions (and of course good answers), everything else will work out – skv Nov 13 '14 at 18:49
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Let's compare four stacks: One that failed beta, one that's in beta, one that's launched successfully and the previous economics stack proposal.

Game Theory:     1.8 q/day  50% answered  176 users   1.4 A:Q  50 visits/day
History:         5.4 q/day  94% answered  5590 users  2.1 A:Q  5444 visits/day
IT Security*:    6.9 q/day  99% answered  3118 users  2.9 A:Q  912 visits/day
Economics (old): 1.4 q/day  87% answered  922 users   1.5 A:Q  223 visits/day

* Statistics only go up to the point that the stack launched. For instance, there are approximately 44,000 users for the IT Security stack at current.

As you can see, some metrics are more important than others if you want your beta to be given the time needed to grow. The response rate for the old economics beta was healthy but the level of questions asked was simply far too low. The other metrics aren't as immediately relevant to the initial survival of a beta as the user base and visitation count grows organically over time and many mature stacks hover between 1.5 and 3 answers; depending on subject matter.

The relationship between the commitment stage and the beta stage is clear: To get the beta to survive the first few months, to start drawing in search results and cross-stack references, the initial pool of committed users must post questions and must answer them.

I would suggest each committed user stockpiles interesting and fun economics questions to post over the first few weeks. Half an hour of brainstorming on the questions you've always wanted to ask but don't fit the other stacks should suffice. This initial steady stream of questions and answers will get people's juices flowing so they don't wander off after a couple of weeks.

I believe successful betas initially start off as a bit of a closed-knit group of regular users asking each other questions and challenging their subject matter depth and breath, and then feeding in new users over time. The cohesiveness of the group and a generally agreed consensus on how to manage the site will encourage the avid user base to stay active.

The important point being: That without a community, most betas don't survive.

We start as a disparate group of people from different stacks but we must assign some personal value to being together on an new economics stack exchange.

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    Excellent answer, and great suggestions. The only thing I'd add is VOTE! Voting, accepting answers, and commenting makes the site better, and give people a sense that their contributions are being recognized. – Jason Nichols Oct 29 '14 at 18:27
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    Addendum: I also stumbled across this existing stack exchange technique whilst reading a meta stack backlog: Weekly Topic Challenges – LateralFractal Oct 30 '14 at 10:51
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Right now it's free to commit, so people who won't actually fulfill their promise to ask/answer X questions just click commit anyway. Most people who click commit probably sincerely believe they'll fulfill their pledge when they click commit, but end up never doing so.

Perhaps SE Area 51 can consider experimenting with a pay-to-commit system. Each person can commit any amount of money he likes. (This will involve actually depositing money in some account.) When the total committed amount hits a certain level (say $10,000?), then the beta starts. If the beta fails, all of the committed money is donated to some charity. If it succeeds, then everyone is refunded his money. Similar to Kickstarter, I guess. So everyone who commits is actually putting his money where his mouth (or mouse-click) is.

Economics.SE might perhaps be the appropriate place to do this experiment. Of course there would be lots of logistical and legal issues to be overcome, but I'm sure it can be figured out.

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    A different incentive model would make it difficult for Stack Exchange staff to predict when a given beta is ready for launch and its likelihood of success; as we'd be a sample size of one instead of the 150+ sample size of the current system. Although I think @robert-cartaino could provide insight on this. – LateralFractal Nov 2 '14 at 4:20

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