There were a lot of unsupported proposals filling the pages of Area 51 — literally thousands. It's not that these proposals were all necessarily a bad idea, it's just that Area 51 doesn't usually supply the built-in audience to create a site for you.

When you submit a proposal to build a site, it is generally assumed you have access to an audience to build it. Instead of requiring authors to include (and verify) a few co-signers as part of the submission process, we decided to give authors three days to complete that requirement after the proposal is listed.

To Create a Proposal

After you've submitted your proposal below, here is all you'll need to get started:

  • 5 example questions you would like to ask on this site
  • 5 users who are willing to 'follow' this proposal

Proposals that do not meet these requirements within three days after submission are subject to removal. Note that abandoned proposals that receive no activity for a period of 7 days may also be removed.

You can read more about the site creation process here.

When a proposal receives little-to-no activity in the opening days, if the author has not met the minimum requirements outlined in the submission process, the proposal is removed.

It is easy to overlook just how much support it takes to launch a successful site. If you manage to locate an audience later, you are certainly welcome to try again. But leaving a proposal to linger unsupported for months only draws unwanted attention, often filling the discussion section with questions deriding the effort. Such derision does not bode well for a proposal which simply needs a bit of enthusiasm and momentum behind it more than anything else.

  • 57
    Three days seems rather restrictive. Was there any review to see how many launched sites received their 5 followers in 3 days? Seven or Ten days seems more realistic. Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 10:59
  • 27
    Yes, it made no difference. Consider that the author can ask the five questions (or actually... anyone can) and only four other people need to 'follow' to show any interest. It's a very low bar of activity so, yes, going three days without even that little activity has a 0% false positive rate. Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 12:54
  • 16
    Why not make the time limit five days, to carry on with the Discordian theme?
    – Mark
    Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 0:29
  • 8
    I'm glad to see that you are experimenting with changes to Area 51 as I definitely think this system could be improved. I don't know if this will be enough, but hopefully pruning will make it slightly easy for worthy proposals to build up their first few users.
    – Casebash
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 9:05
  • 7
    @RobertCartaino: My point is the 5 questions requirement is light and easy to meet - I'd say trivial to meet as the creator can post all five. The 5 followers is disproportionately hard by comparison, especially that followers rarely show up immediately (I can tell I'm visiting 'new proposals' of Area51 maybe once in two weeks to hunt for interesting ones. So even if I love a proposal, I won't be in the initial 5 followers 4 out of 5 times.) Often a proposal will go with scarce few followers for weeks, then explode in popularity once one of followers advertizes it with the target community...
    – SF.
    Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 3:25
  • 5
    ...so I'd suggest balancing this somewhat. Be more demanding of questions, but less strict about followers. Say, 5 followers, 10 questions in 5 days. Especially that most beta sites die from lack of questions, not users.
    – SF.
    Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 3:29
  • 8
    [a proposal] often has scarce few followers for weeks, then explodes in popularity Actually no. Recovering from low-to-no activity is such a rare, statistical anomaly, it essentially never happens. That was the entire point of early (non-)performance indicators; to keep the listings free of completely unsupported ideas. The system was becoming unusable. Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 13:55
  • 2
    What if somebody posts a example question 1 day after the proposal was submitted, follows 5 times the next 2 days, then posts 2 example questions on Day 6, and adds 1 more on after 7 days, 1 hour before the beginning of the next day, then 5 minutes after somebody follows and posts 1 more example question? Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 20:37

6 Answers 6


This change is now live!

I will be monitoring what proposals get removed to make sure things are working as intended.


I am now assuming the there is an OR statement between the two requirements? When I read the rule I had concluded that it was Bullet One AND Bullet Two.

I see http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/87955/magic is still active with 5 followers and 2 questions

I see http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/87795/home-ownership is still active with 3 followers and 9 questions

As such I suggest rewording, or other rewording by a better wordsmith then myself.

Proposals that do not meet 'one of' these requirements within three days after submission are subject to removal.

  • 7
    Currently both requirements must be met. We originally tried it to see if either requirement would suffice, but that left way too many proposals with no support at all. Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 1:14

The "no activity" rule is bad. You're destroying information and contributing to link rot.

For example, The Armory, facing imminent failure for spending a year in Definition, was a reboot of an earlier proposal, which also failed to pass Definition before expiration, but which is presently deleted (... which was itself an attempt to reincarnate a site that made it into beta and might very well still be in existence under the newer standards for betas).

I was just curious to see how the first Armory had fared in Definition compared to the present proposal, but it has been deleted! Why?

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears ... in ... rain.

If your goal was to clean up what was essentially noise – i.e., "unsupported proposals" – the AND form of the rules accomplishes that. By applying the "activity rule" to delete proposals that did see significant activity you're destroying useful information. A proposal that gets a significant number of followers and definition questions should not be deleted just because it fails to progress to Commitment. It's useful to future proposals to see what didn't work out and be able to study why.

For example, whenever there is no active firearms-related proposal in Area51 somebody will propose one. Under this new system of purging all memory there is no ready way for them to review earlier attempts, like I did when starting the first proposal that became "The Armory," and again when I "rebooted" The Armory. If the present proposal expires we will be able to start a better proposal. But if we wait thirty days it will be informed only by the communal memory of users like me, not by easy access to the most promising definitions and discussions on previous related proposals.

Why delete this stuff? I'd be happy to send Stack Exchange the $1 it will cost to host these few kilobytes of data in perpetuity. (And maybe you can send me the savings from not having to deal with so many broken links and uninformed future proposals?)

  • 3
    How is "no activity" on a site any better? The newer standards for maintaining sites that do get launched is in no way meant to create new sites that have little to no chance of working at all. Measuring interest in a subject is the purpose of the proposal process... and to date, the Armory simply has not attracted enough interest to create a successful site. The no-activity rules work exceedingly well. They come from some very hard-learned lessons after years of watching slow-starting sites fail. A year is too long to only get this far along. It will not make a productive site. Commented May 11, 2016 at 22:17
  • 6
    @RobertCartaino - In what way do the no-activity rules "work exceedingly well?" If your goal was to clean up what was essentially noise -- i.e., "unsupported proposals" -- the AND form of the rules accomplishes that. By applying the "activity rule" to delete proposals that did see significant activity you're destroying useful information. A proposal that gets a significant number of followers and definition questions should not be deleted just because it fails to progress to Commitment. It's useful to future proposals to see what didn't work out and be able to study why.
    – feetwet
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 23:07
  • 5
    That is one downside of removing old proposals. But the bigger concern was giving ideas a fresh start. You never know why a site didn't work the last time around, but more often than not, old proposals were being used as a head-on-a-stick gesture to say "this didn't work before, so go away." The few times old proposals were being used, folks were simply copying old content into new sites. Fewer people copying more content was not helping build stronger sites. I delete 100s of proposals each month. If we kept them around, the listings would be 50+ times the size it is now. Commented May 11, 2016 at 23:42
  • 7
    @RobertCartaino: You monster! That is like book burning. But worse, because at least most books have other copies both online and in print. You say that, but for your rampant data destruction, there would be up to 47 times the number of proposals available in search (and I assume that's including the "unsupported" ones)? So what? A difference in magnitude means nothing with existing storage, search, and retrieval technology. You can always discourage people from misusing information. But the data you're completely removing represent a significant repository of crowd-sourced capital.
    – feetwet
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 1:35
  • 3
    @feetwet when a proposal is closed, it sticks around for 30 days before being deleted. You can harvest all old data before it is gone, if you want. Commented May 12, 2016 at 13:56
  • 2
    I agree, and I think allowing users to flag dead proposals would be much more effective at actually removing dead proposals.
    – bzr
    Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 9:50
  • In my opinion, destroying information isn't necessarily bad, especially if it was useless information, and creators have the option to download it before its completely gone. What is bad is to have unclear rules around closure/removal/deletion, and my feeling now is that the faq doesn't cover the rules very well, while the UI only shows the requirements for (for example) the second phase of the definition phase after the first requirement is met. Why not tell people upfront, and give them an option to download the data at each point where they might fail?
    – iwein
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 20:52
  • I thought it was "tears in the rain". Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 8:24
  • @TheEmptyStringPhotographer so did I until I rewatched it.
    – feetwet
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 13:19

Note that abandoned proposals that receive no activity for a period of 7 days may also be removed.

This doesn't seem like a rule that should be followed to the letter. Bioacoustics had its last commitment on December 21 and was closed 11 days later. Given that a significant part of the English-speaking world hibernates for a week or more in late December, this means that the proposal was closed after less than 7 “normal” days of inactivity.

This proposal doesn't look like it would have had enough momentum to make it anyway. But if you don't give proposal a reasonable chance, what's the point of keeping Area 51 open?

  • 2
    In seven whole days, nobody did anything on the proposal. Not even a comment or a vote. If your community can't provide that much effort, when small SE communities continue to be active regardless of season, what more chance could possibly help?
    – Nij
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 10:20
  • 7
    @Nij Your premise is false. I've seen it happen on a small beta site that there wasn't a single post for about 10 days around Christmas. Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 12:31
  • Sounds like a beta that should be looked at closure, then. "They're doing badly too!" isn't a defence for not meeting the standard.
    – Nij
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 19:33
  • 6
    @Nij So you would close a site that gets about 5 q/day these days? What are your minimum requirements and why are they so absurdly high? Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 20:26
  • All of Stack Exchange has high expectations. We're here for high quality questions and answers in specific topics. Every mechanism is designed towards that point. If questions are junk, or getting no answers, or the community isn't managing itself effectively, I don't care if it's five hundred per hour. But this proposal couldn't even get one of anything in a week.
    – Nij
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 20:34
  • 4
    @Nij None of this has anything to do with your quantitative requirement. Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 20:43
  • Then you have missed the point, there isn't one. Quality is what Stack Exchange builds, not quantity.
    – Nij
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 20:52
  • 7
    @Nij I fully agree with “Quality is what Stack Exchange builds, not quantity”. So why are you arguing that a site which was inactive for a week or two around Christmas should have been shut down for not meeting some quantitative standard? Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 22:32
  • Zero effort is by definition low quality. It says we couldn't be bothered making any contribution at all for this time, even though it's an incredibly important stage for showing how much effort we will make. If nobody is going to bother during the time it most matters to, why should we expect any better later?
    – Nij
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 4:11
  • 6
    @Nij “nobody is going to bother during the time it most matters to” That's not what happened here. Nobody bothered to participate on a primarily-professional topic, at a time when a large fraction of the potential user base would be on vacation. This has absolutely nothing to do with “effort”, let alone quality. Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 7:57
  • @Gilles'SO-stopbeingevil' Yes!! I led the Bioacoustics Proposal and I'm now doing my homework to resubmit a SUCCESSFUL Bioacoustics proposal. Our small but rapidly growing community NEEDS this. A sad truth-- I did not do my homework before and was not prepared (holidays + US gov furlough were the death blows, but death may have been inevitable!). If I could wish for anything-- it would be for auto warnings if approaching a critical target. Too many of us were newbies & did not know the site-killing targets. That said- here I am, doing my homework, so look out for Bioacoustics 2.0!!
    – Shannon
    Commented Nov 14, 2021 at 17:52

How is inactivity defined? What effect do page visits / unique visitors play in proposal activity?

Our community seemed to have an abundance of participants who were lost in the process of registration with Area51. This was not an issue with users who were familiar with StackExchange. We had a high volume of unique page visits but only a handful of participants who actually registered and participated by vote.

After a new user registered an account, they were dumped out on the Area51 homepage and the context of our community page was lost. Is this intended as a filter? It seemed to cause our community more interference than anything. Moderators in our group became bogged down with support questions instead of content discussion.

  • Hey Shane, check out my discussion post on the Materials Modeling propoal, called "persistant bugs hindering our users from participating" .. I think this is what you went through as well. Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 11:28

Just posted a NEW question regarding the suspension of our "Commitment Phase"; however, the notice from SE referred me here; to a "QUESTION", so here I am.


The notice that I received, "After 7 days of inactivity, this proposal has been closed. See the Minimum Activity Requirements for Area 51."

Why wouldn't SE make this (7 day period) clear in their FAQ?

Besides that, why wouldn't SE recognize that we had already completed 50% of our commitments, when determining the "inactivity" period?

So very disappointed by this revelation. Please provide any "answers" or support if you can.

Thank you.

  • 1
    Your proposal had pretty much stalled out two weeks ago. Based on five years of watching proposals, I'd say that if it had been left open for another three months, it would have been closed at around 130 commitments and 45 or so experienced users.
    – Mark
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 0:38
  • 1
    @Mark: They had NOT yet started reaching out to users for commitment, and right before the proposal was closed they outlined plans to start ramping up soon, but wanted to ask the community first about how much advertising is considered okay: area51.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/30071/…. If they had known about the 7-day activity requirement, or if someone answered their question about advertising etiquette, they might have started to reach out to these users earlier. Certainly they'd reach more than 130 committers (which means 21 more) in 3 months Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 16:41
  • 3
    @NikeDattani thanks for the good fight, but I'm just not convinced that SE is "truly" open to new communities; and I believe the comment from Mark is a perfect example..
    – nyusternie
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 21:20
  • 3
    @Mark, we literally blew through the initial definition phase, but were not prepared for the commitment phase requirements, as anyone can clearly see are NOT clearly defined in the FAQ.. not asking for 3 months, but 30 days would have been reasonable for us to adapt to the commitment requirements that we knew nothing about.. which we were actively working on
    – nyusternie
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 21:22
  • 2
    Wow, this is outrageous. Activity have fallen because a lot is going on. People are loosing jobs and relatives, less activity right now is obvious. It is completely unfair and I think this decision should be reversed. Many of us worked a lot to make this SE happen.
    – Licho
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 19:13
  • 2
    @Franklin thanks for your support; however, it has become clear that our words are falling on deaf ears.. given how subjective their guidelines are, it doesn't make sense to resubmit unless SE first decides our community is worthy of inclusion.. stay safe!
    – nyusternie
    Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 0:42

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