This is in regard to the great new site proposal Solar Energy Science and Economy.

My understanding is that only seven helpful things are available for those to whom I send the above link at this stage of definition.

  • Get an SE account (Yay!)
  • Follow It for our proposal (Yay!)
  • Ask new example questions (up to five)
  • Vote up another person's Q (up to five).
  • Vote down another person's Q.
  • Suggest a Q improvement.
  • Gain reputation in other SE places.

First of all, is the above seven a FULL LIST?

NOTE: I found more activity of use:

  • Vote to close Qs that have down voting with good reason
  • Gain reputation on Area 51 meta
  • Forward the "Share It" link to others that are likely interested

In the same vein, when do other helpful site-defining actions become available? Must we gain a total of sixty followers and forty questions with a score of ten or more before a single example question can be answered?

If that is the case, I suggest having a mid-definition threshold that is maybe a third of those two quotas after which those with a particular reputation level can throw in some answers. Here's my community growth perspective as to why:

My new people, coming into SE for the first time, don't even get why they are asking questions, since no answers appear and no comments can be added other than suggestions to improve existing question examples. There is no process context.

Although I see how that policy formed and that the questions define the topic space, the policy of creating forty questions with a half dozen votes and not a single useful response may seem very strange those not familiar with the process, which is everyone we want to get involved with the proposal from outside the SE community. The oddity of Q&A without the A gives new people a negative first impression of both SE and our proposal.

Now if there was a truly sensible reason and I could publish it somewhere so that those I invite could see it, some of the oddity might be reduced.

  • There is no added value with "Gain reputation on Area 51 meta", the only rep thing that really matters is getting at least 200 rep on a site this is not Area51. It can be beta or not. – James Jenkins Oct 24 at 12:30
up vote 10 down vote accepted

A proposal is an "application" to create a site. If you have access to a healthy, enthusiastic community in need of a Stack Exchange public Q&A site, Area 51 is where you propose it.

But a proposal is not a Q&A site. Proposals do not have the features we use to flesh out complete problem statements (questions), and they do not have the features we use to vet or improve/correct whatever someone might post here. That is why we do not answer example questions in proposals.

The proposal process (a proof of concept) is broken down into three phases:

  • DEFINITION
    This is where supporters show what they might ask if the site is created. The goal is to post practical, intriguing questions from folks who actually work in this space — so skip the "introductory" questions asking what the [subject] is about, or where someone can go to learn about these topics. Such examples don't make a case that you have users actively engaged in this subject in need of a site.

    1. Direct your community to read the Stack Exchange Tour to see how our Q&A model works.
    2. You need 60 users to 'follow' the proposal.
    3. You need 40+ questions voted to a score of 10 or more.
      Questions which can only be explored through discussion or debate (rather than being definitely "answered") do not work well in our format, so they may be closed and not count towards the Definition requirements (see the Stack Exchange Tour for examples)
    4. Near the end of Definition, the Community Team will evaluate your proposal to see if/how the site fits with the rest of the network. Most evaluations are routine and uneventful, but proposals can be closed if there is too much overlap with questions that can already be asked on other sites in the network (duplicate of site). Proposals can also be closed for voter fraud (duplicate accounts) or users engaged in overly mechanical, inorganic, or directed voting simply to hit the numbers.
    5. You have 4 months to complete this process.
  • COMMITMENT
    This is where users digitally "commit" to using a site when it launches. Early momentum is really important for having a *healthy* launch, so users should not take this responsibility lightly.

    1. You need ~200 committers in total, 100 of whom need to have at least 200 reputation on another Stack Exchange site. Building a contingent of "experienced users" is important because Stack Exchange relies on that experience to help jump-start your community-led moderation.
    2. For users new to Stack Exchange — here is a List of Stack Exchange Sites to explore.
      With subjects as diverse as "Cooking", "Pets", "Movies & TV", "Photography", "Outdoors", and "Sports", there's almost certainly a community where you can get to know a site and share your interests.
    3. You have 4 additional months to complete this process.
  • PRIVATE BETA
    This is where we see how the site works in actual practice. This is a live, fully functional site where you ask and answer real questions, and where the community organizes in a bit of community building and evangelism using your own meta support site.

    1. A healthy site should see at least 150 high-quality questions during the private beta — but 150 questions is merely an incidental (but important) goal of procuring a broad base of support with flourishing activity. This is not the time to start mechanically cranking out question after mundane question (or answering with little more than a link) simply to fill that space. Showing how your site will remain interesting and intriguing to the top users in your subject space is essential to getting your site launched.
    2. You have 3 weeks to complete this process.

After successful completion of the proposal process, we should be ready to open the doors to the public. Barring any unforeseen problems, it's typically pretty smooth sailing from here. We'll begin the process of appointing your community Moderators and eventually having elections. There are other bits and pieces which can be enabled as your community grows, but this is outside the scope of the proposal process.

  • 3
    That is an excellent outline, Robert, and exactly what I was looking for. If this was not copied and pasted from somewhere easily accessible to launch personnel (proposers) then my recommendation is that your outline above be copied and pasted TO such a place (or perhaps integrated into the Q&A close to the top). Thank you for the fully considered reply. ... From a highly practical workflow point of view, is my 7-item bulletted list complete, or are there specific actions site visitors can take to further the DEFINITION phase that I haven't yet realized? – Douglas Daseeco Aug 13 at 17:52
  • 3
    @DouglasDaseeco This is a draft-in-progress to replace the FAQ/life cycle. Area 51 is showing its age from a time when the proposal process was derived directly from the Q&A code for use (primarily) by experienced SE users. There are few dev resources being directed at improving Area 51, so I try to improve it in bits and pieces as time allows (instead of discontinuing), but broader improvements are not possible at this time — What's going on with Area 51. Yes, your bullet points seem to cover it. – Robert Cartaino Aug 13 at 18:10
  • 2
    I appreciate your efforts to redo the FAQ and life cycle, Robert. We've all experienced the challenge of maintaining clean and comprehensive guidelines when those guidelines are being formed. Eventually the necessity of rewrite appears. ... Also, we appreciate the checking the completeness of the action list. It will allow a workflow to be established among those interested in the furtherance of Solar Energy Science and Economy in the SE sphere with greater confidence. The additional clarity in the DEFINITION phase will build goodwill, which would also catalyze COMMITMENT during its phase. – Douglas Daseeco Aug 13 at 20:38

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