Proposal: Library & Information Science

It just seems so unfair that Libraries and Information Science, with its huge number of expert committers, can't get over the line to beta.

I understand the reason for having a certain number of users from the outset who are already familiar with the StackExchange Engine. But why 100? Why not 50 or 60?

It just seems perverse to force a bunch of librarians to ask questions about Cooking, or Gardening, or German, let alone programming, or any other topic they aren't interested in, so that they will be able to get themselves a forum that they are interested in.

I am more than happy to try to think up 10 inane newbie questions about information science just so that they can have one more person with 200+ rep committed to their site.

  • From my perspective the problem isn't expecting "librarians" (in this case) to ask questions on other topics, but how to convince an individual who has been introduced to Stack Exchange through a specific proposal to explore the other sites. I sometimes wonder if Area 51 could recommend other sites more directly, but I have no idea if or how that would work. The also committed and also active stats appear to be low but perhaps I've misinterpreted them. And besides, it's not clear to me whether any useful conclusions can be drawn from that evidence.
    – moberley
    Jan 4, 2012 at 19:23
  • Think about it like that: Any SE site needs a core of very active and motivated users (that understand the system) in order to get it started. Would you expect a user that does not care about this proposal enough to be somewhat active on another SE site to be really helpful in the genesis process? And given the range of topics that is available on SE nowadays, I consider it implausible for somebody to not find any site they can participate in.
    – Raphael
    Jan 19, 2012 at 7:15

1 Answer 1


This is a necessary part of our evolution. The nuances what what makes good Q&A (in the context of a Stack Exchange site) are still too subtle to open a site without a core groups of experienced Stack Exchange users. Without the guidance and community infrastructure of this core group, the site would likely run as poorly as the 2000+ sites that were created (and failed) when Stack Exchange was available as a hosted service.

There may come a time when Stack Exchange sites will run satisfactorily "out of the box," but we're not there, yet.

  • 3
    I appreciate that, but I can't help thinking that 200 total/100 experienced can be traded off for 400 total/60 experienced.
    – Verbeia
    Jan 9, 2012 at 12:02
  • You of course mean to say 'Stack Exchange 2.0 users', because the library community had a Stack Exchange 1.0 site, which Stack Exchange decided to pull out from under them, but then wouldn't count that site towards the count of 100 users w/ 200+ reputation: unshelved.com/answers
    – Joe
    Apr 26, 2012 at 23:34
  • @Joe - Do you have the stats for unshelved? I.e. the number of questions per day, % answered, number of avid users and total users, answer ratio and visits/day?
    – Mark Booth
    May 2, 2012 at 13:31
  • @Mark : no, but it might be in the dump they've posted : unshelved.com/answers . (I assume those at StackExchange could extract it, and it would've been easy for 'em back in 2010 when I originally raised the issue). If 'avid user' is 200+ rep, that'd be 90 (of 1422, 19 w/ 1000+, 7 w/ 2000+) As they also used openID, it should be possible to correlate them to commitments on here. ... but there's also the issue of would they care any more? Maybe before Unshelved Answers was shut down, but it's now been a year, and will they participate when it might just get shut down again?
    – Joe
    May 2, 2012 at 14:24
  • @Joe - Thanks, those numbers look suspiciously like the number of experienced users on the proposal now. I think you are just going to have to encourage more people to gain more experience. I suggested some ideas and solicited others in my question How can we get this proposal out of commitment and into beta? related to another proposal. This advice might be useful here too.
    – Mark Booth
    May 2, 2012 at 14:43
  • @Mark : nope, it's a completely different group ... they had 255 users committed, but only 15 were 'avid users'. But Robert's answer back in Nov 2010 was : "Accounting for reputation from Unshelved Answers is not an option. Those sites do not have an API to get that data and, even if they did, we don't own those site nor do we have the right to access their data in that manner."
    – Joe
    May 2, 2012 at 15:41
  • 1
    @Joe: Funny, when Robert answered my e-mail about the same question in March 2011, he responded that "We no longer support the model of importing content and users directly from other sites" &c., not that it was technically impossible, and gave an argument against making a "special circumstances" exception as a matter of policy. May 2, 2012 at 23:07
  • 1
    @Mark: I believe it's been publicly acknowledged that Unshelved Answers was one of the few hosted sites to be highly successful, with an active community, exactly as had been desired. I don't know how many people still care after this long a delay, though. May 2, 2012 at 23:11
  • @M.AlanThomasII - The problem is, that isn't an argument for putting it into beta before the normal conditions apply. If anything it's an argument against. If people have lost interest then the site won't be successful. You just have to look at how well SmugMug is doing. It's commitment was forced through and the beta is pretty much a wasteland with only 1 user over 2000 rep after more than three months, and this was pretty much predicted by Robert Cartaino over a year ago.
    – Mark Booth
    May 3, 2012 at 11:00

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