This question was originally used to help the proposal Genealogy & Family History get through it's Definition Phase. But I'm rewriting it here to help other proposals do the same.

Getting the votes was not easy. It took effort on the parts of the followers to get people to use their 5 votes (which isn't an obvious thing to newbies on Area51) and it was difficult or impossible to contact followers to let them know.

What can groups in the Definition Phase do to help them get through the challenging task of getting the needed 10 votes on 40 questions?

  • 1
    Why did someone downvote a question with a score of 10 bringing it down to 9. That didn't help us! At this point, it's not a matter of whether its a perfect question or not. Once the site is Beta, the upvotes and downvotes will determine that. Right now, let's work together to get to Beta, okay???
    – lkessler
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 4:14
  • @ Louis ... to motivate folks to go through the extra registration step and vote. When there are some 9s, they know their vote can make an immediate difference.
    – GeneJ
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 10:25
  • @GeneJ - interesting and different idea. Don't know though. Should I carry that to the extreme and take my 5 votes of the five 10's they are on (making them 9's) raising our questions to go from 10 to 15? Then add them to votes with 8 or less? Yikes. I just can't bring myself to do that. I'd sooner see the 10 questions left to go. ;-)
    – lkessler
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 2:52
  • I am new here and things seem difficult to follow. When I joined, there was a need for 9, when I looked later it said 7, now it is 8. But none seem to have gone down to 9.
    – Amy
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 22:05
  • @Amy - Some people may be moving some of their votes from the 10's to bring others to 9 as GeneJ suggests in her comment. None-the-less, as I write this, 31 individual upvotes are needed to get the required 40 questions with 10+, so we only need 7 people who haven't made their 5 votes to do so on the appropriate questions, and we'll advance to Commitment Phase.
    – lkessler
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 23:06
  • @ Louis - This seems very off putting and I would prefer to see the lowest possible, which to me would be more encouraging to get to the next stage.
    – Amy
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 23:21
  • @Amy - Me too. None-the-less, we are getting closer. Last night, I noted that we had 10 questions left needing 58 votes. Even though we went down to 7 and back up to 10, we have almost halved the number of upvotes required. We also had 13 new followers since last night (very encouraging!). If they all would have known to put their 5 votes on questions needing them, we'd be there already. <sigh>
    – lkessler
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 23:28
  • @ Louis ... But my 9s were an attempt to work with specific folks I'd contacted, asking them to vote. I stopped the practice and haven't made changes to my votes after you, Louis, posted your earlier comment.
    – GeneJ
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 23:47
  • @GeneJ - No problem. It's just very interesting checking every so often and seeing the distribution change with no logical reason as to why.
    – lkessler
    Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 0:15
  • @lkessler - If they all would have known to put their 5 votes on questions needing them - or even registered and then voted
    – Those Legs
    Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 2:02
  • @GeneJ - Just to make you feel better, I just used your idea. We got down to 3 questions left. I took of two of my 10's to make them 9's so we'd get 5 questions left, and I added my two to the two lowest ones. Now sitting with 5 questions at: 9, 9, 9, 6 and 6. This is all fun and games now!!!
    – lkessler
    Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 5:20
  • And it's a roller coaster into the close ....
    – GeneJ
    Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 10:20
  • Ha! Me think its a game from above. Most of us only have 5 votes, but we went from short 2 to short 10, a change of 8 votes in almost as many minutes.
    – GeneJ
    Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 12:17
  • 1
    Last night I posted about this site on Ravelry's genealogy forum (Ravelry is an online knitting community). My post has had 19 readers so far, and I hope that at least a few of them are some of our new followers as of last night. I think/hope that I was very clear about voting for questions that had a score less than 10...
    – maguidhir
    Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 15:24
  • Thanks @maguidhir - this is very exciting for all of us. Getting through Definition Phase in only 20 days is a real accomplishment here at Area51 and will keep everyone interested during the Commitment Phase which technically is easier - and only will require getting people to sign up.
    – lkessler
    Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 15:31

3 Answers 3


Me thinks our results are impacted by "new to Area 51." A little patience may pay off.

Genealogists aren't new to forums, but they are new to the Area 51 rules of progression.

About 70% of our folks are only following this proposal, it's safe to say that many are new to Area 51. At least some of the newbies, like the person I helped this afternoon, have to twice confirm their e-mail address (once when they follow; a second time when they register). It can be a turn off when questions reasonable to a genealogist are voted down without some associated logic. All that is part of getting around and getting to know Area 51.

The stats. According to my last tally, we have 127 followers but only 415 up votes, or 65% of a possible 635.

Not all of our up votes are making a real difference. Of the 415 up votes, 61 aren't contributing to completing this phase--49 votes fall into the excessive category (up votes in excess of 10); another 12 votes have been cast on closed questions (including one up vote added today).

This means that only 354 (55% of the possible votes) are contributing directly to getting beyond this phase.

Perhaps we just need to have a little patience. --GeneJ

  • Indeed: there's no sense in rushing the definition phase only to get to an insurmountable commitment phase due to the lack of experienced SEers on board.
    – user16359
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 22:28
  • @GeneJ: Probably even less than 70% are actually following. Non-followers also vote. I vote on other proposals without following. When doing so, I'm more interested in upvoting what I think are good questions and downvoting bad ones. And I'm sure other people do the same on our site. Patience is good when there's a set of tasks to follow. But it's not good when your current high level of interest has the potential to dissipate. I personally think we need to get into Beta ASAP because this Definition Phase simply frustrates and turns people off.
    – lkessler
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 2:44
  • We know we'll need some winning strategies for the next phase, but it's time now for a few folks to bring this puppy home.
    – GeneJ
    Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 14:28

What can groups in the Definition Phase do to help them get through the challenging task of getting the needed 10 votes on 40 questions?

No. The Definition Phase is not a thing you just get past. It's not something you work around, dodge, or hack through. It is part of the process, and that part of the process should be respected.

The goal of the Area 51 process is to gather together a group of experts and enthusiasts in a field and get them to begin the process of building a site. These are the people the site will be constructed around.

The Definition Phase exists to create a series of questions that will show what kind of site we're getting. These questions will decide what is on-topic and what is not. You said:

At this point, it's not a matter of whether its a perfect question or not. Once the site is Beta, the upvotes and downvotes will determine that.

If you can't decide what is a good question or not now, you certainly won't during Beta.

People should not vote for a question that they wouldn't otherwise just to help the site get into Beta. They should vote for a question if they truly believe that it is a good question that helps define what the site should be about. That's the whole point of the definition phase: to get an idea of what the site will be about. If people are voting for any other reason, then they are corrupting the process.

The goal is not "to get to Beta"; it is to create good sites. And if you can't reach the 40 question threshold without shenanigans, then maybe your site won't be very good.

We should not encourage any corruption of the process. Even if you're at 39 questions, and one question has 9 votes, you still should not encourage someone to upvote it just to move on to the next step. If it's a good question, people will vote it up. And if only 9 people think it's good... tough!

  • No, you're wrong. The goal is to create enthusiasm and interest that can grow and support a StackExchange Q&A site. When you have 96 good questions and 40 are not voted up, then the main problem is that the complexities of the Area51 process prevent people from even realizing that they have votes and can vote on questions but on only 5 questions. Therefore the attempt to help people in their voting process actually educates them as to the StackExchange way of things. Whereas your natural progression method just will leave the vast majority of them ignorant causing the Beta to fail.
    – lkessler
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 1:27
  • 2
    @lkessler: "When you have 96 good questions and 40 are not voted up" Then how do you know you have 96 good questions? What you have are 96 questions; there's no measure to what is good or not without voting on them. "Therefore the attempt to help people in their voting process actually educates them as to the StackExchange way of things." There is a difference between educating them and telling them not to downvote a question that is at 10 votes. Which is exactly what you said in a comment. That's not acceptable. Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 2:01
  • If it were just me, then I'd say I was in the wrong. But it is the nature of the 10 vote rule that makes us want to do this. If you don't like your Proposal sites doing this, then change the rules. I'm not the only one. See: discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/search?q=10+votes
    – lkessler
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 2:14
  • @lkessler: Just because other people say the same thing doesn't make it right. Nor does it make it "the rules." There are no rules that you're only supposed to vote up questions and only vote up questions with less than 10 votes. This is a discussion, and I have rendered my opinion (which I've mentioned before): let people to vote for what they want to vote for. Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 2:21
  • 1
    I think the point of the question was to ask how we can educate users that they need to vote in order for the site to work properly. Those that are new sometimes only 'follow' or 'commit' but don't vote early and often.
    – Clayton
    Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 13:59

There also may be some race conditions. I removed a vote of mine on an '11' yesterday to give it to a '6' (there weren't any 9's left at that point). I noticed today the '11' was a 9 so it appeared someone else did the same thing at the same time. I devoted and revoted today so all on my votes are on 10's or 9's.

I do agree with the 'insurmountable commitment' comment. We need to train the enthusiastic supporters who want this project to succeed with what it takes for 'commitment'. This will involve them having to get involved in other communities as well. I need some help in that myself. I've boosted by area51 score (250) by participating here, but I need to boost my scores in other areas (17,11,1,1) for me to be of any worth at the commitment phase. We probably need to target audiences (eg in addition to geek genealogists, we need those interested in genealogy and photography, those interested in genealogy and cooking, etc).

  • Hi Duncan, As to race conditions, 7 of the "excess" votes have been removed, based on a comparison of the current tally to that done a day or so ago. The hope is these folks followed your lead and used their votes to show support for other questions.
    – GeneJ
    Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 13:26
  • Maybe A51 voting needs to be capped, so you cannot +1 a proposal that has 10 votes (nor -1 it)?
    – Andrew
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 9:25

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