Some sites get closed while still in private beta, before even reaching public beta:

What is the rationale of closing sites so early? Usually the official reason is that a site didn't get enough activity. However,that reason doesn't seem to be backed up by the statistics for each site. Why not give a site a chance to obtain a readership in public beta, rather than closing it already in private beta?

I quote from this answer:

So that presented us with a difficult decision: do we open this site up to the public and... Just hope folks show up? Remember, this hasn't worked at all well in the past. Or do we shut it down, with the understanding that a new site could be created in the future?

Indeed. For some sites, it hasn't worked well in the past. That's why some sites get closed in public beta. I understand the risk of sites becoming ghost towns. But what's the risk of giving a site a chance in public beta and then, if it fails, closing it a few months later?

See also:

1 Answer 1


Your answer seems well covered in the various discussions you linked. Shog9's is probably closest to answer your question — https://area51.meta.stackexchange.com/a/3684/5.

The premise of "if you build it, they will come" doesn't work. We tried it with thousands of sites in our previous iterations, and the failure rate was something like 99.7%. So we created this process of increasing engagement to make sure we had allall — the pieces before we will open a new site.

A private beta is the final stage: a proof-of-concept and a proving ground. If everything else seems to work but the problem is simply "you need more users…" yes, they failed an essential part of the Area 51 process, but we are much more likely to give it more time or open the site to the public.

But more often than not, there is something else fundamentally wrong with the site concept. Maybe we got the scope wrong, maybe we didn't have the right audience to build it, or maybe the initial supporters didn't find the subject interesting and bailed. But if that restaurant isn't ready for opening day, it wont open. Saying "we'll get a better chef…" or "we'll improve the menu once we have more customers" simply does not build a strong site.

When we've erred towards these "have-faith" launches, those sites invariably limped along unrecoverably. The time to develop an idea and build the right support for it is while the site is in our labs, not after it is launched.

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    You write that A private beta is the final stage. I always thought that A public beta is the final stage. I'm not convinced by the restaurant analogy, because restaurants aren't community-built. If the small community of private beta testers don't succeed, what is the risk in giving the wider community of public beta testers a shot at trying, before finally closing the site?
    – gerrit
    Jan 15, 2013 at 17:42
  • @gerrit Sure, technically a public beta is the final step before launching a <quote> "graduated site," but the public-at-large hardly understands that distinction. The "risk" is closing down a highly-speculative site on an unsuspecting public. As we get better at measuring and detecting these failure modes, giving a site that didn't meet the bar "a shot at trying" is much more harrowing in a public forum. At least private beta participants are aware this is a trial run. The public does not... and that only leads to greater disappointment and distrust in similar sites. Jan 15, 2013 at 18:36
  • Thanks for the addition of the distinction between the private-beta public and general public-beta public. That makes things clearer. Although I'm not sure if I agree, I understand the answer. Maybe you can add this comment to the main answer?
    – gerrit
    Jan 15, 2013 at 22:19
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    Yes, but closing a proposal in under a month is kind of nuts. My Archaeology proposal was shut down before I could even get colleagues on here. Just because someone is an expert in their field doesn't mean they are quick to join newfangled websites. Heck, look at the average age of Academia.edu users and it's been around for years. Apr 8, 2018 at 17:46

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