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It's been 82 days in Beta for our site. I checked the Beta statistics and everything seems right except the visits per day statistic. The rule says "1,500 visits per day is good, 500 visits per day is worrying". Being below 500 visits/day, this is the only bad one in the list. Does it mean that if the number of visits per day doesn't exceed 500, the site will be closed? We are close to 500 and I would not want to lose such a useful site just because of this improvable measure. What do you think? Does "English Language and Usage" have a chance to survive?

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Here's a definite yes, this site will survive. And I will even try to back up that bold statement of mine.

From a recent blog entry, "When will my site graduate?":

Some sites feel they’re not going to make it. [...] Users put a lot of effort into their sites and, understandably, they feel a sense of attachment and responsibility for the site’s well being. If you look at the beta evaluation statistics recently added to Area 51, you’ll see ratings — from “Excellent” to “Worrying”. [...]

As long as the questions and answers are of high quality, and people get answers to their questions, you shouldn’t worry about the site actually being closed.

[...]

If a site needs more activity, go out and evangelize it. As long as your site shows steady progress and continues to make the Internet a better place to get expert answers to your questions, it will march on. We don’t want to kill a site because it hasn’t reached full status in 90 days. Nor do we want to set a hard 90-day limit and launch a site too soon.

[...] from this point forward, the graduation date of a site will depend heavily on having enough users with sufficient reputation to properly lead and govern the site.

Emphasis added.

So, what we should pay attention to is:

  1. the number of avid users
  2. great answers, posted fast, several answers per question to choose from

Looking at point 1, our score is already "Excellent". Looking at point 2, our answer ratio is "Excellent" as well; the number of great answers is rather high; the response times, from all I can tell as a regular, are rather short (lots of questions, even not exactly trivial ones, get a first answer within minutes, and additional answers within two hours or so); and our answer rate is fantastic (I don't think it has ever dropped below 99%).

Another metric I would really like to be able to evaluate is how many answers actually get accepted. I remember Jeff mentioning that they'll be looking at this metric as well, since that is an indicator of how useful the site is to the people who ask questions. My gut feeling is that we are doing fine by that metric, but I would like to see hard data. Edit: I have just compiled the data myself. Out of the 1012 non-CW questions that have not been closed, 765 have accepted answers. That's 76%. To put that into perspective, StackOverflow is at 63%, ServerFault at 51%, SuperUser at 52%, WebApps at 54%, Mathematics at 66%, Gaming at 75%, Cooking at 80%. /Edit.

Edit 2: just found this quote by Robert Cartaino over at Bicycles, who are faring much worse:

Just to temper an overly-zealous interpretation of those statistics:

Those statistics are designed to inform participants. Where can participation be improved?

Sites are expected to do well in some of those areas, but not necessarily ALL of them. Timely and high-quality answers are the ultimate goal of each site. Each community will vary by size and the potential question base, but quality and participation are paramount.

/Edit 2.

To sum it up, here's yet another quote, this time by Kevin Montrose, SO Valued Associate #00004:

English is definitely towards the bottom in terms of new users and page views. However, it's very near the top in terms of answer rates. Just from the statistics I'd expect a site with quality content, that's just being generated slowly.

Now, all this doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to push the number of visits/day higher. As Robert Cartaino put it in the aforementioned blog entry, "go out and evangelize". Then again, as I have mentioned elsewhere just a few days ago, it's not like we're just sitting on our hands waiting for the traffic to come in all by itself. Looking at the number of Announcers, we have quite a few people who try to actively promote this site. In fact, we have more Announcers than Gaming, Web Apps, Unix, Statistics, UI, WordPress, Webmasters, Photography, TeX, Money, Mathematics, Home Improvement, GIS, Game Development... Just don't give up, keep promoting!

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    Nice analysis RegDwight! – b.roth Oct 28 '10 at 8:20
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    In addition to what you've said, the simple fact that both Spolsky and Atwood seem to really like the site means it's likely to survive. Consider, for example, this tweet. – Jonik Oct 30 '10 at 15:06

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