Looking at http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/43283/space-exploration we are 66 days into beta and are at "needs work" in two areas. Number of questions per day and number of visits per day.

I think we are all pretty much in agreement about the type of site we would like this to be, and the types of questions and answers we would expect to see here in 10 years. There is delicate balance between being too focused and limiting the participation to the point it chokes the site to death; and allowing to much outside the scope so the site deteriorates into the fringes...

I wonder if our goals are set to high for the times, or if we need to keep our scope and goals as they are and expect time will bring the outcome we expect.


2 Answers 2


The scope is fine, we get literally incredible numbers of questions, answers, i.e. anything else when compared to the number of daily visits of our website. Going against the definition of our scope now, that we've somewhat successfully defined it and might only need smaller refinements over the course of time would be counterproductive. We have established our presence among other Stack Exchange sites well enough, in my opinion and considering our age, and already gained some respect. That is rather apparent, when you consider we have ~ 180 visits per day, yet still manage to keep the site going strong with roughly 20 extremely active users each and every day. It is also extremely important, not to make other, already established Stack Exchange website communities wonder, if we are really needed at all.

When we manage to increase our numbers, all this will only improve on its own. It ought to. I'm not at liberty to discuss sitewide statistics in great detail, since it's one of the requirements in the Moderator Agreement that I signed not to, but I can give a fair opinion on the matter. And that is - we're actually doing fine, but of course need to persist. The statistics are actually consistent with a relatively young website, and far from conclusive that we better start thinking of extending our scope to better them. It is also my firm belief we've managed to keep good quality of questions and answers, our statistics are slowly progressing, while a strong dip in the number of visits after the initial few weeks of public beta are perfectly normal for any young and public beta Stack Exchange website:

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I also have to mention that I've not in a single instance met with any resistance to us having our own website as it is currently defined. In fact, we're greatly helped by a few other websites to raise in numbers, and our moderators (including myself) cooperate well with moderators of other Stack Exchange sites, too. This becomes somewhat apparent, if you look at the upvotes (and lack of downvotes) community promotion ads for our website got on other Stack Exchange meta websites, where members vote on individual ads for their rotation space on their respective main sites. There are also other indications that we're doing just fine, but again, I'm not at liberty to discuss them.

But, we can of course do better. I guess this is a run of the mill response that can be said for any still struggling for attention of the wider audience website. We're doing our best to somewhat raise the number of visits per day that we get, and while we have many threads in our own meta discussing how we could achieve that, I'm going to repeat a few major points:

  • Use the share and favorite buttons under questions and answers. Have you asked a question, or maybe answered it? Then share your contribution to social networks that you might have account at. If you don't have an account, they're easy enough to create. I personally find Twitter for this sharing most convenient, but I'm not saying it's the best overall. It's just what I'm most used to. Retweet (or re-share, whatever it is called on other social network websites) our main Space Exploration tweets, regardless of who they were originally posted by. Favorite questions you like, both on social networks they are posted at and in the question threads themselves, and help us make a difference also in the Stack Exchange SuperCollider, where - what we usually refer to as rep train questions - can make a huge difference, greatly increasing our daily number of visitors. Sharing, favoriting, upvoting, adding answers and merely increasing page views by other means are the main contributors in raising their popularity and create a domino / cascade effect. We are competing with questions from other Stack Exchange websites there, and each of us can help the more popular questions reflect on our website's popularity in turn.
  • Help make the questions themselves more visible to search engines. Have you read the question and think it could use more tags, better worded title, it could have more external links (maybe to explain some used acronym better, preferably in words, too)? Then please edit it to be more search engine friendly and SEO (Search Engine Optimized). Can't submit edits directly, because you didn't reach the required privilege yet? No problem, suggest an edit, or raise a custom flag for moderators to handle it, explaining what you had in mind.
  • Vote on contributions that you've read. I'm not suggesting which way the vote should go, there should be both upvotes as well as downvotes warranted, and that is perfectly normal, if you look, even on already mature Stack Exchange sites. Good voting habits will help us further define what is on our website wanted, and what isn't. At the same time, it will make users posting great contributions feel more welcome, and are likely to stay more frequently with us. Plus, we need more members with higher reputation points privileges, so this feel of a productive community really starts happening.
  • Participate in meta, and our main chat room. Good ideas are always welcome in our meta site, but they do tend to add to our members' workloads where, as far as our statistics go, doesn't matter so much. Much of this red tape could be easily avoided by stopping by at our main chat room and discuss smaller issues with our regular dwellers there. If ideas, suggestions, even arguments need to be kept on record, replied and voted on by our community though, then of course, by all means, please post it in our meta.
  • Help others learn the ropes. Constructive criticism is fine, but often it will only take ever so slightly more effort in actually making some contribution better, than to comment on it. If you see a new, still low reputation user struggling to add links or images to their posts, then please edit them to include information they wanted to add, but yet can't. Also make sure they get those few much needed starting reputation points faster, so they can do a few of things on their own as fast as possible and start learning the ropes on their own. Many of our new members will actually already be used to handling stuff by having experience on other Stack Exchange websites, but some might be new. Lend them a hand. Ideally, the question titles and their tags should make as much sense before it reaches two upvotes and is automatically retweeted by our website's twitter account. So - edit for clarity, then upvote. If you see members struggle with some other things, help them out, or bring it to attention to our moderators and other members in our chat room, or with moderator flags.
  • Make sure your ideas to promote the site reach those that can help you. Some members might be a bit more inventive, with a touch for designing our promotional materials, while some might be better at finding ideas that others could help materialize. Nobody here should feel alone in trying to promote our website, we have many users constantly dedicating some of their precious time for such activities, and we're already active in building our stack of promotional materials for use elsewhere. Best place to discuss such ideas is our main chat room, where you might get near instantaneous response, see how others feel about it. We certainly don't want to appear as too needy, desperate even, so be prepared for some criticism from our peers to polish some idea and really make it shine. It will make a difference.
  • Help us upvote already placed on other sites community promotion banners. As mentioned previously, these community promotion ads will compete with ads of other communities for their rotation space. Our currently placed ads are doing great, and have already attracted several dozens of visitors per each Stack Exchange website they're posted on to our website in mere days. The higher voted those ads are, the more frequently they will rotate on their respective main sites. These ads are posted in the Ideas for off-site Space Exploration community promotion ads thread, listing in each answer where individual ads are posted and could use more upvotes.

So, as you can see, there are many ways each of us could help us increase our number of visits and with it, hopefully, numbers of active members. I'm sure there are other ideas floating about how to help achieve that, so the main answer in how any of you can help us with it is hidden in your desire to participate more, actively work on improving our contents and general impression newcomers will be left with. The rest will follow on its own.


In addition to @TildalWave's answer, let me add a bit.

There is at least one time that we have clearly added to the original scope, including planetary sciences. There are relatively few questions on that subject yet, but that would be a good area to start increasing the number of questions, bringing in new people.

While our visit count is low in general, there is a respectable number of pages per visit. As TildalWave mentioned, we can't post specifics, but I'm comfortable saying that I'd be happy if my personal blog had half the number that this site has.

Lastly, what would we expand our site to include? There's two major tangential topics that have been discussed that we bring in, both when we were still in Area 51. While both had some support, I think it's worth mentioning that we were the last of the 3 proposed, and the first to make it to beta.

The first is Astronomy. Astronomy is about to enter private beta any time. If the site is successful, I think we should continue as two related sites, but not the same, much as Science Fiction and Fantasy has a good working relationship with Movies and TV. If the site is not successful, I would propose that we add them to the scope of our site (We are Space.SE after all, Astronomy is space too)

The second is Aerospace, as discussed here. We could add discussions of missiles, sounding rockets, aeroplanes, and other related topics. At least for me, a site talking about Airplanes isn't that interesting. Aerospace in general is a bit more. But there is a significant number of questions on topic for this site which would be questionable in a general purpose aerospace site, such as discussing the science behind specific missions to other planets. Furthermore, a general purpose aerospace site would talk about piloting aircraft, which I really don't think mixes well for a site like this. Museums often combine the two, but I know which part of those museums I spend more time in, and that's looking at the space stuff.

Bottom line is, if you want to expand the scope of the site, take a topic that is on topic, but there are few questions about it. Then ask a bunch of questions on the topic, spread over maybe 1 per day. That will help to expand the scope. We might consider astronomy merge, but only if one or the other of us fails as a site.


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