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But seriously, how are we doing? Are we growing at the kind of rate the StackExchange team expect and hope for?

I'm wondering if they monitor this beta especially closely since it's the furthest away from programming topics of all the betas (alongside, perhaps, photography and home improvement). So it's going to be a useful measure of how easy it is to break out of the programming ghetto.

  • German chocolate ftw. – hobodave Aug 10 '10 at 15:39
  • We're in the top 3 for views/day which I think is one of the better metrics. We're also #3 for user base. I don't know what the SE team's thresholds are, but we surely have to be doing well. – hobodave Aug 10 '10 at 15:45
  • yeah I wouldn't mind knowing what is deemed a success at the end of the beta. – Sam Holder Aug 10 '10 at 17:37
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In terms of total number of users and questions, we're second only to the Gaming and Web Applications proposals - and when you consider that those sites have a much greater community intersection with Stack Overflow, it's pretty damn good.

We have almost as many questions as either of the other two, a higher answer rate than both, and more views/day than one of them.

Subjectively speaking, the site seems to have a lot of activity and the activity seems to be going up. There are no questions older than 24 hours on the front page anymore.

But best of all, we have actual professionals and serious enthusiasts that are actively participating. For a fledgling site that's Stack Exchange's first attempt to branch out to non-computer fields, I'd say that's pretty encouraging!

Of course, it's not my call, and no decision will be made until the end of the public beta, but if that's not what you'd call success, then I don't know what is.

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I'm not sure the SE team themselves know what they are looking for in terms of success. This is not meant o be disparaging in any way. They've just mentioning several times that they are just starting to figure this process out just like the rest of us. It's going to take one real success POST BETA to be able to say what a successful beta looks like.

However, compared to the other beta's that I'm a part of, this is clearly the most active and rewarding one I'm in. This is subjective of course, but it has both a very active META and BETA going.

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I've been really pleased with this site. The quality of the posts are good and questions are getting answered. That is a completely subjective analysis. There are no objective measures, yet.

There just isn't a broad enough range of sites of varying levels of success to know where to set a bar. When you see a site that doesn't "feel" like it is working, you can look at it objectively and determine if there is some statistical measurement that describes its failure. You also have to consider if the site is irretrievably un-fixable; and if the specific problems with that site apply to the general case. Sites have inherently different audiences with difference traffic expectations.

The best thing you can do for this site is to assure that the question and answer quality remains high and that you keep pushing for new avenues to attract users. The health of a site lies in its sustained growth of incoming users, making sure it has not stagnated so early in its development.

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I was happy to post question #1000 and I was even happier to find this site just a few days ago! How did I find it; off of StackOverflow, of course. I love to cook even more than I love to code and this site keeps me coming back all the time!

I haven't been around long enough to understand the dynamics, the public/private, and so on. But, just from my experience, I'm sure plenty of others would love to use the site.

My only fears about removing Beta status are that I've noticed a disproportionate amount of "what can I substitute" questions. Although they're good questions, I'm not sure why I'm seeing so many. For instance, searching for "Substitute" I get 9 pages, or near 135 questions (9 pages x 15 questions/page). That's close to 13% of all the questions. Really, that high a percentage about substitutions? I think 5% or less would be understandable. Really, substitutions should be a few wikis and that should be the end of it - why so many questions? Other than that, I haven't seen anything that really seems out of place or off.

  • That is a pretty high number, but jamming them into wikis creates a much bigger problem which is making the information more difficult to find. The thing about substitutions is, there's a finite number of them that can actually be asked, so I'm sure that ratio will go down over time. – Aaronut Aug 12 '10 at 3:38
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    I'd go so far as to say that behind technique substitution is one of the most important things you can know when cooking. A robot can follow a recipe from start to finish, but when you begin to learn and adapt recipes by substituting new ingredients, that's when you really begin to develop. – hobodave Aug 12 '10 at 4:13
  • @Aaronut: Why is the information all of the sudden "more difficult to find" when it's in a wiki? I mean, users still search the same way, right? Plus, wikis help build a more authoritative set of answers since more users typically read/edit them over time. – Chad Aug 12 '10 at 4:29
  • @Dave: I never said it wasn't important. I just feel that most of the questions on substitutions aren't there because someone was experimenting and wants feedback or new ideas, they're there because someone didn't have an ingredient on hand ("Buttermilk substitute?"), has an allergy, or is making vegan/diet considerations. I wouldn't have a problem if they were more creative. However, many of these questions (I'd wager 5% at least) are basically looking for a textbook answer (read: a robot can make a textbook substitution) not a creative answer or idea. It's just a concern about the site. – Chad Aug 12 '10 at 4:36
  • In some cases, substitutions are needed (I live in Europe and a lot of the things that seem to be in every supermarket in the US are unavailable here) so before I can try a recipe and see if it works, I need to have the ingredients for it. – Rox Aug 12 '10 at 12:37
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    @chad, I think the issue is that an answer gets hidden amoungst many other things. The question "what's a substitute for basil" is a subset of "list all substitutes in cooking". If I specifically want to know the first one, it will be answered clearly in the first question, but may require sorting through much more irrelevant information in the second question. – yossarian Aug 12 '10 at 14:47
  • What @yossarian said. First and foremost, what will keep people coming back to any SE site is the ability to get an answer fast. Having to wade through a list to find what you're looking for is unconsciously irritating. @hobodave is also correct; so much of substitutions is just understanding the purpose of an ingredient, and that's kind of what cooking is all about (at least at the "intermediate/enthusiast" level, where people like me are at). – Aaronut Aug 12 '10 at 15:22

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