Congratulations to everyone for making it 90 days into Beta!
Since we've been in beta 90 days, I thought that we needed a post to address this fact, examine the past, and look towards the future.
This is just a post giving you my opinion of where we are at, as a site, and where we are going.
When will we launch?
I'm going to get this out of the way first.
We will launch, when we are ready to launch, and no sooner. If you didn't read that link, it basically says that a site will only graduate when it has a solid base of avid users, a solid base of 2k and 3k users, and it has become self-sustaining.
So, how do we rank on these scales?
Area 51 Statistics
The initial thought is to look at the Area51 proposal for Christianity. However, this is somewhat misleading.
The reason that this is misleading is because these stats are simply general guidelines to help the Area 51 users get a feel for how a site is doing. These are only slightly considered when it comes to what StackExchange employees look when considering whether to launch a site.
However, the moderators of a site do have some tools that they can use to get a better feel of where the site is at.
So, what do these tools show us? They show us that we're doing alright. I'm not allowed to go into too many details, unfortunately.
However, looking at things, it seems that we, as a site, are moving forward and beginning to stabilize. The voting economy is beginning to develop and we are slowly gaining critical mass.
What does this mean for launch? It means we're not ready yet, but that we are moving towards that goal.
Over the past 90 days, we have seen a wide range of events. We have seen trolls and anti-Christians attempting to buffet the site with seeming attacks against Christianity. However, that is to be expected when you open a secular site about Christianity.
As a community, I believe we have dutifully answered the criticisms and stopped the attacks. I believe we are developing as a community and growing into the type of site that StackExchange wants to see.
The Quality Standards
Around 45 days into Beta, a group of people created a series of post regarding the low qaulity content on our site. These posts made suggestions that we needed to close questions that are not doctrine specific.
These quality standards have served us well in narrowing the scope of our site and improving the quality of the answers. With these new standards, answers that were previously acceptable, are now considered low quality and easily removed or negatively voted.
These standards have undoubtedly improved the quality of our site, at a cost.
As we look to the future, the goal for this site is for us to become a self-sufficient site and make it all the way to launch. Are we ready for launch? Frankly, no.
I believe there are a couple of major obstacles that are holding us back from launch at this point. (Again, I must re-iterate that this is my opinion and does not reflect the actual status of our launch.)
Re-evaluating the quality standards
Any time you implement actionable standards, there will be an impact on the users. Implementing actionable standards will cost in some way--the question is how much cost we are willing to pay.
There is a group of users that believe that the standards have cost us more than they want to pay. Because of this, there is an effort to re-evaluate these quality standards and reconsider their usefulness.
One possibility is to rescope this site as ChristianDoctrine.SE (and complete the transition to our "new standards"). The other possible course of action is to scrap the standards and completely rewrite them.
Please join us in discussing these ideas! We need all the help we can get.
Again, I can't really reveal much data (I'm not sure how much is too much), but it seems that we have yet to reach the point of self-sufficiency and a stable voting economy. While we are approaching stability, it doesn't appear that we are there yet.
What can we do about this?
Recruit new members - as we gain new members, our community grows. We need to reach a critical mass before we are allowed to launch.
Create excellent posts - One of our greatest resources for drawing in new users is Google. As people search for questions about Christianity, they find their way here. When they come here, they (hopefully) see high quality content, get dragged into the community and become one of us. Excellent questions and answers are our greatest asset for succeeding.
So now what?
After 90 days of Beta, Congratulations. Making it this far with such a solid community is an accomplishment. I believe that we should be proud of what we have built.
As we look towards the future, we need to remember to vote and continue (or start) writing high quality content.
Finally, we need your help in re-evaluating the quality standards. Please join us in the Refocusing chat room.