Where - and related: how - can we get more experts to join this site either now during private beta or later during open beta?

We have to face it, IoT is a very wide field and contains myriads of different physical devices, technologies, protocols, systems, and so on. It is therefore imperative to have more experts join the site to extend and diversify the knowledge of our user base. More users could provide a different perspective and alternative solutions, thus increasing the number of answers per question (which is according to Area 51 quite low on our site).

So, what can we do to entice more experts to contribute their knowledge here?

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I've done some further research around this question, because it is almost certainly the most important question of this beta.

I can summarise almost all the sources and opinions I've read into three simple words, though, despite this being an enormously complex topic: content is king.

The article I linked is from an essay written by Bill Gates in 1996, and although his essay is primarily about monetising content from print media, this paragraph is particularly compelling:

If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will. They need to have audio, and possibly video. They need an opportunity for personal involvement that goes far beyond that offered through the letters-to-the-editor pages of print magazines.

This theme keeps popping up again and again. An answer to Attracting experts to a young site with little expert content from Community Building Stack Exchange (which is definitely worth 10 minutes of your time to read) is similarly keen on the creation of good content:

First think about what you can offer:

  • Why should experts of any topic come to you?
  • Why should they answer questions or discuss on your site?
  • What is the advantage of being active on your site?

The first two questions can be easily answered: They should come to you because you can offer extraordinary content concerning the topic. To build this extraordinary content, you have to create content, and spread this content.

Content is created by users who aren't present right now. So you have to create some content with the users who are already there.

At the moment, we're not doing a bad job at seeding the content with promising questions and answers. However, I fear this will start to feel like a chore if regular users are having to post more and more questions just to keep the activity up, so I think the only option is to bring in new users with questions, especially ones that are more practical and likely to be searched for through Google.

Ideally, you may argue that we should reject easy questions or 'boring' localised practical questions. But, from a pragmatic point of view, this is a quick way to kill the site - organic traffic will come from (in the view of an expert) simple questions and troubleshooting problems, so embracing these questions is highly important.

What you mustn't mistake is the difference between accepting poor questions and simpler questions - unclear questions should still be closed, and poorly formatted questions should still be edited - but we should make an effort to save content which may be useful to others rather than turning it away.

The key points are:

  • generate great content which can be found on Google by experts and novices alike

  • help new users post content that is high-quality - don't compromise and allow poor content to remain

  • an empty site, however great the older content may be, attracts no-one!

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I think a lot of experts would be interested in this site if they knew it existed - at the moment, only the select few in the private beta are aware of the site's existence, so naturally we're limited to people who committed to the proposal, and anyone who joined later on (usually by referral in some way).

I've tried to look for similar communities which might be interested in getting IoT off the ground, especially sites such as Reddit where users are often familiar with the Stack Exchange format. For example, I shared a link on /r/homeautomation to this site to let people know this site exists (and, it seems, many were disappointed about the failure of the Home Automation Stack Exchange site, so we're perfectly placed to fill that gap).

However, sharing links on public forums needs to be done considerately; try not to spam other sites with posts that look like adverts - that's likely to just give a bad first impression and turn users away from the site.

In summary, letting people know about our site in relevant communities can help massively, so if anyone is a member of another IoT site where you can share a link (without spamming!), you can help the site by spreading the word.

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It appears that this site is focused on end user experience: I have device X and I want to do Y. But as the OQ states,

IoT is a very wide field and contains myriads of different physical devices, technologies, protocols, systems

I have read all of the ~86 questions and answers posted on this site thus far and I have the impression that questions about Data Acquisition, Big Data, Small Data, Data Science, Machine Learning and Data Analytics are discouraged. We must understand that "end use" is comparatively miniscule when stacked against those giants. And so is its Expert base.

Right now, IoT is literally in its infancy and end use is kind of boring. I bet you experts reading this could count on one hand 95% of the most common end uses actually employed today. This technology only has a handful of words in its vocabulary right now: Lights, Temperature, Security, Protocol, Home, etc. The stuff that is exciting, the stuff that will draw experts, the stuff that will generate diverse perspectives, is for now wrapped up in the questions that appear to be discouraged.

I've done a survey of the ~ 86 question to illustrate my point.IoT Meta Summary We need to allow and encourage questions that overlap the diverse fields of Sensors, Data Acquisition, Cyber Security, Communications Networks, Big Data, Small Data, Data Science, Machine Learning and Data Analytics, if we expect to attract more experts with differing perspectives. Yes, these users can look to the other Stacks for answers to their overlapping issues, but they should not.

I say, if it is IoT related start here. Our experts should be able and willing to extract the IoT relevance. The broadening of scope should attract more experts with a greater diversity of expertise, while making the site more interesting.

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    I agree that we need those fields on the site. However I don't agree with your assertion that those question are discouraged. For that we'd have to look at the closed questions, more specifically the ones closed for off-topic. Just counting those questions is not a good indicator, since it's only an indicator what has been posted, not what has been encouraged. – Helmar Dec 14 '16 at 9:21
  • Thanks for the excellent input, grldsndrs, and it is worthwhile to investigate how to venture in those fields too. Being "focused on end user experience" is imo not a problem of an ill-defined or limited scope of this site (although that's not really fixed either and needs more discussion) but simply represents the "preferences" (or experience and knowledge if you will) of the current user base. That's exactly the point to expand the user base to address additional fields. – Ghanima Dec 14 '16 at 9:41
  • Perhaps discouraged is not the best way to express my impression. The missing fields are where I find my expertise and it may be better stated that I (personally) was not encouraged. I was hoping to see some questions involving the missing fields, so when I did not, I assumed that they were off topic. Thanks for the feedback. – grldsndrs Dec 14 '16 at 14:09
  • @grldsndrs fantastic graph! Really helpful for getting a feel for where the site is at the minute. I think some data science questions could be really interesting; if you want to test the water, you can always ask a question of your own that you think would be interesting to see what people think. – Aurora0001 Dec 14 '16 at 14:58

One way would be to advertise ourself over StackExchange that possibly has some users interested in IoT. For example:

  • Raspberry Pi SE: as Raspberry Pi is a well-known device which can be used in wide variety of applications.
  • Arduino SE: as Arudino give a fast way of prototype making, so many related users can be active there.
  • Electrical Engineering SE: to strengthen IoT hardware related topics.
  • We already have a significant number of questions about security aspects of IoT solutions. I believe there are some people over Information Security SE who might be interested in IoT security in particular.
  • Stack Overflow in general. Already over 1500 questions just about MQTT for example.
  • Home Improvement SE already has some questions and answers about smart home, smart switches and such things.

If the site will live the day, the 2017 Community Promotion Ads refreshment is coming. So if you are happen to be a user on any of the above listed sites, then you can suggest IoT ad perhaps.

Support Community Promotion Ads 2016 about IoT here (6 votes are needed for the ads to be accepted):

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  • I have tried RPi.SE during commitment phase of IoT, well we got at least goobering. Community ads on those sites are a good one! – Ghanima Dec 12 '16 at 19:50
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    Chat and advertising on your profile might get some users as well. One can never know. – Bence Kaulics Dec 12 '16 at 20:08
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    I forgot diy.se aka homeimprovement. Smart home must be a popular topic over there. I will add it to my answer later on. – Bence Kaulics Dec 12 '16 at 20:09

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