Related: 90 days into beta: how are we doing?

So here we are. Time has flown, and we have now been in beta for exactly 365 days - a full year. Let's take a look at the stats:

  • 1.1 questions per day (Needs work)
  • 92% answered (Excellent)
  • 110 avid users (Okay)
  • 1.8 question to answer ratio (Okay)
  • 1,902 visits per day (Excellent)

Comparing with the 90 day stats:

  • 2.3 questions per day (Needs work)
  • 92% answered (Excellent)
  • 66 avid users (Needs work)
  • 1.7 question to answer ratio (Okay)
  • 214 visits per day (Needs work)

The good news is that we have seen from 90 days to 365 increased site views (yay!), increased avid users (congrats!). Both these stats have gone from needs work to okay. Great job, folks!

The bad news is that the questions per day has gone down. That brings me to a feedback question I've been wondering about for a while, and I don't see a better time to bring it up. Share your thoughts!

Currently, we're leaving only around 1 question per day open on the network. While I think we all wholeheartedly agree that quality of questions should be paramount, are we being too restrictive on the scope of questions? For instance, should we close questions about IoT devices which don't specifically relate to the IoTness of the device, or leave them open?

Please note that the purpose of this question is food for thought in hopes of getting some consensus from the community: we may be exactly on track of where this site should be headed; we may not be. And exactly 1 year into our beta existence is a good time to self-evaluate! Please give your feedback!

I agree that one question per day is indeed a little low and makes it a little "boring" the visit the site each day. Addressing the question count will furthermore improve the other stats as well (user "turnover", new users that join and stick here).

I however lean to not broadening the scope of the site. That might increase number of questions, maybe even the answer ratio, and number of users but it could fire back in the long run if answer quality declines. Other sites have tried things like topic challenges to increase the number of questions asked. The burden then is of course mainly at the avid users that we already have. It would, or so I think, increase activity on meta and chat... and that might be a good thing in its own right.

  • We did do a topic challenge a bit back, but it kind of faded out. – anonymous2 Dec 7 '17 at 12:58
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    @anonymous2 start it again... and again... and again! – Ghanima Dec 7 '17 at 19:17
  • Maybe it's time for streampunk :) – Helmar Dec 7 '17 at 21:54
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    Or a Christmas challenge – Helmar Dec 7 '17 at 21:55

Reaching a year of beta is something to celebrate, definitely. In the last 365 days, the site has had over 560,000 page views from 272,000 visitors.

(You might like to view our traffic statistics on Quantcast — for best results, set the time period to 365 days and show by 30 day periods.)

I certainly find it inspiring to know that our small corner of the Internet has reached so many people — and perhaps helped a few of them! Our community has built a library of questions that will continue to help people in future, even if the original author has long since moved on. Of course, there's more work to be done to reach an even larger audience.


Personally, I don't feel that we need to expand our scope any further — our site already encompasses a lot of different topics, from networking and communication to security, deployment and usage of the Internet of Things.

It's important that when users come to this site, they have the best chance of getting an answer that can help them and future visitors. If we're not serving a certain group so well, then we need to change that somehow — either by reaching out to an audience that could answer those questions better, or by making changes to our scope if there's a better solution.

We've tried in the past to define our scope by asking what an IoT device is and looking to make questions about those on-topic, but perhaps that's not the right approach. Instead, we are defined by who we hope to attract to our site:

  • Stack Overflow is for developers with programming questions
  • Home Improvement is for contractors and DIYers with questions about construction and repair
  • Super User is for power users with questions about their computer hardware and software.

Rather than attempting to force a specific definition, let's talk about our audience:

  • Consumers and home automation enthusiasts
  • Professionals involved in the development and deployment of IoT devices
  • Engineers developing IoT hardware and software.

A lot of our users don't just fit into one 'bin' though: it's easy to start tinkering as a consumer and develop your own home automation scripts and even new hardware.

As you can see, we're a lot of different things to different users. Some topics are more likely to get answers than others, and yet we're not really clear about which of the above are our main focus.

Our tagline doesn't even mention developers at all, which is something we should change.

I suggested that a while ago, and there was lots of support... but then that proposal never moved forward. That's my fault, and I hope to begin discussing the issue a little more in the near future, along with a proper evaluation of who our audience should be, and whether we need to make any scope changes. Stay tuned.

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    Staying tuned – Ghanima Dec 7 '17 at 20:27
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    I agree we should hope to attract specifically more developers (and potential developers), but it's a slow process building both the experts and the active users (who are new experts in the making). – Sean Houlihane Dec 11 '17 at 11:50

What does a low daily question count mean to this site?

So we've been in beta for a year, and the daily question count remains low. Assuming the daily question count doesn't change, what does that mean for us? Does that mean StackExchange will terminate the beta and delete the site? Does that mean the site will remain forever in beta unless and until the question count goes up? I simply don't understand the implications if this doesn't change.

This raises a second question. If the consequences are dire, such as deletion of the site, what are the things that can be done to change it? Should we work to get IoT questions migrated from other related StackExchange sites, such as StackOverflow, Electronics, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, DIY, and Security? Should people be tweeting or facebooking or otherwise be hawking it on social media? Can we get StackExchange to advertise the IoT site more?

I haven't really participated in too many other betas to know where this is going. Can someone with more experience help describe it to the rest of us?

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    There should be no impact, provided the site remains active and 'well behaved'. So long as we're answering the questions we do get, flagging spam, etc, there should be no problem with remaining in beta (identified as a low traffic, less mature site). Beta in this context doesn't mean trial, I think it's more of a bootstrap state. – Sean Houlihane Dec 11 '17 at 11:47
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    Yes, good points by Sean. So long as the community is involved in moderation, Stack Exchange will leave the site open. What question count does do for the site is that when the site reaches a steady 10 questions per day, the SE team will start considering it for graduation: moving out of beta. – anonymous2 Dec 11 '17 at 12:41
  • In addition to the above: "Should we work to get IoT questions migrated from other related Stack Exchange sites?" — unfortunately that's not possible. If the questions are on-topic on the other sites, we have no right to take them (and might lead to some very annoyed moderators on the other sites!). Off-topic questions that were posted a while ago are probably too old to migrate. See also Robert's related explanation on the Area 51 meta; 'mass migration' isn't really supported. – Aurora0001 Dec 11 '17 at 15:44
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    "Should people be tweeting or facebooking or otherwise be hawking it on social media?" — If you're willing and able to help promote the site, that would be fantastic. Stack Exchange don't really engage in much site advertising themselves, but I understand that they'd be willing to support any reasonable promotion ideas. If you do have any ideas, however unconventional, please do share them on meta. Community managers do check our meta site for feature requests etc, and we can contact them to see if they can help us. But in essence, if you're interested in promoting the site, that'd be great! – Aurora0001 Dec 11 '17 at 15:47
  • @Aurora0001 , I wasn’t trying to imply we should be poaching legitimate questions. I review questions on sites like Security frequently, and occasionally the questions really would be a better fit over here. Unfortunately, the options for migration are limited and of course don’t suggest IoT. That seems to be an SE limitation that would be nice to overcome. – John Deters Dec 11 '17 at 20:00
  • @JohnDeters Ah, I see what you mean. You can always use a custom flag on the question to suggest migration to IoT — moderators can migrate new questions to any site, even ones not on the regular user list. If the question hasn't been answered yet, it might be easier simply to leave a comment suggesting that this site would be a better fit rather than waiting for a moderator. It would be really helpful to guide users here if their question is off-topic on the other site but on-topic here, so do go ahead if you see something appropriate here. – Aurora0001 Dec 11 '17 at 20:04

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