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I'm a member of the Community Management team here at Stack Exchange; we're the ones responsible for determining when each new site is ready to move on to the next stage of its life cycle.

It's been a week today since this site entered private beta. I'm really impressed by the enthusiasm here, and the helpful attitude folks are showing one another. But there are a few problems that need to be addressed before we'll be comfortable opening this site up to the public.

What is on-topic here?

There've been several discussions toward this end, but not nearly enough. This has the potential to be an enormous topic, but it is important that y'all work on defining the limits - focusing on what's actually being asked. The scope here can be as large or narrow as needed, so long as questions within that scope are answered effectively.

Original content; more than just a Hinduism primer

There are a lot of questions here that are... Pretty basic. "Could be answered by a Wikipedia entry" basic. Questions that require no expertise aren't a particularly good way to attract experts. You gotta expect a few of these, but when every other question can be answered by a Google search...

...And worse yet, an awful lot of them are answered that way: by quoting external sources. A site that just regurgitates things that others have written isn't much good; answers like that just clog up search results without adding anything. It's important to cite your sources, but just as important to demonstrate knowledge of both the question being answered and the topic itself - this is where we can actually make the Internet a better place, demonstrating how to use this knowledge to answer specific questions. Answers that are primarily copied from Wikipedia or other forums / blogs - even when properly attributed - are just speed-bumps, annoyances to folks searching for good information.

I'd really like to see more questions that require some serious research and experience to answer... I know some of you have been studying these topics for years, and are well past the beginner stages of your education - what sort of problems do you encounter?

Focus on facts, accuracy

There are a lot of answers here that amount to little more than anecdotes or opinions. Many of these may be useful - but how would someone with little experience in the topic know this? Show your work and back it up, and encourage others to do likewise!

Good writing

This may seem like a small thing, but there's an awful lot of poor spelling, poor grammar, and poor formatting cropping up here. Some of you have been doing a great job of editing these into shape - kudos! - but it's still a problem. (Related: Please use consistent spelling in your posts)

We'll review this site again on Monday, to see if it's ready for a larger audience - in the next four days, let's try to sweep up and get it looking shiny!

  • Out of curiosity, who decides when it is time to go public? Do we already have moderators? Or what is the criteria for going public? – Bharat Jun 25 '14 at 23:30
  • @RBK The community managers (including Shog9) decide when the site is ready to go public. We do not have moderators; we will get those about a week after the site goes public. – senshin Jun 25 '14 at 23:32
  • @senshin, thanks. Is there any guidelines for when a site is ready for public? Read the Area51 FAQ but couldn't figure out. And the community managers are the ones who started the proposal? – Bharat Jun 25 '14 at 23:35
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    @RBK The community managers are employees of Stack Exchange (the people who run this site). There are are no strictly-defined criteria that determine whether a site is ready to go public; it is a subjective decision made by the community managers (though obviously there are a number of metrics they look at to help them make the decision). (The person who started the proposal, Manishearth, is just an ordinary user, not a community manager or otherwise an employee of Stack Exchange.) – senshin Jun 25 '14 at 23:38
  • Thanks for the link. – Bharat Jun 25 '14 at 23:39
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    Is Monday our last chance, or would we have more time if your review gives a negative result again? I have some work for this week due to which I won't be much active here. – user3459110 Jun 26 '14 at 4:19
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    @Shog9 thank you for the information, we will try our best to make things better. – Ankit Sharma Jun 26 '14 at 5:41
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    @AwalGarg Shog will be able to give you a better answer, but until he comes by: private betas cannot last indefinitely, unlike public betas. If, after a reasonable amount of time (2-3 weeks at most, I think, but don't quote me on this), the site is not up to quality standards, it is at risk of being shut down. – senshin Jun 26 '14 at 6:45
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    @Shog9 hi, i am really curious to know what is the status of our site? – Ankit Sharma Jun 30 '14 at 6:04
  • @Shog9 should remove featured tag from this question as site is no more in Private Beta – Mr. Alien Jun 30 '14 at 19:26
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    You're too quick, @Mr.Alien! Done. – Shog9 Jun 30 '14 at 19:27
  • hehe, now close this question! I don wanna get into nostalgia man... – user3459110 Jul 1 '14 at 14:22
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    Any update about Graduation? – Paṇḍyā Dec 8 '16 at 8:10
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I completely agree with @shog9 here... First, as an active member of the community, I'll list down the bad points which am seeing here since day one, which somewhat holds back the community....

  • Copy pasting from external sources (sometimes without referencing the original source)
  • Poor Grammar (Most of the Indians are on this website, as English is not our native language, this issue will persist always)
  • Few users are regular, rest are one timers as site is still in private beta
  • We are not clear with the off topics and on topics yet


Also need to take care of —

  • Lack of accept rate
  • Lack of voting
  • Lack of multiple answers to a question

Going brief with each point..

Copy pasting from external sources (sometimes without referencing the original source)

This issue is already discussed over here. The main reason behind this is the lack of Experts on this website, as far as I know, only 3-4 users answer majority of their answers with their own explanation and also cite the relative sources as a support to their answers.

[The only way we can solve this is, to promote this website in some or the other way and attract the experts or the users should atleast read about Hinduism and answer in their own way along with a source to support his answer if required]

Poor Grammar

Now this is going to be an issue for ALWAYS, as I stated before, most of the users over here will be Indians, and as English is not our native language, very few will be good with their grammar skills, rest won't be that good.

[Only way to solve this issue, let the best in English users edit the answers with quality grammar, and also leave a comment below which notifies the user like Please take care with spelling errors and grammars, that will help them when they write an answer next time]

Few users are regular, rest are one timers as site is still in private beta

Because the site is still in Private Mode, we don't have much of a new users coming in, which also affects the quality of current posts, out of mere 150 users, only 10-15 users are active, rest are visitors.

[Less amount of active users results in overall low quality posts on website, few users cannot go and edit each and every post over here, same users cannot ask new questions everyday, to generate new content, we also need new users and their views, it may happen that many of the enthusiast users want to join the website as well as experts but because of the Private mode, it restricts them to join]

We are not clear with the off topics and on topics yet

I started a discussion over this few days back, but shog marked that as too broad and he suggested to break down the topics to smaller chunks and discuss over meta, but I feel we are not doing that.

[We should be sure whats going to be on topic, for example, numerology, mythology, philosophy, beliefs, stories and so on, main users over here should start discussion and drop their views, I see most of the meta post answered only by few users where on the other sites, people are eager to express their views, it won't only help us to draft the rules but it will also help our website to move to public beta where other users can join and contribute as well]

Also I would request users, that not to ask opinion based question, I've drafted a long article for Getting started with Hinduism where I've stated this point, but still, people keep asking such.


Lack of accept rate

What I see is that few answers are accepted as helpful, those are mostly accepted if the user is regular on this website, one timers ask a question and fly away, which somewhat demotivates a user. So I would insist everyone reading this to PLEASE ACCEPT ACCURATE AND HELPFUL ANSWERS. By doing so, it will also help future visitors to refer an answer.

Lack of voting

Please don't forget to upvote quality posts. We are not racing here for reputation, we should appreciate users efforts and knowledge by upvoting their answers. This will not only motivate them, but will also help future visitors to refer an answer.

Lack of multiple answers to a question

I was expecting this to happen more on this website. As far as I know, we have multiple versions of stories to a single scenario, now obviously only one would be correct but it's not wrong to answer the second version as a secondary answer. This may confuse but again, if you mention that this is the secondary version, than it will help users to refer the main version but if interested than read the second version as well.

How do we mention secondary version of a story? Bold out the words in your answer on the top like Secondary Version or Alternate Story but whatever we are going to use, make sure everyone sticks to the same.

  • Just to add, lack of quality answers will have an effect on low accept rate. – Pratik Bhat Jul 6 '14 at 18:39
  • @PratikBhat Yes you are right, but some users are not accepting correct answer which in a way demotivates users providing answer, I will raise a question on meta if required, its just a start, lets see whats ahead – Mr. Alien Jul 6 '14 at 18:40
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Some more concrete suggestions:

Vote up and vote down, liberally and wisely!

Although votes have a secondary effect of giving reputation to the poster, the main purpose of votes on Stack Exchange is to communicate, both to the poster and to other viewers, what the community values as quality -- to encourage good posts and discourage poor ones.

  • Please vote up answers and questions that are of high quality, as this will encourage more of them on the site.

  • For answers or questions that are of poor quality, please leave comments making the problems clear, and suggesting improvements. Remember that you can also remove downvotes after an answer is edited.

  • Don't vote up an answer just because you like it or it feels good; give some thought to whether it improves the quality of the site. This is not Facebook or Quora or Reddit, where voting is "likes".

Encourage answers that are authoritative and reliable

Covered in Back it up!, but let me add: the site already has a lot of answers that are based on just opinion / anecdotes / hearsay. They may be OK when no better answer can be given, but should not be the bulk of the content of a site. The ideal answers on the site must be ones that are verifiable -- they should refer to some scripture or text (along with mentioning what tradition follows that text), and failing that, at least refer to the words of some person regarded as an authority on Hinduism (e.g. "Jagadguru Shankaracharya of X said in [source] the following [quote]"...).

There are many places, like our personal blogs, Facebook, Quora, etc., where we can post our opinions or what we've heard here and there. Let's restrict this site to a higher standard: even if it means fewer questions answered in the short term, it is good for quality, and is healthier for the site in the long run.

If you can't back up your answer with facts, don't post it. At the very least, mark clearly what parts are speculation, and upvote other answers that are based on facts.

Discourage questions that cannot be answered authoritatively

As explained here, discourage questions for which no indisputably correct answers are likely to exist.

I find very few questions being closed on this site. Part of the reason may be that in Private Beta, not too many bad questions have been asked, but questions that invite opinion or anecdotes, rather than facts, are to be closed mercilessly.

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    Additionally - please downvote liberally. I know it costs reputation, but please do it anyway, for the good of the site. I have cast as many downvotes as the 11 next-most-prolific voters combined, which is not really what we need to have going at the moment. – senshin Jun 26 '14 at 7:19
  • There might be aspects of Hinduism that are based on shastra and some that are not. I.e. hearsay is the ultimate reference in the latter case and this site is the best source for that hearsay. – MKaama Jun 30 '14 at 9:11
  • @MKaama Why do you say "this site is the best source for that hearsay"? – ShreevatsaR Jun 30 '14 at 10:19
  • @ShreevatsaR Because the answers and experts are rated. A web search does not give that advantage. And a private blog is limited in scope. As I see it, the recent topic of deities for weekdays is an example that requires some combination of folklore and rating, I have not found a single scriptural reference yet. – MKaama Jun 30 '14 at 10:38

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