I saw the question Will we come out of “beta” ? … ever? from November 2017, and I wondered how we're doing now, over two years later. So I looked up our site statistics on Area 51 here, and here's the status as of February 2020:

beta site statistics screen shot from Area 51

So what's changed in the last two years?

  • 1 question per day > 1.9 questions per day
  • 97% answered: still excellent
  • 108 avid users > 257 avid users
  • 7,041 total users > 11,498 total users
  • 1.9 answer ratio > 2.0 answer ratio
  • 1,772 visits/day > 2,342 visits/day

So, the site is slowly growing: more questions per day (although I would argue a lot of those questions are low-quality), 2.4 times as many "avid" (200+ reputation) users, 63% more total users (how many of those are still active?), and 32% more visits/day. That's all good I suppose, but this site still seems pretty stagnant to me, and I haven't heard anything about graduating from beta status, so we must still have work to do!

  • $\begingroup$ There was a decision made by the SE staff months ago that resulted in all beta sites that were over ?years old coming out of beta. On some date in the near future, we will automatically switch out of beta. I forget the exact year, etc. It looks like these are the oldest questions $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Feb 26 '20 at 1:10
  • $\begingroup$ As for low-quality, I wouldn't argue with you. ;-) And it is worse now than when I joined hamSE. $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Feb 26 '20 at 1:15
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    $\begingroup$ Well they promoted all beta sites over a certain age once - that doesn't mean they will do it again. They will probably do an analysis and decide whether or not that was a good move, and make any future decisions based on that. So I would not say it's a certainty that ham.SE will be automatically promoted to become non-beta $\endgroup$ – Scott Earle Feb 26 '20 at 4:10
  • $\begingroup$ Is the quality any lower than once it was? People also say that about ham radio generally, remember. People are constantly saying that it was better before (insert pet peeve here). Think FT8, the Morse requirement being abolished, no-code techs, CBers, SSB and go back far enough people used to complain about people using AM. It's just in people's nature to complain that things "aren't what they used to be" $\endgroup$ – Scott Earle Feb 26 '20 at 4:13
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    $\begingroup$ imgur.com/gallery/96gq9FD $\endgroup$ – Scott Earle Feb 26 '20 at 4:15
  • $\begingroup$ FWIW, It was in May of that year that Scott and myself were appointed moderators. Kevin was already one. But I don't take any credit for that other than the fact that I invited some tech gurus on the major ham forums to join us. $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Mar 3 '20 at 4:51

This is actually very encouraging. I don't know why you think the site is stagnating - it's a Q&A site about a niche hobby, after all, and by every metric engagement has improved significantly.

I don't see the low number of questions per day as a problem, since there aren't all that many hams as a percentage of the general population, and since every single country that allows ham radio also requires people to take an exam before being licensed, I would expect to see far fewer technical questions on here than on something like StackOverflow.

One metric I think we can improve on is the number of answers per question, and that's something we should all work on improving.

One of the problems with trying to get more questions asked on the site, is that if we try adding our own questions they usually end up being hypotheticals, and as such are more likely to be closed as "needing more focus". I mean - if we had any real questions, we would have already asked them. And asking frivolous or useless questions is one excellent way of getting people to be bored of the site.

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    $\begingroup$ I do find the statistics encouraging, and there's certainly a lot to like about our community: it's amazing to have such engineering expertise and ham radio experience on tap for free. It's just that many facets of ham radio just aren't that well represented. For instance, contesting is a facet of ham radio undergoing innovation at a furious rate, but on the rare occasions that contesting questions appear here, one can hear the crickets chirping. It's a wonderful thing that we have, but personally I still think there's work to be done. $\endgroup$ – rclocher3 Feb 26 '20 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ I try to answer contesting questions if I see them. I’m very enthusiastic about contests, as it’s one of the few ways I get to make QSOs here in my city apartment with an antenna strapped to a tiny balcony rail. But we don’t see the questions - and for the most part we can’t make people ask questions ... $\endgroup$ – Scott Earle Feb 26 '20 at 15:42

Found it! We might graduate out of beta seven years since the first post. That will be on October 22, 2020.

Congratulations to our 29 oldest beta sites - They're now no longer beta!

Older, related: Graduation, site closure, and a clearer outlook on the health of SE sites

  • $\begingroup$ New question about this at ham.meta.stackexchange.com/q/404/8717 $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Feb 27 '20 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ That might not be set in stone; @ScottEarle's opinion is that the StackExchange folks might have not set an automatic policy that all beta sites graduate after seven years. They might instead evaluate how the 29 sites that did graduate are doing, debate, and decide something else for the next batch of beta sites. Time will tell I suppose, or maybe there is a meta.stackexchange.com question that addresses the issue, or one of us could ask... $\endgroup$ – rclocher3 Feb 27 '20 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ @rclocher3 Maybe not. All I know is what I read here. See this answer, as well as the other ones. Whaddya think? $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Feb 27 '20 at 18:32
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    $\begingroup$ It turns out that there is a meta.SE question that addresses the issue, written by the famous (or infamous) Monica Cellio on the same day that the 29 sites graduated from beta. The discussion is interesting, but it doesn't settle the issue. $\endgroup$ – rclocher3 Feb 27 '20 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ Edited my answer to might. $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Feb 27 '20 at 18:41
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    $\begingroup$ I've read many comments on the meta.SE posts, and they're all interesting and informative, but don't answer the question of whether we'll graduate on the 22nd of October at all ;) $\endgroup$ – rclocher3 Feb 27 '20 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps the best thing to do is wait until October 23, and then ask about it on metaSE. $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Feb 27 '20 at 18:58

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