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Just checking: Is the semi-permanent beta status of Parenting demoralising for existing users? Is it off-putting for new users?

I was about to leave a comment on another Beta Question, and I realised I was making an assumption so I wanted to check.

Would it be possible for some small changes to the CSS of the beta site? (If there's some evidence it would help attract users and there's approval from existing users etc).

  • I am not positive about the CSS (I can ask a CM, but we'd probably need more detail about what the changes). I'm still trying to think about an answer to this, and I also don't really want to throw an answer out there too fast (potentially discouraging other feedback) :) – Acire Dec 29 '15 at 21:23
  • You may want to move the CSS element into a separate question. – Dan Henderson Dec 30 '15 at 13:07
  • As of August 1, 2019, Parenting is no longer Beta: parenting.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1348/… – Bart van Ingen Schenau Aug 28 '19 at 11:22
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Speaking from my own perspective, I see Beta on Stack Exchange very like Beta on Google. It doesn't really change anything, other than requiring lower rep levels for certain activities.

Looking at the official SE discussions on Beta status and Graduation, it looks like graduation itself is no longer some big bang, changed site, yadda yadda to more of a slow process with CSS updates being separate from Moderator voting, Rep level increases etc.

One of the good things about the Beta sites is they are consistent, so they feel very much part of SE. Development of CSS for graduated sites is a much bigger piece of work than you imagine - it takes the design folks a long time.

That said, if you had a specific gripe with a particular element and wished to suggest an improvement/bugfix, please do as @Erica suggested and raise a new meta post with a tag, and the CM's will look at it.

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    The lower rep levels on beta sites are really nice, in my opinion. Means people can participate earlier if they want to. – YviDe Dec 31 '15 at 9:04
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    I like the lower rep levels as well -- both back when I was a regular user (I got cool powers earlier!), and now as a mod (more people get cool powers to help community-moderate!) :) – Acire Dec 31 '15 at 13:11
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TL;DR — I believe beta status by itself is not a major discouraging factor, but there are some aspects related to our beta status which might be discouraging.


I think that the beta status, on its own, is not discouraging. It requires a bit of "expert" StackExchange knowledge to understand what "beta" even means. There are even a few things about it that are nice (such as lower reputation thresholds).

However, there are some aspects (that are [probably] keeping us from graduation) which can be discouraging.

  • Low Question rate. This is really the only "primary" metric (from Area 51 stats) that has consistently been problematic for Parenting.SE. The challenge has been talked about extensively in other meta questions.

    Without new content, it's not as exciting to visit, and I definitely don't spend a lot of time on the site. I bring up the main page frequently throughout the day, but if I see no new questions and no/few new comments, I don't stay more than half a minute.

  • Low community moderation rate. This is certainly more of an issue for me as a mod, since it's a challenge to strike a balance between "maintaining a civil, topical site" and "letting the community moderate itself." However, an offensive or spam content will be visible longer if not flagged by enough non-moderator users, and off-topic or very low quality content will also stay open longer — neither of which is really great for the overall quality and "feel" of the site.

    To some extent, this is due to low activity -- not much content needs moderating. We also have a relatively low number of active, high-rep users who are able to vote to close and so on. However, there are also not tons of flags (many days there are none)

  • Are there many cases of posts that need moderator input? I've only been here a month or so, but from what I've seen the moderation activity is more than sufficient to deal with the actions necessary. Is that because the moderators are dealing with most of it before it gets noticed by the community, or is the community efficient at flagging anything that comes up and there's just not that much to flag? – Ieuan Stanley Jan 20 '16 at 15:39
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    There's a distinction between needing moderating (which can be done through community voting, editing, and/or commenting) and a moderator (spam or offensive material that needs to be dealt with immediately, handling flags, or requires specialized tools [comment migration, locking]). There's a fairly average amount of the former. I estimate that most of the latter is dealt with before the average user notices it, although there are sometimes unusual situations around hot network questions that are either more visible or less popular. – Acire Jan 20 '16 at 15:43
  • Is there an argument then to let the reins loose a little and let more of the latter be flagged by users? I'm playing devil's advocate here, I'm just wondering whether you had an answer to the "Low Community Moderation Rate" part of your question on whether you were just thinking out loud :) If I saw something I thought needed dealing with I'd flag it, I just don't really see anything that needs flagging. If you're concerned about the input on that level from the community, maybe they need more of an opportunity to give input. – Ieuan Stanley Jan 20 '16 at 15:49
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    I don't really have a solution, just hoping to make clear that I've noticed it and that it is a potential concern both for the site day-to-day and for graduation eventually. Flags are only part of the solution (it still needs a moderator to deal with and clear the flag), and there are some users that notice things before I do (which is great!) -- I think you're probably "seeing" a combination of moderation (both community and moderator driven) and generally positive, helpful user participation (when everyone's sensible, not much moderation is required). – Acire Jan 20 '16 at 16:04

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