The progress of this site ain't too fantastic. Basically, there isn't enough users or visitors. What can we do about that? I've tweeted about the site, but that's all I can do, pretty much...
Excellent question! A few stats:
(bear in mind it's only been 35 of 90 days, and we often let betas go on indefinitely if they are producing great content. Quality is, as they say, Job One.)
Also refer to Robert's post here:
But if that's TL;DR, in general help us grow your site!
Share great questions and answers
Try to attract experts to the site by helping them get answers, too:
I'm not concerned about the users stat -- it is on track relative to our traffic and number of questions. That is, we do need to build more traffic and get more questions in, and once those issues are fixed, the user stat will fix itself.
So, the question remains: how do we get more traffic and get more people to ask good questions?
I think the problem is twofold: we aren't getting enough new eyes on the site, and not enough people are sticking around asking questions. We don't have any metric to tell us why these things are true, but I have some educated guesses:
Incoming traffic can be a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario: the more questions we have, the more often we will turn up in search results. We need to turn up in search results more in order to attract new questioners. In the mean time, we can try to prop the site up by inviting people that we know and mentioning specific questions on our blogs/tweets/facebook/whatever. In my experience, referring people to specific content on the site seems to make more of an impression than just referring them to the site.
New visitors aren't staying, in my opinion, largely due to the quality of our content. We have a lot of questions and answers full of misspellings (which confuse not just people, but search engines, too) and poor grammar. We have more than a couple of questions that asked "how do I X?" and got, instead of actual answers, admonitions not to do X. Neither of these make for a welcoming community. The former is easily fixed by editing questions and answers to improve spelling and grammar whenever you see a problem. The latter is a bigger problem, which I plan to post about when I have time to write up my thoughts in some complete form.
Here's what I strive to do:
Ensure the highest possible quality of the content that we have. Ask, answer, vote, comment, edit!
Distribute: Talk about questions and answers that you feel is interesting - online and in the real world.
Collect: Ask parents (and other guardians) what references they use, and suggest Parenting.SE as an option.
I have a slightly different take .. surprise, surprise.
This site is dominated by a few users who seem to quickly and rapidly answer most questions. This may be great for the information content, but it isn't great for the participation and consequently for the traffic.
This question is a perfect example. The question was asked at 7:01. TorbenGB answered it at 8:06, the answer got a bunch of upvotes, and was accepted at 12:20. Here is another ... asked at 17:39, answered at 19:39, lot of upvotes, accepted a couple of days later.
IMHO, both of these questions should have generated lots of interesting answers, but didn't. I wonder how many of those who upvoted would have taken a shot at answering these questions if TorbenGB hadn't done so quickly? I have been discouraged from answering, and I tend to speak my mind. A quick, great answer from a 10k user shuts everyone else down. An upvote and a +1 comment from a 10k user encourages more participation.
My advice ..
1/ The superstars should allow other users to answer before charging in. I suggest an informal 48-hour waiting period before a moderator or top-ten member answers a question.
2/ Have the moderators focus on driving traffic, publicizing the site on other sites, and editing and improving the answers of others rather than on answering questions.
Captain Obvious here ... the primary statistical problem is the dearth of new questions. I have noticed the "staleness" on the front page that comes from low question turnover.
I could be wrong, but if that metric could be driven up to 10/day, the site would flourish. Google search hits would increase, so Google traffic would increase, so potential member exposure would increase.
So, how to get more questions?
1/ Each "committed user" should be asked to contribute 1 per week. This won't matter statistically, but I think it will prompt the second level users to ask more questions. Seeing TorbenGB or HedgeMage ask a question that they think they can answer will drive activity. Seeing TorbenGB or HedgeMage ask a question that get closed or criticized will have a similar impact.
--> I could commit for two months.
2/ The mods needs to get out on the other big parenting sites and spread the word. As I understand it, that is at least peripherally their job. As I alluded to in another answer, I think great benefit could accrue from TorbenGB, HedgeMage and Beofett worrying more about driving traffic and less about providing the best answer to every question and monitoring for every minor infraction of the FAQ.
3/ Rumor has it there is some advertising budget available for Beta sites. If so, it should be used.
4/ Is it OK to directly cross-post good questions (with or without attribution) from other parenting sites? Perhaps an intern (or a robot) could grab 5 per day for a month to seed the pool? I don't see any ethical issue doing so .. the value of the site is not the questions but the answers.
Just a few thoughts.
Since Pinterest is the biggest thing since sliced bread these days (at least with many of the women and mothers I know), I wondered if it might help traffic if there was a way for people to pin the site when they found a useful question they wanted to share on their pinterest boards. That goes for facebook and twitter I suppose too.
In order to pin though, there needs to be a "pinnable image"
Is there a way to make this possible on Parenting SE to help drive up traffic? I get a lot of traffic on my blog because of things people have pinned to their boards or shared to facebook.
I think part of the issue is that unlike the other sites, take stackoverflow for instance, only experienced programmers answer questions or are upvoted at least. Plus, there's a pretty clear right or wrong answer when it comes to things like programming.
With parenting, however, simply having children doesn't exactly make you an expert, unfortunately. People are answering questions here with a lot of reputation earned from other fields, but this doesn't make them particularly knowledgeable in child development, even if they do have children. And, there's a lot of opinion and beliefs when it comes to parenting, but you wouldn't find such opinion-driven answers in other fields (like programming).
For example, lots of people are answering with suggestions of consequences, incentives, punishments etc (in a variety of forms) and yet all the research into child development, human motivation, and social-emotional learning says that this is counter-productive and often damaging. Carol Dweck is starting to become known in wider circles for her work, for example, that shows the damaging long-term effects of praise. In a topic like this, I don't think that upvoting is necessarily the best way to ensure accuracy, helpfulness, etc. A parent may find an answer 'helpful' but that doesn't mean that answer was in the best interest of the affected child.
I'm not sure there's a solution to this as I think it is sort of inherent to the topic, but I just wanted to share my thoughts on this issue.