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Current Status of ELL

So far as I can tell, as a beta site, ELL's statistics are superlative:

  • 29.4 questions per day: E̲x̲c̲e̲l̲l̲e̲n̲t̲ (vs. 15 for average)
  • 97% answered: E̲x̲c̲e̲l̲l̲e̲n̲t̲ (vs. 90% for healthy)
  • 577 avid & 9,750 total users: E̲x̲c̲e̲l̲l̲e̲n̲t̲ (all statistics strongly above threshold)
  • 1.8 answer ratio: O̲k̲a̲y̲ (vs. 2.5 for good)
  • 20,520 visits/day: E̲x̲c̲e̲l̲l̲e̲n̲t̲ (vs. 1,500 for good)

That is, all the published metrics which beta sites are measured against are top-flight, excepting "answer ratio".

Question:Answer ratio?

A similar question about ELL's beta status was asked a year ago, and @J.R. responded with exactly this concern:

I'd like to see more questions that get more than one answer. Oftentimes, one answer seems to tell the whole story, and nobody else weighs in.

But in my opinion, that is the very nature of this site, and it's unlikely to change. This is a site for beginners, the questions will necessarily have obvious (if not necessarily simple) answers.

Thus, after the first answer gives the (almost always extant) definitive response, there likely will not be enough nuances to elaborate on to make it worth the while of other avid users to post a response; in other words, given basic questions, multiple answers would necessarily have enough overlap to discourage any answer after the first.

And, critically, given the charter of this site, that's unlikely to ever change.

Patience?

The only other reason given in the cited question is

I think the SE folks are probably not in a hurry to graduate any site; they don't want graduate a site that begins with an initial burst of excitement but eventually fizzles out. Better to graduate a healthy site late than to graduate an unviable site too early.

Which the administrator @Anna Lear responded to with:

Your last paragraph [referring to the one I just quoted] especially is spot on. I just want to add that we do regularly monitor every beta site. We review the periodic site evaluations that are conducted via /review and monitor other stats like traffic patterns, user engagement, and overall main & meta participation.

Which seems, in sum, to counsel patience.

But ELL has been in beta for 638 days, which puts it in the top 10% of oldest beta sites (58 / 507), and from some quick math, far exceeds the other beta sites in that decile, along the metrics sites are specifically measured against:

ELL vs avg. 1st decile (age) beta site¹

Not only is ELL far and away better than its peers along every metric, these measures have been improving steadily since inception, and so if sites are reviewed every 90 days, these impressive figures should have been reviewed seven times.

So what's holding us up?

Questions

  • Is English Language Learners up for imminent graduation?
  • If not, is the Q:A ratio really holding up the graduation of ELL?
  • If not, what is holding up the graduation?
  • What can we, the community, proactively do to expedite the graduation of ELL to a full site?

Since waiting patiently hasn't yet borne fruit, I'm looking for an active strategy to push ELL through to graduation soon².


¹ Chart data pulled from the list of oldest beta sites; red is ELL, blue is the average of all the other sites which have had a similar amount of time to establish themselves. The y-axis has been normalized by the published "excellent" threshold for each metric, but only the ratio of red:blue is relevant for this discussion.

² Obligatory disclaimer: one reason for my fervor is I'm an active user on EL&U, and I can't migrate questions from English learners there to this site until it comes out of beta.

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    The only quibble I have with your excellent presentation of the statistics is that there is nothing in the description of ELL that says it's for beginners. English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. I think the answer ratio is more a reflection of the care that folks take when answering a question and possibly due to many questions getting answered in comments instead of as answers. Maybe we should be more proactive in migrating answers out of comments, and more aggressive about closing certain questions. – ColleenV Oct 24 '14 at 20:42
  • I imagine it's just a matter of time now; indeed, I have read somewhere (I wish I could cite an Authority) that ELL is in fact on the 'graduation queue'. .. However, I think your numbers are in error in one respect: there are only 82 sites currently in Beta, and ELL is 32nd youngest of those. (There are another 428 proposals which have not reached Beta; of these less than half have as many as 10 followers.) – StoneyB Oct 24 '14 at 23:49
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  • @snailboat Thanks for the link. Unless you want to, I'll add it as a self-answer later, so at least we'll have something on a Meta.ELL to point other impatient users like me at when they get antsy (though "The site is ready to graduate, it just needs its design finalized by the private, anonymous design team in an opaque and theoretically indefinite process -- oh, and by the way, last we heard, ELL was dead last in the backlog... But don't worry, there's nothing for you guys to do." isn't the most satisfying answer). – Dan Bron Oct 25 '14 at 10:01
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    Sure, go for it! I'm too lazy :-) – snailboat Oct 25 '14 at 10:02
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    @Stoney, Colleen, thanks for the feedback on the question, I'll correct the flaws you spotted, so the question can stand as a reference (though, I hope, we won't need it much longer). And Colleen, it might be worth opening a separate question on whether we should promote a different standard for answers on ELL than is held to in other sites, to encourage members who would otherwise only comment to submit their simple reply to a simple question as an answer. – Dan Bron Oct 25 '14 at 10:05
  • Oh, once upon a time I encouraged us not to use comments for answers, but I've since given up on convincing people to do so. The moderators here want us to have comment-answers, and they don't want us to have short or simple answer-answers. It's easier just to go with the flow. – snailboat Oct 25 '14 at 10:10
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    I wasn't really thinking of a single comment as an answer. I've seen questions where there was some back and forth in the comments that ended up answering the question, but it never got promoted to an answer, and I think it might hurt our stats a little. On the other hand, it is true that the nature of many of the questions here lend themselves to one answer. I up vote answers all the time that are essentially the same answer I would write instead of restating them. – ColleenV Oct 25 '14 at 10:26
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    @snail - Just for the record: I've softened my stance on that issue since our productive conversation a few months ago. Your thoughts and opinions did not fall on deaf ears. – J.R. Oct 27 '14 at 23:43
  • I think we should not only look at other betas, but at sites that did graduate. Currently ELL overshadows many of them by far!. Compare ELL to EL&U, SalesForce, Finance or ExpressionEngine which launched with stats vastly worse! – SF. Feb 8 '15 at 10:12
  • @SF. - Six months ago, Grace Note commented: "Current list in the queue is: Salesforce, Expression Engine, Anime, Computer Science, Japanese, Cryptography, Movies, Blender, and English Language Learners." However, I've noticed that Movies is now out of beta, while Computer Science, Japanese, and Cryptography are still in beta. Maybe we're up soon? I don't know, but I still think the best course of action is patience along with active engagement. Thanks for the update! – J.R. Feb 8 '15 at 10:57
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I would really like the staff take a stance on this, because it seems to me it's just some personal preferences - let's compare to recently launched yet another CMS site

6.6 vs 28.7 questions per day.

80% vs 98% answered

267/3,502 vs 720 avid users, 12,319 total users

1.6 vs 1.8 answer ratio

1,146 vs 23,632 visits/day

ExpressionEngine

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  • The only thing that worries me about the site getting out of beta is the increased reputation requirements for certain privileges. I will try to find the page again, but I vaguely remember being concerned about the moderation workload when ELL gets migrated. – ColleenV Feb 8 '15 at 13:35
  • Who is the "staff"? – user3169 Feb 10 '15 at 5:28
  • @user3169: 1 2 3 4 5 ... – SF. Feb 10 '15 at 6:59
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I infer from Robert Cartaino's post on MSE that we're waiting on a full site design.

There are very few minimum criteria1 for when a site becomes eligible for graduation, so the actual deciding factors are still largely subjective. We are generally looking for a robust site with a steady stream of high-quality quantity questions, enough to keep folks interested in the site on a sustained basis. We look at the turnover rate to see if the community has attracted an avid, core group of users. We look for an active and functional governance; i.e. does the community respond to and act on meta issues as they come up? Is their purpose and their scope pretty rock solid, or are there issues that still need to be resolved? We also look at the viability of holding a functional election (an intrinsic part of graduation). So generally speaking, we look for a site that has a sustained level of activity that all-but-guarantees the site can maintain a healthy pattern of growth for the foreseeable future.

I think it's safe to say ELL meets these criteria.

Sending a site to the "graduation queue" and getting a design published are currently two different things. We recently hired some fantastic new designers to help clear the backlog, but there is a still about 9 sites waiting for a design, last I checked. But site designs aren't completed on a production line either. A designer works on them as they are able (amidst all the bug reports and feature requests that are interspersed throughout their workflow). And which sites are completed first simply depends on who is available and how much work it takes.

We are in the graduation queue already, so I presume this is the reason for the delay.

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