5

As we approach the six month mark, I think we can start to take stock of how far the site has come. In particular, I think the active users of the site have done a great job of maintaining a degree of scientific rigour. I also think at this point with around 400 questions, we are starting to have something that can be showcased.

In particular, after a drop in activity over April and early May, June 2012 has been particularly successful, with 3.4 questions per day, maintaining the answer rate at a respectable level, and maintaining our standards (see also this June 2012 progress report). 3.4 questions per day puts us above over 30 other Stack Exchange sites. It translates to around 100 additional questions per month. I imagine if we can keep this rate of questions per day going that in a couple of months we will be into the "okay range" for avid users and in perhaps 3 or 4 months we will have the 500 visits per day to be in the "okay range" for page views (see Area 51 stats for cogsci).

I think part of this success has come from the increase in number of questions asked by active users (E.g., @chuck, @artem, @Josh), and part of it is coming from organic growth as the site becomes better known. Personally, I really like incorporating asking questions on the site into my research process. Sometimes it means I answer my own question after doing a little bit more research; other times, someone else provides me with a great answer. I also think this keeps the balance of the site between novice and expert questions at a reasonable level, which is arguably important for attracting future expert users of the site.

Anyway, I was wondering

  • What thoughts do people have for how we can keep the momentum going over the next few months?
  • Given the site's successes, how can we communicate what this site is about to fellow academics, research students, scientists, practitioners and others?
  • What kind of goals do you think are reasonable regarding Area51 metrics and time frames for achieving them? And what concrete ways could we go about achieving them?
  • 1
    I think we're doing great, and I'm sorry I haven't been able to contribute as much lately – Ben Brocka Jun 29 '12 at 1:55
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    @Ben I think your contribution to the site has been huge in terms of questions, answers, meta, site promotion, etc. This is especially true considering that you are also a moderator on two other sites. – Jeromy Anglim Jun 29 '12 at 2:11
4

I posted the following on Google+ and shared it on Twitter:

I've been involved with the psychology and cognitive science question and answer site since it started about 5 months ago:
http://cogsci.stackexchange.com:

Here are a few thoughts on what I like about it and what I think it's about:

  • It's a form of domain specific exercise. I find that answering questions across the whole range of psychological science keeps my knowledge active.
  • It's about leaving a Google searchable legacy of all the little things you do along the way in the research process.
  • It's about creating resources that link the open world of the web with the closed world of closed access journal publishing.
  • It's about having answers to very specific questions; so specific that even if you can find it, there might not be a particular journal article on the topic.
  • In some cases, it's a way of connecting the research literature to the questions that lay people have about psychological science.

I've also noticed a transformation:

At first, I find people carry over the legacy of traditional discussion boards. Asking a question is seen as weakness. The questioner seeks the wisdom of the answerers. Answers are given to benefit the person asking the question.

However, I think the ideal StackExchange model goes like this: The person asking the question is creating an invitation to create a resource that will be beneficial to others on the Internet. The question can be edited by others to ensure that it has the right focus, title and tags, to ensure that it will provide such a resource. The questioner can even answer their own question if they do research. The exchange is about building knowledge for the Internet and leaving a highly usable resource rather than off-line discussion which is lost forever or the meandering and difficult to navigate threads of discussion boards and mailing lists.

If you're interested in psychology and haven't already check it out, I'd encourage you to do so.

Have a look at some of the popular questions:

https://cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions?sort=votes

Or maybe ask a question yourself (remember, it's not about not knowing, it's about thinking that the internet would be a better place if the combination of such a question and a good answer existed).

https://cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/ask

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