Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What is Area 51 ?

I stumbled across Area 51 while wandering through the Stack Exchange network. 
Look at the spaceship

The FAQ states:
Area 51 is the Stack Exchange Network staging zone. It's where groups of experts come together to build new Q&A sites that work just like Stack Overflow. Here you can:
  • Propose new Q&A sites. If you have an idea for an expert Q&A site, propose it here.
  • Get involved in the process. Help sites get off the ground by defining the types of questions that are wanted, recruiting a critical mass of experts, and committing to the site's success.

This is where users can propose new site ideas which are called New Site Proposals in SE lingo. These sites need to go through three phases before they get launched as official sites under the Stack Exchange network. The phases are :

  • Definition Phase : This is first phase and the phase where most proposals get weeded out. In this phase, users are expected to :
  • Click the "Follow It!" link, if interested in a proposed site.
  • Post questions that you would want to see on the actual site, when launched.
  • Upvote questions if you think they'll be interesting and are relevant to the proposal, downvote questions if you think they are not. 
  • Comment on questions already proposed to seek clarifications about the question and discuss it.

  • Commitment Phase : In this phase, the defined site requires individuals to commit to using it. Users can commit to the site by filling in their name and level of experience in the proposal domain. A commitment can be easily fulfilled, its just 3-4 questions and answers.

  • Beta Phase : If a proposal reaches here, then the supporters have done an excellent job so far (will explain later). This phase is extremely critical for the future of the site. It has two very different phases within it.
    • Private Beta : Users who committed to using the site are initially invited to participate in and simultaneously test the site and its features. This also acts as the seeding phase of the site before it opens up to the World Wide Web. The users have an extremely critical task at hand as whatever content is created now decides, at the very least, the site's direction for the short term future.
    • Public Beta : Now, the site opens! It is fully functional and requires a lot of publicizing and content to truly take it towards success. Once the site satisfies certain criteria and reaches the tipping point, the site gets launched as a Stack Exchange Network site.

This was a summarized description of the site creation process. It should be enough to get you started on the platform.

Certain parts have been copied AS IS from the Area 51 site FAQ. These parts have been indented and are in a different font to be easily identifiable.

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