Here is a (distilled) conversation largely between @SeanHoulihane and I on the chat today:

Sean Houlihane: @thesecretmaster Lots of questions is to be expected in the first few days - several coming directly from the A51 proposers. Typical beta activity is a burst of activity, then a quiet period. What is critical is how long before the #q per day gets back over 1 or 2.

Choirbean: @Sean How long does it normally take for that burst to end?

Sean Houlihane: IoT.se has just got up to 500 vists per day (1.4 questions per day) after 5 months. Looks (and its too early to tell) if there was a minimum about a month ago.

Choirbean: We would expect this site to die down quite a lot during the summer months, and then have far more traffic in the fall. Teachers :)

Sean Houlihane: Summer's going to be tough to keep the momentum up. People only come back if there is content.

Choirbean: I suspect that September/October will be a much more meaningful test for this site. If the SE overlords are truly looking for momentum over the summer, then this site is doomed from the start.

Sean Houlihane: No, I don't think doom is inevitable. They will expect to see some active high-rep users handling the queues, and so long as it's self-maintaining they should be happy. Target is 3k rep in open beta - needs 3 or 4 minimum for the site to function.

So, the question for us to tackle as a group is, how do we work to ensure that activity really does resume in September? It would be a pity to see this whole enterprise die just because we had the rotten luck to start in late May, just before schools close for the summer. Is there something we can do now to lay the groundwork to ensure that this site will continue as a resource for years to come?


4 Answers 4


Spread the word at conferences and in other teacher communities over the summer. I'm thinking particularly of the AP communities run by the College Board. There's also a great CS50 AP discussion group that I will share this with once it goes into public beta. Additionally, I do some tweeting/blogging and will share through those media as well.

I actually see an advantage to starting now. I do look at summers as a chance to relax and reboot but also an opportunity to continue with professional learning before the next school year. Something new in September -- right as a new year is getting going -- could just be one more thing for an already hectic time.

Ultimately, if we make the site meaningful in terms of content, we will unite CS teachers and create a wonderful community regardless of timing. I've already found great value in 24 hours of this being in existence, and so long as we commit to shaping it well over the next few days and weeks, I think we will do just fine.

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Getting content on the site before the summer quiet period is the key. The whole SE network probably goes a bit quieter over the summer, not just the education corners.

Spreading the word at conferences is important - just as important is the first impression new visitors get. We need them to ask or answer a question, gain enough rep that they stay engaged, and for them to spread the word too.

Having more content means that other people start finding the site through general searches - which means everything you search for yourself should become a question (so long as it's on topic). If you have the answer, it's fine to ask and answer your own question.

Finally, voting is really important, particularly in open beta when people start dropping in without quite as much engagement as the private beta crowd. Without votes, the whole reputation system doesn't work (it might not be an ideal system, but we need to work with it). Vote up and down. It's free - but it's important. Comment on Q and A too.


I totally agree with Peter. We need to spread the word to other SE sites, where similar questions and answers come up, as that will help the users and keep the site alive. To contrast, I would think that there should be a lot of activity over the summer, as teachers need to prepare the general lesson plan for the following year, and this site is the perfect place to ask questions about that. Since Computer Science Educators is still in Private Beta, people without the link will not be able to access it, so advertising it on other sites and the community will be very helpful. I hope to see this site grow because although I'm not a Comp Science Educator, I am a student.


I found the Area 51 proposal through Reddit. Can't remember where it was posted - probably /r/CSEducation .

I also think it would help to have it open to everyone over the summer. There are those of us that take as much of a break as possible, but there are also teachers that put in a lot of time working on their next year. I imagine this will slow down a bit, but I'd imagine there will still be some traffic.


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