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What can we do to encourage more users to ask more questions? There are so many great ones sitting in our proposal waiting to be asked. The definition phase brought up some great topics that could be asked as-is or with only minor alterations.

A few examples...

  • Best way to explain the difference between a while loop vs. a do while loop?
  • When teaching programming skills to beginners, how do you approach grading so to not penalize early mistakes?
  • Computers are down; what's in your bag of tricks for teaching CS when they can't get on a computer?

We are doing an incredible job providing multiple quality answers for each question we get; we just need more material. Please don't be afraid to ask away!

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    $\begingroup$ I came as soon as I saw this site while elsewhere on SE (HNQ brought me). $\endgroup$ – user737 Jun 16 '17 at 0:44
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Spread the word. You need more users, not questions. Simply having the same people ask more questions is not sustainable and not a solution for giving the appearance of organic growth. You need more users.

This site is running into two huge issues:

  1. Low Turnout
    Less than half the people committed to the proposal showed up on the actual site.
  2. Massive Voter Fraud
    Unfortunately, a few users on the original proposal saw fit to create uncounted duplicate accounts to artificially inflate the interest in this site. We've since created tools to severely crack down on such activity, but in Area 51, there was no effective way to roll back the damage. But with so much good-faith, organic interest in the site, we decided to continue forward.

Typically we need about 150 questions in three weeks of private beta to be considered viable. I'm supposed to start the private beta evaluation this coming Tuesday (Jun 6th) and conclude the private beta a week later (6/13), but I may have to postpone the pro tem nomination thread because there isn't yet a large enough community signed on yet to support this site.

We've got 1-1/2 weeks left, so I'm not panicking yet, I just wanted to give you this heads up because oftentimes the excuse I hear is "I was waiting for the site to go public."

Spread the word — We need more users NOW.

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    $\begingroup$ Aren't these two problems linked? As in, if there was voter fraud, then there were fewer real human beings there in the first place to join. Thus, the lower percentage, and the smaller number of users. I've been recruiting, but it's harder to send links during the private beta, as you need to go in through Area 51 (and either link or create an account) to even be able to see the link that I send you. $\endgroup$ – Ben I. Jun 1 '17 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ @BenI. No, most of the offending accounts have been removed, so the low turnout occurred even among the users acting in good faith. But, yes, the folks trying to artificially inflate the interest in this proposal prematurely did this site a terrible disfservice, and they have been suspended and/or removed from the system. $\endgroup$ – Robert Cartaino Jun 1 '17 at 14:30
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    $\begingroup$ @RobertCartaino We would like to create a Twitter account to promote the site, share links, reach chats/hashtags, etc. Are there guidelines we should follow, i.e. using the SE name? We are passionate about reaching a broad audience of CS educators and think Twitter could be an asset even in this private beta stage. $\endgroup$ – Peter Jun 2 '17 at 1:16
  • $\begingroup$ @peter Yes, see the legal/trademark-guidance linked at the bottom of the site -- stackexchange.com/legal/trademark-guidance $\endgroup$ – Robert Cartaino Jun 2 '17 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ @RobertCartaino We made a twitter and sent emails and made ads. How are we doing? Back on track? If we're getting postponed, when will our evaluation start? When will pro tem nominations start? $\endgroup$ – thesecretmaster Jun 3 '17 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ @thesecretmaster What's the twitter feed? $\endgroup$ – Ellen Spertus Jun 6 '17 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ @EllenSpertus twitter.com/cs_educators and see cseducators.meta.stackexchange.com/q/76/58 $\endgroup$ – thesecretmaster Jun 6 '17 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ I think we are doing ok on this matter. $\endgroup$ – ItamarG3 Jun 14 '17 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ As a Stack-dev-turned-bootcamp-instructor, I'd love to see this site flourish. I don't know how to do the following, but if the site can be marketed to bootcamp instructors - since there are sooo many bootcamps out there of... uneven quality - there may be a much higher engagement rate. Bootcamp instructors tend to have much less teaching experience than high school or college teachers, and usually are working under tighter time constraints. This site is exactly what they need. $\endgroup$ – G-Wiz Sep 27 '17 at 17:28
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Timing might be a bit of an issue too... Summer vacations are starting on the northern hemisphere, this is not the time CS teachers are actively looking online for good lesson ideas. Still, might be a good idea to spread the word at schools. Summer holiday also means teachers have more time on their hands.

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We can encourage the new users who do make it here by voting, or helping them improve their content. The site is not the same as may other places that people are used to online, and getting past the initial learning experience is a little tricky.

Just to clarify with some numbers... 200 rep is counted as the threshold of an engaged user, 500 rep will be needed in open beta for vote to close/open (which is really one of the key community moderation tasks, needing several votes to actually take effect). Currently we have 24 members over 200 rep, and another 30 over 101.

Start of open beta (13/06) 30 avid users, 636 total users. (one over 2k)

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Just some thoughts:

  • I just found out about this site today via a HNQ and I already like it =)
  • I'd never heard of this site. Now granted, there are a bajillion sites (it feels like) on the SE network, but for example, I'm over on Physics.SE, and I've been there for over a year, I've heard of the math educators site, but not this one. So: community ads on all relevant sites please!
  • Tell students as well as teachers. There are plenty of people (such as myself) who are interested in self-learning, I see you have the tag - so encourage it.
  • Summer is indeed a time when teachers don't teach, but consider it a challenge - get as many users as you can in this setting, and then watch it all explode come September.
  • Consider that you have a bit of an advantage (with regards to summer) - you have plenty of time to figure out scope, catch problems as they start, and talk about where you want this site to go. It's like the difference between controlling white water rapids and a nice comfortable creek or river when you're just starting out.
  • Vote early, vote often - encourage people to stay once they come.
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Is there any advice to market a private beta, given the added hurdle of the extra steps required to even get in? The natural way (it seems to me) to engage in marketing is to pass along relevant links to specific questions, but it seems to me that we are dealing with a few hurdles:

  • The extra steps required to get into a private beta through those links means that most people won't bother to follow them.
  • We are a teacher-oriented SE, but we started in late May, just as teachers are gearing up for summer break.

I can't find any marketing advice for the private beta phase in general on Meta (or anywhere), so I'm not sure how to proceed from here.

I have personally added a number of people, all of whom are professional CS teachers, but teachers in general aren't looking for a ton of instructional advice in June. They are finishing up the year, doing final evaluations (including their own), getting ready for the summer, and setting the basic groundwork for the following September.

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    $\begingroup$ Just to add, because this site has been mostly HS questions, this is possibly the worst time we could start a beta. Teacher have to deal with submitting final grades and everything for the rest of the year is probably already planned. People aren't going to be thinking of questions for next year until it gets closer. $\endgroup$ – thesecretmaster Jun 1 '17 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ Good point about launching a site for teachers in early June as most of them are heading away for vacation (and not likely looking for advice regarding a teaching situation). Noted! $\endgroup$ – Robert Cartaino Jun 1 '17 at 15:40
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    $\begingroup$ I mostly just need advice on how to deal with marketing a site when there's the extra log-in step. I am happy to wade through reddit forums and post links to closely related questions in every thread that seems relevant, but right now, most folks can't follow those links, so it wouldn't drive a lot of traffic. $\endgroup$ – Ben I. Jun 1 '17 at 16:02

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