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I was just taking a look at the Area51's page of our beloved Quantitative Finance SE, and I was wondering what the exact criteria were to make it an official SE site.

Out of the 5 ratings available, 3 are Excellent, 1 is Good, and 1 Needs work. So I was wondering, do we need all of them to be excellent, or do we need to get rid of the Needs work one?

The reason I'm asking this is because I saw we've been about 2 years in Beta mode, and I think the site has provided good questions and answer and has become a useful tool for me in my daily professional life.

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There are no hard-and-fast rules for leaving beta; those stats on Area 51 are just a guide. But to put things in perspective, we can compare ourselves against Theoretical Computer Science since they are similar in age and resemble our focus on a highly educated niche profession.

A quick look at the Stack Exchange traffic rankings show that we actually edge them out in visitors-per-day. If we look at their Area 51 proposal at the time they left beta, we see that we match them on most stats, with the glaring exception being questions-per-day.

More subtly, they have a far more active Meta than we do, which indicates more participation. Indeed, they have far more registered users than us. This implies that we get lots of readers, but not many writers.

We should expect such a pattern by the very nature of our industry. Everyone wants to know what's going on, but nobody wants to talk openly.

So to answer your question about when we could leave beta, we'd ultimately have to convince more members of this industry to write openly about what they do.

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    $\begingroup$ Why shouldn't we include a message on a "banner" like "Support the site, register as a user!" like you (?) did for the Sandy hurricane? $\endgroup$ – SRKX Nov 10 '12 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ @SRKX I was thinking about something like that. Care to meet me in Chat? $\endgroup$ – chrisaycock Nov 10 '12 at 19:49
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3.3 Questions/Day: Needs Work – 15 questions per day on average is a healthy beta, 5 questions or fewer per day needs some work. A healthy site generates lots of good content to make sure users keep coming back.

I think it's worth pointing out that the purpose of a Beta period is to get the bugs out of something. That part in the FAQ about "earning a living at this", present tense, is probably a bug. Much of the rest of the FAQ is built on that foundation.

In a previous life, I was a derivatives systems engineer, escaping from NYC after making VP. These days I'm just me, trading my own account, running a business, and pursuing a continuing education in what is today being called QF. I can think of quite a few people I worked with, pretty smart researchers and developers, who certainly left not long after me if they wanted to preserve their sanity, and who are probably doing about the same thing as me today. People like that have a lot of insight, perspective, and interest, and for once in their life they have the time to contribute and are no longer fettered by IP issues. But according to the FAQ, neither they nor I should be here. You're chasing away some of your most experienced potential contributors.

You're also chasing away your own future. Why, in the name of all that is holy, would you want to bar aspiring professionals? Any normal professional organization does everything they can to attract, encourage, and nurture new entrants into the field -- if they don't, the organization doesn't usually do so well. But Quant.SE's FAQ actively discourages them, considers them to be "outside the industry", and says questions from them are "totally off-topic and will be closed". Pretty harsh.

I would participate more if it weren't for the fact that I don't want to waste my time, and anyone else's, posting something that could be closed as off-topic, even as it's accumulating well-reasoned answers from interested readers. I see this pattern repeated over and over on Quant.SE. Sure, the silly "how do I make money trading stocks" questions are completely out of place here, but a healthy community needs to have an intergenerational makeup, and the current FAQ, as worded, tries pretty hard to keep that from developing.

Edit: Just realized, on re-reading, that I probably sound a little harsh myself -- must have been having trading floor flashbacks. ;-) Seriously, I've been watching Quant.SE's slow progress for many months now, and hoping it would pick up a bit. I was a brand-new participant on Economics.SE, was glad to have found it -- just before it shut down. I think Quant.SE might be past the risk of that happening, but I do hate to see a community stifle its own growth potential.

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  • $\begingroup$ Your answer looks to me as if it is a question. Just create one and we'll be glad to answer. $\endgroup$ – SRKX Jan 29 '13 at 10:44
  • $\begingroup$ As a pointer, I discussed approximately the same point here $\endgroup$ – SRKX Jan 29 '13 at 13:24
  • $\begingroup$ If you had been here in the early days of this site, when every other question was "how do I become a quant?" or "how do I start my own hedge fund?", then you too would want to get rid of the noobs. Feel free to pursue some of the posts on Meta from two years ago to see how pervasive the problem was. As for the growth of this site, we're actually growing pretty steadily. (Moderators can see traffic stats.) We will always be a niche site, which is ok. What I really want to prevent is a bunch of guys who've never worked in this field before from spreading false information about what we do. $\endgroup$ – chrisaycock Jan 29 '13 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ This might help: I've gone ahead and created a proposal for a Trading beta, over at area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/50387/trading -- feel free to aim newbies in that direction. $\endgroup$ – stevegt Jan 29 '13 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ I'm afraid your noble intentions will just lead to the same fate that the AI Stack Exchange suffered: all newbies and no experts. Even the Economics site got closed from lack of activity, as you notice. The hardest thing to do with any Q&A site---whether on here, Quora, Yahoo Answers, or Askville---is getting sufficient number of experts involved. And experts are going to be massively turned off if the first thing they see are a bunch of questions like, "which is better ETrade or Fidelity?" and "can I start an HFT shop from my bedroom?" $\endgroup$ – chrisaycock Jan 29 '13 at 20:35

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