We got there! Even though it was only 58 days, it seemed like an eternity.
But the Genealogy community showed its mettle and showed how much they want this Q&A site.
First there there was the Definition phase where 40 sample questions were needed that would define the type of questions this site would support. Each question had to have 10 up-votes, but every participant only had 5 votes each. It took 20 days for 150 participants to define 98 example questions and give 10 votes to 40 of them.
Then there was the Commitment Phase which was a bit more challenging. We needed 200 people to “commit” to participating in the Beta with a promise to supply at least 10 questions and/or answers during the Beta. In addition, there had to be 100 people with at least 200 reputation points on the Stack Exchange network of Question and Answer sites. Getting the latter was more difficult. The Stack Exchange network started from the Stack Overflow site, which is a Q&A site for programmers that I frequently go to for help with problems I encounter in the programming of Behold. This requirement was there to ensure there would be enough people who understood how Stack Exchange sites were supposed to work, and they would help guide the Beta stage. Unfortunately, the crossover of genealogy enthusiasts and programmers and those types who were on Stack Exchange sites was quite a rare thing. None-the-less, in 31 days, we were able to attract enough committers.
Then the Private Beta began. This was a 7 day period, where the Committers were expected to seed the site with good questions and answers and set the site in motion so that it would be ready for the general public. During that time, about 200 people asked 100 questions provided 300 answers and had amazing time experiencing the Genealogy and Family History Q&A site in action.
We’ve found it exhilarating, addicting and exhausting.
Now the site is in Public Beta, and it is open to everyone. The goal for the Beta is to build up participation and let the site reach the critical mass it will need to be a success. That requires certain traffic goals: 15 questions a day, 5,000 visits a day, enough users, as well as a growing traffic pattern. After a minimum of 90 days in Beta, if the site achieves these goals, the Stack Exchange people will promote it to permanent status and hand it over to the participants for them to run.
Personally, I think this is a great thing for genealogists worldwide. If it works even half as good as Stack Overflow does for programmers, we’ll end up with a site we can go to and get expert answers from our questions within hours, if not minutes. I can see millions of genealogists worldwide participating in this together.
Google indexes the questions and answers on the site very quickly. Take a look at this question I asked yesterday. It is already indexed and is first in Google search today: What is the town in this census listing?
Because of the rapid indexing and high rank the search engines give to Stack Exchange Sites, once there are numerous genealogy questions on the site, the site will start growing on its own. People will find it from searching for answers.
I encourage all genealogists and family historians of all levels to try it out. Be sure you ask quality questions for problems that you have that an expert can answer for you, and if you can answer other people’s questions, please do so.
Go to: http://genealogy.stackexchange.com/ and sign up.
I’ll see you there.