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I've become concerned about the surveys, polls, and first-year academic questions defining the first days of this site.

After going through several dozen Stack Exchange betas so far, if there's one thing I've learned, is that nothing hurts a young Stack Exchange more than appearing to be a place for those who only have a superficial level of knowledge in the subject.

What do I mean by that?

The purpose of this seven-day private beta is to stock up the site with a bunch of on-topic, expert questions and answers about project management, so that when the site opens to the public, it's already pre-populated with a bunch of the kind of content that will attract other project managers.

That means actual, real, objective questions with real answers that a working project manager might encounter as a part of their actual, real, job.

It's tempting to start with easy questions, like "What are you biggest mistakes" or "What skills do you need" or "What are the best tools, or books, or blogs?"

Those are not good questions for the private beta, because ultimately, they don't reflect the actual content that we want this site to contain, and are not representative of it. Once the site gets going and accumulates some quality content, come back and ask those canonical, basic questions. But hold off on them for now; they are only hurting the long-term prospects for the site. Please read: Asking the First Questions.

Now, I am not a professional-level project manager, but I'm pretty sure the kind of questions that are going to make this site really valuable are going to look a lot more like actual questions a practicing, professional project manager would ask.

If you're a project manager and stumble into this site, if you see the an actual, intriguing question faced by professional project managers, you might think, "wow, yeah, this is a site for people like ME."

If you see a question about what blogs to read you'll think "Oh boy, not a serious project management Q&A site."

This post borrowed generously from the desk of Joel Spolsky.

  • Does this mean the site will not make it out of beta if this continues? – ashes999 Feb 9 '11 at 17:18
  • @ashes999: Well, that's a big a leap to infer based on this post. The purpose of meta is to discuss how the site can be improved. But, sure... it's rare and a last-resort option, but if the site runs into "unrecoverable problems", a site can be closed down in beta. See: blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/12/… – Robert Cartaino Feb 9 '11 at 17:54
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    We definitely don't want that. Stack Overflow had questions that catered to the nerdy elite; in contrast, the questions here are mostly basic. I think we have too many coders who sometimes wear a PM hat, and not enough real PMs with real questions. – ashes999 Feb 10 '11 at 15:48
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    @ashes999: That is the concern and why I linked this blog post. There's an early appearance (not enough to draw conclusions), that the bulk of users here are predominantly dabblers and the merely curious, and not asking questions of interest to actual project managers. – Robert Cartaino Feb 10 '11 at 17:41
  • err..maybe you should be more appreciative of your users, they are users after all. I'll look after them, send them to my Q&A site :) – Damien Roche Feb 23 '11 at 2:41
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I understand Robert's message as: "you should close non-practical questions or we close the site". Robert, am I right? I'm perfectly all right with this approach.

  • I think it's more of a warning based on Robert's experience starting new communities. The site will close itself if no "professional and enthusiast project managers" are drawn to the site. If the questions are all a bunch of basic, first year academic questions, why on earth would a professional want to come here? Yegor, since you have close vote capability, my suggestion is that you use it. It takes 5 of us to actually close a question, so don't be afraid to be too liberal in your use of the close feature. – jmort253 Feb 20 '11 at 22:33
  • @jmort253 agree! I will use this close-vote more often, thanks for the hint :) – yegor256 Feb 21 '11 at 7:44
  • I'm up for this too. I was thinking we should somehow coordinate close-voting, since so few of us have the ability. – ashes999 Feb 24 '11 at 17:01

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