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There isn't much activity on this beta at all.

It currently has 0.4 questions a day, and 179 visits a day.

Can we agree that this beta may have failed?

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I couldn't find any good discussions on Meta.SE or Area 51 about how and when a public beta gets closed. One question was potentially relevant: How to know which SE sites are going to be closed? So, I don't know how SE does things.

Not at all a good reason to keep a beta open, but hey, I make use of my 0.4 a day :-)

Personally, and of course I'm biased, I enjoy reading a new question every 2-3 days, even if that's all there is. Especially because I'm not an expert in beer (a title more befitting the other mods), I'm surprised by how frequently my friends and colleagues, at bars, breweries, and restaurants, wonder and ask questions about beer that I happen to be able to discuss or answer, solely from reading a new topic on here every few days. (Most of my friends and colleagues don't know I moderate a site about beer.) Again, I'm not saying this is a good reason to keep a beta open. Besides, I'm in a unique position, granted a responsibility that motivates me to review all the questions—a motivation others must find in pure interest (and perhaps reputation).

Does the site still have potential?

What I really want to know, if it were up to me to decide the fate of this site, is whether it still has the potential to become the place to go when someone has a question about beer. As I've argued before, I think the real problem is that there are only so many general questions one can ask about beer. When a question does arise however, where do people go to find out or ask? The goal is to make that place, here. The feeling of knowing exactly where to ask is the joy I've found in Stack Exchange. Can we make this, that place?

Googling beer questions, I see that not a single link in the first 100 results offers a place to ask a community of users about beer, except for one: us, on page 5. Next I search beer question answer, and again find nothing in the first 100 results, except for two: homebrew.se and us, side by side on page 2.

But okay, you've got me: actually my Google-fu is to blame. Search beer discussion and there are a plethora of active communities discussing beer—BeerAdvocate, Realbeer.com, Home Brew Talk, etc.—and it's us who can't be found in the first 100 results. Same goes for searching beer community and beer forum (not that we are a forum—but it's what people would search).

But the thing is, all of these other communities, being discussion forums, lack the unique model of Stack Exchange that promotes the best answers to the top and employs the community to organize knowledge in an accessible and duplicate-free way. We're far behind in terms of exposure, but we've still got something no one else seems to have. The question is—Does that something justify the existence of this site?

Is there more we can do to meet our potential?

I think so, and I feel guilty that I haven't taken the initiative to write this earlier, so thank you @dwjohnston for asking the question that needed to be asked.

First, we might petition the Stack Exchange team to help us improve our SEO, for example by making sure that words like discussion, community, and forum get picked up by crawlers. (No, I have no understanding of SEO; so please do enlighten me where I'm being naive.) Not all SE sites might like such exposure, since the SE platform isn't intended to be anything like a discussion forum especially. But, I think Beer.SE is a case where I think it would strengthen us to draw in those searching for "forums" to ask their questions.

Second, we might coordinate efforts to gain exposure in existing communities like BeerAdvocate, Realbeer.com, and Home Brew Talk. We'd want to do this ethically—spamming forums with links to our site would only gain us a bad reputation. Exactly how to achieve this, I'm not sure, but perhaps this should be made a separate question for discussion.

  • SEO would be the way to go to get us more exposure. I'm not sure exactly how much the SE team could help us with that, they already do as much as they can to optimize each site I'm sure. Linking to us in comment fields of sites probably won't work, as most sites won't pass their rep to sites linked in comments (to deter, or at least make futile, any spamming efforts). Google does a good job explaining SEO here: static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en/us/… – CKrug Jul 15 '14 at 14:32
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    @krugmeister65 SE already does super well on SEO (because of the nature of the content, not anything special they do). Google favors sites that regularly receive new content. The main way to get more eyes is to have more Q&A. – wax eagle Jul 17 '14 at 12:40
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Not yet!

Yeah, those numbers look pretty abysmal, and from what I've seen of the front page, questions that have no business staying open have for quite some time, but that doesn't mean we're dead yet.

First and foremost, until SE tells us to shut the doors there are things we can and should be doing.

Forget about the traffic numbers, they aren't helpful. My experience with SE sites is that if you build them, people come. Ask, answer and watch the visits flow.

So what does that leave us to do?

  • Ask good questions. A lot of the questions here are kind of mediocre, let's see if we can get some really good focused narrow questions
  • Focus on asking about specific beer styles and brands instead of general "beer" questions.
  • As local questions. Promote at local pubs/breweries. Get local answers (A huge part of modern beer is local breweries, we can be an awesome resource for those).
  • Promote this site to your friends. This is the way to get experts and enthusiasts to show up. If you're hanging at the pub and someone has a question about a beer, have them ask it here!

So overall, while the numbers are kinda of lousy, SE hasn't said "hey, you're in danger of closing up shop" yet so there's still plenty of time to make this site a cool place. We don't need fancy SEO or even anything special beyond just a general influx of questions and answers.

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