There are a lot of unsupported proposals filling the pages of Area 51. It's not that these proposals are necessarily a bad idea, it's just that Area 51 doesn't always supply the built-in audience to create every site. Maybe the author underestimated the work needed to find an audience, or maybe the community feels the topic is already well covered elsewhere. Whatever the reason, proposals that don't see a minimal level of interests are not going to have enough momentum to remain viable.

Minimum Activity Requirements

Any proposals submitted to Area 51 will need a minimal level of activity to be considered viable:

Create a Proposal

After you've submitted your proposal below, here is all you'll need to get started:

  • 5 example questions you would like to ask on this site
  • 5 users who are willing to 'follow' this proposal

Proposals that do not meet these requirements within three days after submission are subject to removal. Note that abandoned proposals which receive no activity for a period of 30 days may also be removed.

You can read more about the site creation process here.

Whether it's the proposal author or the participants driving this activity, it ultimately takes a lot of support and enthusiasm to turn a proposal into a site. If you manage to locate an audience for a proposal later, you are certainly welcome to try again. But leaving the proposal to linger unsupported only draws unwanted attention and fills the discussion section with questions asking "why do we need this?" That is not going to bode well for a proposal that may just need to find an audience ready to support it.

Three days seems rather restrictive. Was there any review to see how many launched sites received their 5 followers in 3 days? Seven or Ten days seems more realistic. – James Jenkins Jun 16 '15 at 10:59
Yes, it made no difference. Consider that the author can ask the five questions (or actually... anyone can) and only four other people need to 'follow' to show any interest. It's a very low bar of activity so, yes, going three days without even that little activity has a 0% false positive rate. – Robert Cartaino Jun 16 '15 at 12:54
Why not make the time limit five days, to carry on with the Discordian theme? – Mark Jun 17 '15 at 0:29
I'm glad to see that you are experimenting with changes to Area 51 as I definitely think this system could be improved. I don't know if this will be enough, but hopefully pruning will make it slightly easy for worthy proposals to build up their first few users. – Casebash Jun 20 '15 at 9:05
Google has 6 followers and 5 questions. Why does it still have an *? – hexagonNoah Aug 3 '16 at 15:43
I believe the OR version of the rule is fine. I'm against 'AND' - sometimes first 5 followers may be slow to come, especially if the proposal is initially poorly defined and improved only following a feedback - say, it took me 2 days to get the proposal "into shape" following suggestions from site users, and only then people started following it - and then BAM, third day, deletion because I only acquired 20 good questions across four followers, and the fifth was late by an hour. – SF. Oct 31 '16 at 3:00
OTOH, I wouldn't give even 3 days for the initial questions. I'd require at least three questions right with the proposal submission. If the creator can't think up at least three decent questions, the proposal is hardly ever worth consideration. And often the name and summary are quite vague, or resemble existing proposals superficially - resulting in either dead proposal or wrong moderator action. Actual example questions are the best way to clarify what the proposal is about - no more merging Geocaching into GIS or closing Worldbuilding because "what is it even about?" – SF. Oct 31 '16 at 3:06
@sf the thing you're missing is that you can try an unsupppoerted proposal again, but when it's that slow in getting started there's a reallly really really high correlation that the proposal will go no further, like +99.9% of the time. Unless something radically changes, in the next iteration, we're going to follow the original design. – Robert Cartaino Oct 31 '16 at 3:08
@RobertCartaino: My point is the 5 questions requirement is light and easy to meet - I'd say trivial to meet as the creator can post all five. The 5 followers is disproportionately hard by comparison, especially that followers rarely show up immediately (I can tell I'm visiting 'new proposals' of Area51 maybe once in two weeks to hunt for interesting ones. So even if I love a proposal, I won't be in the initial 5 followers 4 out of 5 times.) Often a proposal will go with scarce few followers for weeks, then explode in popularity once one of followers advertizes it with the target community... – SF. Oct 31 '16 at 3:25 I'd suggest balancing this somewhat. Be more demanding of questions, but less strict about followers. Say, 5 followers, 10 questions in 5 days. Especially that most beta sites die from lack of questions, not users. – SF. Oct 31 '16 at 3:29
often has scarce few followers for weeks, then explode in popularity Actually no. Recovering from low-to-no activity is such a rare, statistical anomaly, it essentially never happens. That was the entire point of early (non-)performance indicators; to keep the listings free of completely unsupported ideas. – Robert Cartaino Nov 2 '16 at 13:55
up vote 22 down vote accepted

This change is now live!

I will be monitoring what proposals get removed to make sure things are working as intended.


I am now assuming the there is an OR statement between the two requirements? When I read the rule I had concluded that it was Bullet One AND Bullet Two.

I see is still active with 5 followers and 2 questions

I see is still active with 3 followers and 9 questions

As such I suggest rewording, or other rewording by a better wordsmith then myself.

Proposals that do not meet 'one of' these requirements within three days after submission are subject to removal.

The copy is written to suggest that both requirements must be met, but the implementation was coded so meeting either requirement would suffice. We're just being a bit more conservative while we see how this works in actual practice, but we may switch it over later since this heuristic seems to be working exceedingly well. – Robert Cartaino Jun 23 '15 at 14:54
@RobertCartaino - By what measures does this heuristic work "exceedingly well?" – feetwet May 12 '16 at 1:39
@RobertCartaino Is the implementation still OR, or has it been switched to AND? – Brian Mar 8 at 15:37
It was switched to AND awhile back. – Robert Cartaino Mar 14 at 1:14

The Telecommunications proposal has currently more than 5 questions ans 5 followers, however it is still marked with an asterisk. Can you clarify how this rule works?

I think this rule is very restrictive (in 3 days), considering also that the registration on the website which is not using SSO takes 2 emails to confirm the address, this has been confusing several people who wanted to support this project and could not do it.

The asterisk simply indicates which open proposal are less than three days old. See…. The implementation was intended to be a bit more comprehensive than that, but the feature was pushed unintentionally and was never quite "finished". – Robert Cartaino Dec 6 '16 at 14:40
Thanks Robert for the clarification! – ceyquem Dec 6 '16 at 14:45

The "no activity" rule is bad. You're destroying information and contributing to link rot.

For example, The Armory, facing imminent failure for spending a year in Definition, was a reboot of an earlier proposal, which also failed to pass Definition before expiration, but which is presently deleted (... which was itself an attempt to reincarnate a site that made it into beta and might very well still be in existence under the newer standards for betas).

I was just curious to see how the first Armory had fared in Definition compared to the present proposal, but it has been deleted! Why?

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears ... in ... rain.

If your goal was to clean up what was essentially noise – i.e., "unsupported proposals" – the AND form of the rules accomplishes that. By applying the "activity rule" to delete proposals that did see significant activity you're destroying useful information. A proposal that gets a significant number of followers and definition questions should not be deleted just because it fails to progress to Commitment. It's useful to future proposals to see what didn't work out and be able to study why.

For example, whenever there is no active firearms-related proposal in Area51 somebody will propose one. Under this new system of purging all memory there is no ready way for them to review earlier attempts, like I did when starting the first proposal that became "The Armory," and again when I "rebooted" The Armory. If the present proposal expires we will be able to start a better proposal. But if we wait thirty days it will be informed only by the communal memory of users like me, not by easy access to the most promising definitions and discussions on previous related proposals.

Why delete this stuff? I'd be happy to send Stack Exchange the $1 it will cost to host these few kilobytes of data in perpetuity. (And maybe you can send me the savings from not having to deal with so many broken links and uninformed future proposals?)

How is "no activity" on a site any better? The newer standards for maintaining sites that do get launched is in no way meant to create new sites that have little to no chance of working at all. Measuring interest in a subject is the purpose of the proposal process... and to date, the Armory simply has not attracted enough interest to create a successful site. The no-activity rules work exceedingly well. They come from some very hard-learned lessons after years of watching slow-starting sites fail. A year is too long to only get this far along. It will not make a productive site. – Robert Cartaino May 11 '16 at 22:17
@RobertCartaino - In what way do the no-activity rules "work exceedingly well?" If your goal was to clean up what was essentially noise -- i.e., "unsupported proposals" -- the AND form of the rules accomplishes that. By applying the "activity rule" to delete proposals that did see significant activity you're destroying useful information. A proposal that gets a significant number of followers and definition questions should not be deleted just because it fails to progress to Commitment. It's useful to future proposals to see what didn't work out and be able to study why. – feetwet May 11 '16 at 23:07
That is one downside of removing old proposals. But the bigger concern was giving ideas a fresh start. You never know why a site didn't work the last time around, but more often than not, old proposals were being used as a head-on-a-stick gesture to say "this didn't work before, so go away." The few times old proposals were being used, folks were simply copying old content into new sites. Fewer people copying more content was not helping build stronger sites. I delete 100s of proposals each month. If we kept them around, the listings would be 46.9 times the size it is now. – Robert Cartaino May 11 '16 at 23:42
@RobertCartaino: You monster! That is like book burning. But worse, because at least most books have other copies both online and in print. You say that, but for your rampant data destruction, there would be up to 47 times the number of proposals available in search (and I assume that's including the "unsupported" ones)? So what? A difference in magnitude means nothing with existing storage, search, and retrieval technology. You can always discourage people from misusing information. But the data you're completely removing represent a significant repository of crowd-sourced capital. – feetwet May 12 '16 at 1:35
@feetwet when a proposal is closed, it sticks around for 30 days before being deleted. You can harvest all old data before it is gone, if you want. – James Jenkins May 12 '16 at 13:56

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