Proposal: Firearms

Firearms has a storied history. It was one of the very first proposals, but has been plagued by a number of difficult and vocal members. It eventually made it into the commitment phase, but has stalled there for four months.

What is holding Firearms back?

  • Is it the history of the proposal (still visible under comments if you go looking)?
  • Is it just a general lack of interest in the SE user base?
  • Is it that the topic is too touchy?

What can be done to fix this proposal?

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My own thought is that thanks to all the vocal hictory, a lot of users (including the original proposer, supposedly) have just lost interest. With none of the originals that were dedicated to it, there's probably a sharp lack of promotion. –  Grace Note Jan 28 '11 at 13:44
    
Great question. As a noobie to Area 51, the answers should us figure out how to get this party started. –  drj Oct 30 '11 at 6:16
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9 Answers 9

This isn't a direct answer to the "Firearms question", but the concept is important to consider:

The days of successfully creating sites solely from existing audience that frequents Area 51 are just about over. The original Stack Overflow-driven crowd is all but tapped out of interests; that is to say, any site that was going to be created by that audience has already been created.

To get that 2nd generation of sites created, you are almost certainly going to have to reach out and bring in an audience from the wider Internet. Certainly we can bring users in from the newer sites to expand our scope, but it's a bit of a Ponzi scheme to think that the same group of people are going to keep churning out out more and more sites, endlessly. Sooner or later — much like the inevitable failure of Ponzi schemes — you simply run out of people (and their interests).

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So if you have to bring in committers new to SE how do you meet the Commitment Phase threshold which requires X committers having Y rep on other SE sites? –  BenV Jan 28 '11 at 16:17
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@Benv: That's just one component of the Commitment requirements; that a certain percentage of commiters have to have prior SE experience. I'm just saying that you can no longer just expect to punt a good proposal into Area 51 and expect users to just flock to it automatically. –  Robert Cartaino Jan 28 '11 at 16:40
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Answers as you posted here need to be a blog post :) Many users doesn't understand the SE difficulties yet and how we can help. –  bigown Jan 29 '11 at 12:32
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@Robert I understand what you're saying, but it take many many 0 rep users to drive commitment, compared to only a few Jeff's, or Jon's. –  C. Ross Jan 30 '11 at 0:32
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@Robert, this is an excellent answer and deserves a wider audience. Where is the appropriate place to discuss this 'meta-area51' stuff? –  Benjol Feb 3 '11 at 13:36
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@RobertCartaino: Have you recently considered lowering the threshold/tweaking the formula? SmugMug is a great example of how absurd it can get and why BenV's question is a good one. It has 502 committed users but it's only 45% complete. Surely, among the 502 committed users, a few will be able to make up for the lack of users with no prior experience with StackExchange. –  Borror0 Feb 8 '11 at 23:13
    
What will help increase interest in the Firearms site is successful searches that lead users to the site when they attempt to find more information about firearms through the internet. What we should hope for is the common Google search about firearms yielding multiple top resulting links to the Firearms site. So post lots of questions and provide lots of answers. –  Mike Quentel Oct 25 '11 at 3:59
    
So can I go to my original SE forum (Homebrewing) and ask if there are people interested in this site, without getting down voted for "off topic"? If so, how? –  drj Oct 30 '11 at 6:18
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I would like to see this site see the light of day. It does not help when some of the original supporters left.

Tell your friends and get the word out. Every successful Stack Exchange site starts with a good user base that continues to come back again and again. The solution is really getting people involved and committed to the proposal. Like mentioned, it was an early suggestion when area 51 took off, but it has seen slow response after the initial rush of supporters.

There are no issues with the topic as long as it follows the standard rules of the Stack Exchange platform. It is just another topic in the mix. It is almost there, so invite anyone you know who could benefit or contribute to it.

There is a lot of random good and bad information running around on the Internet and this site would help greatly improve firearms information online when people have questions or concerns. Education is key to the topic.

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Absolutely agree that this could become the first-stop reliable source for accurate information without the political stuff. –  drj Oct 30 '11 at 6:20
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One problem with Firearms is that there was an actual loss of interest, vocal or otherwise. Even the original proposer, TheHurt, has left. Part of this is due to it being an early proposal and thus affected when Area 51 changed drastically, and part of this is due to the "disruptive comments" that shaped an impression of what people had to deal with there. The history probably doesn't have a sharp of an impact on the lull as the fallout that it had caused.

It's difficult enough to handle a proposal when it's not catching attention. When you also lose the people who are responsible for bringing attention, though, you're effectively starting at a severe disadvantage. Missing a huge chunk of the original support for the proposal means a lot more promotion will be necessary.

It's not going to be a complete solution to this problem, but you really need to get increased promotion to overcome the losses. Don't stop at getting friends and associates, get friends to get their friends. This proposal will have low hopes until it can make up for all of the lost ground.

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I came in early, saw the decline, and have tried to draw in other people in the online firearms community a few times. Those people, some of whom are pretty technical, didn't immediately get the StackExchange concept. Those who aren't technical didn't get it at all. Overall, no one seemed interested in a new thing. I couldn't get them to dedicate time to checking it out. It may be that existing webforums (thehighroad, glocktalk, ar15.com, calguns, etc) serve needs better. Maybe the online community wants to chat as much as they want to answer questions.

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I myself am unhappy with the amount of politics (especially bad politics from people who should focus on guns) on such forums. Judging by comments on the proposal, other people feel the same way. Could this not help interest people in the site? –  C. Ross Feb 9 '11 at 11:49
    
It might help, but I don't know. I tried and got pretty much nowhere, but that could just be a failure on my part. –  kbyrd Feb 23 '11 at 19:19
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I just saw the invite today, so maybe you'll see some progress this week.

Edit: I noticed in the FAQ on the commitment score that it is possible to boost the "commitment" percentage if the older committers "un-commit" and "re-commit" to undo the decay. Although if I read the stats correctly, we still need 50 more committers and 9 of them need to have 200+ rep on other sites.

Edit 2 Regarding commitment

UPDATE #2

We've added a decay factor to commitment votes on Area 51. This applies only to the Commitment Score portion. Basically, the older a vote is, the more it decays. This is very gradual: something like 10% over 6 months. If a user is very committed, they can "renew" their vote every few weeks by uncommitting and recommitting.

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What kind of invite? –  C. Ross Aug 31 '11 at 10:51
    
The popup banner across the top while I was on SuperUser. Think it was the same bar they use to tell you you've picked up a badge or whatnot done in the form of "should there be a firearms group" or "would you commit to one" or something like that. –  OldWolf Aug 31 '11 at 14:06
    
interesting, I haven't seen that. –  C. Ross Aug 31 '11 at 14:31
    
I was mistaken, it's in the sidebar, not the top. Occasionally I see other advertisements looking for commitment to a new group. –  OldWolf Sep 2 '11 at 19:35
    
Are you sure about the un-commit / re-commit workaround. –  kbyrd Sep 7 '11 at 21:32
    
Seems that way according to the FAQ. See my edit above. –  OldWolf Sep 7 '11 at 23:03
    
@kbyrd Yes, uncommit-recommit works. This is basically the method to reassure us "Yeah, I'm still committed here", so if you indeed are still fully committed, then you should do so. –  Grace Note Sep 8 '11 at 15:33
    
Done. Thanks for the tip. –  kbyrd Sep 8 '11 at 17:53
    
Come on guys, everything's up but the calculated score. We just need a few more people to uncommit/commit and we're live! –  Mason Oct 29 '11 at 2:10
    
Is there a time limit to do this? I committed just a few weeks ago. What do they mean by a few weeks? –  drj Oct 30 '11 at 6:42
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The problem is lack of attention, not the content. Astronomy, that was proposed at the same time as Firearms, suffers from the same problem.

The solution is to draw attention to the proposal. Use your blog and Twitter account to promote Firearms. If you have a blog with a lot of readers or a lot of followers on Twitter this would be an effective way. And/or change your user name :-)

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I don't understand how hanging your username would be effective. I know that you put a smiley, but is this really a viable solution? If so, I'd consider it because being so close to beta and the potential of the Firearms site might justify it :-) –  drj Oct 30 '11 at 6:41
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We definitely need to promote it more - I personally think this is one of the absolute best Q&A proposals on Area51, and can't wait for more folks to commit so it can go live

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Going out into other communities is the way to go. This topic is very specialized as people feel strongly about firearms in one way or the other. Usually, the opinions are extreme. Firearms are either respected and revered, or feared and shunned.

Therefore, the most success may come from spreading the word on website forums like Open Carry and US Concealed Carry, just to name a few.

YouTube may be another way to advertise this proposed site. There are plenty of firearm supporters who contribute to the community through informative YouTube videos. These individuals are well-known in these communities and may be willing to sponsor a site like this and help spread the word through their videos.

Perhaps a proposal is in order? A well written call to action or perhaps a website hosted outside of Area51 could help get this started?

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What the Firearms site will need are lots of examples of useful technical answers to difficult or curious questions. Tough part is that it will require reaching a beta phase before such questions and answers can be posted.

Some examples of interesting questions:

  1. A collector could post a picture of a firearm that they do not know the history or specs on, and other users can help identify/provide more details (sort of a "this old gun" concept).
  2. Questions about ballistics or recommended bullet weights, etc.
  3. Questions about legal concerns--obviously, everyone would need to accept the fact that a site like this cannot give accurate legal advice, but it would be helpful to get some simple pointers ("can I store my pistol in the glove compartment in this jurisdiction", etc).
  4. Questions about firearms-related accessories (eg: gun slings, tripods, loaders, etc).

The more of these sort of useful questions are posted, the more likely that people will discover the site through internet searches on similar questions and topics.

What will be boring for most users are the usual, redundant, preaching-to-the-choir arguments about the importance of gun ownership, etc...I can read dozens of these articles in my favourite magazines, when I'm in the mood.

Cannot do much about the old-timers/non-technically inclined who are still figuring out what an internet forum is and what's the point, etc, other than try to explain to them that the Firearms site provides a fun way to ask and answer questions about firearms.

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It seems we're almost there as far as reaching beta, if we could only get an even slightly well known blogger or forum to post a link back here to get people interested we would have a chance at great site. –  kbyrd Oct 28 '11 at 15:52
    
While I agree that your example number one (firearm identification) would be a great feature of the site, I worry that the purists would consider this type of question as off topic. The early users need to establish clearly what is agreed as off-topic and let the other things get posted, IMHO. –  drj Oct 30 '11 at 6:23
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