Proposal: SmugMug

Okay, I just posted a question on MSO, but I thought I'd post one here as well. What can we do to get this site into beta?

There are 3 tactics which I can see working to get this site into beta.

  1. Recruit more SE users to join this site. The most likely spot this would work is the photographic SE site, but it's not like we can just blanket request all users. It's possible we could try to get a banner on the site that points to this one, as has commonly been done.
  2. Take the users that are members of this site, and have them join SE communities. Again, the photographic SE community is a great choice, there are dozens of others, ranging from Graphic Design, to Android, Ask Different, and other choices, just to name a few. Click on the Stack Exchange button on the upper left, then all sites to see a complete list.
  3. Try to change the policy of Stack Exchange to allow for a site like this to be accepted: See my MSO question previously posted for a further explaination of this.

Let's try and do what we can to get this site rolling. We are pretty close, if only 54 users were to get 200 reputation on a site, I'm pretty sure we'd enter beta shortly thereafter. I know we can do this guys:-)

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Sorry, just to go off topic for a moment, I have to quote your meta thread to make a coherent point:

I just want to bring up this site specifically, as it's an interesting case example of a site that shows how the Area 51 process doesn't work now.

The SmugMug proposal is (potentially) a great site, but it is not quite ready to be something created by our community. I was never quite sure about the Area 51 requirement that a significant percentage of users have previous Stack Exchange reputation, but this experience convinced me about the need for that requirement. Here's why:

I am a huge SmugMug fan and, for purely selfish reasons, I'd love to see their services and their millions of users on the Stack Exchange Network. Yet, even I had to eventually admit that Stack Exchange was not built for this type of site — a private, proprietary, commercial for-pay system looking to provide technical support specifically for their users using the Stack Exchange Network.

There's a large component to the Area 51 Commitment equation that requires a substantial percentage of users to have Stack Exchange experience. That's where the SmugMug proposal is faltering: people who "get" Stack Exchange see something inherently wrong with this proposal. But I felt like, "Screw that guff, I want my site!" So...

The "must have previous experience with Stack Exchange" requirement prevents exactly this type of situation: Something I've been calling (tongue in cheek) "The Oprah effect." Someone wielding a lot of popular support directs their army to a product and, poof, the tidal wave (for good or for bad) becomes an unstoppable force. If Oprah Winfrey went on her show and said that we need a Stack Exchange site for taxicab drivers using the iPad in the LA area, it would be through commitment by 4:59 PM ET. Obviously, that's not what Stack Exchange is about.

At the risk of over-exaggerating "The Oprah Effect", let me bring this back around to SmugMug. We've talked to Don MacAskill extensively. We've thanked him profusely for his support of our Network. He's a big fan, and we're a huge fan of his work. To that end, we've extensively discussed alternatives to see how we could shoehorn his site proposal into our network — maybe we could augment our standard process — but ultimately we decided that we really need to stick to the philosophy of what makes these Stack Exchange sites work:

If ALL the pieces are not in place — if you do not have the the right people with the right knowledge in the right place at the right time — the process falls apart. The process should fall apart.

Believe me, Don would love nothing more than to write us a check to just launch a Stack Exchange site. But the driving philosophy wasn't quite a fit. Stack Exchange sites are built from a grass-roots movement by a large group of users who come together and build a site out of love and passion for the subject; Not an individual rallying his supporters to add value for his product.

Don't get me wrong. I still really want to see SmugMug support in the Stack Exchange network. But the way we are going to do that is through your option #2: To have SmugMug users join SE communities (Photo-SE, Graphics-SE, Android, Ask Different, and others). Integrate them into the sites and see if they still feel there is need for a SmugMug-specific site. If that grass-roots movement re-emerges, Don will get his site. But in an ideal world where bigger sites are better, the SmugMug folks would integrate their passions into sites like Photo-SE and bring their questions to that site to the benefit of the larger community.

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Well said. And also good to see that we approach others about SE sites who may have a huge say in making it work or not. – BinaryMisfit Feb 22 '11 at 21:10
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The problem I have with this is that right now, most of the people who have joined Smugmug have done so from a few post requests, and probably aren't paying much attention to anything around. When they get the email saying the site is up, they'll probably participate, and from this site, branch out to other SE sites. It's a bit of chicken/egg problem, really... – PearsonArtPhoto Feb 23 '11 at 4:02
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@Pearsonartphoto: You're making my point. The vast majority of users who joined "from a few post requests" are not qualified to truly say "Wow! This is a great subject for a Stack Exchange site!" That's the entire point of my post. – Robert Cartaino Feb 23 '11 at 4:35
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I thought a 'great subject for a Stack Exchange site' is one that would create a flourishing SE site that would send users from it to others and suck users from others to it. A SmugMug SE site would do just that and the thing preventing it is the requirement of X (high) number of existing SE users of X standing to participate. Besides that the other reason you imply is its a site mostly about a company which doesn't seem valid in light of it being a productive SE site. Also the Oprah effect isn't in itself a valid reason since if said site became a flourishing site thats what should matter. – Shizam Feb 23 '11 at 15:58
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@Shizam: The real question, though, is whether a SmugMug-SE site COULD flourish without the right number of high-rep SEN users there to keep it running smoothly. If it hits beta, it would likely be one of the largest betas since SO, and that would necessitate enough committed knowledgeable SEN users who can take on the role to moderate and maintain it and keep it alive in the spirit of StackExchange. I think it would be a tough beta without some solid, truly committed moderators. – jrista Mar 29 '11 at 4:06
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I'm looking at the beta site now, and it does not appear to have all the pieces in place that @RobertCartaino referred to. The site is nearly failing in all aspects of the beta check, and there are only a handful of active users (this week/month, at least). I think this is a good example of why there are such stringent guidelines behind the beta process. Without them, there would be a considerable amount of time wasted on fruitless efforts. That's not to say this site will never take off, but it may take a while to get there. – Gaffi Jun 12 '12 at 20:54

I left a comment on Robert's answer, but I will repeat here to bring the question back to the top of the discussion list, as I believe this kind of thought applies to all potential betas....

I'm looking at the beta site now, and it does not appear to have all the pieces in place that @RobertCartaino referred to. The site is nearly failing in all aspects of the beta check, and there are only a handful of active users (this week/month, at least). I think this is a good example of why there are such stringent guidelines behind the beta process. Without them, there would be a considerable amount of time wasted on fruitless efforts. That's not to say this site will never take off, but it may take a while to get there.

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