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FINAL UPDATE

Nice job, everyone! We've gone live and are now open to the public — Enjoy!


Update:

Your efforts to bring in more users have started to pay off a bit and the situation seems to be improving. I cannot promise you anything at this point (Adendum — Okay, I can promise a bit. wink). The issue we are exploring and researching now is whether smaller, very limited-audience sites can reach enough critical mass to remain viable. Keep up the good work! We are watching your progress closely.


It's crunch time and we've got a lot of work to do here.

The purpose of a private beta is to prepare the site for an opening day to the public. But this site needs a lot more participants or I fear it may never get out of private beta. We've extended the private-beta of this site, but that's only a stop-gap measure to give you more time.

I'm confident that this can become a great site. There was obviously a lot of drive to have this site created, but 60% of the supporters never showed up for the private beta. That's abysmal; the lowest turnout we have ever seen for a site launch.

Why not just launch to get more people?

These meta posts are essential to getting everyone on the same page as to why we are here.

The purpose of a private beta is both educational and proof-of-concept. This is the time we set aside to assure that this subject and this group can generate enough interest to create a strong foundation… before we open it to the public. Saying "Just launch it and they will come" has failed miserably in every case tried, so it is requisite to fill these seats before opening day. That's the entire purpose behind rallying behind the original proposal… and now for the private beta.

My fear right now is that there was more interest in having this site than using it.

A Call to Action!

The best way to get this site going is to invite fellow experts to join in on your efforts! There's even an 'Invite Fellow Experts' interface right on the front page.

Invite Fellow Experts

Failing that, if you know any groups who might be interested in this project, this super-secret link will get them in — https://tridion.stackexchange.com/grant-beta-access?key=63880f9cbf452c62f726770209533893

Let's see if we can drum up some new-found interest in this site. It's the only viable way of making up for the no-shows and momentum we lost along the way.

Good luck!

  • 1
    Robert, any update on how you think we are doing on the private beta compared to where we need to be for the beta to go public? I assume based on the fact we're still in private beta we're not doing good enough yet but how far off are we? Once we do get to public beta what types of stats and qualities do we need to show to graduate out of beta? Do we need to be ranked 'excellent' in all 5 categories on the area 51 stats page? – Glenn Stevens Mar 8 '13 at 21:00
  • @GlennStevens Things have improve somewhat. You efforts to bring in more users have started to pay off a bit. The issue we're discussing is whether smaller, very limited-audience sites can reach enough critical mass to remain viable. Keep up the good work! We are watching your progress closely. – Robert Cartaino Mar 11 '13 at 17:29
  • Thanks Robert. In looking at the stats for other beta sites in area51 it looks like although we could build what for the Tridion community would be a very vibrant, well used Q&A site, we likely would not get to the point of graduating to a 'full fledged' SE site if we need to obtain excellent ratings in all 5 categories. Others can chime in on this but 1,500 visits per day and to a lesser extent 15 questions per day seem like they would be the two metrics it would be hard for us to obtain. – Glenn Stevens Mar 11 '13 at 18:39
  • @GlennStevens Don't worry about the absolute numbers. Graduation doesn't really work that way (Does this site have a chance of succeeding?)... and more about the fallacy of being a "full fledged SE site": The New SE Beta Theme. – Robert Cartaino Mar 11 '13 at 19:13
  • Some things I think will help our longevity is many of us either like (or are stuck with) the SDL Tridion content management software (there's a successful product behind all this), it's complex (but not necessarily difficult), and if you put any two "Tridionauts" in the same room, the conversation will gravitate toward the product. – Alvin Reyes Mar 13 '13 at 22:29
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For comparison of where we're at and what we could be, much but not all of the Tridion Stack Exchange participants are from SDL TridionWorld's old forum.

Small Scrappy Community?

The TridionWorld forum has:

  • 2,325 registered users
  • Some 12,117 posts by the top 10 (which would equate to Questions and Answers) over 12 or so years.
  • The typical "long tail" of visitors with a few dozen to a few hundred posts each
  • Some users that continue to hang around for over a decade

Interestingly, the old forum numbers of about 1,000 questions a year matches the some 1,000 Stack Exchange questions from last year. It's not exactly the same posters--we're seeing new faces because of the Stack Exchange beta.

Did We Recruit the Wrong People?

We can definitely encourage supporters to participate, would doubling or tripling our size help any? I suspect the no-shows are the product support, managers, and other interested parties that don't ask/answer Tridion questions daily. We should probably focus on the customers, consultants, and other technical resources.

We Have Staying Power

As a technical community, we're not going away (whether on Stack Exchange or not), mainly because:

  • SDL Tridion typically scores well with Forrester and Gartner analyst reviews and is used by large, enterprise customers, which continue to choose this software and related "add-ons"
  • Large enterprise customers typically don't change content management software readily
  • We've been around as a technical community for over a dozen years
  • SDL, the company itself, encourages active community participation through its SDL Tridion MVP Program

Partially because of this pro-sharing culture, we had over 200 blog posts on Tridion last year by a few dozen bloggers, along with the 1,000 posts on StackOverflow and this new site.

Tridion questions will pop-up wherever they're allowed--the old forum, Linked-In, and the various StackExchange sites. We'd be glad to have a place here on StackExchange.

I'll ping my colleagues and encourage the rest of us to do the same on social media and work-of-mouth (or via super secret link).

  • 2
    Good point about some of the no-shows being people who don't have the need to ask/answer Tridion questions Daily. Several of the people (web designers/information architects) I referred fall into that category. They likely will each have just a small handful of questions a year. – Glenn Stevens Mar 1 '13 at 1:08
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    Ok, I spammed SDL's Web Content Managmeent folks, probably using my "omg, Alvin emails too much" quota for the quarter or maybe year. I also tweeted a reminder, but I think the personal approach will work best. Be positive, explain why this is important, and we should see a bit more activity. – Alvin Reyes Mar 1 '13 at 4:42
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    And I just talked with our team in Hyderabad about this. One thing I've realized is that we need to do more then just get people asking and answering questions on the main site. We also need more people voting, editing and participating in Meta. – Glenn Stevens Mar 1 '13 at 5:43
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You might be right - Perhaps we should not have tried to get an SE site.

Personally, I am really impressed by the traction the site is starting to get. I am not sure if you are aware of the size of the SDL Tridion community - But it is really, really small. If there are 1000 people who would use this site this year I would be shocked. I think the number of active SDL Tridion developers in the world is probably closer to 200-300. In which case we have a pretty large share of the community.

Do you believe that SE should only be used for large communities? or is having a large share of a small community also worth pursuing?

The alternative is that the community keeps posting questions on stack overflow, and annoying the programming community at large.

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    No, I believe small, scrappy communities can create excellent sites. But smaller communities face an additional challenge of mustering up enough enthusiasm to assure a sustainable end-user experience. Size doesn't matter as much as you might think, but when we hit an all-time low turnout rate, it raised into question the longer-term viability of the site. I will certainly pass on your thoughts as we watch and consider how this site is being received. Thank you for the feedback. – Robert Cartaino Mar 1 '13 at 0:19
  • Good to hear this, and in the mean time I have started to track down some of the people who signed up for the proposal and asked them to commit on their promise and sign up for the private beta too. – Bart Koopman Mar 1 '13 at 11:37
  • I'm really pleased to hear that there are possibilities for small communities, which is what we are. – Dominic Cronin Mar 1 '13 at 12:19
  • Nice work to Bart and anyone else that pinged committers and newbies. Looks like we quickly flipped the ratio to 58% at least showing up for beta. – Alvin Reyes Mar 1 '13 at 18:20
  • @AlvinReyes it was nice to see a bunch of new people posting on Friday. If the numbers in the right well of area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/38335/tridion are up to date, the 58% is the percent of people who followed the proposal who have signed up for the beta. The percent of committers who have signed up for the beta stands at 42.3%. The good news is this is up 2.3% since Robert's post but still short of where it sounds like we need to be. – Glenn Stevens Mar 2 '13 at 18:26
  • Ah, I noticed the difference, thanks for pointing that out. I did have one colleague point out he wouldn't be much help actually using the site, so I asked if he could promote what we're trying to do instead. Hopefully active followers or just increased activity can make up for the low committers-that-joined-beta ratio? – Alvin Reyes Mar 4 '13 at 21:21
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Teacher has spoken.

While the message isn’t what we wanted to hear, it was needed. So, thank you Robert.

We may have a small community, but it can still be a vibrant one.

I think the community size is probably a good bit larger than the 200-300 active developers Chris estimates it to be, but it is still pretty small. Certainly in the low thousands at the most.

Without a Tridion SE site, our Q&A has to be divided amongst several other SE sites (Stack Overflow, Programmers, Server Fault, potentially Webmasters and DBA) and given the overall size of our community this is just not a very good experience:

  • You have to monitor multiple SE sites for questions
  • People are unsure of where they should post certain questions
  • Some questions that would fit on this site just don’t fit on any of the existing SE sites.

Just think what will happen if the site fails:

To be good members of the Stack Overflow community, members of the Tridion community will need to continue closing what, for our community, would be good, useful questions such as https://stackoverflow.com/questions/13751203/separating-the-tridion-deployer-and-upload-service-for-outscaling as they are off topic for SO. Or, I suppose they could migrate those questions to Serverfault where of course they’ll be closed as being too localized like this question was https://serverfault.com/questions/476342/unexpected-behaviour-of-content-manager-installer-sdltridion2011sp1 with the closers posting comments such as:

Tom O'Connor;s opinion of tridion questions.

I personally have not done enough to promote this site. Have you?

Despite the time I personally have spent on this, site I haven’t really pushed the people who committed to the proposal because of me to be active here.

Truly, so far the extent of my promotion of the beta has been to:

  1. Send everyone who committed because of me an e-mail when the private beta went live letting them know about it and telling them to check their spam filters in case their invitations got caught in them like mine did
  2. Prod a couple members (Kremena and Biser) of our DC team to post questions to this site instead saving them up to ask me.
  3. Have a few conversations with Ashok about items being discussed here on the Meta site.

I clearly haven’t done everything I should have in this regard and I will rectify that tonight by making sure I send out a message to all the people I got to commit to the proposal reminding them that: The site is available, it is a resource they should be using for their Tridion Q&A and that they did make a commitment to supporting the site which they now need to fulfill.

Without wanting to cast any aspersions on anyone else, I suspect there others who are in the same boat I am where they got people to commit to supporting this site and have not made sure that those people followed through on their commitments.

  • Wow, I flagged that comment on ServerFault. Kind of funny that it was closed as too localized (ba dum dum). – Alvin Reyes Mar 1 '13 at 2:19
  • @AlvinReyes I was peeved by (almost) the whole comment stream on that question. I hadn't flaggd that one comment specifically because it so clearly demonstrated why our community needs this SE site. – Glenn Stevens Mar 1 '13 at 5:59
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In agreement with many of the comments here about the potential for a small but high-quality community, a Tridion-based site is never going to see a high volume of activity but it will be used consistently by those who use it and it will be an extremely valuable resource with a great deal of high-quality input.

I'd argue that SO is already a more useful Tridion resource than anything else but its remit is limited for the same reasons that this SE was founded in the first place - not all Tridion questions are about programming and many of them are highly specialized. This may not be a busy Q&A but, for the Tridion community, it's a much-needed one. Quality will be high in spite of quantity and I believe that this is already proven by the question-to-answer ratio and the depth and quality of the answers that are appearing.

Quite frankly, Tridion development requires a very esoteric skill set and nothing can come close to serving the community like a Q&A frequented by experts, regardless of how niche the site may be.

I, for one, would be quite disappointed to see the site go as I think it is already of great value to those who use it.

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I have to agree that the the number of users that committed to the proposal compared to the number that signed up for the beta was very disappointing. Even though I had noticed a couple of duplicate names in there (must be ppl siging in with a Stack Exchange account first and a Google or Facebook login later), still I would have expected at least 75% to 80% to show up.

Luckily after sending some reminder mails to ppl I knew and inviting some others, we have now upped the numbers (currently 42.6% of committed users signed up for the beta and 57.8% of followers). At this moment we have 267 total users, compared to the 326 we had committed, so we are at almost 82% of the users we expected (be it that these are new ones).

What will the numbers need to be for this proposal to go into public beta, because I have a feeling that this will give us a lot more traction? If you look at the new questions coming in on StackOverflow bearing the [tridion] tag, you see that it's daily containing new users. Most of those I haven't ever seen or heard of before, so it seems they are coming in through search engine traffic. Which I would expect to happen on this site too once it goes into public beta...

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