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Forgive my ignorance, but I couldn't find any documentation on this subject.

This is the first time I've been part of an SE private beta and I am unfamiliar with the process. The info page you have to read and accept before posting makes clear the beta exists for seven days, and that it will be judged on the number of high quality questions it generates.

That is, of course, subjective. Who is judging the quality of the questions, how are they assessed, and what bar are we aiming for to extend the site beyond seven days?

And for that matter, what's the next step if we make it through beta?

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The purpose of a private beta is to seed the site with some content and to hash out a very basic initial scope. That's what the 7 days are for - although it's actually 3 weeks now.

When that time is up, the Community Team at Stack Exchange evaluate the quality of content and meta-discussion on the site, and decide whether to let the site continue to the next phase - public beta. This is not an onerous requirement - unless we're doing dismally badly, sites are usually allowed to continue.

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I doubt there are clear definite criteria at all anymore. Noone is counting the number of questions/answers/users or the average score of posts. Rather than that, SE employees will take a glance at the general situation on the site, like

  • Are there many good questions posted and do they get good answers?
  • Are commited users staying and contributing beyond the initial hype on the first 1-3 days?
  • Is meta discussion going, are the users actively shaping the site and its scope?
  • Does it look like the site can keep up with being opened to the public?

Those are all more fuzzy criteria judged on a "you know it when you see it basis" and less based on clear numbers. Usually you either have the site fail miserably or look promising, there's not that much happening between that. Besides that, the criteria for how a site survives in public beta have been largely broadened recently, too, so even if there's still a few doubts about the site's progress, I'd think SE would rather expand private beta than kill the site outright. Those 7 days in that message you mentioned aren't even accurate. Last private betas I've seen went on for at least 2 weeks, if not 3.

As to the next step after private beta, that will be public beta. Prepare for being for a long time in that phase, probably years. When the site reaches sufficient activity (defined as 10 questions per day, stable), it will get graduated. But after the recently refined graduation process, staying in beta is much less of a stigma and there is nothing wrong with a site that stays in public beta forever (in fact, they're even considering getting rid of the "beta" label altogether in that stage).


As to this site, if it goes on as it currently does, I doubt there would be any reservations to transitioning into public beta.

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    I doubt there are clear definite criteria at all That is no longer correct. If anything, these processes are becoming more transparent and criteria-driven than ever before. There's always an editorial layer in the process, but the expectations of a live site have been laid out in a clearer outlook, and private betas currently run three weeks to surpass a bar of about 150-ish questions (the exact criteria hasn't been quite as formalized as of this writing). – Robert Cartaino Jan 19 '17 at 18:06
  • "three weeks to surpass a bar of about 150-ish questions" - well, wow. We already have 190 questions in just three days :-) – Rand al'Thor Jan 21 '17 at 15:49

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