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TL;DR: I list what I see as obstacles to site graduation: 1. Not ready to self-moderate; 2. Not enough questions per day; 3. Not enough upvotes on upvote-worthy content; 4. No experts.

To turn this into a question...

Question: What (other) obstacles are there to site graduation, and how can we overcome them?

I think if we solve item 3., items 1., 2., and 4. will fall into place naturally. Some places to find upvote-worthy posts are:


1. We are ill-equipped to self-moderate. The community is currently dependent on moderation for closing questions, and this become more difficult after graduation.

  • In beta, voting to close requires 500 reputation. This would go up to 3000 reputation in a graduated site. (Currently 19 users have 3000+ reputation.)

    On the first two pages of the newest closed questions, I found exactly one question which was actually closed by five votes (What if husband wants potential wife with big bosom?) and exactly one closed by the author accepting it as a duplicate (*Allah* is greatest, *God* is greatest). Thus, it is currently very rare for closure to occur without moderator intervention.

    And where are the 10k+ (4 users) and 20k+ users (0 users) that should be around to self-moderate? See: users.

  • This problem was raised four years ago in A guide to self moderation -- help moderate Islam.SE:

    Diamond Moderators are to intervene in exceptional cases, but they are expected to not intervene all the time and to help guide the community. The community must help moderate itself. With the number of users we have that are not diamond moderators and have enough reputation, we can start trying to moderating this site.

    See also Jeff Atwood's A Theory of Moderation.

    Ideally, moderators shouldn't be needed to close questions. At other sites, they use their binding close votes in obvious cases, or when they would be the 5-th close vote (and their vote would have resulted in closure anyway). It's different here---almost all closures are made by diamond moderators, and not the community.

    Moreover, according to data explorer, in 2016, there was one question that was reopened: Is there nothing in the Quran and Hadith about praying in Arabic? which was only reopened to change the close reason from "unclear what you're asking" to "duplicate" (see the question's timeline).

    [Note: This isn't intended as a criticism of the moderators (à la Issues with moderation); indeed this site would likely have not survived without their valuable contributions.]

2. We are not getting enough questions per day

  • From Graduation, site closure, and a clearer outlook on the health of SE sites:

    When a site starts to consistently receive 10 questions/day, we’ll consider it for graduation.

    Here's a plot of the number of questions per day that we're receiving (generated using data explorer):

    Questions per day

    The number of questions per day is increasing, and maybe this trend will continue. From Quantcast.com, we have the following traffic statistics:

    Quantcast.com traffic

    The attention this site is getting has been consistently growing since it's launch. Thus, it's possible we could reach 10 questions/day in the near future (if we keep up the good work!).

    (We can also learn: (a) Ramadan is a busy time of the year for Islam.SE, and (b) Most users access the site from mobile devices, by a factor of around 2.3.)

3. We're not getting enough upvotes on upvote-worthy content. (We seem to be good at downvoting non-upvote-worthy content, though.)

  • The biggest problem is that we can't self-moderate without users with sufficient reputation, and upvotes are how we get users with reputation.

  • Encouraging voting early was done at the original MathOverflow site. Scott Morrison writes:

    We should encourage everyone to vote positively as often as possible!

    Every Stack Exchange site will eventually end up with a different "base level" of voting --- that is, the expected number of upvotes for a question of a given level of excellence. (This effect occurs because people see a good question, but already with a certain number of votes, and think "oh, I would have upvoted this, but it already has enough".)

    It's easy for us to affect this "base level" by encouraging high levels of upvoting now. We're setting the standards, and this really will have an effect.

    In case it's not obvious: the rationale for wanting this base level to be high is that it provides better positive feedback to good contributors.

    I would suggest aiming for mediocre posts getting mediocre levels of upvotes, and good posts get high levels of upvotes. Let's make it worthwhile to take the time to write a high-quality post.

    Poor answers end up at the bottom of the page (where they are ignored). Poor questions end up closed, ignored, and even automatically deleted, or quickly answered and finished with.

  • Look how few good questions/answers we have:

    Nice/good/great questions

    Nice/good/great answers

    Searching for is:question score:10 created:2016 etc. gave the following results:

                    2016   2015   2014   2013   2012
    
    Islam             2      0     23     30    202
    Buddhism          7     56    139
    Hinduism         23     63    270
    Chess            25     30     60     68    169
    Astronomy        60     40     80    210
    Russian          25     11     24     57    136
    
    Christianity     41    101    118    333    316
    Judaism          39    129    206    193    518
    

    (NB: These numbers would have changed since I generated this table.)

    We're falling behind on getting highly upvoted questions compared to other beta sites with comparable age and/or topic.

  • The following two graphs are the question score distribution [score vs. number of questions with that score]. Which site would result in a better user experience?

    Islam.SE (data explorer):

    enter image description here

    Christianity.SE (data explorer):

    enter image description here

  • Prior meta posts (e.g. here, September 2012 [average 64.5 upvotes per day]) discouraged artificial upvotes. This was a reasonable concern at the time, but it's hardly a concern now (September 2016 [average 34.8 upvotes per day]). From the Voters tab, there have only been 14 people who voted 10 or more times this month. The following plots the average daily votes per month (data explorer):

    Daily average votes (Islam vs. Philosophy, Law, Motor)

    I've added a comparison with three newly launched sites: Philosophy.SE (6 months ago), Law.SE (6 months ago), and Mechanics.SE (4 months ago). Islam.SE is at the bottom.

4. We don't have any experts.

  • However, we have high rankings in search engines; high visibility is a big advantage of the StackExchange network. Islam.SE posts are competitive with online scholarly fatwa in search results.*

    * So people could be coming here for Islamic advice, instead of going to scholars or reading fatawa themselves.

    I suspect we can attract experts if we can get their attention, get them to think "I can give a better answer than this", then value their response by upvoting their work above lower-quality work. (And by having a professional-looking site, where effortful contributions are rewarded, and without all this bickering in the comments.)

  • Unfortunately when i started visiting the site i witnessed on my first visit in the main chat the goodbye of مجاهد, I see that Ansari seems to appear, but I miss an "activity". Our 10K+ users seem to have left the site ~1,5 years ago. Among the rest of the 3000+ there are only 3-5 active users including the both of us. – Medi1Saif Jan 30 '17 at 9:49
  • Judging from prior meta posts, this site is unlike what it was 1.5 years ago. As far as I can tell, it's functional: questions are capable of getting good answers. We have some quibbles, but nothing like the sectarianism, voting ring, whining about moderators, and opinion-poll downvoting described in meta. I wonder if we can entice these users back. – Rebecca J. Stones Feb 3 '17 at 11:10
  • 1
    "update" we have one rather active 10K+ user ;) – Medi1Saif Feb 10 '17 at 12:35
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I'd say we have some more issues:

Question/answer related issues

  • The quality of answers on one side and the quality of questions on the other side.

IMO at the start of the page many answers were ok maybe good but rarely very good or well explained. I found many one or two liners which were accepted.

  • Also there's the problem of the duplicate of the duplicate many questions have been answered or are answered in a seemingly different post, but they still get new answers. Some people seem to think if we add a new adjective or a single word to an old question it is a new question!
    This can make the site boring and rather unattractive and could have an impact in the users activity.
  • An other rather easier issue is let's ask the same question again or déja-vu issue!
  • The off-topic issue: many questions are about dream-interpretation or some localized cultural stuff.
  • The fatwa issue: we are often asked to give a fatwa, but we are not able to as we are no scholars especially i hate does question directly or indirectly saying I need an answer within 24 h. For example many questions on talaq can't at all be solved online, but people ask them here!

User related issues

  • As said in my comment the activity of those people who might help this site to graduate, sadly, is somewhere around 0!

I'm sure that most of those who reached at least 1000K in the first years of this site have much more knowledge on how this site could graduate than I have or at least had, but unfortunately they seem to have abandoned the boat.

This means if we want to reach graduation we have -at least- two things to do:

Either become attractive enough for users who might contribute to this site or for those users who apparently left it and maybe going in both directions would be good as you can never make everybody happy!

At the moment we are not able to self-moderate ourselves and we have also an issue of a rather inactive moderator and a rather inactive community.

I'm afraid that what has or is happening here is what I often witnessed in real life Muslim communities:

  • different opinions -> misunderstandings -> people leave the community or create an own.
  • moderator intervention -> people get upset -> leave (-> moderator is/are bad???)
  • a couple of negative experiences -> leave the community or becoming inactive or even spreading the view mods/community etc. are bad don't go there!

so one could sum up and say Muslims seem to lack patience, endurance and the will to reach their goal and they need a strong leading hand else you'll have chaos.


Finally I'd like to know if anybody has a solution for the up-down-vote behavior of the users. I don't have any!

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