Philosophy.SE started in around April 2011, and graduated 9 months ago (July 25th, 2016); see also Area 51. This makes me wonder: what do they have that we don't?

TL;DR: All I could identify was:

  1. Islam.SE has fewer posts getting higher scores.
  2. Islam.SE users downvote more than Philosophy.SE users (proportion of upvotes on non-deleted posts: 71% vs. 79%).
  3. Philosophy.SE has some philosophy PhD students using the site (who would have close-to-expert knowledge).
  4. Despite much more traffic, we have less user activity.
  5. We have fewer high-reputation users (but it's not a huge difference).

Maybe there's more that I haven't identified.

Summary of what's below:

  1. Question rate: Islam.SE's rate of questions does not meet the "10 questions per day" rule of thumb for site graduation (of which there's some exceptions), but is comparable to Philosophy.SE when they launched, and the rate is growing.

  2. Post quality: Unlike Philosophy.SE, Islam.SE is not getting many highly upvoted posts. Currently, we're getting slightly fewer posts with positive score. We don't really have experts that I'm aware of, but we have a growing number of users who are capable of producing decent content; Philosophy.SE has some philosophy PhD students.

  3. Traffic: We have around 3 times the traffic of Philosophy.SE, but we have less activity (around 70%).

  4. User reputation and moderation: We don't have as many higher-reputation users as Philosophy.SE, but it's not too big of a difference. (We're well behind both Christianity.SE and Judaism.SE though.) The moderators of the two sites seem approximately equally active.

  5. Site self-moderation: Like Islam.SE, Philosophy.SE has diamond moderators using the diamond hammer to close questions. Islam.SE's meta is more active than Philosophy.SE's meta. There are longer comment threads on Philosophy.SE. It looks like Philosophy.SE's privilege thresholds are yet to be increased (this occurs in Phase 2 of graduation).

Question rate

The obvious place to start looking is the rate of incoming questions, since the StackExchange staff said this is an effective rule of thumb. I will look at the number of questions per month which smooths the noisy data out a bit.

Summary: When Philosophy.SE launched, it had a comparable number of questions per month to Islam.SE. We currently exceed this rate. However, Philosophy.SE appears to be an exception to the rule.

Below I plot the number of questions in a given month (adapting a data explorer query), along with the 3-month moving average. I exclude both sites' first 4 months of existence as it skews the data too much.

enter image description here

Area 51 says Philosophy.SE had 5.1 questions per day, and the above figure suggests it's around 170 per month (around 5.5 per day). Area 51 also lists Islam.SE at 7.7 questions per day.

Other sites which were recently launched:

  1. Law.SE around 270 (9.4 Q's per day; Area 51);

  2. Mechanics.SE around 370 (12.4 Q's per day; Area 51);

  3. Quant.SE around 170 (7.1 Q's per day; Area 51);

  4. Puzzling.SE around 330 (9.9 Q's per day; Area 51);

  5. CodeGolf.SE around 160 (10.6 Q's per day; Area 51)

And also per-day question rates for other launched sites: 115.7 Stack Overflow (in Russian); 11.9 Raspberry Pi; 10.1 Emacs; 10.1 Worldbuilding; 6.9 Aviation; 10.3 Signal Processing; 7.9 Japanese Language. There's some exceptions, but mostly StackExchange live up to the claim of "10 questions per day" is a good indicator of when a site will be considered for launching.

Post quality

Summary: When Philosophy.SE launched, it had a greater number of upvoted posts per month, and a far greater number of score 10+ posts per month.

Below I plot the number of posts in a month with score 1+, along with a linear regression and 3-month moving average (ignoring the first 4 months).

enter image description here

Same as above, but for score 10+.

enter image description here

(These will appear to decrease over time since older questions have had more time to collect upvotes.)

Top posts

Summary: Not a huge difference between the utmost top posts are Islam.SE and Philosophy.SE. But there's a big difference between the number of 5+ score and 10+ score questions and answers.

From the 2017 posts: Islam.SE questions (no. with score 5+: 36 and 10+: 1) and answers (no. with score 5+: 23 and 10+: 1), and Philosophy.SE questions (no. with score 5+: 76 and 10+: 8) and answers (no. with score 5+: 85 and 10+: 8).


  1. Islam.SE: Is a marriage which is illegal in the host country still Islamically valid? (score: 12) Philosophy.SE: How come intuitive thinking is related to constructing a proof? (score: 13)

  2. Islam.SE: How is the "ultra-conservative" Salafi movement compatible with autodidacticism? (score: 9) Philosophy.SE: Does Google's latest translation tool support Jerry Fodor's Language of Thought Hypothesis? (score: 13)


  1. Islam.SE: Casanova's answer (score: 10) to What does the Qur'an say about the age of Prophet Nuh? Philosophy.SE: Mauro ALLEGRANZA's answer (score: 11) to How come intuitive thinking is related to constructing a proof?

  2. Islam.SE: G. Bach's answer (score: 9) to Must you always pray towards Mecca (Is your prayer invalid if you don't?) Philosophy.SE: mobileink's answer to Is there a name for the fallacy that refuting the argument refutes the conclusion?

I skip virmaior's answer to Writing and publishing a philosophical book without MA/PhD in Philosophy and no formal education which is community wiki.



Summary: I don't know if Islam.SE has experts or not; we seem to be generating some decent answers regardless. Philosophy.SE has some PhD students.

Professional philosophers on Philosophy SE indicates that Philosophy.SE has a few PhD students as their highest level of academic expertise. Presumably, they will go on to become experts, and hopefully contribute to the site.

I'm not sure if we're in the same situation, but there seems to be some users are consistently producing high-quality content: On top of the monthly users page are 1. Uma, 2. III-AK-III, 3. Medi1Saif. Some of the new/returning users are doing quite well too: Casanova, Zaid, Armaan have given decent answers to my questions, e.g., 1 2 3, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come.


Summary: Islam.SE is a long way ahead in terms of traffic.

Area 51 lists Philosophy.SE at 2418 visits/day when it launched. Islam.SE is currently listed at 17141 visits/day on Area 51.

Over the last year, weekly traffic looked like this:

enter image description here


Summary: Philosophy.SE has more active users than Islam.SE, but Islam.SE's number of active users is growing.

I use a data explorer query to gauge the per-week site activity over the last 150 weeks, and include a linear regression and 20-week moving average. (I'm not really sure how "active user" is defined).

enter image description here

More statistics:

  • Number of body edits: 18679 (Islam.SE) vs. 23046 (Philosophy.SE)
  • Number of tag edits: 4550 (Islam.SE) vs. 2443 (Philosophy.SE)
  • Average number of comments per post: 1.36 (Islam.SE) vs. 2.49 (Philosophy.SE)

Review queue activity (where factor diff. is the number for Islam.SE vs. the number of Philosophy.SE) computing using a data explorer query:

                   Islam.SE    Philosophy.SE    factor diff.
suggested-edits       3306        1705             1.94
close                 1118        1410             0.79
low-quality-posts      838         587             1.43
first-posts           4506        4718             0.96
late-answers          1461        1052             1.39
reopen                 113         282             0.40

And after restricting to 2017:

                   Islam.SE    Philosophy.SE    factor diff.
suggested-edits        184          78             2.36
close                  144         217             0.66
low-quality-posts      102          59             1.73
first-posts            499         411             1.21
late-answers           194         109             1.78
reopen                  19          44             0.43

User reputation

Summary: Islam.SE doesn't have a good high-reputation userbase; however, Philosophy.SE's high-reputation userbase isn't that much better.

Using a data explorer query, the following plots the number of users with >= X reputation (where X is the value along the x-axis). Both axes are logarithmic.

enter image description here

And the same plot but with the religious StackExchange sites:

enter image description here


Summary: We have just recently caught up to Philosophy.SE in terms of number of question/answer votes. However, we downvote more than Philosophy.SE (and the other religious StackExchange sites); in fact, more than 96% of the 166 StackExchange sites.

The following plots the per-week votes over the last 150 weeks (with a linear regression and 5-week moving average).

enter image description here

By adapting this data explorer query, we can calculate the proportion of all votes which are upvotes, which we plot below on a per-month basis, along with a 3-month moving average.

enter image description here

Adapting the data explorer query mentioned by goldPseudo to this data explorer query shows out of 166 StackExchange sites, Islam.SE ranks 163-rd in terms of proportion of votes which are upvotes; restricting this to 2017 posts (query) puts us 161-st; the data is:

rank        site                  upvotes  downvotes  upvote prop.

102    StackExchange.Hinduism       1051      172       86%
127    StackExchange.Buddhism       1160      244       83%
141    StackExchange.Christianity   1058      247       81%
147    StackExchange.Judaism        2424      603       80%
152    StackExchange.Philosophy     1243      340       79%
161    StackExchange.Islam          1177      470       71%

Diamond moderators

Summary: Our diamond moderators are performing a comparable number of actions to their Philosophy.SE counterparts. Assuming they would want to continue moderating after graduation (or we could find suitable replacements) we're probably fine.

Shortly after graduation, we would need to vote on diamond moderators for the site. The pro tempore moderators may or may not want to run again, and may or may not be elected.

After site graduation, would there be individuals who could [continue do] do this?

Currently we have the pro-tem moderators:

Philosophy.SE has the moderators:

Diamond moderation is different to normal user moderation; see A Theory of Moderation. Particularly relevant for Islam.SE is that diamond moderator votes are binding. Moderators are human exception handlers (or police, or glorified janitors) so if our high-reputation users go on to become diamond moderators, then we reduce our ability to conduct normal user moderation.


Summary: While Islam.SE isn't the best at self-moderation, neither is Philosophy.SE. It looks like their privilege thresholds are yet to be increased.

  1. Moderators closing questions. Philosophy.SE seems to have moderators closing questions. Of the latest 10 questions closed in their newest closed question list: closed by 5 votes: 1 2 3 4 5; closed using "diamond hammer": 1 2 3 4 5.

  2. Meta site activity. In 2017, there have been 121 meta.Islam.SE posts (ref.), vs. 87 meta.Philosophy.SE posts (ref.). Islam.SE also have much better voting patterns on these meta posts.

  3. Posts with large numbers of comments. Philosophy.SE most commented posts have 16-27 comments (top). Islam.SE most commented posts have 11-38 comments (top, although the next highest has 16 comments).

Related meta.Islam.SE posts:

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