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I'd like to talk about site building a little bit. We have now been in public Beta for almost a year now and I feel that we've learned a lot about what audience we have here on Stack Exchange. However, we've got a little ways to go before we can make it out of Beta.

The Stats

  • Questions per day is 2.1/10; 21% of the way there
  • Our answer rate is still good with 96%
  • We need to work on our votes
    • We have 56/150 users with 200+ reputation
    • We have 4/10 users with 2,000+ reputation
    • We have 3/5 users with 3,000+ reputation
  • Our answers per question ratio is 2.0/2.5. which is good, but could be better
  • We currently hold an average of 753 visits per day out of a recommended 1,500 per day.

All of these stats are live and always available on our Area51 site.

Let's increase our Visits!

Ultimately, the kink in the chain is that we do not have enough visitors. The more visitors we accrue, the easier it may become to reach some of these smaller goals such as questions per day and user reputation. Remember that the home page for 3D Printing has sharing links to social media sites.

There are a growing number of 3D printing sites such as Thingiverse, 3D Hubs, MakeXYZ, Shapeways, etc. All of these sites have avid users and I'm sure many of them have questions on a regular basis and are more than happy to share their knowledge with other Makers/Professionals.

Let's increase our Votes!

The more people we have visiting the site, the more opportunity we have have gaining more reputation.

As Josip Ivic states in a recent Meta post, asking/answering questions becomes a chore if people don't feel that they're efforts are appreciated or good enough. Often times there is legitimate research going into answering certain questions, so there can be real work going into providing people with quality answers.

The same goes for asking questions. If you've been in the same predicament or appreciate a well written question, give the question an up-vote.

Meta Activity

I think it is also important for everyone to occasionally review the latest here on Meta. It's a great tool for people to express how they feel the site could be better!

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    $\begingroup$ With more questions-a-day the rest of the problems should get better. Congratulations on the answer rate, I've seen Beta sites doing way worse on that front. $\endgroup$ – Mast Dec 12 '16 at 17:20
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Well we need to attract more members! Personally I know a lot of people that can help us attract more. Myself I run a facebook group with 6k members called 3d printing hobbyists. That said I am also friends with the admins of the other and larger groups.

If I had some good promo material I could probably get folks like 3d printing nerd to mention the SO group in his highly visible channel.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree, the more members we have, the higher our chances of getting some of these items checked off. I never got any traction on the 3D Printing forums, personally. So, if you or other members here can make referrals to SE for technical help, please do so! As far as promo material, take a look at some of our ads or make your own. If you would like some help coming up with material, feel free to ping me in the chat board $\endgroup$ – tbm0115 Dec 14 '16 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ @tbm0115 got permission to post it in a few groups. So a few thousand hobbyists should see it $\endgroup$ – StarWind0 Dec 15 '16 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ That sounds great! Thank you for your participation and help around the site by the way. $\endgroup$ – tbm0115 Dec 19 '16 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ You don't need more members... You need more committed members. Once you have an established base, you just need time to let it grow $\endgroup$ – Zizouz212 Dec 23 '16 at 22:16
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    $\begingroup$ Haha okay how do we get more committed members without telling more people about it? This is simple stats. Every few thousand impressions will lead to a few clicks. Out of that hand full a few. Maybe 5 will ask a question. Maybe 1 of those 5 will become a regular.. that's how I see it. $\endgroup$ – StarWind0 Dec 24 '16 at 1:53
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Are we at the limit on how big we can grow if we are only talking about "3D printers"

  1. The 3D printing market is growing; but, it is still a pretty small niche compared to broader subjects like Programming, Engineering, Cooking, etc.
  2. 3D printers are really pretty simple compared to the other topics I mentioned above. There aren't going to be as many questions.
  3. There is a wide diversity of printers and most commercial (non RepRap) printers are supported by the individual manufacturer's forums.

That said, 753 visits/day (which is less than the number of people in the launch) and 2.1 questions/day are both pretty pathetic. I think pretty much every 3D Printing forum, Facebook group, and YouTube channel WAY exceeds those numbers.

Only being able to ask and answer questions may also be a BIG limitation to our growth

3D Printing is part of the general Maker Culture and Makers want to not just ask; but, they want to show off and talk about what they make. That is a lot of what I see on the other venues and that may be why we aren't getting as much traction here.

We need to find a way to channel the nubies and students here

I know nubies can be annoying; but, they ask more questions. Lots of questions on StackOverflow come from students and nubies.


So, what can we do?

  1. Broaden our scope from just "3D Printing". The original Beta description is "tools and applications of 3D printing" which is a bit wider. Maybe we should try to get more CAD, scanning, and maybe even CNC questions.
  2. I wonder if Stack Exchange would be interested in getting a booth at our local Maker Faires. They seem to be willing to partner money with effort and a booth is pretty cheap if we can muster the manpower.
  3. Could we do a community-ad. It looks like they may be taking requests now.
  4. Maybe we could partner with someone to do a "Print-a-thon" or printing contest. They could post the results and push the questions to us.
  5. Find a way to connect to schools that have printing and/or CAD classes or after-school activities.
  6. Connect into other student activities that use 3D printing whether it be art or things like Robotics Competitions.
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  • $\begingroup$ I agree that it would be potentially better to expand the scope of this site. Unfortunately, I think the course of action in doing so would require the start of a completely new SE site around Machining or Manufacturing. I'm not sure if we can change the name of the site without a unanimous decision within this community which defeats the purpose of the Area 51 system. In the interim, it's important to ask questions that YOU feel fit within this community others in the SE network. It's then on moderators and community members to say yay/nay on its merit in the community. This will help us grow $\endgroup$ – tbm0115 Jun 16 '17 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ @tbm0115 The original Beta Description is "tools and applications of 3D printing" which provides a bit of wiggle room. Also, the Beta definition says that "“Beta” means that the site is still being defined and constructed,". Maybe I'll ask on SE.Meta what latitude there is. $\endgroup$ – markshancock Jun 17 '17 at 6:03

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