5

Tl;Dr:

Just kidding, there's really no Tl;Dr for this post. Basically, I'm new here, but experienced elsewhere (more or less), and I really like this site. However, I see some problems here that should be fixed if we want this site to take off (which we do!).



I've been active on the site for a total of two days now. I'm not a fitness expert, but I've been around a couple different SE sites, and what I noticed about this site is that:

  1. You have a lot of questions that are very similar. Close some as duplicates?
  2. You don't have many questions per day (1.6, per the Area 51 stats -- I didn't just notice that in two days)
  3. The questions that you do have get answered (yay!), and often (enough) by someone
    • Pretty experienced
    • With 101 rep, or 1 rep, so either new to SE or from another site

Graduating Beta is a good goal, but it's not the end goal. At the end of the day, what we all want is for this site to be the go-to place for anyone wondering about fitness. If you have a question on the internet about fitness, this site is the place to find the answer. If you are knowledgeable about fitness, this place is a nice place to be valued and to share knowledge.

We don't want to just barely pass the Stack Exchange rules for graduation from beta. We want to smash it, so that we can grow after that as well. So, beta-gratuation is a nice goal, but we need to make sure we're playing the long game (which, by the way, it looks like you guys are doing in many ways -- after all, you've been in beta for 3061 days! Here's what I've seen from a really well-run beta-turned-successful site.

  1. "Welcoming" is a loaded word from Stack Overflow, and that is unfortunate because at this stage, you want to attract new people. Especially since a main issue is not having enough questions asked.
    • Leave a nice comment below each first post. Especially coming from someone experienced, that will be helpful. It tells the OP that someone looked at their post, it gives us a chance to ask for any clarification if needed, and you don't have to spend time answering the question (I know, sometimes we're busy too). My default would be Welcome to Physical Fitness! It's short, simple, but sets the tone.
    • You also have (if I've read right, in the few days I've been here) lots of one-time experts. They'll drop in and post a great answer to a question, and offhandedly mention that they're a long distance marathon runner, or a fitness blog writer (whether that's a good thing or not...), or a coach of some sort. Engage those people! Fake internet points™® are pretty motivating, as we all know. We can upvote them, but for really good answers we can also give them a bounty! That's a really underused feature of SE. Find a post that did a great job of explaining something, and give the OP a bounty. (Looking at you high-rep, active users like @Berin, @Dave, @JohnP, @Alec, etc.) It doesn't matter whether the OP is no longer active -- the other active users will also get the message: really high quality stuff is consistently rewarded with Fake internet points™®. Also, drop a comment on a great post encouraging them to stay. They'll feel noticed and valued, which is the only thing many will need. I once on the Photography SE, as they were getting started, saw a comment to that extent on a new post. The author was gratified, and kept posting, and is now an active, high-rep user.
  2. You really need to really care about quality. That is something I noticed is a little lacking on this site. It makes sense too -- we want more questions, so maybe stretch the boundaries, just a little. However, it's actually counterproductive. Long term (and even medium term), if what people see here is low quality, it will be less attractive for everyone, question posters and answer posters alike. The impression will be that what we talk about here is the 27 best ways to build your abs without working out or going on a diet. (Well, a bit of an exaggeration there, but you get the point.) Be very clear about what's on topic and what's not, and use meta to figure out the boundary (then update the on-topic page). But just as importantly, make sure you upvote good advice, and downvote objectively bad advice, and curate the quality of the questions. Edit for grammar. It'll look a lot more professional. Edit other people's answers to add the finishing touch that will make it a great answer instead of an OK one. Link to useful resources around the site. Bonus for caring about question and answer quality? It'll open up resources for better ones. If your best answerers aren't busy with low quality questions, they might be able to answer high quality questions immediately rather than waiting a month.
  3. Aaannd finally raw question count. 1.6 questions per day is pretty bad. There are a couple things we need to do about that though. First off, all the rest of the stats are good, which is in our favor: you have more than 5,000 visits per day! You have hundreds of committed users. So why is the question count so low? Well, here are some things I can think of:

    • When people think Physical Fitness, they think "How do I fix my abs?" That question is already posted (multiple times), and there are really not a lot of different ways to look at that same question. I get the impression that people are interested in this topic, but don't even know what they don't know. Therefore, we can:

      • Make the list of on-topic things bigger. Probably not a great idea in general, because that's what the private beta and Area 51 stages are for, and we're already past that. But it's an option.
      • Recruit more askers from other sites and from personal contacts. (Do you work at a gym? Know some ripped dudes? Are you studying for PhyEd?) That's an option, and a good one! But it'll really take a while to get rolling on that with the level of people I know. Maybe y'all are working on that.
      • Ask some good questions ourselves. This is probably our best bet to get started. We'll prime the pump, and hopefully the questions start pumping out. A lot of the active members here already know a lot about fitness, but a lot of the 5,000 views you have each day don't. Asking and answering your own question has always been encouraged on SE, and my personal guess is that that was a relic from when Stack Overflow was getting started. They had to prime the pump, and so do we. (Actually, I just went and looked at the first 10 question ids on SO, and that does seem to be largely the case.) Ask an interesting question, and then work on a really good answer. We can also make canonical posts with the purpose of closing a bunch of questions as duplicates of that one. That's a good use of time too.
    • Maybe Physical Fitness isn't a great topic for a running Q&A. I certainly hope not -- after all, who doesn't want to look ripped. And there are college courses taught on the subject, as well as multitudes of books. Surely there are enough pieces of information that people want to know to put out 10 or 20 a day indefinitely! But if that's not the case (and, for the record, I think it is the case), we need to think about where this site goes. From that standpoint, really your main options are to 1) close down the Q/A, or 2) widen the subject, of which 2 is the better option. So decide where you think we are, and then choose how we're going to get where we need to be.


Not wanting to end on a downer like that, here are my personal thoughts to start off the discussion. First of all, I think PE is a great option for Q/A, but having been in public beta for 8 years, it's time to take matters into our own hands. Generally what happens is people ask some questions, and wait for the site to become popular, which will enable it to become a great resource. We might need to take the different route: make it a great resource, which will prompt it to become popular. A lot of our popularity comes from Stack Overflow, which is programmers. A lot of the market we wish to dominate is emphatically not programmers.

So, with that, what do you think? I hope this outside perspective is very helpful, because I see a lot of potential here. How do you feel about welcoming people into Fitness more actively (point 1)? Curating both helpfully and strictly (point 2)? Asking our own questions (point 3)? What did my measly 2 days of experience miss here? (Without getting too pessimistic please! The glass is half full, remember!)

  • 2
    I have added the featured tag to put it on the front page. Part of the problem that we face is the same challenge as medical science, nutrition (which has never made it out of A51 and is off topic on all related active sites), etc. is that there is massive amounts of misinformation and bro-science. This is partially why you see a lot of repeat questions, and beginner types. There have been some efforts to try to attract higher level questions, they have been somewhat ineffective. Welcome to the site, and thank you for taking the interest! – JohnP Jul 26 at 15:30
  • Thanks for the welcome! – Cullub Jul 26 at 16:15
  • Join me in Chat so we can discuss one or two of those things! – Cullub Jul 26 at 16:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .