So, I was wandering the site last days, weeks, months. I've seen many questions regarding building or managing communities, I've seen many answers which are helpful, I've seen the same users over and over again. But somewhen we suddenly stopped growing, well, we didn't shrink, too. It's like we are on a constant level now.
At times, some questions are asked but currently it's at a low score of 0.2% per day which makes a question every five days. It's somewhat 'depressing' to see how this community is suffering from the lack of content. I often come here since I enjoy building up communities from scratch. However, lately I've been less active due this lack of content, it somehow makes me feel sad. I saw this site in way better conditions, right now the sites isn't degenerating but decaying.
We're a bunch of administrators, moderators, community managers, and so on, yet, we can't manage to get this site growing. We tried to make us more visible to other SE-communities by providing and showing ads. We thought about the problems by holding discussion about the things going on. However, the situation didn't improve. The meta post I linked had better stats than we have now.
This site started out as Moderators.SE and then broadened its scope a few months into beta. I think we are still recovering from that; the original scope was too narrow and failed to attract (or keep) enough people, and the broader scope hasn't "gotten out there" yet.
I don't think so. We still cover the original scope since we are about building communities. Therefore we should have the same mass of content as before and the additional we gained by broaden our scope. But we don't have this content, actually we have less content.
Our biggest problem is that we do have such a limited audience.
I can't agree with this, too. I did some research and found a subreddit on redit called 'Modhelp'. (They have even more subreddits, just google it.) Well, I guess they slightly have more content than we do. Of course, I can't compare Reddit with StackExchange since Reddit is widely known. We do have a limited audience on StackExchange. Why?
- We can't really compete with The Workplace. This community is way bigger than ours and also established. Because the workplace is a kind of a community, too, we can't compete with them. They get questions because they have more experts over there. Our scope crosses with theirs so that many users are unsure where to ask and simply prefer to ask on The Workplace. The rate to get a qualified answer is higher since there are more users.
- Well, most people come to SE to discuss about their subject. Community Building is on the rise, nevertheless not a real subject yet. Therefore most people go easy on it. I often, and I'm sure you too, came across people stating building up a community is easy. It always makes me laugh if I see them failing. I usually recommend them to ask here then. But people still think, even after failure, that they just had a bad day. Community Building isn't recognized as a real topic that matters.
- Most problems can be discussed on the particular site itself by starting a discussion on Meta. There's no need to ask us since everything can be solved on the site itself.
Although we have a limited audience on StackExchange itself, we didn't think about the opportunity to promote us on bigger sites like the mentioned subreddit. We are deeply focused on SE. We do topic challenges but honestly, are they even worth the work right now? We could barely fulfill the last challenge by having one question regarding the topic in question.
We tried (don't know the current situation here -- sorry) to submit ads to other communities which are more or less suitable for our search of users. Well, why should anybody switch from The Workplace to Community Building?
We close questions which seem to be interesting for people. Yes, not everything is in our scope, yes, not everything as specific as we would like it to be. However, can we risk it to close questions which even were favorites from some users? The questions are that one and that one.
Then there's something that made me a little bit upset. A few days ago, @Phillip asked a question. He asked about a theoretical community. It was put on hold because it was too broad on the first sight. I decided to write a comment to point out the necessary points I'm interested in. He answered those and I voted to reopen that question again because I had enough information to give an answer. However, it disappeared then. I don't know if it was removed by himself or by moderators. But in both cases: Why did that even happen?
If he deleted it on his own, we clearly weren't as professional as we're supposed to be. I asked for detail, nobody else did. But as I voted to reopen, nobody else did. Why? I asked for the additional information and he happily provided it, if you need any further, you should ask so you can get the question back into the scope again, right? Maybe he wasn't interested in the content itself, too.
However, I'm really sad about the current situation because I know that we could easily get more content. We are community managers, and we are good at it. If we weren't, we wouldn't have so much reputation from so less questions. If we cooperated with sites outside of SE, we could maybe increase our general stats of contribution. Isn't this what we try to achieve? We want to grow! I want to give advice to fellow community builders since I often had problems. But right now, we're not really at it. We became kind of lazy.
There's always the point that we shouldn't force growth. Quality content is more worth than lots of content. Nevertheless, can we afford it shrinking on a lower level of contribution in order to keep up high quality content? That's what we do right now.
There's always room for improvement. We're stuck growing. The level of contribution is low, the content is a rarely seen Pokémon, new users are diamonds found in dark caves.
Should we try to get out of this, or let it hang there a little bit longer to see what it brings? Are we okay with the low rate of contribution or are we not?
I'm really interested in this discussion since I value this community. Can we pull the trigger and get back on the contributing track?