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What does "beta" mean?

We create beta sites through the open democratic process at Stack Exchange Area 51. “Beta” means that the site is still being defined and constructed, which leads to a few differences from the non-beta sites in our network:

  • All beta sites have the same temporary placeholder design. Once the site is no longer beta, it will have a unique design built with input from the community.
  • Reputation thresholds for privileges are lower during the beta phase to help ensure community governance early on.
  • In early beta, the Stack Exchange team appoints moderators until the site is large enough to sustain a democratic moderator election.

During beta, the community works together to answer seven essential questions for every Stack Exchange site:

  1. Are questions about {subject} on or off topic?
  2. What should our FAQ contain?
  3. How should we tag questions about {subject}?
  4. Who should the moderators be?
  5. What’s the “elevator pitch” for our site?
  6. What should our logo and site design look like?
  7. How do we promote our site?

There is no set amount of time for a site to remain in beta; it will be in beta for as long as necessary to reach critical mass, with periodic evaluations that help communities know where they stand and what they need to work on.