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In the comments to the question on "How to promote the site?", I suggested that we may want to do a market research study in order to choose a site name. Shane invited me to suggest some ways in which we can move such a study forward. This question is an attempt to get us moving in that direction.

By way of background, the wiki has the typical steps involved in a market research process. It is not a perfect description but is enough to get us started. As you can see 'Problem Definition' is the first step in the process. The primary purpose of this stage is to ensure that we are solving the 'right' problem so that we do not waste resources by solving an 'incorrect' problem.

With the above background in mind, I suggest that we expand the scope of the project (assuming that we really want to do one and that SO has the necessary funds to commit to the project). Expanding the scope may enable us to obtain additional insights that may help us evolve our site effectively. The current scope involves the following problem definition:

"What brand name should we choose for our site given the nature of our target audience (i.e, stats, ML, data mining folks)?"

(Note that a choice of site name + a logo is essentially a brand name decision.)

What other issues/problems should we investigate? I suggest that we follow the following guidelines to post answers so that we can arrive at a consensus on what to do:

  1. One additional problem definition per answer so that the community consensus can float up.
  2. An answer should consist of a one line question/statement that mentions the additional problem. Please add any additional justification/comments as a separate paragraph.

I am also including the original problem definition of site name as an answer so that if we feel that it is not relevant we can downvote it.

I have also added an answer along the lines of: "We should not do any market research project." Feel free to upvote this answer if you think a market research project is premature at this point in time.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 I think that this is very interesting discussion. One point: the "Area51" process serves to do some of this, as does our daily interactions on the site and on meta. The community itself is also the targeted audience. That said, we do have the problem of a small number of very active users probably dominating the site direction, which is why I could see value in this. $\endgroup$ – Shane Aug 31 '10 at 13:32
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"We should not do any market research project."

Upvote this answer if you think a market research project is premature at this stage.

Updated

Since this is the leading answer currently I thought that it may be worthwhile to offer a push back so that if appropriate the upvoters can rethink their vote:

If there is a time that market research is needed for a site such as ours it is now rather than later. A successful site such as Stakoverflow or Mathoverflow does not really need market research (although it can certainly help) because they have strong statistics with respect to traffic, questions, answers, votes etc given their size of their target community.

On the other hand we seem to be struggling a bit on traffic and there is clearly lots of users out there who have not heard about us or do not want to use the site. Perhaps, what we need is a bit of promotion but it will surely help us if we can understand better what would motivate our target audience to come in greater numbers.

All this, of course, assumes that we get the desired support from Stackoverflow.

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"What brand name should we choose for our site given the nature of our target audience (i.e, stats, ML, data mining folks)?"

This is the original problem we wanted to address via a market research project.

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"Can we attract enough knowledgeable statisticians for answers/discussion, and how to do that".

Or formulated otherwise:

"What can we offer to seasoned statisticians as an extra value and how to show them?"

As for the other SO sites, it is crucial to have enough people with a strong statistical background to provide answers and meaningful discussion. I have the feeling it'll be more difficult to convince statisticians than it is to convince programmers. stackoverflow has quite a number of "hobby coders", teenagers and young adults that can have a serious knowledge about programming.

With statistics, this becomes a lot harder. You need the professionals, and you can expect an audience of students looking for cheap advice. This might be a prejudice, but it's likely to be a common idea among statisticians, especially when they're working at a university.

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  • $\begingroup$ I would re-formulate the question as: "Why are seasoned statisticians not using the site? What would motivate them to start participating?" $\endgroup$ – svadali Sep 1 '10 at 16:34

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