After 60 days in beta, Code Review seems to be suffering in three related areas:

  • Low question volume
  • Low count of avid users
  • Insufficient visitors per day

In posting a question recently, I find I've failed to understand how narrow a niche this site has selected.

Now I'm curious - is the focus of the site incompatible with the goals of stack exchange?

One of the primary reasons I'm thinking along these lines is that the majority of visitors to other sites are from Google.

However, many, if not most, of the questions on here are going to be so localized that they won't generate or attract search engine business. Yes, there are generic routines, and yes one can learn a lot about different pieces of code simply by browsing the site, but I strongly suspect few people will 1) search for terms that will bring this site up and 2) find exactly what they need from those search results.

Why is this site doing so poorly?

My thoughts are above, but what other factors are making this site fail? Are any of these factors adjustable from our end?

If we can change nothing about the situation, how can we make it successful as-is?

I'm trying to fulfill my commitment and selecting a few things to seed the site with, but honestly even if all the "active" users submitted a new question once a week we'd still be doing pretty poorly. Even if we did get the question volume up, that may not bring the visitor volume up.


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A google search for c# code for string entropy will get get a page on this site as the first result. – mjcopple Mar 25 '11 at 13:01

I do not know that this site is "doing so poorly." It is simply too early to say anything intelligent about it.

But I can dispel a few misconceptions…

There is no "30 days left." Sites are required to stay in beta at least 90 days before being eligible for graduation. How long it takes after that depends on the site. The short version is, it takes as long as it takes. Please read this blog post (lots of good info there): When will my site graduate?

The traffic on Code Review SE is running sort of horizontal right now. That's actually a positive sign. If it was declining, that would be troublesome; But it is completely normal for a site to run sort of horizontal like this for awhile before hitting that tipping point where it finally takes off unstoppably. Steady traffic this early… good thing.

Code Review is largely an experimental site and nobody knows, yet, what the expectations are for such a beast — Sustained interest and quality content for starters. This "all sites must be big to survive" criteria is largely a myth. Of all the criteria listed in Area 51, the number of questions per day falls pretty far down the list in priorities.

Apart from that, the quality of the content has to remain high. Many users are watching closely it see how the site will evolve. If quality declines, they'll simply leave and the site will fail. Use those social bookmarking tools!


The issues I see are interface related rather than community related:

  • code reviews lend themselves to threads. Ideally, that would mean keeping the latest copy of the code in the OP with a sequence of commentary following ordered primarily by response structure, then by votes (something more like a Reddit thread than an SO question).

  • accepting has less meaning here. Unless there's a response that literally replaces the original code, it doesn't make sense to mark one revision as "correct" (its happened once or twice, but it doesn't seem to be the norm)

  • google is not the front page. I doubt that most visitors will ever come to CR by searching google for a code review of code similar to theirs. It seems like most visitors will be people enthusiastic about reviewing/getting feedback, and people that come here to see some tips on languages they're thinking of picking up. That means that we can't rely on search engine traffic, and should make it easier to customize navigation from inside the site (specifically, the ignored tags option might be doing the wrong thing here. If you don't know Blub, and don't want to, there's no point in showing you even faded questions with the blub tag)

That may mean that Code Review doesn't benefit much from being an SO site, but I still wouldn't call this a failure by any means. Despite the UI nits, it's a decent tool for conscientious programmers to get a bit of feedback on their code, even if there isn't something specific going wrong. There aren't actually a lot of places dedicated to that. You might get away with posting in /r/foo, or #mumble, but those tend not to be geared towards code reviews specifically. Interestingly, /r/codereview exists, but has been a ghost town for the past couple of years (theoretically, even if it was highly active, the lack of "question" based tags would make it harder to navigate), so codereview.SE is definitely doing better.

I'm unclear how reddit would be any better on point #1 -- there's still "question at the top, comments in a giant unreadable, crazily indented list underneath." are you arguing that every response contain a copy of the original code? – Jeff Atwood Mar 24 '11 at 1:34
@Jeff - No, I was just referring to the fact that there's a slightly more linear response structure there. Comments are sorted/indented based on which comment they were responding to, then by votes. Whereas SE orders them purely by score (which leads to situations where a response is shown before the post it responds to). – Inaimathi Mar 24 '11 at 1:52

I agree with Robert Cartaino's answer, and would like to add a few notes of my own.

A problem I personally face is that many of the questions we have gotten of late have been in web oriented applications. My experience is mostly is desktop and enterprise development in Java and the other C based languages. I simply can't comment on much more than clarity and formatting on say, Python and Ruby code. We have a user who has been posting on Lisp recently. I know Lisp, but am not currently active in it, so I can't comment on anything too advanced.

I think that we all have our areas of expertise, and just like SO we need experts in many areas. We have several dedicated users that see just about every question, but we need more. That will solve the problem of having too few answers per question as well as just getting more eyes on code. The answer to that is to spread the word via word of mouth and social networking.

The other issue I see is that this site really is not the sort to get a lot of page views. The questions are specific, and though you can get general principles in the answers general questions are explicitly off-topic here. That means that once a questioner has his code reviewed to his satisfaction, no one else is likely to find that question relevant. Ultimately I think this will show as a steadily increasing line proportionate to the number of active questions.

I find that I have a similar problem - I want to help contribute (especially since I have received help) but I'm just not finding many questions I can help on. – AnonJr Mar 24 '11 at 20:21

One possible extra source of visitors could come directly from Stack Overflow. I already saw a few questions posted there which fall directly under a Code Review. Once the site is out of beta, could these questions be flagged as off topic and better suitable for Code Review?

Stack Overflow is certainly big enough to support related sites like this. – Jeff Atwood Mar 24 '11 at 1:35

Seems like asking how we make Code Review viable would be a better question, I've posted one idea here:

Growing Code Review, One Idea...


On my opinion there is almost nothing we can that will dramatically change the situation. Probably this site is not well aligned with stack exchange concepts/goals. Of course we all can add some points to the site by submitting a question or two, but you are right in your concern that it will not bring us much more visitors. The visitors were actually a point of my question here and though we haven't completely agreed on whether this site will be able to attract visitors from google or other external sources, I'm more inclined to think that this site won't be able to get more visitors per day on it's own, without us cross-posting it everywhere it is applicable.

P.S.: Even if this site doesn't work for StackExchange, it works well for me.


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