Looking over the total page views image shown from this original data mining question:

page views

The bump in views was presumably due to two genealogist blogs posting about the site. So we have visitors coming from genealogy blogs to GFH and deciding not to stay.

What is missing to retain expert participation on the site? Is it simply the fundamental intent of the site that is not attractive, or is there something that can be modified about GFH that will increase its perceived value by this essential group?

6 Answers 6


What are we missing to retain experts? Questions for experts to answer -- most experts won't need to ask questions themselves very often.

And what percentage of curious visitors will have a question they need to ask right at the point they visit? And when they do, why might they remember this site among all the other possibilities?

And, no, this isn't an answer, just a restatement of the problem. I'd love to know how other SE sites addressed it -- were they not launching into a saturated market (as we are) for example.


I disagree that there is a problem retaining experts. I think it is very early days and the site is not yet attracting the experts in the first place. Just because there was an increase in visits, possibly because of some blog item, means those were experts. I subscribe to quite a few blogs and am no where near an expert.


The question posits that we are not retaining enough experts. Yet we have a 98% answered rate. 90% is a healthy beta. We might actually be too high. You could argue we have too many experts (since experts answer but don't ask) and not enough non-experts. Of course the real answer is we need more of both. From what I can read on the other se sites, the way to get hits is to have lots of good questions. If you have lots of good questions, good answers will follow, and experts will follow after that. And what that takes is time. I don't think the fact that the one spike wasn't sticky should bother us. The spike is only relatively big - it's still a pretty small number. And how do we know it wasn't sticky - maybe that is where the new users came from over the next month - ie they didn't necessarily stick immediately.

  • All very good points.
    – fbrereto
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 4:00

See a-recipe-to-promote-your-site and helping-the-experts-get-answers for some excellent suggestions.

One I'd particularly like to call out is asking questions on others' behalf. We had some discussion on this earlier and I believe people thought it was a no-no. This appears to not only say it's OK, but to say we should be doing it to attract experts. Note the author promoting this is one of the co-founders of StackOverflow/StackExchange.

  • 3
    Given the difficulty of writing a "good" question that is based on one's own work and for which the author holds all the available contextual background, the idea of posting a question that has been asked elsewhere by someone else is fraught with danger. There is a real risk that any question that can be picked up and answered in the way described in the SO example (linked above) probably belongs on Yahoo.
    – Fortiter
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 9:51
  • I don't think it's a no-no so much as it is something to approach with caution, to try in small doses and to remember to present the problem in a manner that sounds legit. If you have some questions you've seen elsewhere that could be asked here, give it a try, but be open to feedback and making edits if need be.
    – jmort253
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 7:16

The key is sharing links to interesting questions and answers or even blogging about them. If any of you have blogs that people follow, consider telling a story about how a particular post helped solve a problem someone was facing.

In short, you'd need to find a way to create a need and then fill that need.

I also see Facebook as a means of promoting this site. Many of us have family that we've connected with on Facebook, and Genealogy and Family History definitely has a family aspect to it.

If you have a family member with a question about a past ancestor, for instance, you could either:

  1. Ask the question here yourself and then share the link publicly on Facebook with your family member.
  2. Encourage the family member to post the question him/herself.

I actually think #1 is better, as it requires no initial action on the part of the other party, but after seeing an answer that helps him or her, he/she may be more inclined to join.

I also think this technique could be used to engage the experts as well. If they ask a question in their blog, try to repost it here, without plagiarizing their work, of course, and then share the answers with that person via the link.


Without meaning any disrespect to the people who posted questions on those days, I think it is fair to say that what was highlighted on the front page at around that time was not especially fascinating.

In commercial marketing terms, a major advertising push was launched at the moment when the window display was not at its best.

Managing an effective promotion that will attract and hold interest is a complex business that requires several factors to be tightly coordinated.

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