At time of writing, the Area 51 page for this site shows that we have:

  • a healthy number of questions answered
  • a healthy number of answers per question
  • a worryingly low number of visits per day
  • a worryingly low number of questions
  • a worryingly low number of committed users

So it seems like we're doing the right thing, but not enough of it :). To become a healthy and self-sustaining forum, we need to find more people who are willing to ask and answer questions of the calibre we've already been able to attract. So my question: how?

  • it's still fairly early for this site, though -- so be patient! Commented Jan 5, 2011 at 0:50

6 Answers 6


Had this as a comment, but then thought - this may be a good idea, not just a quarter past one in the morning ramble:

I think we should all review our contacts and make sure the appropriate ones are aware. Would be even more desirable if there was a badge for introducing 20 or 50 new members...? Can we ask for a new badge to be created?

Update - found securitytube which appears to have spun off Stack Exchange a wee while back so have posted this answer over there.

Another update - trying this: a blog post on security education/awareness linking back to a couple of questions, and with flair in the blog sidebar. Yet another way to get people over here.

  • 1
    I like, very much (in fact I've been doing that...). As for badge, the problem would be how to identify who introduced you. Links to questions can have your userid in them for the announcer-type badges - I guess we'd need them to have site-wide user-sourced links? I think that would be a great idea. @Robert Cartaino, what you think?
    – AviD Mod
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 1:38
  • Yeah - would require some sort of GUID :-) as a referrer. Going to definitely pass on the link to my contact base in this field, and probably point other IT folks at the wider stack exchange.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 8:54
  • 1
    I say ask for the badge, let the paid staff worry about how to implement it.
    – user185
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 9:06
  • The tracking piece for introducing should be pretty straightforward. On the area 51 proposal there was a unique link generated for people who had committed to the proposal to pass to their contacts and some points were assigned if people followed your referrer link. This is essentially the same thing. Also sounds like a good idea to me :) Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 20:30
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    Assuming this needs to be created by the powers on high - sounds like structural rather than moderator level? If it's something that can be enabled quickly I'll do that (for the points, obviously :-) otherwise I think I'll just start forwarding relevant question links to contacts I think would be interested.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 20:46
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    Nice. Hmm, securitytube looks like its a SE1.0 site?
    – AviD Mod
    Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 19:58
  • Hmm - very interesting. And odd. I left a question there on their lack of clarity on licensing: questions.securitytube.net/questions/1882/…
    – nealmcb
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 2:47

First two parts of the answer:

  • StackOverflow
  • ServerFault

One part of the problem is that this site has substantial overlap with those other sites. Many questions which should be asked here, are instead asked there - and mostly answered - even if often not correctly (ma laasot, programmers dont always know as much security as they think they do :) ).

So the first thing we'd need to do - get the SO/SF crowds to ask their questions here.
I've gone to many questions, and left a comment saying they'd get better results here - sometimes it works, mostly it doesnt. But that is definitely the first place to go, since most of the users there don't even know about IT Security SE.

The second part might be harder - the types of people that are not on either site - e.g. CISOs, Risk Managers, consultants, etc. These would also have much higher level of questions...
Near as I can see it, @Robert's advice (no.7) still very much applies - we need to get the word out, send the link to all our (professional) contacts, existing communities, conferences, etc.
Personally I already spammed all the infosec groups I'm a member in on LinkedIn, which I think helps a bit... Also sent the link to many clients, colleagues, and other people I work with. I suggest you (and everyone else here) do the same, if you haven't already.
It's also a good idea to give a short talk on this at any industry conference you can, e.g. local OWASP chapters etc.

  • 2
    What about superuser.com? ;) Commented Dec 1, 2010 at 21:55
  • 1
    @maker, no, not SU - see meta.security.stackexchange.com/q/16/33
    – AviD Mod
    Commented Dec 1, 2010 at 22:19
  • 1
    AviD - yep, started doing that now, adding links from the questions on Programmers which would be more appropriate here. Admittedly a lot of the security questions over there are off topic for us (below that 'professionals' threshold as we discussed) but enough there to try and drive awareness there so when they think of security they'll pop over here. With the numbers on 'programmers' we could get a good boost.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Dec 3, 2010 at 12:26

I think we would do well to add the LinkedIn "share this" button on questions and answers. http://www.linkedin.com/publishers

My reasoning is that it's more likely that a boss (CTO, Manager) is connected to his employees by LinkedIn than Facebook. That being the case, the "LinkedIn" sharethis button will have more exposure and relevance on this site.

On the other hand, I'm more likely to share recipes, role playing games, and card games on FaceBook. I don't think I'd ever share that content on LinkedIn. Imagine an important business contact seeing information about you WoW conquests just as you're working to close a large deal. Bad idea...

That being said, perhaps some sites will natually be more Facebook oriented, and others be more LinkedIn oriented. I think this site will be more LinkedIn oriented...

(Disclaimer, I work in Technology and am slightly biased. Maybe the linkedIn button should be everywhere to recruit industry specialists in that vertical niche market)

  • 2
    Agree with you Maker - I had never heard of the whole stack exchange programme, and I have been in IT since long before personal computers. The first I heard of it was through a friend who couldn't believe I wasn't onboard, so obviously there is some link missing for people like me. In terms of wider awareness for me LinkedIn is a definite yes, Facebook a definite no...this is because I use LinkedIn just for business, and Facebook for my personal and musical connections. This may be extremely variable for others though.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 1:16

Another area that we could look to in addition to personal contacts, is other mailing lists that we're members of. I've passed the link to the beta site onto the CISSP forum, so any other one's like that could be helpful at generating more users.

*Edit: * Another potential avenue is some of the social news sites. I've submitted the URL to the netsec reddit


http://seclists.org comes to mind...


Here are a few places you could advertise for more knowledgeable users (the kinds of folks who can answer questions):

  • The sci.crypt and sci.crypt.research newsgroups. There are a few very knowledgeable and helpful posters there.
  • Perry Metzger's [email protected] mailing list. Many super-knowledgeable participants in that mailing list.
  • You could try to advertise at security and cryptography conferences. If any participant here attends them, you could copy a stack of one-pager handouts and leave them on a table; or, if the conference permits short talks, you could sign up to give a short 1-minute talk to advertise security.stackexchange.com and encourage people to check it out.
  • You could contact a few security people with blogs. Some ideas: Bruce Schneier, Eric Rescorla, Adam Shostack, Ben Adida, Steve Bellovin, Jeremiah Grossman, Ivan Ristic.
  • You could post on the Sla.ckers forum, which is run by Rsnake.

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