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Imagine a large healthy online Q&A community hosted on a platform developed and maintained by a commercial company. Suppose that the community is increasingly dissatisfied with the direction the company is going, and feels that its feedback is no longer valued like it was 5–10 years ago. Consider that some members of the community want to organise a move along with all user-contributed content. Whatever the cause, it can happen.

Assuming that legal and technical issues are solved (all user-contributed content is available under a permissive license, database dumps are available, features are similar enough): how could users organise moving to another platform?

For the sake of the question, let's take a site with 1k–100k visits/day, 5k–50k questions, and 10k–50k user accounts, of which about 1% (100-500) can be considered highly active members.

One historical example that comes to mind is Wikivoyage and Wikitravel, which still coexist seven years after the split.

This question is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  • What is known about the other platform? Is it readily available already? Does it have similar features? – Trilarion Jan 16 at 11:45
  • @Trilarion For the same of the question, let's assume yes ("technical issues are solved"). This question is about the social / community aspects. – gerrit Jan 16 at 11:47
  • I could imagine, but I don't have hard data or really good examples for it, that a complete move is rather improbable and a split is more likely. I guess your goal would be to reach as many as possible of the people willing to move. – Trilarion Jan 16 at 12:06
  • @Trilarion True. Such as happened with Wikivoyage and Wikitravel. – gerrit Jan 16 at 12:09
  • In addition to Trilarion's comment, I'd also note that one lesson to learn from the Wikivoyage split is that the original move to a new site only attracted contributors from two subcommunities (German and Italian). It wasn't feasible to run e.g. an English language Wikivoyage until Wikivoyage joined the Wikimedia Foundation and a much larger part of the community moved away from Wikitravel. So your Q&A community might want to consider partnering with a well-known site as early as possible if they can find one with compatible goals. – ingenørd Jan 18 at 16:55
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To make a plan, you need to know to things:

  1. How many of the leaders / influencers of the group want to depart?

    If you have a significant number, your best bet is to make a stand collectively on the platform, hack the discussions, or even launch a discussion (if you can) on what you feel is wrong. And as more influencers gather around the topic, others will follow, then you'd pitch the idea of a split, and introduce the new platform...

But this scenario depends on the second question:

  1. How much control the company has on the platform and what kind of control they exert?

    If the company can and will suppress negative comments, you won't have much options except contacting influencers and ask them to contact others, trying to stay off public publications.
    If they let negative comments be posted you will be able to engage quite a lot of users before anything happens. However, try to keep a personal link to all those who are interested and a list of those, if personal messaging is allowed. When you will propose the new platform, the person from the company moderating the website might not leave it available.

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