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I was looking at the Area51's page of ELL. It has the valuable statistics about the ELL site like Visits per day, Question per day categories and for each category it says what is the expected value and how we are doing as compared to that value.

Okay – 15 questions per day on average is a healthy beta, 5 questions or fewer per day needs some work. A healthy site generates lots of good content to make sure users keep coming back.

Needs Work – 1,500 visits per day is good, 500 visits per day needs some work. A great site benefits people outside the community. Eventually, 90% of a site's traffic should come from search engines.

What is the correct word to describe Okay, Needs Work for each category? Is using grade for each category correct?

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I would understand you if you called it a "grade", but usually a grade doesn't change as often as these statistics do. You're given a grade on a test, and that grade doesn't change. A restaurant is given an inspection grade, and that doesn't change until the next time they're inspected. These statistics chance so often that, to my ear, grade sounds too permanent.

So: the numbers themselves are our statistics. I think that the Okay/Needs Work etc could best be referred to as a ranking or score.

Q: How are we ranked on daily visits?

A: Not very well; we're still at "Needs Work."

Or:

Q: What's our score for percentage of questions answered?

A: We're doing really well with that, our score is "Excellent"!

If we called it a grade, the exchange would go something like this:

Q: What's our current grade on ELL's question-to-answer ratio?

A: We're at 2.3 answers per question, so just "Okay."

I would understand what you meant, but it sounds a bit awkward to my ear.

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Grade (“The performance of an individual or group on an examination or test, expressed by a number, letter, or other symbol; a score”) is ok, as are rating (“A position on a scale” or “An evaluation of status”), assessment (“An appraisal or evaluation”), and score (“The performance of an individual or group on an examination or test, expressed by a number, letter, or other symbol; a grade”). Of these terms, I prefer rating, because I find it more suggestive of an evaluation expressed in words, rather than as a letter (eg, a letter grade) or a number (eg, a numeric score). (But note that rating also has the sense “A number, letter, or other mark that refers to the ability of something”, which offsets my reason for preferring it.)

  • Just out of curiosity, Can 'status' be used in place of 'grade'? – Dude Mar 16 '13 at 17:52
  • @JoeDimaggio, there may be cases where it can be, but I think more commonly than not, status and grade can't interchange. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Mar 16 '13 at 17:58
  • I am sorry, what I meant was can 'status' be used here? – Dude Mar 16 '13 at 18:04
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    @JoeDimaggio, yes, regarding the original question about “Is using grade for each category correct?”, I think status for each category might be preferable. In that phrase, I slightly prefer rating to status and prefer status to grade. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Mar 16 '13 at 18:17

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