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I stumbled on the site by way of a Google alert.

As such, I came in the back door, saw a question and answered it without a context of the purpose and goals of the site. Also without any guidance on the 'gaming' aspect or the meta vs. regular site.

I was actually very confused at first, in navigating the site and didn't understand scores which were up and down from day to day and my navigating between the meta and regular site.

I am sure there must be something I missed along the way, but many folks my age would not persist through the navigation confusion.

If you don't understand that meta is a different 'site' then it confuses you when your articles and comments disappear and you scores are changing.

Since you are a new user, your first assumption is that you did something wrong and someone deleted it.

I still don't really understand much of the meta-motivation for the site. It is a site, that wants to attract professionals... why?

If I were an expert theologian, who was paid to produce publications from time to time. If my reputation was dependent upon my written work...

  1. Free contribution here would be counter-productive to private publishing.

  2. Contributing original thought here, would put me at risk of accusations of plagiarism when that work has been edited by others, but I use my own contribution later in publishing.

  3. My professional reputation is placed at risk by casual conversation that does not go through the editorial process before being made public.

  4. I have to own up to corrections made by others.

I'm not sure how this is a friendly environment to the professional theologian.

Most I have talked with personally are reluctant to make public comments off the cuff for those reasons. They are great for rehashing their published works in formal presentations, but usually tell you to read their book when discussing it privately.

Anyone who studies the Bible will find that their conclusions drift with time as they understand the scriptures better. This forum locks them in forever, which may even put pastors at risk for future assignments.

You already know that I am the oddball. What I have been given I freely give. I really do put the scripture first and am readily willing to be corrected by it. Those with denominational obligations and dependencies cannot be so free. Those professionals with any degree of notoriety are at most risk in participating. I am a target simply because of the extraordinary claims I make. I have no income derived by sharing the gospel, no reputation to make or keep. I have nothing to lose by sharing.

If a plumber publishes professional insights he gains reputation. If a theologian does, it only makes him a target, by the very nature of theology.

The navigational barriers are things that can be overcome. I think the environment that theologians live in has to change before that barrier can be removed here.

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  • I still haven't figured out how to chat. I am familiar with IRC but just don't see anyone anywhere on this interface.
    – Bob Jones
    Oct 22 '11 at 15:16
  • I should say that I am actively looking for competent review of my 'wierd' observations, which is why this format is ideal for me. In any other format some moderator immediately labels my comments as Gnostic or Kaballah and tosses me off the site. This is also why in another comment I suggest that my postings may actually drive off the professionals you are looking for. Your purpose is to compile 'mainline' protestant thought. It really is in your best interest to ban me if you wish to attract them. Actually you just have to ask me to go away.
    – Bob Jones
    Oct 22 '11 at 15:26
  • 2
    Nobody is going to tell you to go away based on your views, esp not when you are interested in having them examined and critiqued or defended using the very text many of us hold sacred. In fact I think the kind of experts we hope to attract will be interested in engaging you. While each of us (myself included!) have our own views, this site itself isn't endorsing or purposing to forward any set of views, only be a place for experts to exchange their knowledge.
    – Caleb
    Oct 23 '11 at 17:15
  • There is another site in the works called Christianity.SE that covers Christian doctrinal issues rather than just textual issues common to Jews and Christians in the form of hermeneutics. You might be interested in a post I wrote on the meta for that site that helps define who the players are here a little more: Brothers, we are not Christians
    – Caleb
    Oct 23 '11 at 17:16
  • Your article is an excellent introduction. Thanks. I can indeed take a deep breath.
    – Bob Jones
    Oct 23 '11 at 21:30
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Bob your last comments had me laughing.

Take a deep breath and relax. This site isn't what you assumed it was when you arrived, but we can gladly forgive you the lack of knowledge. StackExchange isn't what most people expect, but often people like what they find once they get the ropes.

First of all, you should know that the motivation for this site has nothing to do with an interest in hermenutics or faith at all, much less "compiling mainline protestant thought". StackExchange is a for-profit secular company building software for a Question and Answer platform. The primary site is actually StackOverflow, a site geared towards programmers asking questions about coding in literally any language. The questions are asked and answered by community participants. The software that runs it is built and hosted by a company that survives off of the venture by hosting advertisements on the site.

Simple as that.

However they survive on that ad revenue because people keep coming back because their platform is a consistently good format to get questions answered and keeps both the askers and answerers interested. There are dozens of sites in the network now for other topics besides programming.

This site is merely an extension of that network. This is in fact a test site in "beta" phase to see if there is enough interest to sustain it as a viable QnA topic and to scope out what the site would look like if there is. Yes we ask and answer question because we really want to participate, but as a community we kind of have the reigns to shape what the site should be about.

The navigation issues you were confused about are not likely to change much. Yes it is a lot to learn, but the point isn't to have an easy site to get up to speed, the point is to have a fine tuned site that keeps things clean and neat for the experts. As someone who's been around a while on other topic sites such as the Unix & Linux one, I can say that the longer you use it the more sense it makes.

Having a meta site helps keep off-topic discussion off the main site so that it's focused on good questions and answers on the subject matter.

You can chat using the link at the top right of the screen. There is only one room related to this site right now, but the chat system includes functions for creating specialty subject rooms too.

As for your concerns about theologians participating, that is up to them. Yes, many of them won't like this format. For others this format serves as part of the editing process to get peer review on their constructions. If your goal is to publish for profit later it might not be a good idea, but you can still use your own material posted here because by posting you give permission for your content to be licence using a creative-commons standard licence.

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  • "Discovering" the site through trial and error has been interesting. You may wish to add elements of this and the other article to the FAQ.
    – Bob Jones
    Oct 23 '11 at 21:33
  • @Bob: I agree that some of this answer belongs in the FAQ. It's interesting for those of us who have been around a while to see what the man-on-the-street view of StackExchange is. ;-)
    – Jon Ericson Mod
    Oct 24 '11 at 16:01
  • Well I am good at QA. If it can be broken or misunderstood, I'll find a way to do it.
    – Bob Jones
    Oct 24 '11 at 16:14
  • Being what it is, I am probably good bait. "Experts" won't want my answers to stand.
    – Bob Jones
    Oct 24 '11 at 16:32
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    One additional point--my understanding is that there is supposed to be no original research. A scholar wouldn't be doing scholarship here, only rehashing scholarship that has been done. So he/she wouldn't really be sticking his neck out...
    – Ray
    Oct 25 '11 at 14:17

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