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Confession time: I've wasted a lot of time on other things this past week and didn't really participate the challenge. It seems like the site was a bit dead all week long as well, so we really didn't get many questions about silence. (Thank you for participating if you did, however!)

I've also been thinking all week long that the internet is full of people who would to have their questions about the Bible answered. Meanwhile, our site is barely scratching up 2 questions a day. That's a massive disconnect and a problem I'd like to correct.

Currently we have a great core of users and that core is slowly growing. But we are a long way from any sort of tipping point of new questions fueling more growth.

So here is my challenge: find question on the internet that are high quality and ask them here. Bonus points if you link back to where you found the question and double bonus points for posting a link somewhere else that points here. The idea is to find the people who are already asking interesting questions somewhere else and get them to try us on for size.

A word of warning: Please be respectful of whatever community you might interact with.


N. B.: all "points" are hypothetical, metaphorical, imaginary, illusional, and awarded on the basis of the honor system. Even so, you want lots of them. ;-)

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  • How would you do bonus and double bonus points?? – Nick Rolando Dec 10 '11 at 0:25
  • Good suggestion, but I don't know how you would keep track of any of that, let alone award bonus points? And shouldn't this be some form of question?? – Nick Rolando Dec 10 '11 at 1:40
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    @Shredder the rules in the site metas are a bit more relaxed. As for bonus points, well. There is always the satisfaction of knowing you did something awesome for this community, as well as the eternal gratitude of the OP. :P – Aarthi Dec 10 '11 at 23:19
  • @Aarthi Hahah i see – Nick Rolando Dec 11 '11 at 20:04
  • @Aarthi: Interesting to see you here. There's a thread in chat that starts around here with some ideas for promoting the site with some sort of partnership with a Bible aggregator or building a sister site that would contain the text of the Bible in order link to specific questions here. I'm sure CHAOS has bigger fish to fry, but is anything like this on your long-term radar? – Jon Ericson Mod Dec 12 '11 at 21:18
  • @Shredder: Aarthi is right and I've updated my "question" to clarify. The whole idea of the challenges (which come from the Jewish Life & Learning SE) is to spur regular participants into asking more yummy, sweet, juicy questions. Like Johnny 5, we hunger for input. ;-) – Jon Ericson Mod Dec 12 '11 at 21:25
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I would encourage you to adopt something similar to Judaism's weekly topic challenge before reposting a large quantity of questions from elsewhere on the internet. Asking questions is hard (in my opinion, the hardest form of participation on the site), yet is vital to the site's success. You can post questions you encounter from other people elsewhere online or in real life, but generally, you should only post questions that you have a vested interest in. If you find a question that makes you say, "Oh! That's a really good question! I've always wondered that, too, but haven't been able to articulate it!" then sure, go ahead and post it. And it's always good etiquette to link to the original source if you're posting on behalf of someone else.

Please do not just go around to other sites and scrape questions. We are not a content farm, and while 2 questions a day is low, this is still a new site and organic growth takes time.

I love your chat idea about posting notes in Bible apps. While I don't think CHAOS has any bandwidth to take on promotion of Biblical Hermeneutics right now, there's nothing to stop you from doing a bit of promotion on your own. If you're so inclined, feel free to contact that service and see if you can have a conversation about their policy of editing notes that link to external sites. See if you can convince them of the value of linking here. And keep throwing ideas out there; maybe someone else will wind up having a connection to some company/blog/site you'd like to partner with.

If you have a specific idea you'd like feedback on, definitely keep using meta to garner that feedback from your fellow community members and likely the input of the community team and/or CHAOS.

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  • I agree 100% that we ought not be in the business of scraping questions. Most questions about the Bible on the internet are of very low quality. I probably worded the challenge poorly. :-( Hopefully people will do as I do and not as I say. – Jon Ericson Mod Dec 12 '11 at 22:23
  • Your wording was a little ambiguous...just wanted to leave a clear record of what we expect in terms of user behavior on these sorts of issues. You're not in trouble, promise. :) I think it's great that you're trying to lead by example and get others to start thinking about how they can promote the site too. Keep it up! – Laura Dec 13 '11 at 15:43
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Marketing 101 suggests that in any market there are two leaders - the rest are Followers. The leaders are Yahoo and probably Answers.com. So this site is a 'Follower' and is unlikely to become one of the leaders in the near future. Successful Followers find a niche where they can excel and do not wear themselves out trying to compete for the mass market against better resourced rivals.

I believe that the site has found its niche in promoting reasoned, researched answers to questions on the Bible. This is a market where there is little consistent competition, so a good niche to develop. However, these are not the answers that the mass market wants: most people want answers that confirm their belief or disbelief, and therefore want assertions of truth. The questions that get promoted to the top of the page (or even to page 1) in Google are the questions that are most frequently selected from the list. But the questions that are most frequently selected in Google against typical, broad selection criteria are those that the mass market wants, not so often the questions and answers provided here. Of course, Google users who choose narrower selection criteria will sometimes bump on of these questions to the top of the Google page, simply because this is the best fit to the selection, but I think you can not build a viable site on that basis.

I say, stick to your mission and develop a reputation for providing high quality questions and answers to a select audience. Part of this reputation-building should be the editing or removal of answers that fail the quality test, however you define it. With that reputation in mind, target students of theology, academics and seekers after truth. I'm not sure how to become better known to that group of people, without spending money, but I believe they are the people you want to interest.

I notice that the question was asked a year ago and has been inactive for one year, so perhaps others have come to the same conclusion I have, or found a better one, or none. However, I give my ten cents worth in case it is of any help.

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  • I think you are right :) – Jack Douglas Oct 15 '13 at 9:31

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