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OK, I deliberately chose a provocative title. But the issue I want to raise is this: should we merge this site with Christianity SE?

Of course, there are strong arguments for a separate site. But I'm looking purely at the numbers:

On the Christianity site, I expressed my concern that it would fail (and discussed the issue of number of visitors).

So, purely looking at the numbers, should we merge these sites? Or is it perhaps too early to be concerned at the numbers?

Update: reflecting on this, perhaps the split in itself is not the problem but the timing. That is, we have two new sites starting at more or less the same time with a similar audience / contents. Perhaps we should merge, and then only consider a split when the new site is a success?

  • @GoneQuiet: answers downvoted? I don't think any of the answers here have been downvoted (and certainly not by me). I suppose if you want to poll whether these two sites should be merged, you could ask that question. But judging by the reactions, here, so far, it's too early for that. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Jan 4 '12 at 9:24
  • @GoneQuiet: ah, I see. I originally thought you meant that they were overall downvoted, i.e. in the negative. Still, so far it seems that people overwhelming want to keep the two separate sites. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Jan 4 '12 at 13:12
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    @Wikis: That's not a surprise since you asked here. ;-) – Jon Ericson Jan 4 '12 at 21:58
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On the update:

At this point, merging the sites will ensure one fails while doing precious little to save the other. I suppose the concern is that the two sites divides resources in the form of askers, answerers, readers and moderators, which implies that pooling our resources would give the surviving site a critical boost. Sort of like one man in the lifeboat giving his life so another can eat.

But I'm convinced that there are very few sharable resources. A fair number of our top users are Jewish and will not likely visit a combined site. A number of others have expressed opposition to a combined site. And as for me, I'll head back to Philosophy.SE if anywhere. Finally, I think there is a place for atheist scholars of the Biblical texts and they would not likely be welcome in a combined site. I would need more evidence that such a move will be profitable to consider it. How do you think the merge will benefit the survivor?

I've long opposed merging the two sites. My reasoning has changed somewhat, however. In the past, I'd assumed the Christianity site would be too unfocused to be worthwhile as a place to get expert answers. I don't think that anymore given the limited time I've spent there. It's actually encouraging to me that traffic is a problem there as it means the site hasn't been taken over by nutcases and the ignorant. Not having enough traffic is far easier to fix than having bad content encouraging worse content.

And my personal discovery is that the relationship between sites on StackExchange is not a zero-sum game. A little cross-site activity can be worth more than the sum of the parts. We've had posts that link to related posts on Jewish Life and Learning and the other direction. Each time, both sites have benefited from the other's perspective. Please reconsider the desire to pit one group against another. Rather, why not think of how we can help both communities together?

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My answer is "no", to which I would add "never" and "over my dead body". Ok perhaps that is a bit strong language but I think this site is doing just fine as it is and benefits enormously from a much more focused topic than many other superficially similar sites.

SE have promised to give us all the time we need in beta to build the site up. It may take many years to attract the true experts in the subject - many of whom have probably never heard of Stack Overflow and co.

  • I read your strong language and want to assure you I don't mean any offence, nor do I particularly want to close or merge these sites. I'm just looking at the numbers and wonder if it is necessary. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Dec 24 '11 at 18:06
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    None taken, sorry for giving that impression :) If we show any sort of growth at all during 2012, I'm told that's enough reason to keep going - it the presence or absence of growth, rather than the rate, that matters, slow and steady is good enough. I think we'll need at least 3-6 months more to know which way we are heading... – Jack Douglas Dec 24 '11 at 18:11
  • No problem, I guess that means that my question was indeed premature. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Dec 24 '11 at 18:16
  • I think so, but others should have the chance to disagree with me I think - lets see what other responses you get in a week or two? – Jack Douglas Dec 24 '11 at 18:33
  • Yes, this is not an ideal time to ask... :) – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Dec 24 '11 at 18:46
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Response from recent visitor:

If you want this site to take off, I think you need to attract the attention of people like my Hebrew teacher, who is a PhD candidate in one of the relevant fields. He's a committed Christian, and yet teaches Hebrew Bible at my synagogue, where he and his students get along like a house on fire. That doesn't mean that his or our doctrinal views never come up, just that they are side-comments on the main project at hand.

The main project at hand is 'how can we best use linguistic evidence to make sense of this text?,' not 'doctrinally, how has religion R interpreted this text?'

Now, the purely linguistic approach to understanding text is, of course, just one way that people engage with it. But I think, based on the other answers here, that it is the distinctive intended feature of this site as compared to the religion sites.

In the short time I've been visiting, I've seen a few Hebrew Bible questions that are posed from a distinctively Christian viewpoint, and a few answers as well. I didn't stomp off in a huff, but I also knew better than to pick an argument. If people want to ask and answer this way, that's fine ... but I think that it does not help you to attract the genuine experts on the texts whom you will need to make this a long-term success.

I'd point to Is there a link between the Jewish expectation of a literal Messianic kingdom and the command to witness to the ends of the earth in Acts 1? in particular; I'm not quite sure how to classify this, but it seems, superficially, to be predominantly doctrinal.

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    Your Hebrew teacher seems an ideal example for us. As we continue defining the site, I hope you will continue participating. Perhaps you can help us model the good example you speak of. ;-) – Jon Ericson Jan 7 '13 at 7:38
  • On the topic of the question you've linked to: I think it is a legitimate question for us since it seems to come from the text plus a knowledge of its first century context. The answer has been the subject of considerable debate lately and we haven't determined exactly how to handle answer like this. The whole page would certainly look better if we had one or two competing answers. – Jon Ericson Jan 7 '13 at 7:43
  • "that it is the distinctive intended feature of this site as compared to the religion sites." I think there is broad agreement on this as an overall feel for the site, where there is some discussion is on exactly how to achieve this. I'm in the camp that thinks a firm hand with questions and a light touch with answers is best. Compare the votes on the question/answer you link to to this one from the same day: the community is already shaping itself in the way we are all hoping :) – Jack Douglas Jan 15 '13 at 8:22

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