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We all love Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange, but there is a whole world of people out there who need answers to their questions and don't even know that this site exists. When they arrive from Google, what will their first impression be? Let's try to look at this site through the eyes of someone who's never seen it before, and see how we stack up against the rest of the 'Net.

The Site Self-Evaluation review queue is open and populated with 10 questions that were asked and answered in the last quarter. Run a few Google searches to see how easy they are to find and compare the answers we have with the information available on other sites.

Rating the questions is only a part of the puzzle, though. Do you see a pattern of questions that should have been closed but are not? Questions or answers that could use an edit? Anything that's going really well? Post an answer below to share your thoughts and discuss these questions and the site's health with your fellow users!

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    Graduation review: glad we didn't close this site - the community here is small, but engaged and enthusiastic, questions per day is middling but Q&A is of high quality. Growth has been slow but fairly steady for the past year - just need more people and more questions. – Shog9 Jul 29 '13 at 23:32
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OK GoneQuiet, I'll bite. The data's public anyways. But it certainly helps to know why we voted the way we did. For what it's worth, I'll pitch my two cents in.

Is Paul speaking with sarcasm in Acts 24:21?

  • My vote: Excellent.
  • Question: The question is succinct, focused on a specific facet of the text, and answerable.
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The accepted answer clearly answers the question, is detailed, and shows its work by logically exegeting the text.
  • Other Answers: There is one OK answer and one poor answer. However, since the top answer is excellent, these did not factor into my vote.
  • Reflection: If I could vote again, I would still consider this to be excellent.

Are men (brethren) really men or are they human?

  • My vote: Excellent.
  • Question: The question is succinct, focused on a specific facet of the text, and answerable.
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The top answer clearly answers the question. There were some comments about some "what if" situations than were never followed up on as promised, but these were not asked in the question so they did not affect my vote (and they probably are/should be separate questions on the site). The question was not to address the applicability of plural masculine nouns and pronouns to refer to groups of mixed gender, so the fact that the answer only addresses the specific verse in the question did not affect my vote (providing extraneous information that applies to broader circumstances than the question asks about does not necessarily make an answer better).
  • Other Answers: There was only one answer to this question.
  • Reflection: If I could vote again, I would still consider this to be excellent (and I'm apparently the only one), although I can sympathize with someone who may have given this a lower score.

Who or what are the "no gods" in Galatians 4:8?

  • My vote: Excellent.
  • Question: The question is succinct, focused on a specific facet of the text, and answerable. It makes claims about the audience of the text with no supporting evidence (which the accepted answer demonstrates to be false), but I do not expect questions to always get things right (if they already knew the answer they shouldn't be asking in the first place).
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The accepted answer clearly answers the question and corrects the false claims in the question. However, after looking at it again, I noticed that it does not provide any sources for its assertions. I'll elaborate on that in my reflection on this vote.
  • Other Answers: There was only one answer to this question.
  • Reflection: If I could vote again, I would have only marked this as satisfactory. After reflecting, I concluded that my own biases are the reason I voted excellent on this one: 1) Tim attended the same seminary I did/do, so I trusted his knowledge about the textual background; 2) Because of my previous studies, I can personally verify a majority of the claims he made about the audience of Galatians in his answer that are not clear solely from the text, but he did not provide any sources so that others can do the same; and 3) I agree with his analysis and found it insightful (which are purely subjective judgments that should not have factored heavily into my vote). The answer should have provided sources for claims unsubstantiated by the text itself. At the same time, Tim did a great job arguing from the text for many of his points, he defended his response thoroughly in the comments, and the question was marked as accepted. Therefore I would still consider it a satisfactory answer.

Was 1 John an unfinished letter?

  • My vote: Excellent.
  • Question: The question is succinct, focused on an issue clearly reasoned from the text, and answerable.
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The accepted answer is detailed and shows its work by logically exegeting the text. When I hurriedly read through it while voting in the site evaluation, it appeared to answer the question. On second glance, I realize that may not be the case (more on that in my reflection).
  • Other Answers: There was only one answer to this question.
  • Reflection: If I could vote again, I would have marked this as needing improvement. I must not have read the comments on this one during the site evaluation, because there is some crucial information in Matt's comment that should have been in the answer itself in more detail. Not to mention, Jon explicitly points out that this answer doesn't quite answer the question.

Overall, I probably need to slow down and spend more time on site evaluations. I tend to be more gracious than I am when normally voting for answers, because I figure that better site evaluations look better and probably help the site get closer to graduating from beta. This really isn't the right attitude, though. It may actually be more harmful to the site if I am too gracious in site evaluations, as it may graduate before it is mature enough to do so - and poor answers may stand that really need to be improved. This lowers the site quality and thus its usefulness. I apologize for not being more thorough and critical in my voting. I let the community down. I won't make that mistake again when the next site evaluation occurs.

Also, feel free to give me feedback (positive or negative) on my voting standards. Am I not evaluating these properly? How could I improve?

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    Nice, I didn't realize that the reviews were public data. I was worried because I couldn't remember my own votes even. Looking at it now, it appears that I'm the one who voted "Needs Improvement" on these four questions. That being the case, I'll see if I can draw up a post similar to yours sometime soon. Thanks for laying out your thoughts, Dan. – Soldarnal Jul 24 '13 at 19:00
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Thanks to Dan for giving me a template to steal. :)

Is Paul speaking with sarcasm in Acts 24:21?

  • My vote: Needs Improvement.
  • Question: The question is poorly formatted and oddly edited; Also, it's unclear why someone would think Paul was speaking with sarcasm.
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The top answer is excellent. The exchange in the comments could perhaps be incorporated into the answer, but that didn't factor into my vote.
  • Other Answers: I agree with Dan, the top answer is excellent; and since the question isn't very debated these did not factor into my vote.
  • Reflection: I don't think this one is far from being excellent; mainly the question itself needs to be cleaned up.

Are men (brethren) really men or are they human?

  • My vote: Needs Improvement.
  • Question: The question is too succinct. Anyone familiar with translation and the debates over gender inclusivity can probably figure out what is being asked, but it would be better if the question spelled it out a little more. The question is also really hard to find on Google. Key words I'd want to see this hit for are "gender inclusive", "translation philosphy", and "women".
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The top answer relies on mere assertion. It would be better as in the comments to provide an example showing how the males plural includes women. Even that would not settle this question, though; since the next step would be to show that it applies in this context. Comment says the author will expand later, but he never did.
  • Other Answers: There was only one answer to this question, though it probably only needs one good answer.
  • Reflection: I still think this one needs improvement all around.

Who or what are the "no gods" in Galatians 4:8?

  • My vote: Needs Improvement.
  • Question: The question is good. My main issue with this question was difficulty finding it on Google. I could get hits if I include "no gods", but that felt like an awkward search term. I felt like "Who were the Galatians formerly enslaved to?" and variants would be more natural searches, and I couldn't get hits on this for those type of searches, nor anything including "not gods."
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The accepted answer is satisfactory and I gave it my upvote a while ago. Maybe it could be made better with an abstract or conclusion type line, as evidenced by GoneQuiet's follow up comment; but the answer is good enough and didn't drag my rating down.
  • Other Answers: This is a question that could use more answers. It is an important question for anyone studying Galatians and there are certainly other opinions out there.
  • Reflection: I could be persuaded to see this as satisfactory. There is room for improvement, though, in alternative answers and better SEO.

Was 1 John an unfinished letter?

  • My vote: Needs Improvement.
  • Question: The question is good. I had trouble finding it on Google without the word "letter", though.
  • Accepted/Top Answer: The accepted answer is good, but the conclusion it draws misses answering the orginal question a little bit. I think it's an answer to a slightly different question (e.g. "Is the mention of idols in 1 John 5:21 out of seemingly nowhere?"). I would expect an excellent answer would probably include discussions of manuscript evidence and the nature of encyclical letters, etc... Literary cohesiveness is one dimension of an answer.
  • Other Answers: This is an important question and as such deserves more answers.
  • Reflection: This one, too, I could be persuaded is satisfactory (with room for improvement).

I appreciate Dan taking the initiative on this review review. I think I weight our presence on Google more heavily than maybe some other reviewers. In retrospect some of my criticisms in the review are perhaps a bit tough. I can happily say, none of these questions are Yahoo-Answers-poor. That said, I wanted to use the review as an opportunity to tighten up some of our questions and make them more accessible and more appealing to an expert audience. Like Dan, I welcome any feedback.

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  • Very insightful, thanks for sharing! +1 – Dan Jul 24 '13 at 21:16
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Final Results

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