Frankly, the objective measures I noted last month haven't changed. I've been thinking about one axis that's a bit hard to measure, however:
Every quarter we run a survey of users to see how the quality of a site is holding up. You can read the questions and the results (along with Dan's epic analysis), but you might be interested in a table summary. The columns are labeled:
E + S + N + K
- NET SCORE =
E - N
E S N K T NET SCORE
- - - - - ---------
4 4 0 0 8 4
5 3 2 1 11 3
3 7 1 0 11 2
2 4 1 2 9 1
1 6 1 2 10 0
2 3 3 2 10 -1
2 3 4 1 10 -2
0 3 2 2 7 -2
2 5 5 0 12 -3
1 5 5 0 11 -4
The first thing to notice is that there were at least 7 and up to 12 reviewers who took the time to take the survey. That's a good sign that lot's of people care about the site's success. The only question that nobody thought needed any particular improvement was: How do the traditions of the LXX and MT versions of Jeremiah relate? That tells me the active core of the site is reasonably honest with itself. I think Dan's answer is a little overly critical since I personally found some of the questions to be excellent.
Keep being critical of content; stop being critical of people
I've noticed (and couldn't help but be notified) that some folks think the site has failed utterly to be a place where "Jewish, Christian, Atheist and other viewpoints" are welcome. Honestly, I would not care about this site in the least if it were tied to one particular doctrine. In fact, I find no other site as open about the Bible without falling into a seething mass of nonsense. But I think a lot of people are mistaken about how that was achieved and how it can be encouraged to continue.
On several sites (Server Fault, Quantitative Finance, and WordPress come to mind) we've seen communities tend toward an attitude of excluding people rather than content. It's an easy condition for sites to fall into. Thinking goes:
- Our community used to be great before all of these X people started coming.
- Now the community is falling down on Y criteria.
- Those X people are often the perpetrators of Y.
- Therefore, if we exclude X, we will be saved from Y.
But that's shortsighted. The fact is nobody is attracted to a site that makes exclusion of people a founding principle.
I credit Bob Jones with being a useful example. He seemed to enjoy posting even when his answers were downvoted. You see he cared about the subject matter and enjoyed having a platform. He encouraged me (and I suppose others) to write alternative answers that corrected what I considered errors in his analysis. Even though I disagreed with his fundamental assertions, I found that I was able to upvote some of his answers. He was the ultimate minority (of one) and for many months he was tolerated, if not embraced.
And then, for reasons I will never understand, some people on this site started to target his answers for the crime of being wrong. I get that his views were occasionally offensive and rarely supported by, well, anything. But he was an enthusiastic fellow willing to take more downvotes than anyone else on the site (I don't even need to look that up) and keep posting. Finally the abuse on chat and in the comments got to be too much and he left. It makes me sad to think about it.
Lately, two other people have indicated they are done with this site. I'm sad about that too. But if the community spends a little less time judging each other, maybe it can get back to the task of writing interesting answers and voting based on merit, not truth. If folks spent less time sitting in judgment over other people's beliefs and a little more time being curious about how other people read the Bible, this will be a far more welcoming place.