BH.SE seems to be doing well, except that we need more users who can actively contribute quality content -- at least if we ever want to make it out of Beta.

We get new users fairly regularly. Some make us cringe. Others remind us of what this site could be with a few more like them.

For the few that light up our eyes as we read their first post(s), what can we do to encourage them to stick around and "keep up the good work"?

3 Answers 3


Jon's epic multi-year post on mSO is well worth a read for some thoughtful background on why folk contribute at all. It's also a great bit of history about Jon's personal involvement ;)

For me, it's the Q&A and sometimes the reputation system that gets people interested at first, and then the community that keeps them coming. I advocate the following (some of which are fairly obvious, but bear repetition I think):

  1. Keep on providing great questions and answers: this is a new user's 'landing page', and the better it is, the more likely he or she is to stick around beyond reading on answer.
  2. Give feedback. SE's own research has shown that the worst kind of interaction with a new user is no interaction. Even if they don't like what you say/do, that interaction can be a spur for further involvement.
  3. Be respectful.
  4. Triage. Take a view on how likely the user is to be able to provide the kind of content we love here, and if there is a decent chance, go the extra mile to make them feel welcome and fit in (not necessarily with long 'welcome to BH' comments but by generally interacting with them and lending a helping hand and so on too). If you don't think they are likely to do well here, don't waste too much effort trying to fix/teach them, perhaps just move on and leave it to someone else.
  5. Ask/spot questions you think they might enjoy and comment on one of their answers suggesting they have a go answering them.
  6. Invite folk to chat. Even if they don't want to (and internet chat is not everybody's favourite pass-time), it's nice to be asked.
  7. Keep up the involvement in meta and encourage everyone else to do the same: over the long-term it's hard to over-emphasise the importance of meta. Even new users sometimes take to it, and it is sometimes good to comment with a link to a meta post a user might be particularly interested in.
  • Thanks Jack. I especially appreciated #5. (And especially cringed at #7... eehhhghgh... meta... but you're probably right.)
    – Jas 3.1
    Dec 17, 2013 at 0:20

@Jas. 3.1-What are you after, anyway? Voting is somewhat subjective, based on what an individual values 'quality'. I can list a number of criteria that might produce a 'quality' answer, but I find the 'Mods'(or those that act like them) do a fairly good job in screening the 'dreck' from the pool of answers that come in.

Beyond that, I find selection is very 'subjective', depending on what school of theology you come from. I find 'post modernist' presentations, although very "scholarly", suitable for wrapping fish in. Others find "Doctrinal Assertations", even with "proofs" 'anathema', they simply can't conceive of anybody knowing anything 'concrete' about God. I believe what we have is a smorgasbord: some like the letkes and the krumkake-and leave the lutefisk.

The quality of "great" answers I believe rises when people: 1) Answer the Question(not just voice speculations; 2) Are on Topic and in Context; 3) Provide credible and convincing support for their conclusions. Beyond that, good writing skills help, insights that contribute to understanding the question involved, scholarly applications where it isn't 'oppressive', and a dose of humor which engages your listeners.

The 'Powers that Be' might consider a "Best of BH"-a take off on "The Best of Craigslist". You can be 'subjective' yet take in a variety of answers which qualify as "Good Answers" without subscribing to their theological slant.

  • We all know that a good answer must answer the question and not some other one - but how does this post answer the question?
    – Pavel
    Dec 20, 2013 at 19:27
  • @Pavel-The question is how do we keep quality new contributers. I responded by saying 1) 'Quality' is subjective, depending on your theological view; 2) Good answers contain these elements; 3) A suggestion that doesn't reward 'bias' but acknowledges 'good answers'. Does that help?
    – Tau
    Dec 20, 2013 at 22:26
  • OK, so you focus on "quality" while I understand that the focus of the question is "how do we keep new contributers". Perhaps if every other words in your post wasn't "something special", I would understand how it deals with keeping new contributors and not only with quality (nothing against you, but this kind of humor is pretty annoying for anyone except for insiders). Now I don't see a reason to lift my downvote.
    – Pavel
    Dec 20, 2013 at 22:48
  • @Pavel-The context is "Quality New Contributers". The question has been edited considerably since I answered it; it is a little unfair to judge my response based on remarks in the question that have since been deleted. Since I've challenged the basic premise of the question, perhaps my answer isn't in keeping with a straitforward answer. My quotation marks are a 'mild''form''of''emphysis' seeing we don't have a regular text editor in comments. I'm probably the most "outsider" person on this site, if you find quotation marks offensive-"C'est la guerre".
    – Tau
    Dec 21, 2013 at 2:46
  • I wouldn't mind quotation marks in comments, and that's not what upset me even though there are better options for answers. I'm lazy to go to wiki for all these Norwegian words and "Craiglists" - I'm an outsider to this culture. About question being editted - since edits usually leave track ("edited [date]"), I don't believe this until someone else confirms this your claim.
    – Pavel
    Dec 21, 2013 at 10:41
  • To be clear, one such pun per post seems OK to me. One per sentence is too much, and unless most have explanatory links, it's a reason not to upvote, or even to downvote if the post is not very good otherwise. About the edits - AFAIK if the edits were rolled back there would be no trace, so what you say is possible, but still it don't sound very likely.
    – Pavel
    Dec 21, 2013 at 14:58
  • Caught! Help center says that even a rollback would show as "last edit". The question has nothing like this, so you either answered a wrong question, or misunderstood it and then lied to hide your mistake. Anyway, don't try for similar tricks in the future, some might develop a habit of casting really unjust downvotes upon you just because you're not trustworthy. Plus, read both questions and help topics thoroughly. Third, don't overuse not-so-obvious words, or make them links to some explanation. It's up to you to learn from this.
    – Pavel
    Dec 21, 2013 at 22:00
  • @Pavel-I didn't realize you were such a forensic analyst. To tell the truth(ahem...) I thought at 1st I was posting a comment, AFTER the other comments were posted. You will notice-Inspector Pavel, that I started my post with "@Jas. 3.1". Hmmm...who starts a post that way? It was after other comments were posted that I 'thought' I was posting a comment, only to realize I in fact was posting an answer. The other comments have since been deleted-they can be without warning, as any Mod will tell you. I left my answer, mostly as as opportunity for you to practice your forensic skills.
    – Tau
    Dec 21, 2013 at 23:48
  • Aha! Then I suggest either deleting or significantly editing your answer, now it just clutters and calls for misunderstanding reactions like mine.
    – Pavel
    Dec 22, 2013 at 5:44
  • @Pavel-My answer remains my answer. You have permission to DV it. If enough people, like yourself, DV it, it will remain in the bowels of the internet Hades until some programmer decides to cast it into the sea of oblivion. It's my response to a "Meta" question about how this site should progress, not an answer concerning God's Word.
    – Tau
    Dec 22, 2013 at 9:46
  • you make some very good points here Dec 28, 2013 at 12:32
  • @JackDouglas-Thank you! I was concerned that the tone of my response was misunderstood.
    – Tau
    Dec 28, 2013 at 17:37

New User of the Month Award

Introducing: The New User of the Month Award. I propose that we hold a vote at the end of each month to decide which new user holds the most promise, and then award a bounty to them to encourage them to continue participating.

Voting could be handled in a new Meta post each month. We could manually ping high-rep users in the Panel or Library for their vote (although anyone else who came across it in Meta would be welcome to vote as well).

The bounty could be handled in a number of ways:

  • StackExchange could create an "award" for us with an accompanying reputation increase

  • One of the SE top dogs could award it for us

  • Our high-rep users could take turns granting the bounty

  • We could award it on a volunteer basis

  • 2
    I'm all for awarding bounties when someone does an outstanding job on an answer, not so sure about seeking someone out each month. I know it when I see it.
    – Dan
    Dec 15, 2013 at 7:46

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