We are well into our fourth year since the inception of this Q&A site, yet are still showcasing growing pains. Our main problem is retaining a core user base to be able to push true an idea and direction for this site. Our inactivity on meta, and until recently desolate chat, are testimony of this problem. No harm done in case there is no disagreement, but the few that stuck around for long enough know this not to be the case. Key issues have been brought up repeatedly over the years, by old and avid new users alike, only to fall on deaf ears as there is not an active enough community to carry major changes through.
That is not to say we did not achieve anything over the past four years. As a community we have amassed a large amount of quality content that otherwise would not have been; content contributed by various users who saw potential for this site but unfortunately might not have seen it come to fruition. Since we don't have a steady userbase, we need to find a way to voice the opinion of those that since might have moved on but were willing to invest in an idea that they believed in for this site.
Although there are many points on which Christian and I disagree, I believe he correctly outlined the problem with Cognitive Sciences as it is now.
Garbage Valley is what I call the approximately 800, usually heavily assumption-laden, unanswered questions we have that can be characterized as "might be interesting to a lay user, given a sufficiently exhaustive negative answer--an answer telling them why this makes no sense--but which are absolutely uninteresting to an expert user who would be qualified to answer them." This is diagnostic of our problem as a community. We cannot retain two contradictory userbases, we have to choose--that's just textbook community management.
While writing this, there only seem to be seven people active on Meta, out of which three are moderators. In essence, we do no not have the community necessary to address this issue (whether you feel it is an issue or not). For those that want to tackle this problem, we seemingly need to go through a similar process as the the initial phase of an Area51 proposal again.
Help sites get off the ground by defining the types of questions that are wanted, recruiting a critical mass of experts, and committing to the site's success.
However, there is disagreement on which types of questions we want, we do not have a critical mass of experts, and only seven people currently seem committed to the site's success. Regardless of this, the main site is not severely deteriorating either, thus a reboot (breathe new life into it) is still possible.
As such, I suggest the following approach:
- Review meta (completed), creating a concise outline of what the community thus far believes this site could be, and the problems we encountered.
- Collect concrete proposals of what this site should be/do motivated by step 1.
- Call in people (e.g. through chat) that already were invested in this site before, and present suggestions in a distilled format (the result of step 2). (completed)
- Set time aside to let a (now hopefully bigger) community discuss these issues and extend on step 2. (completed and discussed on chat, July 17th '17)
- Pick a date and find the largest group of people willing to commit to one specific proposal. (completed and discussed in chat, Aug 1st '17)
- The moderators make the necessary changes of the selected proposal to which other users have no access. (completed)
I hope this provides a workable process and can act as a permanent record upon which we can continue, even if there will be several weeks in between (given the size of this community).