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:

  1. Review meta (completed), creating a concise outline of what the community thus far believes this site could be, and the problems we encountered.
  2. Collect concrete proposals of what this site should be/do motivated by step 1.
  3. 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)
  4. 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)
  5. 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)
  6. 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).

  • About the ging through the area51 proposal again: do you want to cut our losses, leaving cogsci, and start over with a new site with a new direction? How would this be different from enforcing the rules we agree upon here at cogsci, Or, if we still do not agree, how will this prevent the new site to become the same as cogsci? Or do you want to go through an area51-like procedure to indeed improve cogsci as a fresh start? Jun 4, 2016 at 8:16
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    @RobinKramer No, definitely not through area51 (that would be a waste), area51-like. I updated to hopefully make that more clear. This proposal merely highlights we do not have the community to decide on or force rules "we agree upon here at cogsci", and these are steps to be able to get to that point. This process is supposed to diminish the chances of not agreeing. In essence (although not likely) step 5 could be a totally different group of users than we have now, but a bigger one, with an agreed upon idea of what that group is willing to commit to.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Jun 4, 2016 at 10:25
  • As I mentioned in the chat, we (you) have already reviewed the meta. I've read some of the topics you summed up and I think we should move forward quickly on how we feel about it. In the chat I started about the most difficult question asked in the review: "what makes a good/bad question?" If we can answer that and them decide on how to act upon that we already made a huge step. Only then we should move forward on the next subject (scope of the website for instance). Jun 4, 2016 at 21:08
  • @RobinKramer I agree we can move on already to step 2 in parallel to step 1, since some problems might already be transparent with the provided overview. Following the process I outlined here you can do so by posting a concrete proposal (addressing the full scope of a selected problem in the review) as a post on Meta. Ideally you also show how this proposal is in line with previous suggestions, as this might make it more convincing. You can then add the suggestion in the overview post following the provided format.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Jun 4, 2016 at 21:13
  • @StevenJeuris at what point it the review of Meta considered to be finished? Should I start writing proposals now? One of the reasons I'm hesitant to throw myself into this is that I don't know when I can expect things to progress or when I can/should just give up.,
    – Seanny123
    Jun 7, 2016 at 19:33
  • Nvm. I see now based off of your comments, that I can now start posting proposals.
    – Seanny123
    Jun 7, 2016 at 19:38
  • @Seanny123 The more people help, the faster it is finished. With the review you can help by reading through posts and distilling the key points in a summary. With suggestions you can also help by indeed starting to post concrete proposals which address the key points of the problems.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Jun 7, 2016 at 21:46
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    Although I appreciate your effort and commitment to the site, @StevenJeuris, I'm not sanguine about this plan. It's far too nebulous--there's no sense of how long it should take, who will do what, or how anyone could tell what the current status is or when it's finished, which means it's very likely not to happen. I'd much rather see specific, actionable proposals with a clear status and mod response.
    – Krysta
    Jul 5, 2016 at 13:04

2 Answers 2


I would like propose a slight change in approach, given that we are stuck on point 2 for quite a while: we ought to be 'collecting proposals', after which we should ping in users in a distilled format. However, the proposed changes are very distilled already. No new ideas have been provided in the last 7 months (i.e. SEVEN months!!). We should start taking action, because it has been taking too long already. Therefore, I would like to make some adjustments to the suggested approach:

  1. Review meta (completed), creating a concise outline of what the community thus far believes this site could be, and the problems we encountered.
  2. Collect concrete proposals of what this site should be/do motivated by step 1.
  3. Take action on the proposals made already.
    • Implement the new close vote.
    • Call in people now (e.g. through chat) that already were invested in this site before, present them the proposed scope and site name. Alternate suggestions may be given and people are allowed to vote until May 31st, 2017.
  4. June 1st, 2017, the moderators accept the most popular site name and scope and implement this.
  5. At this point, we should move forward on the marketing of CogSci. A strategy should be made and finished before June 30th. After that, everyone should commit on this. If participation is asked (by sharing and liking for example), people should do this.
  • In my defense, I did hand in and defend my PhD (and started two new jobs) in the intermediate time, so seven months does not feel like that much. :) I am okay with skipping 2 and considering it finished, but do not see how we could implement a proper new close vote prior to calling in people. This would already imply making a decision on the major other points, so what would be the point of calling in people at that point? It would just be to let them know we have decided what the site would be ... (not excluding this as a possibility, just favor the more democratic approach).
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Apr 23, 2017 at 13:37
  • In other words, to move forward I suggest a time (weekend/week?) is decided on over the course of which the current topics on the agenda are actively discussed (after pinging people in chat/meta). If you arrange a time/meta post, I will do the pinging.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Apr 23, 2017 at 13:39
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    @StevenJeuris I completely understand and I am not blaming you for it. Job applications (and working) cost a lot of time indeed. I am just hoping to light a fire. Especially with AliceD joining the mod team, I thought this would be the best moment to start and maintain momentum. As said earlier I too experience moments that I cannot or do not want to put a lot of effort in CogSci. Now that I have some time, I am putting in an effort for one final time. In short, I just want to see some action. A democratic approach or not, it's all the same for me, as long something happens. Apr 23, 2017 at 13:46
  • In other words, I would like to set that date if that is the favored approach :) Apr 23, 2017 at 13:48
  • Yup! Consider step 2 finished. ;p Once you have created the post to invite people in I'll update the reboot post and find a way to contact as many people as possible.
    – Steven Jeuris Mod
    Apr 23, 2017 at 13:51
  • @StevenJeuris "Once you have created the post" -- smart way of delegating haha Apr 23, 2017 at 13:53

A mere placeholder answer since community keeps bumping this post since no answer is accepted.

This approach was followed, and successfully (at least partially) completed. These are the two main outcomes:

  1. We now expect some minimum research: "We agreed that a lack of initial research is reason for closure". To reinforce this, we introduced a new close reason: "not framed in psychology or neuroscience".
  2. The new site name is: Psychology & Neuroscience. (a long and tedious journey)

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