LDS Doctrine & History on StackExchange

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AArnott
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LDS Doctrine & History on StackExchange

Postby AArnott » Tue Oct 06, 2009 7:38 pm

Hey folks,

Many of you may have heard of StackOverflow, the absolutely superb forum for programming-related Q&A. Well they've opened it up to others to set up their own web sites for Q&A of various non-programming topics.

I've set up a web site for general doctrinal & church history Q&A: http://lds.stackexchange.com/

Obviously this is an unofficial web site. But I expect it to be a great resource for people to ask doctrinal and history related questions and find answers from historians and scriptorians. I encourage people to go try this out, ask some questions, answer some questions (remember that answers with references backing up the answers should be up-voted most). The site is only a few minutes old as well, so there's a lot of placeholder text that needs to be written.

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:32 pm

I love the StackOverflow software, and it's great to see that they open sourced the framework to be used elsewhere. I would like to provide a few thoughts on your implementation.

As for the domain name itself, I personally think a better name could be selected, though I'm having trouble thinking of one. The StackOverflow name obviously has a great programming connotation, but I don't see how StackExchange really fits the context you are trying to provide. I wouldn't mind trying to brainstorm some domain ideas for you, and obviously you don't have to agree with me either. :)

The other concern I have about such a site would be the very openness of it, the ability to ask and answer a question in anyway possible. Obviously the power of the community can keep the site focused and clean, but the software itself will only get you part of the way there. The success of this site is constant volunteer moderation adhering to a relatively strict set of community guidelines. How will heated contention be avoided? Doctrinal arguments? Antimormon propaganda? I realize the software allows for reporting features and that some users can be elevated to perform moderative actions, but I think an active community with some key volunteers and guidelines will be absolutely necessary to keep it clean and focused.

I'm not trying to narrow the scope of the site and I realize you are probably trying to encourage people to be able to ask whatever question they may have and get a terrific discussion going on the topic and hopefully coming up with a few satisfactory answers. I've been helping moderate this site for over 2 and 1/2 years and just have these few questions in the back of my mind. But I also realize your goals may be different than the goals the Church originally had and currently have for this site.
Many questions are already answered on the LDSTech wiki. Check it out!

AArnott
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Postby AArnott » Wed Oct 07, 2009 9:18 pm

mkmurray wrote:As for the domain name itself, I personally think a better name could be selected, though I'm having trouble thinking of one. The StackOverflow name obviously has a great programming connotation, but I don't see how StackExchange really fits the context you are trying to provide. I wouldn't mind trying to brainstorm some domain ideas for you, and obviously you don't have to agree with me either. :)


I welcome your suggestions. I agree with you that it's not ideal. Fortunately, if we decide on a new domain name, StackExchange will happily forward people who go to the old URL to the new one. But it would be best to change it sooner rather than later, since changing it will orphan any account who uses Google to log in due to Google's directed identity feature.

One idea I had was http://www.ldsquestions.com. But by all means, shoot more suggestions my way.

mkmurray wrote:The other concern I have about such a site would be the very openness of it, the ability to ask and answer a question in anyway possible. Obviously the power of the community can keep the site focused and clean, but the software itself will only get you part of the way there. The success of this site is constant volunteer moderation adhering to a relatively strict set of community guidelines. How will heated contention be avoided? Doctrinal arguments? Antimormon propaganda? I realize the software allows for reporting features and that some users can be elevated to perform moderative actions, but I think an active community with some key volunteers and guidelines will be absolutely necessary to keep it clean and focused.


You're absolutely right. As the traffic increases we'll need more moderators. StackOverflow tends to have no problem controlling content as some people are highly motivated seemingly by nothing more than accumulating reputation to ask good questions, give excellent answers, and moderate off irrelevant, distracting or offensive content. Hopefully we can enjoy some of that same energy here.

I think there will probably be heated contention on some doctrinal points. But StackExchange isn't a forum. It's a Q&A place, so drawn out discussions are already somewhat inhibited just by the structure of the site. My hope is that answers with references will be upvoted, and the best answers will bubble to the top, and those with baseless rants on their own doctrinal interpretation will fall off the bottom.

Any insights you can offer from moderating this forum would be interesting to hear I'm sure.

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:11 pm

aarnott wrote:One idea I had was www.ldsquestions.com. But by all means, shoot more suggestions my way.

Simple enough and exactly describes what the site is about...I like it. Easy enough to remember too.
aarnott wrote:But StackExchange isn't a forum. It's a Q&A place, so drawn out discussions are already somewhat inhibited just by the structure of the site. My hope is that answers with references will be upvoted, and the best answers will bubble to the top, and those with baseless rants on their own doctrinal interpretation will fall off the bottom.

Yes, the reputation and voting aspects of the software are successful motivators. And I've always thought of StackOverflow as a hybrid wiki/forum software, which gives it unique characteristics. It allows discussion like a forum does, but also allows editing of existing questions and responses by numerous contributors (which keeps it from becoming a long discussion thread). Really neat combination of strengths, and to me it nullifies the weaknesses of each individual concept (wiki and forum).
Many questions are already answered on the LDSTech wiki. Check it out!


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