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I believe most regular contributors would agree, that they would like to see answers like this, a far more common occurance on this site, rather than being as rare as hen's teeth and at risk of being drowned out by noise.

The questions How can we get better expert-level questions? Or, StackExchange vs Yahoo! Answers, Who is an expert, and where are they? and Can we reverse the trend on low quality posts? seem just as fresh and relevant today as I imagine they were nearly three years ago. I realise that site standards have been better defined since those early days, and the enforcement of those standards seems to be fairly consistent on the whole - not saving us from the ongoing influx of poor questions and answers, but at least clearing them out somewhat effectively. We are still left with the problem of how to generate a consistent level of 'expert' answers as, in particular, there is a dearth of truly novel, high-quality focussed questions. I have a modest proposal (not in the Swiftian sense) that seeks to address this issue through attracting users who have a vested interest in asking and answering such questions:

A campaign of deliberate promotion of the site to theological colleges, seminaries and bible schools of various persuasions (possibly also organisations like the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and denominational equivalents if there are any) - seeking to inform them (gate-keepers, heads-of-school, information systems managers, people like these guys etc.) of the site's existence, purpose, ethos etc. and soliciting involvement from students and staff.

I'm presuming this hasn't actually been tried before, but has it been seriously considered? What would be the pros and cons?

If they were willing, perhaps the mods/community could nut out a good form letter and the community could help build up a serviceable contact list. A little bit of effort to set up, but after it was done, an annual or bi-annual promotion would then become very easy and even if the response was just a trickle of contributors, they would be the sort that are either directly engaged in theological education/research at an (at least semi-)academic level or at the very least, interested in setting the facts straight in their particular bailiwick. What are your thoughts on this proposal?

Addendum: truly, there is nothing new under the sun, but how about doing this with a little more community backing?

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    I like it. The site needs active promotion to all the experts out there. – fredsbend Jun 27 '14 at 17:53
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    Ive been promoting it at my seminary! – Affable Geek Jul 1 '14 at 21:12
  • @AffableGeek great! – bruised reed Jul 2 '14 at 4:12
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I think this is a good idea. I was reminded of what I wrote in the questionnaire for the moderator elections last year,

I think there are certain communities that we are failing to attract and retain at the moment. We have very deep and obvious coverage in some areas, reflecting the current userbase, but there are also big swathes of the Christian experience that are missing. Right now a site search gives 39 results for "creationism", 55 for "young-earth", and 102 for "evolution". Meanwhile we only have 10 for "Barth", 2 for "Rahner", 1 each for "Bultmann", "Cone", "Schillebeeckx" and "Tillich", and 0 for poor old "Congar" and "Schweitzer". I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who have more questions and answers about Barth alone. So academic theology is one place to look; OK, we might get more homework questions, but we currently have basically none compared to sites like Physics.SE (where graduate-level homework questions are being asked, as well as more basic ones). There are also underrepresented denominations, compared to their global numbers, notably the Orthodox.

I just did some more site searches to see how the counts had shifted. We now have 16 hits for Barth, up from 10, while Tillich is on 2, and Albert Schweitzer has been cited for the first time. Karl Rahner is stuck on 2 and James Hal Cone on 1 (I was mildly excited to see two hits for "cone", but it turns out the second one is for the geometric shape). Meanwhile, "evolution" has jumped from 102 to 173, and "young earth" is up to 70. I'm not saying that creation is an unworthy topic - just that it seems to me to be overrepresented here, compared to other areas of interest. The theologians I chose, by the way, were meant to be a sample of people who are indisputably influential and cover a range of viewpoints.

I continue to believe that there are plenty of people out there who have questions about academic theology, and many of these questions could be suitable for the Stack Exchange format. (Some questions will be too much a matter of opinion, too vague, or too lengthy.) The questions we have had that relate to formal theology seem to have been pretty well-received - even if they haven't all been answered. So I agree that the main thing is to try to develop our pool of users who are interested in asking - and answering - these kinds of question.

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As a Catholic I'm trying to think of the sorts of places where people versed in theology would also feel that they had time to spend on sites like this. I'm thinking that the Paulist Fathers might be particularly interested, though I'm not sure who you'd get in touch with.

Some of the Jesuits, and perhaps other religious orders, might also have interested and capable people who would feel it advantageous to contribute.

I'm not sure what the equivalent for other denominations might be, though. And (perhaps most importantly) who would speak as an expert for any of the very small Christian denominations, those who don't have a strong tradition of theology?

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    Seminaries and theological colleges may have a part to play, even in small denominations who surely must do some training. – Andrew Leach Jun 27 '14 at 19:31
  • Protestants in the USA call it Bible School or Bible College. In fact, I attended "Boise Bible College". That was its official name. Small school, but I'm sure plenty of the students and faculty there would be interested in this site. More formal post-secondary education is often called "Seminary." A pastor I studied with went to "Fuller Theological Seminary" and became a Baptist ordained Reverend. – fredsbend Jun 28 '14 at 0:35

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