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There are 669 questions with the Catholicism tag out of our 5555 questions. That's over 10 percent of our site. It's by far our most popular tag--more so than the tags [Bible] and [Jesus]. And that's just the Catholic questions that are correctly tagged.

Has anyone considered proposing a Catholicism.SE to make the questions better grouped together? Would that be a good thing? Is that how the Hermeneutics site was made? Would there be a big migration of questions from here to there? Obviously Catholicism would be considered under the umbrella of Christianity but that hasn't stopped any other SE sites from being made.

Though I suppose if that happened it'd almost look like another "split" in the church, wouldn't it? :)

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    No, this is a bad idea. There is no need to split this site up. One of the very first things we established in the early beta was that this site is meant to be inclusive of ALL Christians, and splitting off Catholicism would work completely counter to that. There are multiple other reasons, but that's a big one, and I'm sure other people will elaborate more eloquently than I have. – El'endia Starman Jul 25 '14 at 15:48
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    @El'endiaStarman Ubuntu, Crypto, DBA, Craft, etc... were all subsets of StackOverflow.SE and Chess was a subset of BoardGames.SE until they felt it would work out better to give it its own site. Creating Catholicism.SE would make questions and answers easier to find, not harder. It would make topics more focused. – LCIII Jul 25 '14 at 15:52
  • SO is exceptional, being the first and by far the biggest. Chess might be more analogous, but my reasoning still stands. We do not want to "divide and conquer" Christianity. Highly relevant: Christianity.SE vs. Survivor – El'endia Starman Jul 25 '14 at 16:05
  • @El'endiaStarman The examples you give talk about how we should behave within Christianity.SE. I'm talking about creating a whole stack site. Everything you're saying would still apply. We don't want to divide and conquer within Christianity.SE, and we still wouldn't. I'm talking about the usefulness of a stack site outside the universe of Christianity.SE. I am not contradicting you. – LCIII Jul 25 '14 at 16:17
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    I believe Peter Turner proposed a Catholicism.SE but it never made it out of definition phase. Most users just don't see a reason to divide Christianity.SE into two parts: Catholicism and other. – 3961 Jul 28 '14 at 19:05
  • @freds I didn't propose one, the only thing I ever tried on area51 was a Chesterton site. Still would like to see that! – Peter Turner Nov 19 '14 at 5:54
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    @LCII make the proposal on Area51 and see if others agree. Just describe why you feel that there should be a child SE in the description. Basically your meta here is asking to ask. – The Freemason Nov 19 '14 at 14:37
  • 10% of the questions are about Catholicism? Remember that about 50% of all Christians in the world are Catholic. It would be interesting to look at the numbers in the English-speaking countries that primarily access this website, but I would be astonished if that percentage is less than 10% of Christians. – zippy2006 Aug 1 '18 at 20:12
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Ubuntu, C... were all subsets of StackOverflow.SE

This isn't quite true. Ask Ubuntu was and is its own beast. In some ways it is a subset of Unix & Linux, but it also has official backing from Canonical. If the Vatican were to approach us and asks to sponsor Catholicism.SE, that might make for a similar scenario to the Ubuntu site.


Chess was a subset of BoardGames.SE

This split is obvious to me. Chess, while a board game, has its own class of followers and experts, which are often quite separate from "board game experts." That is to say, there are many Chess experts who literally play no other games at all. And there are many other board game experts who never play chess. Moreover, the expertise between the two is merely incidental, rather than by nature. That is to say that a person who is an expert in both fields happens by (nearly) accident, not by virtue of the similarity of the fields.

By contrast, Catholicism experts are also, by necessity, Christianity experts, and Christianity experts are, by necessity, Catholicism experts. One cannot study Catholicism without also studying Christianity, and one cannot study Christianity without also studying Catholicism.


The more important issue isn't the volume of questions, but the quality of expert answers. Do you feel the quality of answers to Catholicism questions is suffering because the questions are asked here? Would the quality of answers be improved by a split?

I suspect the answer to both questions is a clear and resounding 'No.' But if you disagree, this is the case that needs to be made.

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    Those last three paragraphs are the key, you should've put them first! – curiousdannii Jul 26 '14 at 2:26
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    Your 3rd to last paragraph convinced me. Since this site is for the study and Q&A of the topic of Christianity, it is impossible to delve the mines of Christianity without striking into Catholicism, and vice versa. Growing up Protestant I always viewed Catholics as "that other group" and I carried that mindset entering this site. The influx of Catholic questions threw me for a loop, but I understand now the academic need for all of them. It would make as little sense to propose a Protestantism.SE. – LCIII Jul 28 '14 at 12:11
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Biblical Hermeneutics and Christianity were proposed at almost the same time. From the beginning, the more general site had better momentum, which is why this site has graduated and BH has not. One of the questions that arose during the Area 51 process was whether Biblical Hermeneutics is a subset of Christianity. In the end, it was made a separate site since study of the Bible is by no means restricted to Christians.

Meanwhile, I suggested on the Christianity proposal that authority would be divisive. A site that focuses entirely on answering questions with authoritative sources within the Catholic church would not have the same problems with division.

But I see two concerns with splitting off Catholicism:

  1. People who are not Catholic don't mind tackling questions. A site for Catholicism wouldn't have as many curious Protestants hanging around to ask questions.

  2. Catholics who visit this site now might be less inclined to answer questions on a general Christianity site if there's a specialized site available.

Even so, there's some precedent for splitting off subtopics from active sites. Apple springs to mind. The question becomes: would people have better odds of getting quality answers if the site were split. In other words, are the answers on this site noticeable inferior for Catholicism questions and would the volume of such questions sustain a new site.

I did some work recently to try answering this very question for Emacs and Vi, which were proposed spinoffs from Stack Overflow. A Q&A site can be evaluated on:

  1. How many answers a question gets,
  2. How quickly the first answer tends to arrive, and
  3. How many people see those answers.

Quite often the important factor that drives these metrics is:

  1. How many people are around to answer questions.

Assuming the tag was it's own site, its statistics would compare well to Christianity.SE as a whole:

Tag/Site         questions views score closed answers accepted answer TTA
                          median   avg      %     avg      avg      %   *
-------------------  ----- ----- ----- ------ ------- -------- ------ ---  
Christianity.SE       6121   299   5.7   19.2     2.6     53.5   96.9 198
[Catholicism]          799   250   5.3    8.1     2       56.6   98   227
Hermeneutics.SE       2164   279   5.1    5.3     2.1     54     96.3 797        

The final metric (TTA) is median Time To Answer in minutes. For comparison, I've added BH which has a very similar profile. The big difference is that it takes 4 times as long to get an answer on the Bible site. In all likelihood, that has everything to do with having less than half the userbase. Stack Overflow's huge userbase means half the questions on that site are answered in less than 24 minutes.

Now one could argue that a timeless topic, such as religion, doesn't need to concern itself with getting fast answers. But my analysis is intended to show that Catholicism is already well-served right here by this objective standard. If you look at the list of top users in the tag it becomes clear that plenty of non-Catholics are willing to ask and answer questions. We can't assume these same people would come to a separate site about the Roman church.

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    On the volume angle, 669 Catholicism-tagged questions is only about a third of BH's 1901 questions, so if BH is just chugging along steadily, Catholicism.SE probably would've tanked. – El'endia Starman Jul 25 '14 at 16:32
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    @El'endiaStarman While I agree that fragmentation is an issue (and avoiding fragmentation encourages politeness toward alternative views [or at least it makes that issue more prominent]), it is not obvious that a Catholism.SE would fail since many generic Christianity questions could be asked in the context of Catholism. – Paul A. Clayton Jul 25 '14 at 17:30
  • If one I'm all seriousness were to propose Catholicism.SE on area51 would it get re-closed since it was decided to be a subset of Christianity a few years ago? – Peter Turner Nov 19 '14 at 6:23
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    @PeterTurner: I've updated my answer to reflect my analysis on spinoff sites and I'm afraid Catholicism questions look fairly good on this site. I don't know whether an Area 51 proposal would be closed again, but I think it's hard to argue that a spinoff would be beneficial. (I really hope you aren't a Vi user.) – Jon Ericson Nov 25 '14 at 0:47
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    Well, I would probably visit both sites if C.se was split, but I would be greatly annoyed at having to do that. If I had a thought about Catholicism, I'd have to head over there, and that's annoying when I don't have to do it now. – 3961 Nov 25 '14 at 2:20
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I suppose the real question is this: what would a Catholicism.SE do better than Catholicism within Christianity.SE? Let's look at the chess and board games analogy.

Chess is a board game but it is more than that - on any decent chess page you are going to want to have boards available to show game examples, opening positions, puzzles and the like (as on chess.com), however, it is unlikely that a general board game site will provide these and if they did it would only lead to calls for further tools for other games. Additionally, there are questions concerning chess which are really a form of applied maths that don't really belong on a general board games site.

What does Catholicism have that is not within Christianity? What does it have that cannot be as adequately expressed here as on a separate Catholicism.SE?

I don't think there is anything, however, if there is that would be the point of an additional Catholicism site.

Other thoughts do spring to mind - this community is not very large, would spreading it over two sites be sensible? Would you get the same quality of answers? I joined stackexchange very recently, would I have joined a Catholicism.SE probably not. Do I know anything about Catholicism well perhaps a little, particularly concerning church history and a variety of Catholic scholars. I certainly would not have asked all the Catholicism questions I have done.

Finally, I would be against it as an retrograde step for the ecumenical movement - I do understand that that is a matter of personal taste but why split the church's body all over again here? Wouldn't this set a precedent for more and more splitting? How long before there is a protestantism.SE? an orthodox.SE? Who knows we could be looking at a Quaker.SE before we know it and all the problems of the first split would be multiplied each time.

  • Like I mentioned on the question below, as someone said, the "worldview" is different, even though as a matter of fact the Catholic Church itself considers all Christians in some way united to herself (even if they don't want to be or know about it)... christianity.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/6276/… – Michael May 11 '17 at 14:44
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I agree with creating a Catholicism.SE. That doesn't mean that there will not be questions about Catholicism here too. A case in point is Biblical Hermeneutics. While we like to say that the idea behind BH was to have a place where non-Christians can discuss the Bible. In practice, it is more of a Christian SE for Biblical Hermeneutics - which is why Jewish member have generally been turned off with the SE.

Using Chess SE may not be the best example. Can you have a board game discussion w/o Chess? Our question is, can we have a Christian discussion w/o Catholicism?

  • I agree with your assessment of BH but I don't see the corresponding problem here. Is there reason to believe that Catholics feel unwelcome on Christianity.SE? – Monica Cellio Nov 26 '14 at 23:37
  • Some may argue that Catholicism is a district religion from ancient and reformed Christianity. – The Freemason Nov 27 '14 at 18:00
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I totally missed this discussion and I'm sorry you got so trounced in the down voting, but of course there should be a Catholicism stack exchange. Most of us are blockheads in America so we don't even realize that 'Christianity' as it is talked about nowadays is a Protestant term. The fact that I need to tag every single question I want a legit answer from with ought to be proof enough.

Catholics in general do not want to have to slog through things that are contrary to their beliefs when sooo much is out there that supports their beliefs. Furthermore, we consider our Church to be the "fullness of truth" that should be more than enough to fill a website.

I am pretty sure it has more to do with the composition or ignorance of the Stackexchange hierarchy (ran by a gay Jew, no offense intended, it is simply something to point out) towards Catholicism which combined the Area 51 proposals in the first place.

I was ticked off that they merged Christianity with Catholicism a few years ago and continue to be to this day, although it is nice to learn about Protestantism and orthodoxy and get to know some of the folks here through the blog we used to do.

So yes, I think its about time we schismed. The site has been up too long with too few penetrating inquiries into Christian history , the fathers of the Church, sacred Art, scholasticism, natural law, neo-platonic influences, mariology (except scoffingly).

This site can continue to have superficial Catholicism questions (which is the only way I could ever accumulate any rep) but the new site will be gloriously scholastic droll and unexciting to anyone but the more demonically possessed internet troll.

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    Do you really think that a Catholicism.SE would get less trolling? Most of the internet trolling I have seen regarding Christianity has been targeted either at the Catholic church or evangelicals. Then you will also awake the sleeping giant of all the evangelicals who think Catholics need converting. I am also incredulous that you will get better questions on a Catholicism.SE. Who is going to ask them who isn't asking them on Christianity.SE? Granted you need the Catholicism tag in your questions and there are a lot of questions here which you may find irrelevant. Interesting answer though. +1 – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 19 '14 at 12:48
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    I'm intrigued by the idea of a site that isn't based solely on Catholic doctrine but Catholic culture and philosophy. If such a proposal were to show up on Area 51, I'd be curious to see how many other people were interested in it. I don't think Joel had anything to do with closing the Catholicism (or any other) proposal, by the way. – Jon Ericson Nov 25 '14 at 0:54
  • Why not ask (here) the deeper Catholicism questions you'd like to see, and see what happens? BTW, if you're thinking of Catholicism.SE as being about more than just the church but broader cultural issues (implied by Jon's comment), you might look to Mi Yodeya as an example of how that can work. In beta it was called "Jewish Life and Learning"; the "life" part is important to us. – Monica Cellio Nov 26 '14 at 23:41

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