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:
People who are not Catholic don't mind tackling catholicism questions. A site for Catholicism wouldn't have as many curious Protestants hanging around to ask questions.
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:
- How many answers a question gets,
- How quickly the first answer tends to arrive, and
- How many people see those answers.
Quite often the important factor that drives these metrics is:
- How many people are around to answer questions.
Assuming the catholicism 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.