15

From 2016: a year in closing:

Site Name                                 QuestionsAsked Closed  PctClosed DuplicatesClosed DuplicatesReopened OTClosed OTReopened UnclearClosed UnclearReopened TooBroadClosed TooBroadReopened OpinionBasedClosed OpinionBasedReopened 
-------------------------------------------------------- ------- --------- ---------------- ------------------ -------- ---------- ------------- --------------- -------------- ---------------- ------------------ -------------------- 
Christianity                                    2324        1755 75.52 %       139                5                443       26        265             6             284             19              624                 28              

Biblical Hermeneutics                           1268         415 32.73 %        76                1                217       25         66             5              20              2               36                  3              
Buddhism                                         936          69  7.37 %        22                2                 24        4          8             4               5              3               10                  2              
Hinduism                                        2203         508 23.06 %       260               11                126       17         45             5              26              3               51                  9              
Islam                                           2210         424 19.19 %       101                0                100        0        118             2              35              0               70                  0              
Jewish Life and Learning                        4095        1146 27.99 %       413               27                374       30        239            42              74             12               46                  3              

Philosophy                                      2697         943 34.96 %        55                2                421       26        242            16             119             10              106                  3              
Politics                                        1747         554 31.71 %        63                3                105        6        107             9              88              3              191                 17              
Skeptics                                        1670         748 44.79 %       102                7                388       56        157            61              24              6               77                 13              

As you can see, 75% of all questions are closed. This is far higher than any other site, including the other religious and political sites (which, like this site, presumably attracts trolls, rants, misguided attempts at preaching, etc.)

Why is this number so high?

  • 4
    Very good question, thanks for raising it. – bruised reed Jan 14 '17 at 7:25
  • 2
    Looking at the moderator stats, it looks like we actually run in the high 40's on week averages, but two massive cleanup efforts (last 2 weeks of April and June) plus two smaller ones (last week of November and December) threw the year average way off. – Caleb Jan 14 '17 at 8:35
  • 4
    High 40's is still high so this is still a good question to ask and consider the health of the site, but I think there is a combination of cultural factors that can explain this. – Caleb Jan 14 '17 at 8:38
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    And just in case a cursory read would lead you to believe Christianity is the roughest site on the network, Anime & Manga closed a staggering 92% of all questions asked. – Caleb Jan 14 '17 at 11:24
  • @Caleb Oops, looks like I missed the Anime site when going through the list; I thought this one had the highest close vote percentage. – Martin Tournoij Jan 14 '17 at 15:25
  • Using the high 40s number puts us in the same ballpark as ELU and the Workplace. – Nathaniel is protesting Jan 14 '17 at 15:35
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    Well it seems if you run the numbers with only 2016 questions then we're at 57% and we do have the highest close percentage after all. Anime had a massive site cleanup from old questions and for 2016 questions isn't even second. The close runner up to us is actually Hardware recs. – Caleb Jan 14 '17 at 21:37
7

There are a number of factors that contribute. Probably the biggest is that pretty much every person that stumbles across this site believes that it's a place to ask advice questions. That can mean personal advice for a situation they are facing, or help in determining what's right or wrong in general. The fact that "Christianity" encompasses such a wide variety of beliefs that such questions are inherently opinion-based. Catholics may believe X, while Baptists believe Y, and Latter Day Saints believe Z. Opinion based questions are just not a good fit for a StackExchange site.

A look through the Meta FAQ questions shows that this is an issue that we have struggled with ever since the site was in Beta. A look at the closed questions confirms this.

7

Shog9's follow-up answer shows that Christianity.SE's close percentage for questions asked in 2016 is a bit lower, at 57%. So let's first look at why there's a difference between 75% and 57%, and then why 57% is so high.

When this site first started, there were lots of opinion-based and "truth" questions that asked doctrinal questions but simply asked for the view of "Christianity." This caused a number of problems, so site policy started to change in 2012, but a lot of such questions were asked before the new criteria were codified and applied consistently. Since then, these questions have gradually been closed, but in 2016 close voters really searched these out and aggressively closed them.

But that only explains the 75% number, not the still-high 57%. Let me suggest a couple ideas for why this number is where it is:

  • The site's language is English and its name is "Christianity," which is a religion that has thousands and thousands of identifiable groups associated with it, and is the historically dominant religion in English-speaking regions. Thus there are millions of English speakers in thousands of denominations who are all inclined to think that this site is where they can ask about "their version" of Christianity, and don't consider the possibility that there may be other guidelines that must be followed.
    • This isn't so much the case for the other religion sites on the SE network. For example, even though Islam is a huge religion as well, it has fewer variations and much less history in English-speaking parts of the world.
  • Most of the web traffic that Christianity.SE receives is through search engines, and many of these visitors first see one of the nearly 2000 non-duplicate closed questions currently found on this site. These questions were closed because they aren't a good fit for this format, but visitors aren't likely to realize that. If they use such a question as a template for their own new question, they'll find that it is quickly closed.
3

My opinion is that the statistic showing 75.52% closed answers is due to the site being MIS-BRANDED.

As a newcomer, I came to the "Christianity S.E." site just a few days ago, thrilled in thinking that I had finally stumbled upon something I have been seeking for a very long time: a forum in which I could discuss some of my burning questions about faith, God and the Bible with other Christians in a civilized format with high standards on research. (Read: not Facebook.)

It surprises me to be disappointed, as I gradually have come to realize that this is not what is being offered here, and I have spent literally hours over the past couple of days reading many many posts, trying to figure out what exactly is the self-identity and core reason for existence of this site. It is amazing to see, as a person with fresh eyes, how much energy everyone here puts into sorting questions into 'acceptable' and 'off-topic' piles. To be brutally honest, it is a huge detractor from what I 'think' the actual original spirit of the site was likely envisioned to be. You all are working very hard on lots of stuff that is extraneous to your core purpose - whatever that is. To me, that is a symptom of a problem, and I think the problem is that it takes too much time and effort for the average person who comes along with a question to figure out who and what this site is all about, so as a result a huge volume of questions are produced, based on mis-understanding the rules, and what follows is that dealing with that erroneous volume has taken over the work of the site.

This is not to say that what the site has purposed to do is not wonderful. The more I investigate, the more respect I have for the level of thought and integrity represented here, and the hours of work that go into formulating well-researched answers. I just think you should realize that you are calling yourself one thing, and being another, which is creating masses of distracting mop-up work.

Altough I am extremely new, and some could rightly say I am too new to chime in on this over-arching topic (although by the privileges system I am allowed to write an answer...,) I am not the type of person who is comfortable lurking - I am here because I want to be a participant who contributes in a positive way. So I am expressing my obviously barely-informed opinion, with the hopes that at least I can contribute from the unique and very temporary perspective of a person who has 'fresh eyes.'

What my opinion boils down to is, I think the problem is the title of the site. Based on first appearances, people think that a site titled "Christianity" is a site where Christianity can be discussed, when in actuality, discussions here are limited to topics specifically defined within Christian Religions, Denominations and Traditions - I think. (This is where I may be completely off, because I still feel unsure how to define what is meant to be discussed here. I fully expect this last sentence to be corrected, a lot.)

I hope that @Nathaniel chimes in here, as one small line in his first answer in the 2017 Moderator Election Q&A Questionnaire alludes to the point I am trying to make: The question was,

How, specifically, would you go about creating and maintaining an atmosphere at Christianity.SE in which new users of the site, who don't know the site's rules and culture, feel welcomed to participate in the site while they are learning and navigating its rather complex rules and culture? How would you make it more likely that new users will become regular users?

Part of @Nathaniel's answer was (emphasis mine):

Manage expectations: When was the last time you walked into a store, asked about a product being prominently advertised in the window, and been told that it hasn't been sold in that establishment for the past two years? It's a bad look – it confuses and frustrates the customer, and makes it unlikely that they stay in your store, even if you have other things they may want. I see two ways that we do something similar: a) we have a generic name that might seem to invite any question related to Christianity and b) we have hundreds of closed questions that we as regular users rarely see but that thousands of brand-new visitors see first when they find us through a search engine.

@Nathaniel, I totally agree: you do have a generic name that seems to invite any question related to Christianity. Have you ever thought of changing it?

  • 3
    Thanks for adding your perspective! A name change has been proposed at least once in the past. See: Should the site be re-named “Christian Doctrine” (not the url)? I've also heard the idea mentioned more informally in the past year or so. It's certainly something to consider, but the challenge is coming up with a different name that is both concise and accurate. – Nathaniel is protesting Jan 18 '17 at 17:02
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    The topic is Christianity, the issue is that this is not a discussion forum, but a Q&A site with graded usefulness on answers (the Stack Exchange mechanics). This effectively applies a value sorting mechanism against a topic with hundreds if not thousands of varying perspectives all vying for the label "Christian" and disagreeing with each other about relative values. If you don't have a careful sorting mechanism with regard to this (the site standards) you quickly end up with a big mess (that's what happened in the early days of the site until they worked out how it could be done). – bruised reed Jan 18 '17 at 17:03
  • I've thought on and off about our name. What I concluded is that we do discuss Christianity, but we (like all other Stack Exchange sites) require answers that everyone regards as objectively true. I don't know how we can convey that idea in a name. – Matt Gutting Jan 19 '17 at 14:19
  • Laurent, if you take the site name and emphasize "SE" it makes more sense for the site to keep it's name. The problem with any SE site is that for those new to the SE model, this not being an internet forum is confusing: that's a style people are mostly used to. I had to adapt, not the site, when I first began participating on SE sites. – KorvinStarmast Jan 22 '17 at 19:42
  • +1. For a modest proposal to help better brand this site, see my Meta post: Proposal: Change our masthead to read: “about CHRISTIANITY” – Lee Woofenden Feb 13 '17 at 18:46
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In part, because we have some active community mods

If you have in mind a particular feeling on what fits or doesn't fit the guideline, you may offer a close vote and the other reviewer will agree or disagree. What I don't see a lot of is dialogue, but I am not omniscient. (Whoa, Korvin, say it ain't so! )

I'll offer my comment that I think this old question, which was protected, and is now in the close review queue, and got an accepted answer, need not be closed but ought to be recategorized as an overview question.

It seems to me that at times we kick the dead horse because we can. (I am sure I am as guilty as anyone else in that regard).

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