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Compared to other StackExchange sites, Christianity.SE has a very high percentage of closed questions, as pointed out and discussed in this Meta post: Why does this site have such a high percentage of closed questions? This indicates a high level of misunderstanding about this site and its purpose among new users. One of the answers to that meta post, by a relatively new user, suggests that much of this misunderstanding is a result of this site being mis-branded.

As a modest step toward correcting that mis-branding, I would suggest that in our masthead, instead of having "Christianity" by itself, we add in smaller letters, perhaps above and offset from the main title, the word "about," so that it reads something like this:

     about
            CHRISTIANITY

This would be a tip-off to the actual nature of the site: that we are not a Christian site (see: Brothers, we are not Christians‼), nor are we a Christian discussion site, but a site whose purpose is to answer questions about Christianity.

In other words, such a change to our masthead would suggest to new users who may be looking for a place to discuss their Christian issues and Christian life that this is, instead, a site that serves as an objective observer of Christianity.

This change to our masthead would not, of course, be a miraculous cure-all for the common misunderstanding of our site and its purpose among new people who wander in here from Google searches. But it would provide a clearer indication of the nature of this site in its masthead.

(Note: I previously made this suggestion at the end of a Meta answer here.)


Edit: I have accepted curiousdannii's answer because I think his proposal for the masthead is much better than mine. As I said previously in a comment there, I would like it even better if the "about" I suggest were also added to the masthead, above "Christianity." However, if the consensus is that his proposal is best as-is, then I would willingly accept that as a great improvement over the current masthead.

  • +1 because it's a good point, but I don't know that turning this site into the about.com guide to Christianity Q and A parlor will meet with the approval of anyone back at HQ. – Peter Turner Feb 13 '17 at 18:58
  • we did have a conversation about it a few years ago: meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/813/… I think the +1'edest answer there has been the source of all our grief. – Peter Turner Feb 13 '17 at 19:02
  • @PeterTurner About.com doesn't have a trademark on the word "about." It's a very common and widely used word in the English language. – Lee Woofenden Feb 13 '17 at 19:37
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    @PeterTurner I did see that question, but I'm not proposing that we change the name to "Christian Doctrine." I have given the most upvoted answer yet another upvote, because this site is not only about Christian doctrine. So that would also be a mis-branding of the site. "About Christianity" is much broader than "Christian Doctrine." "About" includes all the other categories listed in that most upvoted answer, whereas "doctrine" does not. – Lee Woofenden Feb 13 '17 at 19:39
  • Started up a chat room (on a slightly different topic) about changing the site name altogether. If you want to post some ideas. – Peter Turner Feb 13 '17 at 22:59
  • Compared to other StackExchange sites, Christianity.SE has a very high percentage of closed questions You say that like it's a bad thing. It isn't. The topic itself attracts an inordinate amount of noise, misinformation, opinion, baiting, argument, emotion, and trolling. (Point of reference, over 20 years of discussing a variety of things on BBS, news groups, and forums) Filtering out as much of that as we can is a GoodThing(TM), and supports the favorable signal to noise ration the SE model prefers. – KorvinStarmast May 25 '17 at 17:20
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I don't think adding "about" will really help explain much. I don't think anyone comes here thinking their off-topic questions aren't about Christianity.

Possibly something like this could help?

Image showing the masthead with "Denominations - Beliefs - Practices" beneath the title

But really, if any change were to be made, it should be to make the tour more prominent. The tour needs to be visible here:

The box that is shown on the front page when you're not a registered member

And here:

The "How to ask" box on the question page

Perhaps there could even be some way of forcing new users to read the tour before they are allowed to ask new questions? But then how could we know whether they've actually paid any attention...

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    +1. Your idea for the masthead is better than mine. If I had to choose between the two, I'd choose yours over mine. However, even better, I think, would be to combine the two, so that the whole masthead title reads: "about / CHRISTIANITY / Denominations · Beliefs · Practices". The "about" could be centered above "Christianity" if folks don't like my offset version. I still think the "about" adds a helpful element of "we're observing Christianity here." But you're right that by itself it won't accomplish as much as I might hope. Your additional subtitle would do the trick, I think. – Lee Woofenden Feb 14 '17 at 6:51
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    I'm not for forcing people to take the site tour, even if we do make it more prominent. As you say, we can't make them pay attention, and many people will likely just zoom through it without even reading it just to get it out of the way, and get annoyed at us in the process. – Lee Woofenden Feb 14 '17 at 6:52
  • I don't read EULAs – 3961 May 22 '17 at 5:48
  • Maybe a popup at the question page "We have done different rules for asking questions on this site. Have you read them yet?" Then when they click yes we can rebuke them and demand a penance. – 3961 May 22 '17 at 5:49
  • Seems to me like "history" could receive front page attention. If so, can the logo handle four things or should one be removed? – Nathaniel is protesting May 22 '17 at 11:04
  • @Nathaniel The three there are good, but as Iggy Pop once said, More Is Better – KorvinStarmast May 22 '17 at 18:23
  • @Nathaniel It can't be comprehensive, and I was thinking the ones I put would cover the majority of questions, especially as a lot of the history questions are about the history of one of those three things. – curiousdannii May 24 '17 at 2:56
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Don't fix what isn't broken.

A man named Deming would call your proposal 'tampering' since the presumption is that the closed questions is due to our name/brand. Others might just call it an XY problem.

No, it's due to our rules / guidelines and how the community moderators (myself included) pursue adherence. I've noticed the latest jihad against old questions.

So they get put into the Close queue and community moderation proceeds on.

I recommend against this proposal.

Christianity.SE is fine, and any explanation about that "about" feature can be folded into the "About us page" or (as with all SE sites) users figuring out the norms here as people arrive and choose to participate. There is No Easy Button. And quite frankly, the community engaging the new users is better than trying a cosmetic fix.

People matter, and we should treat new users like people. That's not about rules or labels, that's something the community at large will/should take to heart. (And mostly, the community seems to).

Fun with data and inference

Do we have a high percentage of closed questions? Sure we do. Part of that is the subject matter itself: Christianity, on the internet, attracts a lot of low quality posting, and not just here. What we do, as a site, is do something about that.

Going back to usenet and newsgroups, through today, (goodness, has it really been two decades and more?) my obesrvation is that the topic itself brings out the worst in some people, but also brings out some great exposition, reflection, and discussion in others.

Close rules: if it's general SE policy, or site guidelines, then Once Again the problem isn't the title but SE rules.

I'd recommend not attributing to the title a problem cause by what's under the hood:

  1. Site rules (general SE)
  2. Site rules (What our C.SE hive mind has over time decided is how to keep the signal to noise ratio high).
  3. The topic itself: it comes with the badge

Comments from Laurent's answer (the one that I thought had inspired Lee to run this up the flagpole and see who salutes it, but then ... oops, time tags).

(@bruised reed) 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). – Jan 18 at 17:03


(@Matt Gutting) 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. – Jan 19 at 14:19


(@KorvinStarmast) 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. – Jan 22 at 19:42

Don't fix what isn't broken


For the sake of posterity, a comment under the original question is saved in this note since comments eventually go away.

Compared to other StackExchange sites, Christianity.SE has a very high percentage of closed questions. You say that like it's a bad thing. It isn't. The topic itself attracts an inordinate amount of noise, misinformation, opinion, baiting, argument, emotion, and trolling. (Point of reference, over 20 years of discussing a variety of things on BBS, news groups, and forums) Filtering out as much of that as we can is a GoodThing(TM), and supports the favorable signal to noise ratio the SE model prefers.

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    I suspect that the primary motivator here is that 57% of questions asked in 2016 got closed, not that there were also efforts to close questions that are no longer considered on topic. Changing the branding could thus conceivably improve that number. – Nathaniel is protesting Feb 13 '17 at 20:35
  • I'm not proposing a change to our URL. Only to the masthead. – Lee Woofenden Feb 13 '17 at 21:15
  • I'm also specifically not saying that this is a fix-all. Just a modest proposal that might help. The fact is, most new users do not read our oh, so helpful About and Meta posts before posting here. They just charge on ahead. This proposal would add an indicator visible to all comers that perhaps the site is not what many naturally think it is upon first arriving: Yet another Christian discussion site where I can find a ready audience for airing all of my religious opinions and discussing my religious issues. – Lee Woofenden Feb 13 '17 at 21:23
  • oddly enough, as as longtime user, i do not see the rules as ever having changed. i asked the very first question here and it was closed for the exact same reason 10 questions are closed today. – Peter Turner Feb 13 '17 at 21:36
  • For what it's worth, that comment chain wasn't the first time this sort of thing was discussed... Lee mentioned this idea as early as last July. I'm not sure that making a change will be worth the effort, or indeed make any difference at all, but I don't think it's simply a matter of a new user's idea getting "run up the flagpole." – Nathaniel is protesting Feb 13 '17 at 22:52
  • @KorvinStarmast FYI, I was not inspired to revisit and post this by the Meta answer by the relatively new user that I mentioned in the above post. I had already decided to post it, and I then spent some time looking at related posts, and came across that answer, which I thought was worth including in the above post. I have thought we should make this change for quite some time. This just happens to be when I finally got around to making it a Meta post of its own. – Lee Woofenden Feb 13 '17 at 23:22
  • As for it "not being broken," it seems obvious to me that having 3/4 of the questions on this site be closed means that something is broken. And I don't think it's the site rules that are broken. Rather, it's our inability to convey to new users what this site is about, given that it is quite different from every other "Christianity" site on the web. This is just one modest proposal to remedy that situation. I am very open to other possibilities. But in my mind, just doing nothing is not a very good option. – Lee Woofenden Feb 13 '17 at 23:24
  • @KorvinStarmast I'm not sure what you're getting at. I did post a comment on his answer specifically to refer him to this post. And of course, that comment was made after I posted the Meta question here. – Lee Woofenden Feb 13 '17 at 23:26
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    It's The Topic, and It's The Internet, and It's SE's functioning rule set. Not either / or, the perfect storm, and doing nothing isn't about a label -- I don't see a label as "doing something." Obviously, you and I disagree but that's not fatal. – KorvinStarmast Feb 13 '17 at 23:27
  • @LeeWoofenden What I am saying is that I did not scrutinize the time tags sufficiently. That is now edited into my answer. – KorvinStarmast Feb 13 '17 at 23:28
  • We need something visible and obvious to everyone who comes to the site. The masthead is what quickly, visually identifies what this site is, and is about. If we just have "Christianity" there, it really doesn't provide much guidance, except that this site has something to do with Christianity. And people will fill in the blanks with their own idea of exactly what that means, rather than our giving them an idea of what it means. – Lee Woofenden Feb 13 '17 at 23:32
  • I'm not stuck on this particular proposal. If someone can come up with a better one that better identifies, in compact fashion, what this site is for, and about, I would be very happy to hear it. Right now our masthead just doesn't give newcomers a very good sense of what this site is all about. – Lee Woofenden Feb 13 '17 at 23:34
  • Would "Christianity Q&A" be better at informing those that think it's a discussion site? – TripeHound Feb 14 '17 at 0:47
  • @TripeHound Good thought. It would certainly (in my view) be better than just plain "Christianity." However, there are a lot of Qs about Christianity that we don't allow here. Worth considering, though. Thanks! – Lee Woofenden Feb 14 '17 at 2:24
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    KISS principle. Christianity.SE is OK. If any of us is not willing to work to make it work, maybe ... the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our site's name but in our selves ... to badly misquote Shakespeare. – KorvinStarmast Feb 14 '17 at 3:03

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