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Should we try to encourage users of BH.SE and †.SE to also participate on the other site?

I've noticed one active BH.SE user trying to recruit people from here (or that's how I've interpreted it). IMO these two sites shouldn't be competing for users. So giving hints about the other site might be a good practice. On the other hand, I'd hope for the participation to go both ways.

Should all of us here become active on BH.SE, too? How can we get BH.SE people to participate here? Should we try?

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Cards on the table: I've never been a fan of the idea of this site and I would really like to see the Biblical Hermeneutics site succeed.

So why did I come over and "recruit" from Christianity.SE? To be honest, I became interested because of the excellent participants in Biblical Hermeneutics who also participate here. My uniformed guess was that this site would be uninteresting to me yet the cross-pollination from here made me second-guess that assumption. So I started reading through the questions on this site. None of them were interesting enough to answer, which is not a condemnation of you all, but a reflection of my interests. It's not the site for me.

However, some of the questions would work equally well on Biblical Hermeneutics and I made, what I intended to be informative and non-confrontational, comments about them pointing out the existence of another place to ask. Since they were interpreted as something else, I went ahead and removed them (except one that adds a link to a specific question that does add value I believe). I apologize for the offense. Please let me know if there's anything else I can do to atone for my indiscretion.


Personally, I think the two sites can compliment each other well, but they do not overlap. To explain why, let me share an anecdote: a few weeks ago, I realized that the best answers to my questions were from a Jewish perspective. When it comes to the Old Testament, you just can't beat an interpretation that comes from the Talmudic hermeneutical tradition. (At least for a first cut of what it meant prior to Jesus.) So I wrote an appeal to the Judaism site for people over there to take a look at what we are doing. There were two responses:

  1. Some people did answer a few questions.

  2. The biggest point of resistance was the site was perceived as Christian and not neutral.

So a site named "Christianity" won't work for a neutral, cross-doctrinal question about the Bible. Some of the top scholars in fields like textual criticism and historical criticism are not only non-Christian, but atheists. They won't come here and you probably don't want them anyway. That's just reality. (They may not come to Biblical Hermeneutics either, but that's not your problem.)

Believe it or not, this is not a zero-sum game. If a user participates at Biblical Hermeneutics, they are more likely to participate here, not less. I don't want to see Christianity.SE fail now that it has been started if only because it would be detrimental to the site I really care about. Of course, if we start to get territorial about questions that are in the "grey area" we can make it a zero-sum game (which Biblical Hermeneutics is sure to lose). There have been few questions asked there that would be on-topic here, but that is surely because there are few questions on BH at all. I suspect that many of the question here would be right at home on the hermeneutics site. (And I've provided an answer to one of the questions that apparently started off on BH.SE, though I only saw it today.)


I don't have an answer to the question since I have little stake in what goes on here, but in my mind, the ball is entirely in your (plural) court. Feel free to ping me in the comments to this answer if you would like any help from me.

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    I certainly don't mind your recruiting techniques here, in my opinion you're more than welcome to help connect people with good answers. The reason I'm not on Biblical Hermeneutics is because the site attracts the kinds of questions a lay Catholic ought not venture to guess upon and has no business asking non-Catholics their opinion upon. I very much care about being faithful to the original meaning and intent of the text, it's just for a Catholic we believe we already have taken everything into account and have a consistent and impenetrable doctrine, which is what all my questions are about. – Peter Turner Nov 11 '11 at 17:40
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    Not at all. You are correct that in some ways these sites scopes do not overlap. However, in other ways the sites scopes do in fact overlap. Sure exegesis is on topic on BH.SE, but its also on topic to an extent here. If you see a question here that is as good a fit on BH you have two options. 1. Ask in on BH and see what answers you get. 2. Flag it for migration. It see no problem with either response if you want to see more awesome content on BH.SE. – wax eagle Nov 11 '11 at 17:43
  • @Peter: I certainly sympathize and would likely do the same thing if I were in your shoes. – Jon Ericson Nov 11 '11 at 18:54
  • @wax eagle: I've done 1. to some extent. But if making a comment is seen as distasteful wouldn't flagging to migrate be worse? I'm still learning the culture of Christianity.SE, obviously, and I don't want to step on any more toes. – Jon Ericson Nov 11 '11 at 18:57
  • @Jon its not much better. However I'd prefer this than comments that might be seen as being made in poor taste (at least then only the mods see the flag). I'm certainly happy that you've now made an effort to participate in our community and I hope that you will see that we have some interesting questions here. Our goal is to be a site filled with questions that attract the kinds of folks that are interested in BH.SE and not C.SE. – wax eagle Nov 11 '11 at 19:06
  • @wax eagle: Will you please rephrase your final sentence? I think you may have reversed the names of the sites. (But that doesn't make much sense either. Help?) – Jon Ericson Nov 11 '11 at 19:11
  • @wax eagle: Well, there's really no sense in me flagging questions at all, unless I become a regular participant. (I'm still mortified and confused that my comments were taken as "hey, don't listen to these guys, come and ask us instead". I haven't felt that way about any of the many links going the other way.) – Jon Ericson Nov 11 '11 at 19:19
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    @Jon no in fact I meant it exactly as I said it. We are looking for the kind of high level stuff you guys have. In fact we really want to folks who don't want to touch C.SE with a 40 ft pole. Because most of those (although obviously not all) are turned off not by the subject matter, but by the free for all aspect. We (at least I) are (am) looking for a place to do EXPERT Christianity Q&A. We aren't there yet, but we are getting closer. – wax eagle Nov 11 '11 at 19:31
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    I know you didn't mean to come off that way, but seeing someone with no rep accumulated on this site suggesting folks go elsewhere is a bit tone deaf. – wax eagle Nov 11 '11 at 19:31
  • let us continue this discussion in chat – Jon Ericson Nov 11 '11 at 19:37
  • You make a valid point about BH.SE being more welcoming to experts of all types than C.SE is, but if C.SE and BH.SE are going to help each other survive, the service will need to go both ways. – user23 Nov 11 '11 at 21:37
  • @JustinY: Can you reduce that down to specific recommendations. I've tried my hand at another exegesis question here. Is that what you are suggesting? You have to understand I'm coming to your community cold and I still see you all like walking trees. ;-) – Jon Ericson Nov 11 '11 at 21:58
  • Good work. That is what I'm suggesting. We're just pulling out of an identity crisis here at C.SE so many of us are also trying to adjust. – user23 Nov 11 '11 at 22:06
  • @JustinY: In the interest of cross-site cooperation, would you care to try my challenge of the week at BH? – Jon Ericson Nov 11 '11 at 22:44
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I'm torn on this. On the one hand, we want more experts here on C.SE and over at BH.SE there seems to be a ready pool of experts who are already familiar with the SE format. We'd be daft not to make that our first port of call in our efforts to attract experts here.

On the other hand, it's not as if the folks at BH.SE aren't aware of C.SE; some quotes from meta posts there:

I've not spent much time at Christianity.SE to be very familiar with its goals

Personally, I'm very interested in Hermeneutics - interpreting the bible, but not that interested in C.SE.

Let's not worry so much about other sites and their scope - we can concentrate on making this site great.

In short, I doubt we'd be able to persuade (m)any BH.SE users that aren't already active here to become so.

Regarding Jon Ericson's behaviour, I find it distasteful. Both sites have agreed that there is some overlap in scope, and I don't think it is right for every question that falls into that grey area to receive a "hey, don't listen to these guys, come and ask us instead" comment. None of those examples are off topic here, and that behaviour does nothing for building a healthy inter-site relationship.

Having said that, I'm sure a meta post on both sites asking "If you contribute here but not there, why?" would make interesting reading and useful insight as to how we can make both sites more attractive to our target audiences.

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    I apologize for my "distasteful" behavior. I will, of course, stop. – Jon Ericson Nov 11 '11 at 16:37
  • @jon thanks, sorry for posting this without notifying you – Waggers Nov 12 '11 at 12:18

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