Something I've observed puzzles me. These sites all seem to be doing quite well:

  • Mi Yodeya = Q&A for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition. 6.9k questions
  • Biblical Hermeneutics = Q&A for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. 1k questions
  • Christianity = Q&A for committed Christians, experts in Christianity. 2.9k questions
  • Islam = Q&A for muslims, experts in Islam, and those interested in learning more about Islam. 1.3k questions

On the other hand, sites which I personally find more interesting seem to be languishing:

Obviously, the length of time a site has existed (which can be found by following its link to Area51 in the Site stats blue box) makes a difference here, but that can't be the only factor - in a month, ELL has already collected more questions than Robotics did in four months!

Presuming that number of questions does correspond to success in some fashion, what factors are involved in making a Q&A site work?

  • 7
    I've attempted to cut to the meat of your question here, Dan. If you're serious about this, I recommend steering clear of flame-bait.
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 24, 2013 at 5:57
  • Slightly related. Length of time in beta: meta.stackexchange.com/q/102742/155668 Success of a proposal: meta.stackexchange.com/a/143953/155668 Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 18:59
  • Useful sites, such as ... Sport. What?!
    – TRiG
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 21:23
  • Hey @TRiG, I consider watching sports one of the most useless endeavors on the planet, and I've never done that since the 1990 World Cup, but I do find watching the Olympics more interesting than discussing completely bogus religious concepts. Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 21:44
  • 2
    @DanDascal. Oh religion is amazingly interesting. Total nonsense, of course, but fascinating nonetheless. Meanwhile, sport is interesting to watch only insofar as the players are hot (as they often are). I was just curious to see Sport in your list of "useful" sites, and wondering what objective method of categorisation you were using (none, apparently).
    – TRiG
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 22:48

4 Answers 4


Let's start over; rants aside, you're asking kind of a huge question here... I'll try to help you find your way to the answer.

First, go here: https://stackexchange.com/sites - that's a list of all Stack Exchange sites currently open to the public. You can view and compare a bunch of different statistics, including questions asked, answers offered, and the age of each site in months and years. Spend a bit of time there, change the sort order, play around some...

Pick a few sites. Big ones, small ones, new ones, old ones. Go visit them. Read some of their recent Q&A, check out their greatest hits, listen in on some meta conversations...

...and recognize that what makes for a thriving, active Q&A site isn't the topic so much as the existence of a cohesive, enthusiastic community of folks looking to share information about the topic.

Now go to Area 51, our incubation site for Q&A sites to-be; check out the various proposals chugging along through the process or languishing in want of followers. Better yet, hit the Area 51 discussion site and check out the discussions surrounding sites that didn't make it.

If you still have questions after all that, come back and ask 'em.

  • 4
    I prefer the big blue box at the left. :P Is that supposed to be an alligator?
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Feb 24, 2013 at 5:18
  • It's a cat. Do you question my skills as an artist?
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 24, 2013 at 5:23
  • 1
    LOL @ the alligator comment. Commented Feb 24, 2013 at 5:23
  • 4
    It's a free hand saber toothed aardvark, don't let him fool you into thinking otherwise.
    – user50049
    Commented Feb 24, 2013 at 5:27

All sites in the Stack Exchange network are based on a religion.

Code, robots, people in sweaty short shorts or those seeking a higher power in getting their inbox to zero. Like sands through an hourglass, these are only an interpretation of zealotry.

Why do some religion sites have more Q&A over other religion sites? Because that's where the moxie is.

Who English are practically useful is everybody's Guess jeans.

  • 10
    You supply the Markov chain nonsense for the honeypot audits, don't you? Commented Feb 24, 2013 at 6:01
  • @MichaelPetrotta Does the name give it away?
    – J. Steen
    Commented Feb 24, 2013 at 8:10

First of all, your question breezes right over some significant facts. For example:

  • The number of people that personally identify with either Judaism, Christianity or Islam and who's questions are on-topic at their respective SE sites: roughly 3 billion.
  • The number of robotics engineers in the world: <much smaller number>.

Obviously that is only a major factor in one of the things you list, but the point is that you seem to be "puzzled" by why religion is such a viable topic but you have neglected the relevant fact that just because it isn't relevant to you doesn't mean it isn't relevant to a whole lot of somebody elses.

I admit that SE is an unlikely platform for religious discussion. I was pretty skeptical myself that it would come to anything. It's certainly not the be-all and end-all of religious discussion, but it has proven itself to be a viable platform for a certain niche of questions.

The more productive question I think you should be asking is "why aren't the topics I'm interested in farther along?" and the answer is that they need time and energy invested from interested parties. What are you waiting for? Get some friends with knowledge and interest in the subject matters and start asking and answering questions.


I think its cause atheists don't have any questions to ask, cause they obviously have all the answers (I kid!).

Funny thing with religions is that practitioners often also carry a large number of accumulating traditions. There's often grey areas as well, but these grey areas may have definitive answers based on specialist knowledge of the source text.

Now, lets swap a few words.

Funny thing with information technology is that practitioners often also carry a large number of accumulating traditions. There's often grey areas as well, but these grey areas may have definitive answers based on specialist knowledge of the problem domain.

(It almost makes sense, doesn't it)

Religion is really something that oddly enough, has both sufficiently defined boundaries and authorities - both in terms of written works of fundamental or explicatory nature and oral traditions for definitive answers, as well as enough uncertainty that questions need to be asked.

At the end of the day though, the religious SE sites are providing a useful service to people. The lack of questions or answers on the sites you've linked has nothing to do with that. We cannot define usefulness on a strictly functional level - I'd dare say a good chunk of SE is useless then. Religions and the Q&A format do seem to work well, however.

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