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Medical Sciences SE and Law.SE were launched roughly at the same time, in March 2015 and May 2015 respectively. At the time of the launch, I thought the two sites would be equally successful, as Medical Sciences and Law occupy a key role in our lives. I also considered Medical Sciences SE and Law.SE as being very similar in the sense that both may require expertise and attract possibly referenced answers. They even share a similar disclaimer ("this site is not a substitute for individualized advice from a qualified legal practitioner" and "Medical Sciences Stack Exchange is not a substitute for medical advice, individualized diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare provider.").

However, 8 years after their launch, Medical Sciences SE has been much less successful than Law.SE. E.g., it has received 4 times fewer questions. Here are more stats:

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Why has Medical Sciences SE being much less successful than Law.SE?

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  • Good question. I don't know but see my answer.
    – Carey Gregory Mod
    Oct 1, 2023 at 3:48
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    Perhaps worth mentioning that MedicalScience.SE started as Health.SE, with much problematic content and moderation: I think we're done here.
    – Andrew T.
    Oct 6, 2023 at 14:44
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    I admit I burned out and took a few years off, then a pandemic happened... I was cleaning out an old filing cabinet when I came across a packet I had put together 7 years ago. The value proposition to experts I think remains low, and I agree with @AndrewT. note as I remember leaving around 2017, being asked to come look again in 2018 around that meta, and today coming to look and see if the value prop has changed again. I'm not sure it has.
    – Atl LED
    Oct 7, 2023 at 3:01
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    My personal opinion, having been active on both sites, is that the diamond moderators on this site are significantly more unfriendly to the community members. Oct 21, 2023 at 1:40

2 Answers 2

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I think reason #1 is that medical professionals are very reluctant to participate in online forums. And that's not just here, but everywhere. You can figure out for yourself why that might be, but I think paranoia of legal liabilities, being quoted out of context, and patients obsessing on them all figure in, not to mention ridiculous workloads.

Almost all of the few we've had here who were significant contributors vanished during the COVID years. You can look at the members list, sort by reputation, and you'll see who's been missing for two years. Also, one very active MD participant left SE entirely over the Monica thing.

Reason #2 is probably that as complex as law can be, even the most complex legal case you can imagine is downright trivial compared to medicine. There is no comparison.

I think reason #3 is that no matter how many disclaimers and rules we post, people don't read anything before posting and insist on asking medical advice questions and questions with zero prior research effort. So those questions get closed more aggressively than Law.SE closes and that discourages people. The community chose that course when the change of scope occurred knowing full well it would reduce layman participation, and even some professional participation (because many pros get their shorts in a bunch when you dare ask them to support their statements).

All just my opinion.

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    I think there's also a tradition of debate within Law that encourages people with a law education to argue for interpretation of laws in a particular way, whereas medicine emphasizes the individuality of a patient and privilege of the physician(s) who examine them directly. People are happy to opine on test cases and example scenarios within law, even if they cannot provide direct legal advice to an individual. If an individual runs with that advice anyways, it's seen as their own fault; in medicine, though, the physician would feel it is their fault that their advice led to a bad outcome.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Oct 2, 2023 at 19:01
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    Overall, though, I think it's mostly just a bootstrapping problem: not enough professionals participate to make it a professional environment to participate in, which means fewer professionals decide to participate, and so on.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Oct 2, 2023 at 19:02
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    This resonates, and highlights the baggage that physicians and other medical professionals have to face to be interested. One of the biggest problems is that you can't actually get answers to professional questions (questions a professional would have), any faster than you can on your own, and the very low quality of questions with little research is discouraging. I'm actually coming back to see if I want to assign answering questions on here as a punishment option to students (an idea I had 7 years ago but never tried).
    – Atl LED
    Oct 7, 2023 at 3:07
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    So not to beat a dead horse, and I'm completely not invested at this point, but your "zero prior research" point made me wonder if you've reconsidered my wanting referenced questions discussion we had years ago? I'm assuming anything similar to my outline was tried (and it was reasonable not to)? I'm just curious, as now any question being asked is also so low.
    – Atl LED
    Oct 7, 2023 at 4:16
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    @AtlLED We never implemented your outline formally, but it is pretty much the procedure we follow. Basically, you have to have something in your question that indicates you've done some homework, even if it's as little as telling us you found nothing but what you searched for.
    – Carey Gregory Mod
    Oct 7, 2023 at 15:53
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I've had a pretty painful time as a new user tbh. So I'll be a gone user this time tomorrow.

I've no energy for a discussion why, sorry.

Introspection might help.

I wish you well nevertheless.

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