Several of us feel that we need to call a code on this site and assess viability. It's edging on unsustainable.
UPDATE: This is an evolving process; please check the discussion in the chat room below for up to date discussion: You're invited to join the chat "The State of Health", where we are currently discussing next steps
In order to restore viability, we have proposed a related site, Medical Sciences, to foster a community of experts - and we anticipate long-term benefits to Health.SE.
MedicalSciences.SE targets a more professional/academic-level scope that can better foster an engaging learning community for medical field related professionals, students, and laypersons with expertise.
Action is necessary. A viable site requires a critical mass of "experts" to be actively engaged. Up/downvoting is critical here - maybe more so than any other site, since wrong Health answers can cause physical harm. This site has not been able to maintain this critical mass, thus it has been slowly dying.
We've decided that either a new site, or a radical transformation of this site, is preferable to death.
(Note: I will use the term "experts" or "professionals" to refer to healthcare and medical-related professionals, students, and academics. This includes mental health, pharm, PT, biomed, RD, etc.)
There are too few hi-rep users/experts active at any one time to keep up with the Review queues, monitor new posts for problems, answer, and achieve critical mass to up/downvote enough to meet Beta criteria. I understand why (see below). But right now just a few of us are active, and it's overwhelming.
This has been a complaint for quite some time, I've gone through old metas, and we've tried to stimulate several conversations recently, but we are at an all-time low. I found a ton of great meta discussions from 2015 that we should be having now. But few are even paying attention to meta at this point, yet we need to do something.
So I'm going to ping everyone with hi rep or who I saw invested in shaping HealthSE over the years. You need to participate in determining the fate of this site!
It's obvious why users drift away. We all know the problems plaguing HealthSE.
- At least 25% of questions asked are off-topic
- High number of personal advice requests
- Poor quality questions and/or answers that need lots of monitoring (or are beyond fixing)
- Lack of academic effort of many (most) participants
- There are not enough professionals (experts) sustaining the site
And then we get fatigued by the sheer volume of the above. This is not solvable without major changes.
I believe one primary problem is there is nothing fostering a community of professionals.
A community of people with expertise is VITAL to the growth and maintenance of an SE site. I think that is why we're almost dead.
Let's look at an example of a major success: Math. There are 3 sites that are well defined:
- MathSE: General public https://math.stackexchange.com/questions
- MathOverflow: professionals https://mathoverflow.net/questions
- MathEducators: professors https://matheducators.stackexchange.com/
I think part of its huge success is that MathOverflow EXISTS just for professionals, fostering an active community of them.
Then, many pop over and participate on MathSE. THAT is how you keep professionals involved. THAT is how you infuse lifeblood into MathSE. Other Overflow sites work the same way.
Math parallels Medicine. Questions professionals would discuss are often too complex for non-experts, and non-expert questions aren't as engaging for professionals. Medical advice questions are the equivalent of Math homework questions: off-topic and shut down quickly. If Math were all 1 site, PhDs' discussions on like Fermi's paradox etc would be lost among "how do I tangent" type questions. Those are valid questions, but not professional caliber, so it doesn't foster a community.
When "Health" was in Area51, I fought hard for 2 separate sites, one for professionals and one for non-experts, and lost. They said it was elitist, which is ridiculous since everyone is a layperson in most fields but their own.
I think it's become crystal clear that WE NEED to foster a community of healthcare/medical-related professionals and students or this site WILL NOT survive. Plain and simple.
And either way we need a name change. It's pretty clear we need to use Medical rather than Health, since repeatedly we've heard people say that just the name Health causes confusion in scope.
My and Narusan's recommendation is that we ADD a MedicalOverflow site, and either
- Leave HealthSE going, but update its scope and FAQ etc.
- Pause HealthSE until we decide how best to proceed
- End HealthSE (after copying over the best questions that fit the new scope, if possible)
One great things is that there IS NOT another Medical professional site like this. StudentDoctorNetwork has a forum with the closest thing to a Medical Q/A I've seen, and that's far from ideal. In school I wished we had this! It could become a very valuable site for the medical community - especially med and pre-med students!
Which brings me to my questions:
- What are your thoughts on this? Say everything you're thinking!
- Would any of you awesome predecessors consider coming back to participate in this restructuring?
- Do you think we can gather new participation from our colleagues, students, etc?
You're invited to join the chat "The State of Health", where we are currently discussing a reshape of the site
Ping-a-thon: everyone who has above a certain rep OR I recognize from Meta posts. Sorry if anyone was mistakenly omitted; please ping them.
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