Which aspects of Health.SE are working well?
The team work results of different users coming with different backgrounds, expectations, opinions etc. That works quite well, when it's working, but is suffering from very low t-cell count – or how to put it?
Lately it was really good to read 'competing' answers together!
Which aspects of Health.SE should be improved, and how?
We already put on the agenda:
- attracting new users, new regulars
- re-activating some of the veterans
- keeping new users around for long enough to vote (and accept, if applicable)
for that we need more mandatory reading before posting, up-to-date help and tour (the unicorn-problem)
- problems with posts from new users should have a very friendly but firm guidance text attached to comments or banners. Encouraging to learn and improve.
- I know and usually am full of favour for SE guidelines accepting quasi-anon posts. For this site I see this as a major problem, for now at least, I have no solution for.
- I don't have the slightest idea how this would work for mobile site versions on small screens but the info-banners appearing above 'new post'-boxes need expansion and links?
How to nudge those people into this direction?
Expand the regular and active users base.
We just need more good answers.
After achieving a diverse and "interesting question"-looking default page, perhaps land a few Hot Network Questions. (That is often not really wanted on many sites by quite a few people but seems to have done wonders to the knowledge of vaping.)
What do you think of the site name?
"MedicalOverflow" is a bit funny, Health was deemed too much of a pest attractor; MedicineMans or "Sons of Hippokrates" or something like that would be even worse? If the second site should be still kept alive as an idea, we shoud keep it? Problems with misconceptions and wrong, or better: unwanted, expectations are not derived from names alone. We should focus on users, behaviours, processes and content.
What do you think of the site moderation?
Good job done. Too few, not geographically spread out enough. Global site has input coming at unpredictable hours. That alone is demanding unhealthy shift work now… and introduces an unwelcome delay sometimes.
What do you think of how we handle the need of references?
I wrote in permissibility of non medical sources about it.
If we require sources in "answers that are inspired to explain why and how, are long not short" then some sources should be required. Maybe at least one link to reliable sources required, a few more encouraged? That should be ideally judged on the importance, gravity or centrality of the claim that's made.
Knowledge ages, just referring to textbook X now almost mandates to also mention the edition or year of publication. An expert in the field with degrees to show might have an opinion or factoid memorised long ago that is simply not valid knowledge any longer. Without the links to sources it becomes quite terrible to judge the info given.
And basic problems originating from link-outs to consider:
- mere appeals to authority (recently found a "systematic review" meta-analysis on a "reliable sources" site that was complete garbage ["of 4436 studies meeting our search criteria, we chose to include 36 in our final analysis…"])
- basic fact-checking and argument analysis in relation to the links given takes time and sometimes extraordinary effort
- this should not become a primitive link farm
- quantity and quality are not synonyms
For these basic problems just mentioned a simple guideline would be helpful, but alas, I have none; and I have difficulty imagining one.
Strong claims require strong backup.
What do you think of the scope?
I'm not really sure that the broad scope of all medical concerns is
the problem. And I'm not willing to say that we can't handle
homeopathic experts, or alternative medicine opinions.
"Can you treat X with ayurveda/homeopathy?" A: "Naturally, of course, you can treat anything with that! But outcomes will differ… Often quite severely so. And here is why… and this a better solution…"
Currently, I think if the "Diagnose-me" questions stop from appearing then we have made a great step towards a cure for the site.
There is still a certain need to reach a consensus on what does constitute "a bad question" and how to effectively communicate that to people inclined to post a new question. A problem of principle here is that tour and help docs do not reflect much of the attempts in the recent past to salvage the site. I do not know how this works and what's involved to change that, but the lack of change there while we're stuck in all these metas feels like a very frustrating lack of progress.
A closing word regarding quality of questions in regard to answers:
"Bad questions" that are on-topic should be allowed and answered in principle. Improvement encouraged or enforced.
A certain level of general ignorance is to be expected in questions. Cluelessness and bad knowledge or bad advice are abound on the net. This is imho only a problem if this appears in an answer with good standing (many upvotes). To address that we should really encourage sharing prior research in questions, but not necessarily enforce quoting "reliable sources" there.