There are a lot of questions on Health Meta regarding fundamental issues, not just minor improvements. In order for these discussions to be productive, and in order to avoid "talking past each other", I believe that there needs to be a consensus on who the target audience is.

After reading through some of these questions, and the help articles, I'm not confident that I know who that is, so I would like to ask, who is it?

  • People who want to be healthier?
  • People who are studying health academically?
  • People who are healthcare professionals?
  • Something completely different?
  • #4, something completely different – Graham Chiu Jan 24 '18 at 23:06
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    what is that "something"? – Ooker Jan 28 '18 at 15:28
  • It's not the three other choices. – Graham Chiu Jan 30 '18 at 19:05

My understanding is that the target audience is:

  • People who want to be healthier
  • People who are studying health academically
  • People who are healthcare professionals

Any SE should address some specific subdomain, and in this case, I believe we address the desires of people who want an evidence-based approach to being healthier. Ideally, we translate academically rigorously accepted information into digestable formats for people without the knowledge, skill, or background to understand and interpret the context of research papers.

This isn't really a place for academics to talk about new procedures, for people to get diagnoses, or for getting a quote on health insurance, but we address a very specific need: to be healthier- whether for yourself or for others (first aid / vaccination / etc.)

The problem is that health.SE wants to be at a level of academic rigor that goes beyond Quora and yahoo answers, but is still vulnerable to bro-science quality Q&A's.

Ideally, I believe we want to focus on bridging the knowledge gap between people who are studying health academically and people who want to live healthier, not so much healthcare professionals (who, though we want to help, we really don't have many means of maintaining quality posts for them), such that anyone can live a healthier life, and find a place with credible responses of academic rigor.

We kind of learned the hard way these past few years that we just won't have to resources to support high-level academics consistently- not enough of us are real professionals, but many of us know how to research, read papers, and understand the implications of scientifics studies (and where those limitations lie).

In this age of fake/questionable/biased information and popular semi-logical but wrong science, we're trying to separate the wheat from the chaff for people. I think that health.SE evolved to try and bridge this gap, for those who don't have the time/energy/background to evaluate research and back up our answers with strong support.

:) Making information not just accessible, but comprehensible and evidence-based.

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    Unfortunately I think that although targeting "people who want to be healthier" is a wonderful idea, we have failed to achieve that sustainably now for almost 3 years. Practically EVERY human "wants to be healthier" - and that's why we're where we are with this site. Without a way to narrow the audience and/or impose stricter standards, we won't budge from our current state. To maintain sufficient scientific rigor for the volume of questions, that would take a much larger body of active knowledgeable participants than the site has seen in......well at least since 2015, if even then. – DoctorWhom Feb 4 '18 at 14:20
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    That's certainly true, but that's the way things work in the medical realm often times. – Dave Liu Feb 7 '18 at 8:33
  • What do you mean by "that's the way things work in the medical realm often times"? I don't imagine you mean we should welcome being promoters of misinformation because we don't have enough knowledgeable people to keep standards up? You say "credible responses of academic rigor" but that takes more knowledgeable participants than we usually have around. – DoctorWhom Feb 7 '18 at 19:14
  • Hmm I think our growth has the potential to be exponential, but for perhaps a very long time, we might simply have to settle with slow movement, if we don't want to become another yahoo answers. Developing a reputation takes time, and yes we have limited resources, but in the end, what's the point of sacrificing purpose for speed? Maybe there will be enough of us eventually, or maybe enough people will be frustrated but energetic, and evolve the site into a new purpose. Or maybe we simply wither. For now, I guess this is how we're trying to approach things, until we find a suitable solution. – Dave Liu Feb 10 '18 at 6:42
  • Some questions I guess we should reflect on, are how we're different from Google, Quora, WebMd, and Wikipedia. If we can find a niche purpose, that could help us hone our focus, or maybe expand our accepted Q/A's. A site where people could find concise answers to health questions, similar to stackoverflow for coding questions. Maybe we need to be less strict about diagnosis-type questions, as long as they're worded in a general format? Ultimately, it's what we as a community choose. – Dave Liu Feb 10 '18 at 6:45
  • @DoctorWhom I noticed that I was way too vague with my bolded main point, so I've clarified my answer to focus on people who want an evidence-based approach to being healthier, not just healthier in general. I think I misread your comment, sorry about that. – Dave Liu Feb 10 '18 at 23:07

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