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Every day it's an onslaught of new, asinine questions that are clearly off-topic requests for medical advice with zero value to anyone with medical interests. And every day my votes to close are futile. I was hopeful for a while, but one or two people who were finally helping to close questions apparently left and now the questions all remain open with 3-4 close votes. (And, of course, the mandatory +1 vote from someone who apparently upvotes every single question.)

But worst of all, those questions get answered and thereby encouraged by high rep members here. That's a face palm moment every time.

So after several years I'm finally convinced this exchange can't be saved. There just aren't enough people who think it's worthwhile to keep it alive.

  • How much is "this exchange" along "assisted dying" or "next steps" (latest comment from JohnP)? – LаngLаngС Apr 29 '18 at 22:46
  • I'll raise my hand too. IRL is overflowing with responsibilities and I with no clear end in sight (at least not for a while), so I haven't been around much and don't know if I will. If anything, it'd be in spurts like always lol. We could see what happens with a name change...but without a bunch of other changes, like easier closing, new mods, revamping the FAQ type stuff etc... what can be expected? I'm sad about it but not sure we really have many options open to us. I look forward to hearing @JohnP 's thoughts on this – DoctorWhom Apr 29 '18 at 23:48
  • Theoretically, we could also consider closing this and proposing a new site with the new name, scope etc. Would that end up being more effort? Also, I lament the good questions/answers we DO have here. Can they be migrated? – DoctorWhom Apr 29 '18 at 23:50
  • Btw I mean new as in adding mods, not trashing old ones! Thanks to those who have kept life support going. – DoctorWhom Apr 30 '18 at 2:27
  • @DoctorWhom Proposing a new site has already happened but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. – Carey Gregory Apr 30 '18 at 3:44
  • It might if this one closes, but I doubt it will take off with the steam necessary. – DoctorWhom Apr 30 '18 at 3:52
  • @DoctorWhom That'd be a head-transplant. I know of just one successful case, not from Area51 but from Ingolstadt. Then the locals got mad. (Popculture sequels do not count) – LаngLаngС Apr 30 '18 at 8:07
  • Adding more mods might be the answer. If we specifically look for those who regularly monitor the review queues it will speed things up with question closing as it takes less votes. – Chris Rogers Apr 30 '18 at 8:42
  • I also think we need to try and find a way of making it clearer that anything remotely to do with medical advice or diagnoses is off-topic as even with a name change the problem can still be here – Chris Rogers Apr 30 '18 at 8:43
  • @Chris - That duty will fall on the high rep users and moderators in the initial stages. – JohnP May 1 '18 at 19:36
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    @DoctorWhom - I have heard back from the CM team, and things will be moving forward soon. I would encourage everyone to hold out for a little longer. – JohnP May 1 '18 at 19:37
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There was a meta question asked an hour ago that just disappeared, it was a new site proposal for medical advice.

This was my response (seen here).

UPDATE: Thank you to the mod who closed the proposal rapidly.

More of these will arise, however, so we will need to continue to nip them in the bud. My answer below can be a response we use. Perhaps we should move it or edit it, I'm open to suggestions.


Proposal: Medical Advice

Although I appreciate your reasons for proposing this site, it is critical that you look at the history of Health.SE and the meta discussions to see why your new site should not be opened.

Health.SE was proposed several years ago and went into Beta in 2015. It was a mixed site including all medical topics, from professionals to lay audience. The site has failed - it has been slowly failing for years, perhaps doomed from the start.

The primary reason is that there are not enough users with expert knowledge who stick around to answer questions, upvote, downvote, close, reopen, etc to keep up with the HIGH number of questions asked.

A health site SHOULD NOT EXIST on SE without experts to carefully moderate it. Incorrect information in Health can be harmful or fatal, whereas in EnglishLanguage or StackOverflow, it might mean having to troubleshoot or miss a q on a test.

Experts don't stick around because they burn out on the high number of low-quality questions that people ask. I don't mean low-quality as in merely lacking knowledge. That is understandable - in fact it's why many people went into healthcare in the first place, to help people understand!

No, I mean low quality as in not putting effort into questions asked. There are thousands of one-time question askers, who never return to contribute to the site in any other way, and just throw a question up however it occurs to them without giving it due StackExchange effort.

Look at how many questions are closed or on hold - and know that even just CLOSING/HOLDING those questions takes quite a bit of joint effort on the part of the burned-out high rep users that have stuck around to try to keep it afloat.

We are drowning in questions where the asker (1) didn't try to answer the question themselves and it can be answered with simple google (2) provides no source for the information they ask about (3) don't read the rules and post off-topic questions (4) ask medical advice which is off topic (5) ask questions that are not well thought out.

Then we have problems with answers. Everyone has a "health" and therefore everyone has an opinion on health matters. Many people think that their experience is enough to give others advice, when it takes at least 9-12 years of study and training after high school in order to be able to practice medicine for a reason - it is COMPLEX and it is IMPORTANT TO BE CORRECT.

Without enough experts to curate the questions, YOUR SITE WILL DIE. Actually, worse, it will become the blind leading the blind. And experts WILL NOT stick around when the scores of questions are so low quality. Time and again we have seen it on Health.

IF MedicalSciences is able to create and sustain a large community of experts, its group of high-rep users will consider whether re-opening a non-expert StackExchange is a viable option. But not until we determine we can sustain the number of experts required to not have another catastrophic failure.

I do not mean to be harsh, but you need to look into the history of the site you are trying to partially recreate before proposing a new site.

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Health:

Beta Q&A site for medical specialists, students, dietitians and anyone with health-related questions. 1235 days in beta. 249 avid users, officially.
Trouble breathing, impaired movement, low reflexes, infection of unknown genesis, etiology, frequent complaints and signs of severe depression.

A case report.

After several signs of weakness (Defibrillating Health.SE) and depressive thoughts and exclamations, a few disgruntled cries of pain, like Should we initiate assisted dying? things started to look quite serious. But help was promised once the problems were identified.

Despite two professional doctors speaking plainly about the inevitable death of this site, one comment stated that diagnosis was imminent, hope on the horizon and treatment worthwhile:

@DoctorWhom - I have heard back from the CM team, and things will be moving forward soon. I would encourage everyone to hold out for a little longer. – JohnP ↵♦ May 1 at 21:37

Then we had the promises from Refocusing from Health to Medical Sciences asked May 4 at 19:21 by Jon Ericson♦

The whole case information was then transferred to Meta.SE where a few new specialists were hired. They were asked for a second opinion in New Resources for Our Stack Exchange Network

I've definitely dropped the ball on Health lately. Unfortunately, I've been distracted by other sites and slowed down by burnout as a Community Manager. (A long vacation has, I think, helped.) I'd like to appoint another moderator before changing the name of the site. I also think the scope needs work to be more usable for users new to the site. And, of course, none of this will fix the problems you see on their own. I feel like a good deal of the problems on the site stem from basic disagreements that are difficult to mediate in the best of situation. – Jon Ericson♦ ↵ Jul 19 at 6:16
& it might be awhile before I do anything else related to the site. The short answer is that I'm suspicious of silver bullets. A lot of the hard work of solving community problems depends on the community itself. – Jon Ericson♦ ↵ Jul 20 at 7:18

It is sad to see the promise of treatment – even if it would be harsh – go so unfulfilled. It is also observable that the whole attempt of intervention just weakened the immune system of this site as moral went down the drain. It went down so low after an uptick, that signalled hope and progress. But apparently this progress was not in terms of site development or community building. –– It was the progression of malignant growth.

That happens in the best families. Not always does a treatment work. Sometimes we might have to accept a certain fate. But I am now quite angry that this seems to be by now just a forgone conclusion that is just assumed in silence. How bad are these for bed side manners!

If we just look at the participation stats of our moderators here on meta:

  • JohnP♦: Last seen Aug 3 at 14:33 (yesterday on main)
  • michaelpri♦: Last seen Jul 24 at 3:41 (today on main)
  • Susan♦: Last seen Jun 2 at 4:59 (today on main)

The dates in brackets are included for fairness, but it seems to me that overall interest is dwindling among diamonds, or not concealable any longer?

The original diagnosis seems to be the correct one indeed. Unless someone steps up posting another question that garners positive results, like: a lot:
Who does think this is still worthwhile?


There are apparently not many around anymore:

The update is that I'm calling in some help from my team. I'm not convinced that this proposal will help and the repeated requests for updates have (paradoxically) reduced my confidence. If the site is dead because I'm not responding, it's beyond help. I wrote about the Dreaded Drama Triangle before going on vacation and I refuse to play the role of rescuer. I've unfrozen my room if you'd like to chat tomorrow. – Jon Ericson ↵♦ Aug 15 at 5:14 Comment from Refocusing)

That is actually quite disconcerting, again.

Eric Berne's effort to describe psychological processes and phenomena in relatively easy to understand, simple language has led people to use the terminology of transaction analysis without knowing or paying attention to the concepts behind it. In the 1970s, this led to the reputation of transaction analysis as simplistic and its early devaluation by established therapists, with the TA community subsequently trying to convey that it was at least as good as it was, but actually even better. This rivalry has damaged the transaction analysis. Since the turn of the millennium, the TA community has been recovering from this process and is now striving for networking and integration within the psychological directions. On the other hand, the euphoria of the first few years has led in part to an overestimation of the possibilities offered by transaction analysis. The human being with his limitations retreated into the background, the method should make everything possible. However, this view has partly given way to the assessment that success depends not only on the method but also very much on the people who use it and on the framework conditions. (My translation plagiarism from WP)

Since one party has already identified and rejected one possible role in the triangle as commonly understood, that leaves two spots to fill, for us: "persecutor" and "victim". As a narrative I find this is unhelpful, as an analysis it is almost to be read as an insult. Unless the framing of this analysis for our current situation is carefully explained, I opt to feel a bit stultified.

There are certainly some effects observable now – in site dynamics and community SE relationship – that might need a psychologist to untangle, explain and rectify. But one thing would have been easy: talk to us, keep us in the loop, give status update here, now and then. That sort of thing.

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    I interpreted Jon Ericson's response as a probable death sentence. – Carey Gregory Aug 19 '18 at 5:03
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    Thank you for writing this LangLangC. And I sadly agree with you @CareyGregory that his absence then his response were disappointing to say the least. I think there are only a core 5 or 6 of us that really understand (1) the true problems plaguing HealthSE (2) why it is failing and (3) what would save it - and none of us are mods or otherwise able to actually do anything about it. Then for all our effort to explain, I'm not sure that even our own mods really get it. – DoctorWhom Aug 20 '18 at 4:47
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    @DoctorWhom We‘re one of 156 sites, so I kinda understand why this process takes so long. But - we definitely need more communication from the SE team. „Hey, we‘ve listened to this and until X we won’t do something“ (regardless of whether X is a point in time or a statistic or an action) would be way better than „it might be a while before...“. I have dropped the ball lately (vacation and just didn’t want to deal with the fuss any longer). One last complain on meta might help, but I‘m not sure... However, I wouldn’t blame our Moderators for it. – Narusan Aug 20 '18 at 7:25
  • @DoctorWhom Well, it just dawned at me that another interpretation would be that the way it is now is just the way askers and SE-staff like it to be. No need to change if it wasn't for us pesky quality nerds. A self-help forum where the wisdom teeth of the SE-crowd are extracted by barber-surgeons. Maybe the site should initiate an "alternative-" name scheme? I am sure it would be quite popular. With a certain audience. – at-Narusan: I do not blame anyone, I just didn't hear/read anything substantial for too long. That lead me to observe, interpret/speculate, and report. – LаngLаngС Aug 20 '18 at 13:31
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    @Narusan SE may have 156 sites, but most of them are out of beta and require little if any attention from SE employees. They said they would implement our proposal if we did X, Y and Z. Well we did as asked, waited patiently, and nothing happened. When finally we began to ask about it over 90 days later, we got the response "sorry, we changed our minds," which was completely unprofessional. And then to try and blame us by saying we needed to do more moderating and save ourselves was insulting and over the top. I'm really quite disgusted with SE's management of this. – Carey Gregory Aug 20 '18 at 19:24
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    @CareyGregory I agree. "That's not enough/what I/we meant" would have been good feedback (even if negative in content). We got silence, the lectures and now kitchen-psychology ("DDT"). If it's bad, say so. If it's possible to do better for the request, say so. If this is getting nowhere, say so! If we are in error, say so!! – I didn't see a 'triangle', not even in hindsight, more a one-way street and that sign, well the front fell off? – LаngLаngС Aug 20 '18 at 19:31
  • @LangLangC I‘ve composed a post trying to articulate the problem and why we are a bit annoyed with SE staff. – Narusan Aug 21 '18 at 15:48

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