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Proposal: Conservation of Cultural Heritage

Stackexchange community sites are very successful when there is a link to computer science. Or they are about topics accessible to most of the people and hence to users of StackOverflow or other great communities. My question is regarding developing communities of experts using Area51 when the experts have low computer literacy.

In the figure below I've tried to find communities that are using the SE platform devoted to particular fields that are not likely to be acquired using self-learning. For instance, most of the programmers can be also gamers, and like cooking and movies and knowing their own language so they can participate in these communities even though they are not really professionals.

enter image description here It's harder to build communities with experts with low computer literacy, within the time constraints of Area51. And actually, the first phases are more complicated because they require a greater understanding of how SE works. Do you have any experience with involving people not familiar with SE community inside a proposal?

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    How low is the computer literacy? Are they competent Facebook users? Do their own online banking? – DJClayworth May 27 at 14:38
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    @DJClayworth yes I would say they have a bare minimum, for instance, using a beta version would not be a problem.But I've noticed that the definition and commitment are harder to understand for people not familiar with S.E. – G M May 27 at 15:05
  • At first I liked this question, but on reflection I think it is a dupe of How to help a NEW community get through the commitment phase? the threshold for 'Definition phase" is really pretty low, All your focus should be on 'commitment phase' everything else flows from failure or success there. – James Jenkins May 29 at 16:23
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    @JamesJenkins thanks for your comment, I don't think it's a duplicate, my question highlight a disparity between communities that take advantage of StackOverflow users and community of professionals that have nothing to do with Stackoverflow . There is clearly a connection between sucess of a community and users coming from SO. – G M May 29 at 16:51
  • @GM look at the answer by Robert there. It focuses on getting experience at non-technical SO sites. To get through the commitment phase you absolutely have to have "100 users with 200+ reputation on another Stack Exchange". There is no option to create a community of "professionals that have nothing to do with Stackoverflow" See related Approval without enough high reputation committers – James Jenkins May 29 at 17:03
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Do you have any experience with involving people not familiar with SE community inside a proposal?

Not really, but I have some thoughts based on the reactions of people I talked with about my participation on SE communities, my own brother's attempts at participating on SE (spoiler: he's inactive now) and based on some things I noticed during my own participation on SE. I hope they may be helpful:

Showing is better than telling, so if you want someone to participate on your proposal, show them how to follow a proposal, how to create an example question, how voting is needed to pass the proposal. Rinse and repeat in private beta, and perhaps even for public beta. Have people pass the information on. That's how I got my brother started: I showed him the site and what I did on it.

Keeping people engaged is going to be much harder though. As I said, my brother is inactive now, after asking a few questions on different (not computer related) parts of SE. When I asked him why he said he had no more questions, not ones that would fit the SE system, and doesn't feel his areas of expertise include a topic where he can answer questions.

I've tried to get other people involved in answering stuff, especially if I know about sites that match their profession or expertise. The usual answer is something along the lines of 'I have other/better hobbies'.

So, the short list of involving people includes three things that I have noticed:

  • Show people how SE works, don't just tell them how awesome it is.
  • Make sure there is a need for a place to ask questions as a way of getting/sharing information. This need can be made up with enough programmers with an interest in Coffee or Interpersonal Skills or a bunch of experts that are currently struggling to easily exchange information. But there needs to be a need for a place to ask questions!
  • Make sure the questions your expert community is struggling with will fit within the system of SE. An expert in their field of cultural heritage conversation isn't very likely to need to ask about whether they can clean The Migdale Hoard by dumping it in Coca Cola for the night. In fact, their questions may very well be more like actual research questions, which might need more than the SE system can offer. Similarly, questions that can be answered with a link to an article found through Google Scholar might not interest your expert much, making him think there are better ways to spend his free time.

Building on those points, and looking at your proposal and activity, I think you should ask yourself: Do these people really need a place to ask questions? Based on a bit of another question of you related to this proposal:

There are many journals devoted to this research, conferences and also some shows that give you an insight on the multidisciplinarity of this field. So this is a professional site which should be different from Art and Crafts. At the moment in the definition phase, unfortunately, the process of involving other people that are not familiar to SE community it's hard because they follow the group but then they can't understand how to make an account to post and vote answer. So I am waiting to advertise the site to other older restorers that might give up if the process is too complex.

To me, that sounds like there is not much need within your expert community to have a place where they can ask questions and get answers, they have already found other ways to do that. And I'm sorry to be a pessimist and say that any attempt at getting them involved is likely to fail because of that.

  • About the need to ask questions, I was wondering this: do they have mailing lists? Sometimes the questions asked by email could as well be asked on SE so that many people could read and answer them. It can be presented as a way to share information about events, the difficulties encountered and methods. – Madeleine-Ahn Jul 20 at 9:37

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