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Proposal: Atheism and Agnosticism

There have been two proposed Atheism SE's that have failed. One was recently closed in the commitment phase, as it was considered a duplicate of philosophy and the other was closed after 94 days in beta because it didn't have enough activity. The same question was asked in the previous incarnation of this proposal, and the accepted answer ended with this -

Even if we find a few niches that weren't explored the first time, I don't see a whole new realm of questions opening up that can support an Atheism site for the long term.

While I would love an Atheism SE, I don't see how it could succeed after two previous failures, and don't see the sense in opening another proposal for the same topic.

So what do you think will make this this proposal a success when the two that preceded it failed?

  • I concur with the sentiments expressed above. – jcolebrand Feb 8 '13 at 18:58
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So what do you think will make this this proposal a success when the two that preceded it failed?

I'm hard pressed to think of anything that would.

Doers, not abstainers

Consider for a minute, that we have a site for cooks, but not a site for vegetarians (though a couple have been proposed, and a third appears to be adopting the same "expand the scope until it's heavy enough to fly" tactic this one is).

There's also a site for brewers, but not for teetotalers.

Stack Exchange sites work best when they're centered around folks doing things... Not abstaining from things. If you're looking to cook or mix drinks without the use of meat or alcohol, you'll find expertise in those areas - but if you're looking for help sitting in a bar without a drink or a burger in your hand, you need a sponsor not a Q&A site.

A site able to answer questions on doing X as an atheist would be a site dedicated to doing X. Whether that's parenting, traveling, campaigning, or... cooking.

Making converts

Of course, there's another aspect to all of these disciplines beyond doing and abstaining: proselytizing. They didn't call it a temperance movement because they sat at home drinking water, after all. At some point, you stop looking at yourself, and start thinking about your neighbor. And boy, does that guy have problems. If he stopped eating red meat and started believing what you do, he'd be waaay better off. If only you could convince him of that...

When two people share a goal - when they're working together to get something done - it's possible to formulate a clear, specific, objective argument for why that should be done a certain way in order to achieve it. But the broader that goal, the less clearly-defined the objectives, and the fewer assumptions shared between both parties, the more difficult that becomes. Pretty soon, you're left with the choice to either engage in perpetual debate, or just lay out all the arguments and call it a day.

We don't host infinite arguments here. If you actually desire a better understanding of the underlying concepts, then you want a site dedicated to examining those concepts. This has led to the creation of sites dedicated to food, drink, religions, and philosophy - if you truly want to understand any of these, even if you don't intend to adopt them yourself, then you'll find folks willing to help you.

What will make this third Atheism proposal succeed after the previous two failed?

If you want a Stack Exchange site, you'll pick a field of expertise, identify specific problems to be solved in that field, and craft a proposal that captures the essence of that topic and its audience. So far, I've seen no evidence that a cohesive body of knowledge or set of problems exists for any of these proposals. So, for now at least, the answer to that question is nothing.

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    If only there were a site devoted to the expertise of political and social philosophy as well as generic theology (or the lack thereof). – jcolebrand Feb 12 '13 at 5:50
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    'magine that... – Shog9 Feb 12 '13 at 5:51
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From the Area51 FAQ:

If your area of expertise doesn't already have a Stack Exchange site, propose it! Stack Exchange sites are free to create and free to use. All we ask is that you have an enthusiastic, committed group of expert users who check in regularly, asking and answering questions.

The creation of Stack Exchange sites is a democratic, community-driven process. That does not mean the majority of Area 51 users have to love your site idea. It simply means you have to recruit a community of users large enough so that questions get good answers quickly. Reach out to other experts to build support for your site; bloggers, enthusiasts, and support groups can all benefit from a world-class, canonical collection of expert answers to the hardest questions.

So basically a viable site needs two things:

  1. A unique area of expertise
  2. A community of experts

I agree with Shog9 that the answer to your question is nothing because the proposal does not fulfill those two requirements.

Let me repeat this again:

If your area of expertise doesn't already have a Stack Exchange site, propose it!

Before you start a proposal, you need to feel a lack of answers by experts for your topic. If another site outside of SE network covers it, then use that. If a site within SE covers it, then use that. Only propose a new site if it is needed. If you don't start a site with those two requirements in mind, you will have difficulty getting it off the ground and it will almost certainly fail. If your site is really, truly needed, it won't be difficult to come up with a good site description, you won't lack example questions, and who knows maybe it'll even become a full SE site.

So what do you think will make this this proposal a success when the two that preceded it failed?

A better question would be: Why do we need this proposal at all?

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First of all, define scope:

Proposed Q&A site for open-minded users to explain, ask, and debate about Atheism.

this is IMHO not goodly defined scope. Debate about atheism itself can be made as good on Philosophy.SE. This that can't be done neither there nor in any existing SE (maybe with exception of country-specific SE and Travel.SE, but only for some questions) are the question about the everyday problems the atheists met because of their (lack of) beliefs.

Those are the problems that can't be solved on philosophical basis, only on practical. For example, the atheist as the member of church. You can have church marriage if your mate wants that and he/she will handle the whole religious stuff. But you'll have the feeling of doing something against you, or being simply unhonest.

What other SE would handle such questions?

So the second think: change category to Life.

Third thing: don't accept any flame wars. Don't accept any questions such as why the religion X is so bad and how to convince someone beliefs Y are stupid or how to propagate atheism. Live the propaganda to other SE, concentrate here on solving people's problems.

Reassuming, we have 2 enemies, internal (us) and external (SE team). To fight with external one, we must prove that our proposal has unique scope. The internal enemy is the worst to fight. We are too lazy to provide great questions that will interest external people to register and commit. And many of us don't believe in success anymore. So, be more active!

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    +1 for this is IMHO not goodly defined scope, -1 for the rest of your points. – jcolebrand Feb 11 '13 at 22:21
  • Everyday problems will hardly have a clear solution so this might lead to discussion and even flame wars of a different kind. – madth3 Feb 12 '13 at 1:14
  • Reassuming, we have 2 enemies, internal (us) and external (SE team). So a group of people who've set up rules to ensure that sites set up for free, with free access, are relevant and useful to a large number of people the enemy? -1 – elssar Feb 14 '13 at 8:29
  • @elssar you simply have no sense of humour and you understand irony not – FolksLord Feb 14 '13 at 17:44
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Long Tail proposals will eventually succeed because of two reason:

  1. When you are a regular contributor/reader of the Stack Exchange suite of sites, it's easy to remember that most people on the web have never heard of "StackExchange" much less area51. As Area51 grows in popularity, it will by definition have a larger audience. Percentage wise, those interested in an Atheism proposal may never grow, but the sheer number of users interested WILL grow.

  2. Marketing. The biggest issue any proposal has is marketing and reaching out beyond the casual Area51 user. If you don't have a concerted marketing plan, then you're hoping that people will join. If you know the % of atheist for a given population, then you can figure out how many people you must reach out to. Figure somewhere between %1 and 10% of atheist you reach will join the site (out of 100 people who see an ad, 10 will be interested. Of those 10, 1 will commit). So to reach 40 user you'll need to "touch" between 400 and 4000 potential atheist. If you target a alt.atheist usenet groups for instance, then figure half are atheist and so you would need to develop a marketing campaign that will put your message to join this site in front of 800-8000 unique readers of alt.atheist (to garner 40 new users).

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The only chance this site has is to broaden it's scope. Personally, I'm interested in talks about atheism itself, but that doesn't need an extra site and to be honest, I wouldn't check for new questions every (second) day.

But contrary to atheism itself, living as an atheist in a society that is still heavily influenced by a few religious organizations is a day-to-day topic. If this site get's practical (how to handle friends/family/job/(your children's) school), political and social questions, it may be worth visiting.

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Take it from me, the guy who founded the group. Anyways, It's supposed to collaborate and discuss Atheism in an educated mannert. It's much broader, it's not just limited to just Atheists, but also Agnostics and other beliefs under the Atheism umbrella. I think our community will accept this because A) Us Atheists need a place to discuss, and the StackOverflow network will soon learn we need a place too.

  • That's the best answer you can give? – Andrew Grimm Mar 2 '13 at 22:41
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    How would this Q&A effectively differ from /r/atheism..? – danlefree Mar 3 '13 at 8:31
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    Stack Exchange is for Q&A, not discussion. – Anthony Neace Mar 11 '13 at 6:36
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    the StackOverflow network will soon learn we need a place That's not how Stack Exchange works. It's not for every community to have a niche. It's for real questions and real answers. If there aren't real questions about atheism that can't be answered on Philosophy SE, then it doesn't deserve to be an SE site. Take your educated discussion elsewhere. It might benefit you to read the about pages for a couple of extant SE sites to get a feel for what SE is all about. – Eva Mar 13 '13 at 8:00

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