I'm curious how the proposal and site has morphed, via about 3-4 people, into "Philosophy for post-graduates only". This isn't really what I committed to in the Area51 proposal.
You very probably think I'm one of those people. And reasonably so: I've made a number of comments about how I think the questions and answers should be somewhat more academic in nature, as opposed to bordering on "armchair philosophy", or the kind of things that you and your friends might talk about after experimenting with some psychoactive substances.
I respectfully disagree. It's not been (and is still not) my intention to exclude anyone from participation in this site, either for their level of exposure or experience with philosophy. I myself hold neither a degree nor any type of official academic certification in philosophy. I have never even pursued one. I also think snobbery and exclusion is a Bad Thing, both pragmatically and philosophically speaking. Philosophically, that comes from my strong bias towards critical theory, and pragmatically that comes from the fact that this site isn't going to do very well if we go about excluding people that we don't think are "good enough" to participate.
To wax editorial for a bit: When I first visited this site about 2–3 hours after it opened in private beta, I was a little disappointed by the questions/answers that I thought I was seeing. I wasn't too sure yet if I wanted to continue my participation in the site, a fear that I suspect some others might have shared as well. But fortunately, that reservation has entirely evaporated now. Both the content and quality of the questions and answers seemed to turn themselves around completely within the first day of the site's existence. It is my personal conclusion that this site is doing amazingly well right now. Not all of the questions are ones that I would have personally asked, but that's not the goal. Not all of them are ones that I can give an intelligent or coherent answer to, but that would certainly be very boring if I could. The point is that they're almost all good questions, ones that we want to have on this site and prompting discussions that I think are very valuable. And for the few that I've seen that concern me, I have tried to leave very detailed comments explaining what my specific objections are, hoping that the asker can rephrase or rewrite the question because none of them have been so far gone that I haven't felt that they could be easily salvaged.
Thus, I have absolutely no interest in making this a site for post-graduates only.†
There is always and necessarily room for people of all backgrounds. Those people bring an important plurality of perspectives, enlightening those of us who may have been overcome with a difficult-to-escape academic pallor, and conversely, enlightening those of us who may not have had any formal academic training whatsoever. It's worth noting that this problem is well-solved on other Stack Exchange sites, as well. Even the most basic, entry-level questions about programming (i.e., those that might be asked by a beginner teaching himself a language in his spare time) are still considered on-topic on Stack Overflow. And, of course, the advanced, high-level questions that can only be answered by true experts in the field are very much allowed and encouraged at the same time. That's important, and I don't think anyone really wants to lose that. We've staunchly resisted applying meta-tags to questions like "beginner", "expert", and "easy" both because those things are very subjective and difficult to assess by the asker, but also because it's important that we not create such divides at all.
However, none of that is intended to diminish the necessity of developing (and enforcing) some minimum guidelines regarding the types of questions that we think are "on topic", as well as the type of answers that we think are "good"—the ones we want to encourage our core group of members to leave. We need everyone here to participate in that, and a question has already been opened to solicit discussion from the community towards that end.
Of course we don't have everything hammered out yet as to what is and what is not on-topic, but we probably never will. Stack Overflow has been around a good while longer, and there's still some dissension in the ranks about what specific questions are on-topic (i.e., are questions about networking and networking protocols relevant enough to programming to be allowed? It's hard to say, just as it will be here with things like religion, law, and other applied ethical fields). Fortunately, there's a great solution for that already in place. It's this site (Meta), and the strong core group of users that we're building right now, including you. Yes, you. Not just the person who asked this question, but you, the person who's reading this answer.
† My personal position (if anyone cares, and for clarification purposes, since I think I've been accurately pegged as a pretty big advocate of the "academic" perspective) is that we should, as a community, attempt to very strongly encourage that answers contain some reference to the existing literature on a subject.
I have a couple of reasons why I think this is an important guideline:
It helps ground your answer in reality and ensure that what you're saying is at least somewhat plausible. People who come here asking questions should be able to expect good answers. The problem with many discussion-style forums is that, in reality, the answers you get aren't very good. Especially on sites with subjects like philosophy (although, in my experience, this is really an endemic problem, and largely the motivation behind the Stack Exchange network's charter in the first place). People write a lot of hooey. I don't want that here.
It's real-world: Very little of philosophy can truly be considered "original" or "unique". Sure, each individual idea is unique, and that's good for all the normal reasons. But all philosophy is influenced in varying degrees by those who have come before. And it's important to respect those people.
It provides a built-in way for people to verify the content of your answer and learn/explore more if they wish to do so. If you refer to, say, Jacques Derrida in an answer about deconstruction and refer to his book Of Grammatology or Afterword, then those who didn't really understand your answer and/or those whose appetites were strongly whet by your answer and wish to learn more can go look up that author and those books/articles/essays. Logistically, one answer here can't cover everything. But it can be an excellent start for those who want to learn more.
See also the discussion had over on the Skeptics Stack Exchange site, trying to combat a somewhat similar problem: Must all claims be referenced?
Obviously if you don't know, that's cool. But please don't just make up a bunch of random ideas. This is a question-and-answer site, and the format isn't really conducive to creating our own philosophies. It's a Q&A about philosophy, not a discussion forum for philosophizing. And it has nothing to do with the fact that you're not a famous academic: I'd very likely tell Saul Kripke the same thing. Whether or not you think this is a desirable restriction, it's a very real one that we can't afford to simply ignore.