We all love Philosophy Stack Exchange, but there is a whole world of people out there who need answers to their questions and don't even know that this site exists. When they arrive from Google, what will their first impression be? Let's try to look at this site through the eyes of someone who's never seen it before, and see how we stack up against the rest of the 'Net.

The Site Self-Evaluation review queue is open and populated with 10 questions that were asked and answered in the last quarter. Run a few Google searches to see how easy they are to find and compare the answers we have with the information available on other sites.

Rating the questions is only a part of the puzzle, though. Do you see a pattern of questions that should have been closed but are not? Questions or answers that could use an edit? Anything that's going really well? Post an answer below to share your thoughts and discuss these questions and the site's health with your fellow users!

3 Answers 3


Final Results

Net Score: 2 (Excellent: 2, Satisfactory: 5, Needs Improvement: 0)

Net Score: 1 (Excellent: 3, Satisfactory: 1, Needs Improvement: 2)

Net Score: 0 (Excellent: 3, Satisfactory: 1, Needs Improvement: 3)

Net Score: 0 (Excellent: 2, Satisfactory: 5, Needs Improvement: 2)

Net Score: -1 (Excellent: 2, Satisfactory: 3, Needs Improvement: 3)

Net Score: -2 (Excellent: 1, Satisfactory: 3, Needs Improvement: 3)

Net Score: -2 (Excellent: 0, Satisfactory: 5, Needs Improvement: 2)

Net Score: -2 (Excellent: 0, Satisfactory: 5, Needs Improvement: 2)

Net Score: -4 (Excellent: 1, Satisfactory: 2, Needs Improvement: 5)

Net Score: -4 (Excellent: 0, Satisfactory: 2, Needs Improvement: 4)


(I asked "pronounce major philosophers names?" lol)

Here is a personal anecdote from my first days viewing the site: I thought it was too strict with the rules imposed on questions. At the time, I did not know about Quora.com, and thought it was wrong to eliminate the possibility of answering a question--from someone who did have the credibility. I came to understand the site through my questions, and the comments to their answers. It seems politeness and referencing the Meta are what convinced me from stereotyping the whole site as stuck up.

In a nutshell, if it was not for the polite comments referencing the Meta by Weissman and Stoicfurry, I would have almost dismissed the site as caught in a format (general guidelines) that really limited, maybe, Truth. (Hope you got a chance to slip into my shoes.)

In general, I widely use Google Adv Search. Much of the ideas, sometimes even the resources, in my philosophy essays come from the questions, answers and comments of the site. I mean, the usefulness of a good number of these inquires are better than the comments to articles (which are usually more insightful than the article alone) in an accelerated or purified way.

As for what's mentioned in the beginning of this Q, this is a similar idea being discussed on this Academia Stack. Also, I had this in my AcademiaMeta favorites. Furthermore, is there a short 1-3m video out there about any Stack Exchange? If not, someone should try on Vimeo.

Maybe a video of two people in suits. One is in a Stack Exchange type mascot suit; one in a Quora suit. And then--a battle to the death! Some food for thought.

  • 2
    Thank you for you insight, it is useful, and I agree with many of your points. The rules here do limit philosophy in ways that is harder for people to accept as opposed to sites like stackoverflow or math. Do I think the format works? Yes, I think the format works for what it is supposed to do: create a knowledgebase of specific questions and factual answers without the excessive rambling of unsourced, wildly irrelevant side chatter. Other philosophy sites (e.g., open forums), you have random people posting random comments and it drowns out the expertise. The voting system here allows (cont.)
    – stoicfury
    Jan 15, 2014 at 20:41
  • 1
    the best, most factual answers to shine through. The thing you can't do here, however, and I think what most newcomers hope to do, is have someone focus their jumbled thought processes on a particular topic. They want to start a discussion and browse people's ideas ("doing philosophy"). This you can do, but not on the main site — we push that stuff to chat, but I agree chat is not the best place. What would be ideal is if there was a way to flag your question as discussion and have it be separated from the main site unless each user enabled a filter or setting somewhere (opt-in by choice).
    – stoicfury
    Jan 15, 2014 at 20:48

My notes:


I think this evaluation is spot on; most of the questions need some work. I've long thought that this is the hardest site on the network to ask a good question, so it would be good if more people assisted askers via comments and edits. Good answers will, of course, correct simple misunderstandings. But overly broad and vague questions need to be closed, fixed, and reopened. It's work that is often unrewarded, but it's often necessary.

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