Should Mi.Yodeya/J.SE maintain its solely orthodox standing?
I love StackExchange and when I found the Judaism group I thought that it would be interesting to participate. However, I am neither an Orthodox Jew nor an orthodox Jew and have found it difficult to find applicable questions on which to share what I know about Judaism. For example, my first answer has gotten down-voted without a reason given. Is my slightly lax-er perspective towards Kashrut unworthy of this group?
Let me start at the beginning:
Mi.Yodeya/J.SE is currently under public beta. It is a
Beta Q&A site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more.
In this sense, it is based on orthodox, strict interpretations of the Tanach, Talmud, and Gemara. The site currently has an excellent answer rate (98%) and plenty of answers per question (2.5) but is lagging in visits/day (276) and users (69 avid, 548 total).
In the original discussion of this stack, we began to discuss whether or not an orthodox perspective was intrinsic to the success of the site.
Isaac Moses, founder of this site, wrote in this thread:
In particular, if we try to answer about traditional practices on other than a "to the letter" basis, then we're all just expressing our opinion and personal practice, and there's no basis for evaluating whether an answer is correct or not. In my opinion, Judaism can only really work on SE in the sense that it's defined in authoritative sources.
Regarding I. Moses's quote, Judaism on SE can also only work if it generates a large interest, a.k.a if it is relevant to a large population. Limiting the scope also artificially limits the group this site is applicable to; I posit that limiting Mi.Yodeya's scope to letter-of-the-law Judaism artifically limits the applicable population, just as limiting this site to Ashkenazi or Shephardi Judaism would do the same.
Like he said, though, allowing non-orthodox answers may devolve this site into an opinion/personal practice site. Besides, learned Jews tend to be orthodox Orthodox Jews. Progressive Judaism (depending on the speaker) either blatantly disregards or holds outdated the Torah Sheba'al Peh. Progressive Jew's answers on this site would therefore be of an inferior quality and irreconcilable with orthodox answers*.
Hence, this site is stuck between two choices, and we really are stuck; this site will be evaluated in less then a month for viability. Judging by the stats, this site is unviable. Even though answers are being answered correctly and quickly, there is not enough interest in the site to make it feasible.
Here are the choices I can see:
- Maintain the site's orthodox-only standing and limit the site's applicable body
- Allow non-orthodox answers, perhaps lowering the quality of many answers
I currently hold the second opinion because:
- orthodox-only Jewish sites already exist
- the goal of this site is to make answers applicable to anyone interested as well as those who base their lives on Jewish law.
- StackExchange itself is supposed to let experts answer questions: orthodox answers may not seem applicable to every-men Jews.
- this SE does not seem to be thriving enough to be considered viable by StackExchange
So that's all I have. What do you think? This is StackExchange, after all.
In fact, writing this argument illustrates (to myself, at least) how relatively unlearned I am compared to most, if not all, of the scholars here. However, I would be hesitant to ask questions on this site because I disagree with some tenants derived from strict derivations of Jewish law: treatment of women being an example. If I who in real life is one of the most observant people at his Jewish school am reluctant to post questions here, how scared are Jews who have never opened a Tanach in their lives?
I am happy to discuss this, I just feel that in order to truly consider this StackExchange group a "panel of experts" there must be experts from all types of Judaism.
* However, I believe that authoritative sources within the Mishna, Gemara, and Talmud can be presented that represent Conservative Judaism and less "orthodox" opinions. Sadly, however, I am not well enough versed in these books to present examples to back me up, though I can present the general argument that Rabbis in the Talmud never agree. Yes, I do know that one can find the accepted answer by looking at the חסדים's majority opinion, but why is one opinion truer than another?