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After enjoying this question and the responses it prompted, I thought, "It'd be great to have more questions about interpreting the Shabbat songs. I bet people think of them all the time when singing and then forget about them."

What if we featured a weekly topic challenge - a call for questions on a particular topic?

Here's a draft of how it might work. Once a week (probably on Wednesday or Thursday night), an organizer would do the following:

  • Post a meta question asking for proposed topics for the following week's challenge.

  • Choose a topic from the proposals submitted for this week, taking community voting into account (perhaps strictly).

  • Post a meta question including a brief recap of the now-ending challenge and a call for questions relating to this week's challenge.

  • Put up a system message (24- or 48-hour, depending on how long it is until Shabbat) linking to both meta questions.

Community members have the topic in mind over Shabbat and hopefully post questions on that topic over the next few days. They add links to their questions to a community-wikified answer to the challenge post or perhaps in individual answers.

What do you think? Should we try this? Any other ideas about how it ought to run?

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  • We wouldn't be the first to run a weekly challenge in meta. – Isaac Moses Jul 8 '11 at 19:32
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    The photography challenge is not questions based at all, for better or worse. A closer parallel for us would be a challenge for the most interesting Jewish-life-related anecdote or discovery. – WAF Jul 8 '11 at 19:51
  • Would questions on main need to be "submitted" to qualify or would they simply be judged as part of the pool as long as they were related to the challenge, even if the asker was unaware? – WAF Jul 8 '11 at 19:52
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    @WAF The photo one is also much more of a contest that what I envision; my point in bringing it up was just to show that there's precedent for this sort of weekly interactive feature. – Isaac Moses Jul 8 '11 at 19:54
  • @WAF The beauty of this is that it doesn't really matter what "qualifies" or doesn't. The point is really to prompt people to ask questions, so the real trophy is the posted question with its high-quality answers. If we're keeping track of participating questions, then I don't see any reason not to include questions that are unintentionally on the right topic at the right time. – Isaac Moses Jul 8 '11 at 19:58
  • In that case, the only possible downside is cluttering meta, but I don't think that is a major concern, especially in favor of the concentrations of high-quality questions it could engender. – WAF Jul 8 '11 at 20:01
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    @WAF There's also the issue of demanding people's attention (especially if we do a system message), which is not something we should do lightly. – Isaac Moses Jul 8 '11 at 20:04
  • "You should only ask... questions based on actual problems that you face." How does this proposal relate to that injunction? – msh210 Jul 11 '11 at 17:12
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    @msh210 - The intent of this proposal is to prompt people to think of posting a question when they face "problems" (e.g. on noticing an interesting anomaly while singing Shabbat songs) and also, perhaps, to "face" more "problems": Perhaps people will be spurred by this topic (e.g.) to spend some extra time singing with kavana or studying the songs and therefore to see more such anomalies. Note that the boilerplate FAQ was written with normal professional pursuits, as opposed to "ki heym chayeynu ve-orech yameynu," in mind. In the latter, looking for trouble is encouraged! – Isaac Moses Jul 11 '11 at 17:31
  • Perhaps the system message should be up for longer than forty-eight hours. Since nobody reads meta, it's the only explicit advertisement of this project. Perhaps leave it up for five or six days from the weekly call for questions. – msh210 Jul 12 '11 at 19:29
  • @msh210 Unfortunately, system messages only support up to 48 hours at a time. I think that'll have to be sufficient. – Isaac Moses Jul 12 '11 at 19:38
  • But they can be renewed, I assume? – msh210 Jul 12 '11 at 20:17
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    @msh210 and Monica, Maybe it would make sense to ask for topic proposals less frequently, e.g. monthly, allow them to be added at any time during the month, and then use that month's proposal question as a repository from which to draw on a weekly basis, using whatever priority scheme you want. That way, people won't have to re-post good ideas each week until they get picked. (Even less frequently than monthly, including just whenever your list runs dry, could work, but monthly could be good for soliciting seasonal ideas.) – Isaac Moses Oct 27 '11 at 16:44
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    @IsaacMoses, yes, I like that idea -- until suggestions are coming at such a volume to make that unwieldy, let's collect by month. Since only one answer can be "accepted" on SE, when you take a suggestion maybe you should edit the anseer to say it's been used. (Comments wouldn't be visible enough.) – Monica Cellio Oct 27 '11 at 18:45
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    @MonicaCellio Other potential reasons to create a new list: 1) to trigger people to come up with new proposals 2) to solicit seasonal proposals – Isaac Moses Oct 27 '11 at 18:49
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I think it could be interesting and, as with everything, should be tested and improved.

Perhaps instead of a system message on the main site, and to address the obtrusion concern you raised in a comment, there could just be a "temporary tag" on pertinent questions that have already been submitted that week. This tag would be appended by those who were following the challenge on meta and would, by their concentration on the front page, be noticeable but not overbearing. The tag could then be removed at week's end. This is definitely a non-standard use of tags, but I don't see any serious reason not to use it, as during that week it functions just like any other tag.

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  • Ye olde qotw? – msh210 Jul 12 '11 at 14:25
  • Sounds a little subtle, unless the tag is named something obnoxious-looking like "w-e-e-k-l-y-c-h-a-l-l-e-n-g-e" (caps being unavailable). The vast majority of readers don't come to meta of their own accord, and I strongly suspect that most don't click on tags or even routinely notice them. – Isaac Moses Jul 12 '11 at 14:37
  • There's also a bootstrapping problem, unless we can depend on regular meta readers to post the first challenge question[s] each time. – Isaac Moses Jul 12 '11 at 14:39
  • @IsaacMoses Most readers don't look at tags?! – WAF Jul 12 '11 at 14:58
  • @WAF I can't say for sure. All I know is that when I let my mod glasses slip off and get engaged in the content of the questions, I often forget to look at them. – Isaac Moses Jul 12 '11 at 15:00

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