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Mi Yodeya used to be a vibrant community. We had an active chatroom (with scheduled Parsha Chats for a period), an active Meta, publication projects, milestone celebrations on launching out of beta and turning five, and a siyum project that was very active for a while.

These activities ebbed and flowed, but it's now been years since we've behaved as a community rather than as a bunch of people on a Q&A website. One event precipitated a discontinuous drop-off in communal activities (and particularly the completion of the siyum project): when Stack Exchange fired our moderator and community leader, Monica Cellio, about four years ago. The negative energy from that event knocked out nearly all of our drive to be a community, and we have not recovered.

So, my first question for discussion is: Do we want to re-ignite a vibrant community around here?

How the votes go on this Meta post will more or less answer that question. If there's a critical mass for being a community, we'll see that there. (But of course, if you have something more complicated than a "yes" or "no" to offer, please post an answer.)

So I'll pose another question: How should we re-ignite a vibrant community? Please post answers to this in the spirit of brain-storming, and if anything seems like something you want to try to actually do, feel free to spin-off a new Meta post for working out implementation details.

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    I am not a member of the community. I come to contribute and to get answers randomly. I treat the sites in the SE family with as much skepticism as something like Wikipedia. I've yet to turn to something as soulless as Quora. I rely on there being a community and am thankful for it. SE is not the first site of its kind, and it should also be thankful for the community. I carry links for Monica in my username, and any actions I take hopefully reverberate the message. It takes dedicated, thoughtful contributors and moderators to make the sites function; it doesn't function well as simply a Q&A. Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 15:27
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    I would love for it to go back to being much more community oriented, but I don't know how we get around the problems of the mistrust that has built up in StackExchange Commented Dec 23, 2023 at 19:44
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    I feel like the problem is that we have fallen below a critical mass of knowledgeable, engaged users with spare time on their hands. There have been some great additions to our roster over the past two or so years, but not enough(numbers-wise, chas v'shalom in terms of quality!) to make up for the attrition since Monica left. I think increasing the user base would have to be the way forward. Commented Dec 23, 2023 at 21:58
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    I am new member here, and the value which Mi Yodea has added to my life is immense. It assists me with everyday questions as well as research queries. Personally, id find benifit in there being some sort of chat room, where ideas can be exchanged more casually. possibly even something like a telegram or whatsapp chat.
    – The Targum
    Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 1:20
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    @RabbiKaii Bam can have the links removed if desired; plus, if there's ample chat, it'll drown out the links anyway.
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 18:19
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    @msh210 I would indeed be in favour of removing the links letchatchila, as it makes it look like some sort of bot feed for moderators, not an enticing chat room
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 18:21
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    @msh210 could the links move to another chat room (dedicated to those) for the benefit of those interested in them?
    – mbloch
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 11:35
  • @mbloch they could certainly, if that's what the community wants.
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 14:18

5 Answers 5

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I'm undecided whether I think trying to rebuild here or elsewhere is the better move, but if the decision is to rebuild here, I think there are a few things that need to be addressed:

  1. A lot of the older, more dedicated, users were affected by Monica being fired, and either left the site entirely or started posting a lot less. (I personally joined a little before then, and left shortly after for unrelated reasons. I only recently became active on the site again).

  2. Because of this, a lot of new users will come and find a 'ghost town', and won't stick around, thereby stunting the growth of the site.

  3. Also, a lot of the answers/ comments people (including new users) will get will be cold/ impersonal, further turning them off of the site

  4. Additionally, (and this is unrelated), many of the questions new users have, have been asked before and will be marked as duplicates, further discouraging them from being active. (I'm not sure there's any solution for this, apart from changing the rules of how duplicates are marked)

The site is rebuilding, and there are quite a few newer users who are as dedicated as some of the older users used to be. Of course, it'll take time, but it'll happen at some point. If we want to speed up the process (and I'm not sure how feasible moving to another site is, so this might be the best option), I think we need a team of dedicated people who can work on a few short to medium term projects which will artificially boost engagement (Maybe it's time for another answerathon?) This will hopefully attract more new users, as well as convince them to stick around, in theory leading to more acitve users, more qeustions and answers, and in time hopefully a snowball effect.

Also, having a standardized greeting to new users is useful, but only insomuch as it's used. Oftentimes new users will be bombarded with comments before being belatedly greeted by someone; this is something that can easily be changed (not by a mod or anyone specific, by all of us as a whole) and might help convince users to stay (besides for being simple derech eretz). In addition, inviting users to look at similar questions to the one they've asked (by linking the tags they've used in their question) might be enticing.

I'm not sure how affective any of this would be, but with Siyata d'Shmaya we'll continue to regrow and recreate the community.


Some ideas for possible projects (feel free to edit ideas in):

• An Answerathon, although maybe with different rules than the previous times to make it more user-friendly

• Restart the mi-yodeya 'number' questions (I'm not sure this is practical at the number we've reached)

• Have a weekly bountied parsha question (either one that's been asked before and unanswered, or a new one), the question can be bountied motzei shabbos (before the parsha the question was asked about), and be rewarded the following motzei shabbos.

• shiurim can be given via the chatrooms, guest Rabbis/ speakers can be invited on as well every so often.

• There can be a weekly (or monthly) newsletter which can include the top questions and answers from that time period, plus maybe an interesting question or two from years ago (this might help being more interest to otherwise 'forgotten' questions). I remember there was something like this at one point, but I'm not sure whether it still exists. Another thing that can be included in the newsletter is a 'message board' of sorts, saying how many questions/ answers were given over the time period, which user got the most points, welcoming new users, congratulating bounty winners, etc. (think anything you'd find on a shul newsletter, but for MiYodeya). This can also include stuff from users' personal lives, when applicable. This type of thing (if it works) is a sign of a community, like a shul


I don't mean to cause any pain or Ogmas Nefesh to anyone who doesn't feel comfortable using the site anymore, especially not to Monica, so please don't be offended. I just want what's best for the site and users.

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I would love for there to be a community for Jewish questions and answers, be it here, at Codidact (see Monica Cellio's answer), or elsewhere. I am a relatively new user and the answers I've gotten have often been quite helpful, but there is a definite disconnect between myself as the asker and the answerer - I ask a question, get an answer (sometimes), and so the interaction ends. At least one of my questions even got deleted after someone responded for reasons of which I am not aware, and I had to use my browser history to make sure I could find the name of the text they had referenced since I couldn't go back to see the answer a second time!

Resources such as Mi Yodeya are valuable, and I would want to see it revived to its former glory, if such is possible.

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Yes. But not on Stack Exchange.

This community was really special back when it was a community. The company management of the last several years is a barrier. Let's rebuild elsewhere where we can do what's best for us.

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    I support what you're doing at judaism.codidact.com, and I apologize for not being more active there myself. As hard as it could be to reboot a community here, I think it's harder to bootstrap a community in a green field. I am heartened to see you here again, even just to post this, and I acknowledge that my move toward rebuilding in place could be hurtful to you. Part of why it's taken me so long to make a gesture like this is because of wanting to avoid that. But, despite everything, Q&A continues here, and new people keep coming here, so it's worth asking whether to build here.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 4:11
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    @IsaacMoses, I have no bad feelings toward you. We all miss our community and you as the founder must feel that worst of all. I can't stay here but that doesn't mean you can't; I'm just one person. I wish we could go elsewhere, even knowing how hard that is. Even here, the community of today is not the one we built in years past, and that's very sad. I wish us all the best. Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 4:34
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    Hi Monica, one of the newer folk, very nice to see you here and have enjoyed looking over your past contributions. I am very sorry what happened and the way things have ended up for you (and us). I wish you all the best at codidact and whereever else life takes you
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 16:53
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    Hi Monica - good to see you here agaiN! Now I'm feeling really torn - I didn't know Codidact had got off the ground already! @IsaacMoses your logic for continuing is that things are continuing here. Would it be viable to migrate everything over? Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 19:46
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    @MosesSupposes As long as MY has the content base it does to attract googlers and the active Ask and Answer buttons inviting contributions, activity will continue here, at some rate or other. As such, migration is an action that can be taken en toto by Stack Exchange (and, say, J.CD) or necessarily incompletely by one individual community member at a time
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 3:21
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    @IsaacMoses I meant to go as far as transferring everything and shutting down MY and leaving something to direct people to J.CD. guessing this isn't viable for a number of reasons, but I hate to see things split like this, there is a lot of mistrust in SE and CD does look like it has some nice features that SE doesn't Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 8:19
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    @MosesSupposes that last suggestion is almost certainly not going to happen, because it would be SE's corporate decision rather than the community's.
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 9:15
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    @msh210 that's what I thought, but it does seem a shame to split the community Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 9:36
  • @MosesSupposes shutting MY down completely would also lead to a destruction of the community to a large degree, which would also be a shame.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 12:43
  • @RabbiKaii I meant only after transferring everything and everyone over. As I said, probably not viable, but that seems to me to be the ideal solution if it were Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 13:01
  • @MosesSupposes what I mean is, such a full transfer+shut down would probably mean 90% of people just leave completely, as well as put off many future members
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 13:03
  • @RabbiKaii I know, just seems frustrating that there is no perfect solution Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 13:05
  • Is it possible to just mass copy/ paste questions and answers from here to codidact? (My technical knowledge is very limited, idk if that'd be feasible) That could balance the difference in content (which @IsaacMoses mentioned) between here and codidact and then moving to codidact could be easier, if that's what we decide
    – Lo ani
    Commented Jan 11 at 21:01
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    @Loani - In theory, yes, it's possible to import all of the existing content from Mi Yodeya - the CC BY-SA license allows for that as long as proper attribution is in place. Codidact did that several years ago for Writing, importing content from Writing.SE, but we quickly found that it was not helpful - in some cases actively harmful - in establishing an active community, and we wound up removing the vast majority of it.
    – Mithical
    Commented Jan 11 at 23:39
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I say the following with some hesitancy...

I became a frequenter of Mi Yodeya post-cataclysm, if you will. For as long as I have used it, I have been made to feel at home and I'm thrilled to have like-minded, and even some maybe not so like-minded people who I can engage with on issues that I could hardly discuss elsewhere. When I look back at older posts, I feel envious of the community that was had here before. That being said, I think that the path toward growth for the community, for our own good, is to come up with ways to migrate (eventually and methodically) away from Stack Exchange. Events have made it clear, amongst other things, that SE does not respect my values, which I certainly suspect are commensurate with the values of many other users here. Frankly, every member of this community, and more so, our traditions, deserve better.

Earlier I considered the following idea, I nearly decided against sharing it, because the grand scope of such a project... but I will offer it here as it is possible that someone can use the idea for some good.

I think it would be worthwhile, if we could create a standalone website for Mi Yodeya and a pipeline that could help us eventually transition to being free from this site. Obviously this would require great tact.

I am aware I might sound overly sanguine, but I can invision a pathway wherein Mi Yodeya's community flourishes and grows just the same as other Jewish learning communities have in recent years. I believe that the best way for us to grow going forward, is on our own platform. I really do love what we have here, and I don't think anything even approaching the idea of an abrupt mass exodus of SE would be beneficial. More along the lines of diversifying and expanding our reach, creating an archive off of SE, encouraging interaction with SE by utilizing SE API on a this new site, until we have sufficient traction. As you can tell this is a very vague idea but I hope that others deem the idea worthwhile... because it is about time our community received an impetus.

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This is just one perspective but I think the community could be less strict about border-line topical questions. I think rather than having the standard be "questions about Judiasm", a better standard would be "questions that are of obvious interest to all religious Jews by virtue of their interest in Judaism." And so, if someone has a vocab question on the parsha, not being so strict as to send them away because "that's language and not Judaism." Or if someone wants to know about a well-known historical Rabbi's involvement with Judaism, not sending them away because "that's about history and not Judaism." Or if someone has a question about a phrase or expression they heard in a yeshiva, not saying that "that's Jews and not Judaism" – I recognize that these are border-line cases, but if the community is losing people anyway, I don't see a benefit to being so strict about these things. I think we can see Judaism the topic as being not just the set of abstract beliefs, but the group of people practicing Judaism, the language they use for it, the history of said group as regards the religion, and the sociological practices they employ in doing their activities.

For a beginner, having a question closed can be the end of their involvement with the site. Even when questions are off-topic, most stack exchanges will have a moderator comment and discuss the topicality before closing, which doesn't usually seem to happen here. I think the bar for closing a question should be higher, and any disagreement among moderators should default to a permissive stance.

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    Vocab in the parsha is on-topic. Many of the topics you propose are too. We weren't any less strict about scope when we were a community. The difference was that we behaved as a community.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Jan 14 at 18:30
  • @IsaacMoses Thanks for your response. I'm not suggesting this is the primary reason there are fewer users now, just that if you were looking for ways of making the community more inviting, this might help. Writing as someone who is marginally involved and regularly decides not to become more involved due to closed questions in most of the above categories. YMMV
    – ak0000
    Commented Jan 15 at 19:16

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