A Growing Forum (Status Update)

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #6

Here is the monthly graph:


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #7

We officially launched merely 3 months ago, on May 5th 2018; see the announcement here Official Launch of the Forum.

Right now, we have more than 30 daily active users per day. Our processes are getting better, and our rate of growth might even be accelerating. Our goal of 100 daily active users might be achieved within the next nine months. For now, keep inviting quality contributors, and keep improving our ability to “self-regulate” to keep our conversations interesting and non-contentious as possible. Remember there is none one paid to work on this forum, so I depend on you to keep this a quality place of conversation. Remember a fundamental rule: Be Kind.

I will continually asking us to remember how a Woman Leaves the Westboro Baptist Church

Be kind. Let us continue to grow. Seek peace.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #8

So here we are another month later, just 4 months after launching early May 2017. Where do we stand now? At about 30 daily engaged visitors.

In fact, today we hit 35 people. This is after a month of growing pains too, where more than one person was banned. We did have a dip middle of the month, but we seem to have rebounded strongly. If we continue growing at this pace, we should expect to hit 100 daily visitors by 12 months in, quite an accomplishment if you ask me.

In particular, one of the best parts of the forum lately has been Office Hours. You can read about them here: What are Office Hours?. Please nominate scholars for our next run, volunteer to host them, and feel free to self-nominate if you are a scholar too.

Remember we are still keeping a growth mindset here. Be kind to visitors. Disagree, but be kind.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #9

One bad thing is that we still do not have a good moderator system up other than my benevolent dictatorship. Please police yourselves so I do not go crazy. Especially if new people get ornery, please remind them the situation here:

No staff. No budget. No organization. Chill out and be kind to your neighbor, even if you despise what he thinks. We still share the same society. Let’s figure out how live with one another.

Also, we may have an influx of people for the Book Club soon: Book Club: Faith Across the Multiverse. This should be fun. Be sure to grab a copy and join in the conversation. Be kind and gentle to any students that join, and look to @TWReynolds and @Philosurfer for guidance on them.

Do not prothlesize students (this goes for both religious and anti-religious adults). Answer direct student-led questions about your personal beliefs, but press them to agree with you. Ask them questions them about what they are thinking, but give them space to explore and learn about new views in their own way.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #10

And the entertaining paradox of it all:

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #11

We are now one day shy of the 5 month anniversary of our forum launch, just this May 5th, 2018.

Yesterday we hit 50 daily engaged users for the first time, and we are averaging about 40 daily engaged users everyday now, and are well on track to hit our goal of 100 daily users within two years. One major factor in recent growth, in my view, is improved moderation:

  1. Much thanks is given to our two new moderators @Michael_Callen (old earther) and @Dan_Eastwood (agnostic).

  2. It seems that more firm approaches to bad behavior are well received and producing an environment that everyone appreciates more. Most of our stagnant growth intervals followed some blowout on the forum or the temporary addition of an aggressive/repetitive/circular polemicist. My approach has always been to hope for the best with a light touch, but setting clear rules is creating a better environment for everyone.

  3. As we are growing, self-moderating is getting better too, where we all as group help bring new members into a more kind discourse. This is going to be important for us to double in size again.

Of note, it seems like we have been able o maintain the best of this forum as it grows.

We see steady progress upwards, which is good because we are still in a growth phase. Be kind to visitors. Disagree, but be kind. Keep asking people to join us, so this will continue to be a place where the most thoughtful voices will come and reason with us.

Continue to invite scholars and thoughtful people here to join us. Let the conversation grow.

Our Front Porch

Wait, wait, wait! You started this forum on 5th of May? That’s my freaking birthday!

I don’t know why I find this hilarious but I do!

(Guy Coe) #13

Happy (belated) Birthday! Glad you find the coincidence hilarious!

(George) #14


Where are you, man?

You are missing the cool beginnings!

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #15

Six months in we are doing pretty well. There is some leveling off. I think this reflects several things, including a growing pains as we grow. We might need to restructure some for growth. This is an ongoing challenge we will face.

(Retired Minister) #16

I appreciate you sharing such stats, Joshua.

Even though I’m often impressed by the depth and breadth of engagement here, the 4X amazes me, considering how long Biologos has been around and the fact that they have paid staff.

The fact that pageviews are becoming such high numbers provides extra incentive for me to carefully explain when posting. Our reading audience is much greater than just our core participants. (This is not a just-getting-started forum anymore.)

(George) #17

@AllenWitmerMiller, i never thought of that!

(Retired Minister) #18

I would be curious as to the number of women posting on Peaceful Science. I’ve noticed several women who post daily on Biologos. Here I can think of Dr. Gauger but not many others. Perhaps I’ve not been fully observant.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #19

Yes, I’ve been concerned about this. There is also @AJRoberts,. @SueD, and @Alice_Linsley.

There is an active homeschool group at BioLogos, and they have two women moderators (including @Elle). This might account for some of the difference. Though, at the same time, they do not have many (any?) woman scholars participating there.

Regardless, I want to do better here. Hopefully we can and will. Any ideas are appreciated.

(George) #20

Create a Discussion section for athiest topics. This will help.

(Jon Garvey) #21

For whatever reason, male-predominance is a feature not only of origins discussion boards, but apparently of most sites where “issues” are discussed. It’s something I’ve noticed over all the years The Hump has been running, even though the nature of that beast is far less “cut and thrust” and the content, overall, has been more inclusive of “humanities based” subjects rather than science.

Overall, even BioLogos has relatively few regularly-active female participants, Uncommon Descent fewer, and the same applies if you look in different disciplines such as Ed Feser’s blog on AT philosophy, or Mike Gene’s on New Atheism. I note, on reflection, that even on Lydia McGrew’s What’s wrong with the world?, most of the comments on her pieces come from males. I hear that YouTube too is also predominantly a male domain.

None of these would appear to be other than open and welcoming, nor even that confrontational - though debate is inherently “issue orientated,” and there are gender-biases in that regard.

Your best solution would seem to be to follow the army and universties in setting a quota for female participants and blocking comments from blokes until it is achieved… that should improve the quality of discussion no end :grinning:

Congrats on the stats, by the way. I see that over the same time period, the Hump hit rate has stayed stable, though comments have dropped of, maybe partly because the comments get made here in some cases.

(Dan Eastwood) #22

Visible female participation helps encourage more women to participate. Adding female moderator(s) should be a priority.

(Dan Eastwood) #23

@swamidass What about inviting some female scientists to Office Hours for discussion of their current research?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #24

Great idea. Let us do it.

(Dan Eastwood) #25

I started a staff thread to throw so possibilities at you.