In this question, I raise the possibility of attempting to attract more academic political scientists to the site. As the site sits now, most of the questions and answers rely upon popular (i.e. non-academic) sources, and contemporary events. A shift towards the academic would necessarily cause certain changes. What changes would have to occur to make that shift, and what effects would that have on non-academic users?
How We Can Expand the Site to Include Political Science
- Allow meta-Political Science questions (e.g. "What are the 3 dominant structural theories of International Relations?") This is key to both getting political scientists to visit, and to have this site show up in searches.
- Favor answers with links to peer-reviewed material and add peer-reviewed links that are supportive, to existing answers. Down-voting non-peer reviewed material may not be necessary, but only time will tell.
- Encourage and upvote multiple correct answers to the same question so that people who are familiar with different theoretical traditions to answer, so that someone from the English School of IR can give their answer, and someone who is a Domestic politics expert can give theirs, and both are equally right. Upvoting many answers is super-important to increase the profile of participants on the site, so there are more mods, too.
- Allow and encourage "process" questions and answers when there is currently no answer. (e.g. "How could I figure out if SES makes someone more likely to vote for Marxists?" or "In order to know that we would need a sample of 1000 people in Uganda who were ethnic Tutsi with annual responses, and not expelled during the Rwandan civil war, and we would conduct a panel analysis of their answers.")
Something that may or may not exist, but could be helpful would be to immediately give status points to people who are recognized experts outside SE to participate here. For example, if Gary King were to sign up using his Harvard e-mail, he should start out with a sizable status, because we know who he is, and he will likely be able to contribute significantly to the moderation of the board, should he choose to do so.
What This Would Mean for non-Political Science Members and Questions
The core audience of SE are professionals, but the key beneficiaries are the amateurs. If more experts participate in the site, the amateurs both get better answers and will get good feed-back on their answer. Just because someone doesn't have a PhD. (or even a BA) does not mean that they can't answer a question well, but having others who do around might help sharpen that answer, and it will likely lead to better answers in the future. This should not force out any amateur, nor should it discourage them from participation.
That said, some people might no be able to access gated materials. If that becomes a consistent issue, then something should be done about that. This is a problem dealt with on other SEs regularly, so I assume there is some kind of SOP or best practices that can be copied.