I agree with John Ericson's answer. So won't reiterate his points.
When I refer to the scientific process here, I am not making an argument for or against organic vs scientific gardening, I am NOT addressing this issue at all. I am not saying a gardening expert has to be a scientist, I am referring to the process that improves knowledge base as a way to maintain a quality site.
I do not profess to be an expert in gardening. I have been a gardener my whole life, I learnt to garden from helping my mother and grandfather garden. My grandfather learnt to garden from growing up on a farm. So my knowledge and experience comes from this; watching gardening shows, reading articles and exchanging ideas. I have practical, expertise in the immediate environment I live in, as I have spent over 4 decades working within it. So I would qualify myself as a user of the site as a consumer, rather than an expert providing good answers.
I am replying to this post, as I have a keen interest in the success of SE beta sites.
Many of the beta sites have difficulty in maintaining that balance between quality, expert posts and just struggling to get posts on the board.
This question posted on SE Cognitive Sciences Meta, discusses this issue, from a slightly different viewpoint, but in essence it's the same topic.
Striking a balance between citations and common sense in answers
There's a few issues:
SE is reknown for it's programming expertise, it is linked in the MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) searches, along with all the Microsoft site links. Currently, this is Stack's most notable achievement.
To gain the same credibility for other Stack sites, just takes time and careful moderation to foster the community.
I agree with Randy, that the commercial aspects of gardening are a, potential, hindrance in this current socio-economic climate. One way to circumvent this is to rely on scientific methodology. As with the success of StackOverflow, there is nothing lost in an individual's commercial interests, in promoting good coding practices. In fact, as an industry, it is beneficial to encourage good coding practices. Just as in the sharing and pooling of scientific resources, this assists the scientific community.
The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.1 To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.2 ...
The chief characteristic which distinguishes the scientific method from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself,[discuss] supporting a theory when a theory's predictions are confirmed and challenging a theory when its predictions prove false. ...
Scientific inquiry is generally intended to be as objective as possible in order to reduce biased interpretations of results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, giving them the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established (when data is sampled or compared to chance).
So my suggestion is this:
I would discourage dissention within your community. When applying the scientific process, there is value in many gardening methods. The old, the new. A good site provide alternatives and it is the mix of alternative solutions that will keep people engaged.
This site is totally voluntary, and unless an individual wants to invest, with venture capital, there is no point for people to complain about loss of business. Stack Overflow has proven, that good contributions there, only enhances a person's reputation within the programming community; and in turn, any possible business endeavours. Having said this, this is accumulated over time and with consistent contribution.
The key factors are this:
- The way to maintain a quality site, is to use the vote and flag
system methodically to teach users, what is welcome and what is not.
This system has proved to be successful.
- For the core users of the community to try to work with consensus, and maintain focus away from gratuitous disagreement about gardening practices on the site, and, instead, to focus on providing quality answers.
- Stay on-topic. Don't let personal agenda or personalities affect the quality of your posts.
As experts cannot be solicited to contribute here, the only way to make people consider the site is worthwhile is by providing a degree of "professionalism" within the conduct of the community. From there, quality answers grow.
My ten cents.