I doubt if many people would deny that the Internet is the single biggest source of information in history. If it has an Achilles heel, it is that it contains good AND bad information and it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between the two. There are a lot of experts in given areas on sites like this, but there are also plenty of people who think they are experts. How does someone decide which is which?
This is a problem I have kicked around for many years and the best solution I can think of is to create a series of forums that will be chaired by acknowledged experts in their given fields. In these forums, anyone can start a thread asking a question. The thread will not go live until the expert/moderator for that forum answers the question. At that point, the OP and the moderator for that forum will be the only people that can respond to the thread, but everyone will be able to read it.
Why format the place this way?
- Threads will only go live after they are addressed by the moderator/expert for that area for a couple of reasons: One, we don't want these forums clogged with the same questions asked over and over. We will ask that before someone posts a question, they first search to see if it has already been answered. Two, the people chairing these forums will not have an unlimited amount of time to spend here, so we want them to address the most interesting questions, without being overwhelmed by all the rest. Every question that anyone sees in each of these forums will be one that has already been answered.
- Why only allow the moderator/expert to answer the question? Well, that is the point of this system, isn't it? Obviously, there will be plenty of people on the site who could answer the question equally as well as our expert, but these forums will be a place where EVERY question gets answered by an expert in the given area. The answers given may not be the only available answer, or there may be more info available on the subject, or perhaps someone else on the site has what they think is a better take on the subject, but the answers people get in this area will be good, solid answers consistently.
- Why can only the mod and the OP reply to a thread in the GATE forums? The purpose of these forums really isn't to hold discussions on the subjects discussed here. It is to have questions asked and answered, in a structured environment. The OP can reply to the thread to post follow-up questions and comments and the mod can reply to those comments.
- If you start a thread and it does not get answered, please don't take it personally. It may be an issue that has previously been addressed, or the mod for that forum simply might not have time to get to it. They are going to have their hands full. Threads that don't get answered in a reasonable amount of time will be automatically deleted, to make room for new business.
In the coming days and weeks, we will be adding forums on various subjects. We won't set up a forum until we have someone chosen to chair each of these forums. Initially, there will only be one expert in each area, but as the system takes off and gets busier, we hope to be able to add more experts in the busy forums, to decrease the workload on the mods and decrease response times.
If you are an expert in a given field that might be of interest to readers here and would like to submit your name to chair a forum on that subject, please PM me
with some info on yourself and the subject in question. Please do not submit this information here in a thread. PM it to me. The subject does not have to be about guns, or the shooting sports. It could be about just about anything. We would like to have a wide variety of GATE forums on everything from computers, to the Internet, or literature, music, medical, legal, home improvement, you name it. People here are firearms enthusiasts, but they are people, with all the interests anyone else would have.
I have a half a dozen or so GATE forums to kick off with and I will be putting them up shortly. There might not be a lot of traffic at first, but I ask you all to check back regularly and watch the system grow. This is a new system and a new idea and the TOS and SOP here will be in flux for some time. If you have any feedback or suggestions for the format and operation of this area, please share them with me. Please feel free to share your comments here, but if you have any substantive suggestions to make, I would appreciate it if you PM'ed me with them. Thanks. Eric