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Site Proposals

A new Judaism community

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Update: site is now launched. Please continue the discussions that began here on the meta there.


There has been some discussion on StackExchange's Judaism community (called MiYodeya, MY) to host a Judaism-oriented community on Codidact. As I write this, the proposal collected 18 positive votes.

As I wrote there, hosting such a community here would have a number of benefits (incl. the community-first approach, the fact that one of MY's former moderator is a leader in Codidact, new site-specific features that were impossible on SE). The objective of this post is to see if there is a critical mass of users interested in a Codidact Jewish community and to discuss design elements.

Here is a first list of interesting design elements to discuss:

  1. Name? Judaism? Jewish Life? Jewish Learning? Something else?
  2. What would be interesting features to customise/develop for a Jewish community? Examples could be a disclaimer (see e.g., here, specific area for divrei Torah, specific features for Purim Torah)?
  3. Seeding the new site with MY questions would be incredibly helpful to visitors and is legal. What would we want to import? High-value posts? Certain tags? Most open questions with positive scores? Anything in between?

Any other ideas, wishes, suggestions? Have you ever wished MY would do something it doesn't do? Behave in a different way? Here is the place to share and discuss !

Why should this post be closed?

4 comments

\0. Scope (generally). msh210 21 days ago

The disclaimer is something we can do already - it's in site settings, so an admin can set it up when we set the community up. ArtOfCode 21 days ago

Please make the name something most people (not just jews) can recognize. "MiYodeya" is rather annoying in that regard. Imagine if the subject of every site could only be recognized by those familiar with the subject. There would be a lot of people wasting time ultimately figuring out sites are not for them. Most people looking at a site name will not be interested in the site. We should make it easy for them to determine that. Olin Lathrop 21 days ago

I'd be happy if things like Jewish history could be discussed as well. And also Jewish languages (Hebrew, Yiddish, Aramaic, Ladino, etc). Harel13 21 days ago

7 answers

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It would be great to have a built-in mechanism for automatically quoting, citing, and linking classic Jewish sources, starting with the Jewish Bible and the Talmud. Ideally, this would work by either typing a short code into MarkDown or clicking on a custom editor button to select a citation. Then, the cited text and/or a well-formatted citation with link would be automatically included in the post.

A great deal of discussion of Judaism is founded on classic texts, and quotation of the original language plus link to the quotation in context is often vital to a well-informed analysis.

Options to consider:

  • Hebrew / English / Both
  • Quote / Citation / Link / All
  • Automatically include blockquote formatting.
  • Sources: Sefaria / Chabad / AlHatorah / Mechon Mamre / other online Judaism libraries with deep-linking

A precedent to look at is the Mi Yodeya Link Referencer, by HodofHod, which offers some of the above functionality.

A ready-made implementation of some of the above functionality is the Sefaria Linker website plugin.


It would also be very helpful to have a Hebrew pop-up keyboard.

3 comments

The Hebrew keyboard is a relatively easy one: thanks to HodofHod's userscript, I've been able to adapt that to some site-specific JS here. Referencing is a more tricky one: the script for that is much more complex and SE-specific, which makes it hard to adapt and takes me away from developing network-wide features. ArtOfCode 21 days ago

@ArtOfCode Makes sense. I have my brainstorming hat on right now, not my engineering hat. The Sefaria Linker can be incorporated off-the-shelf, but it involves trusting Sefaria's code to run on your site. Isaac Moses 21 days ago

If the issue with the referencer is that it has a lot of SE-specific stuff -- i.e. it needs to be updated to run here -- then perhaps this is an area where the community could help? It's a userscript (on SE) now; if somebody can turn it into a userscript that runs here, that's no greater a burden for users of the referencer (you have to run a script either way) and seems an easier path to getting it added to the platform for everyone. Monica Cellio 21 days ago

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I hope for as inclusive a scope as possible. On Mi Yodeya, there were rules that encouraged closing particular questions. I think that these rules should be reexamined to allow for a broader set of permitted questions.

Here is a list of the top-rated closed questions.

For example, questions such as these were closed on Mi Yodeya as off-topic or "Jews not Judaism," though some of them are quite valuable to Jews and people interested in studying Judaism:

  • Who was the first Chasidishe Rabbi to settle in the USA?

  • Did the Rosh (Rabbeinu Asher) describe the culture clash moving from medieval Germany to Spain?

  • Whose semicha (ordination) was the last one signed/granted by Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveichik?

  • Whose portrait hung in Rav Elyashiv's home?

  • Jewish Community in China Around WW2

  • Looking for biographical information about R. Avraham Halevi Fattal

  • Did Shlomo Molcho actually declare himself a messiah?

  • Chazon Ish neurosurgery diagram

  • Rashi Biographical Details

  • Did Rabbis Moshe Feinstein and Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ever meet in person? How many times?

  • A source for the claim that the Satmar Ruv (R' Yoel Teitelbaum) said to VP Hubert Humphrey “Sell weapons to Israel!”

I think that restricting this type of questions would be a real loss to any new site about Judaism (this has also been brought up on Meta quite a few times). There are other policies that could also be rethought, but this is the most apparent one to me. In addition, having a more expansive set of allowed questions could allow this site to complement Mi Yodeya in areas where Mi Yodeya is less permissive.

5 comments

This scope concept could drive a category of targeted imports from Mi Yodeya - questions that were closed as off-topic for being about Jewish history, biography, language, etc. (depending on what particularly gets included in the scope) but not the Jewish religion, are scored above some threshold, and perhaps match a specific collection of tags. Isaac Moses 21 days ago

@IsaacMoses, as long as we're on the subject, why isn't MY open to "Jews not Judaism" questions? Harel13 20 days ago

@Harel13 Every Q&A community has to draw its scope boundaries somewhere. Early on in the development of MY, the community consensus was to make Judaism the religion the singular topic that would make questions be considered on-topic. The best place to discuss this in detail is Mi Yodeya's Meta. Isaac Moses 20 days ago

@IsaacMoses I see. Okay, thanks. Harel13 20 days ago

I'm a big fan of this. Personally, I think there's a lot of valuable information which could fall under this category, which may be be available/easily accessible elsewhere on the internet. רבות מחשבות 20 days ago

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I think supporting divrei torah as a first-class feature alongside Q&A would be very helpful. On SE the only (on-site) mechanism for that is the self-answered question. Self-answered questions are useful when they are really questions that can thus invite additional answers, and we should continue to use them that way, but it's a poor frame for someone who has knowledge to share. And I think offering people multiple avenues for participation makes a community stronger.

On Codidact we can create categories (as you see here on Meta with Q&A, Site Proposals, and Blog). Codidact also has the "article" post type, so we don't have to jam non-questions into the Q&A format. Articles, like other posts, support comments. (By the way, threaded comments are planned for Codidact.)

We could also use a category to segregate Purim Torah questions. Even though they're only active for a few weeks a year, during those few weeks some people feel they push the serious Q&A aside. Separating them helps both those looking for serious Q&A and those looking for the Purim Torah. With a separate category we could also use real tags on PT questions, and we can open and close the entire category for posting instead of having to close each question individually. Purim Torah is more than half a year away, so we don't have to decide this at the start.

4 comments

What about allowing Purim Torah questions for more than just a few weeks a year? It's a method of developing Jewish thought and creativity while learning. Maybe too much isn't good either, but with some form of regulation, I think it would be a nice feature. MY sometimes seems just too "heavy". Having some more light-hearted features may make this codidact feel more welcoming. Harel13 20 days ago

@Harel13 if we put Purim Torah in a separate category, I think we can be a lot more flexible about timing. On Mi Yodeya we limited it because it sits alongside the serious Q&A; on Codidact we can do it differently if we want to. Monica Cellio 20 days ago

@MonicaCellio sounds good :) Harel13 20 days ago

FWIW, even though I probably wouldn't frequent a judaism site, I agree with the comment by @Harel13 above. We had much the same type of discussion on Worldbuilding SE, where questions about story characters are off topic, but questions about Santa Claus would be allowed during the Christmas season. The problem with that is that someone might just as well be working on a Christmas story in May, and need help. It seems to me that Purim Torah questions aren't categorically different from that case. aCVn 19 days ago

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Unless the scope ends up being a big surprise, I'd suggest that there's an obvious best choice for a name: Judaism.

No matter what the scope is, there's no one short phrase that will precisely, unambiguously describe it. That task is too much to ask for from a name. "Judaism" primarily refers to the Jewish religion, so if that's the main scope or a primary aspect of the scope, then "Judaism" is a good match. If adjacent topics (e.g. Jewish history or Jewish languages) are included in the scope as well, a FAQ can make that clear, and the fact that they're adjacent to (or, per a quaternary definition thereof, denoted by) "Judaism" per se makes that term not misleading as a name.

As Olin Lathrop indicated in a comment on the question, one of the functions of a name is to allow people to look at a list of communities in a network and determine which they might be interested in. For that purpose, the name should actually be a succinct topic description, which all of the CD community names are thus far. Perhaps some day, it might make sense for CD to distinguish the concepts of "brand name" and "topic," using the latter prominently in catalogs of communities. (SE effectively maintained these as distinct - "name" and "URL" - for most communities with brand names, but made the mistake of using brand names and not topics in network-wide resources such as the "All Sites" page.) If that happens, it might be worthwhile to brainstorm a more distinctive brand name for the community to identify with.


By way of brainstorming, for when it makes sense to define a more distinctive "brand name":

The Judaism term that comes to mind immediately in association with "codidact" is chavruta/chavrusa - "study partner." The obvious domain names with that word (chavruta, chavrusa, havruta, havrusa .com) are all taken.

Chaverai (or Chaveirai).com = "my friends" / "my study partners" is available, and evokes the statement of Rabbi Chanina (Ta'anit 7a):

הרבה למדתי מרבותי ומחבירי יותר מרבותי ומתלמידי יותר מכולן

I have learned much from my teachers and even more from my friends, but from my students I have learned more than from all of them.

A cheeky idea would be OChavruta / OChavrusa, referring to the aphorism quoted by Rava (Ta'anit 23a):

או חברותא או מיתותא

Give me friendship, or give me death

(My free translation)

5 comments

@IsaacMoses you raise a good point about the need for clarity and avoiding being misleading. See my answer that I posted below, which raises a problem with calling the site "Judaism". I'd love to hear your response, and see what we can do about the issue. binyomin 20 days ago

@binyomin, as I said in this answer, "No matter what the scope is, there's no one short phrase that will precisely, unambiguously describe it. That task is too much to ask for from a name." There's definitely work to be done to define a scope, but my strong expectation is that whatever the outcome of that work, "Judaism" will be the best succinct description of the topic. Isaac Moses 20 days ago

I agree in general, but I note that when talking about the site to prospective participants, a generic name doesn't work as well in phrases like "there's a great site that could help you with that, ..." or "I participate on ... and I think you'd really like it". Granted, this is a problem other Codidact sites share. Being able to say "Mi Yodeya" when talking about the SE site was really helpful. Maybe this means a name and "subname" or URL redirect or...? If so, what additional name? Monica Cellio 19 days ago

@MonicaCellio I agree with you that a distinctive name for group identity's sake is important. I think it would be good for CD to create a feature at the network level for identifying communities with a generic "topic name" and optionally a more distinctive "brand name" and then define well how and where each name is presented. I added a section to this answer brainstorming some brand names. Isaac Moses 19 days ago

Thanks for the brainstorming! And also the suggestion for the platform; I agree we should explore this. I like your brand suggestions, especially the cheeky one. :-) Monica Cellio 19 days ago

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This proposal is our most active yet and we're looking to launch the new site soon. There's a handful more things to sort out. One of those is a logo for the new site - and while I can make a guess at relevant things for many topics, Judaism is not one of them... so, ideas for logos welcome!

4 comments

Suggestion: Ten commandments/Torah scroll with planet/atom rings. Harel13 18 days ago

I wonder if we could hire Jin Yang to do it. Isaac Moses 18 days ago

Menorah? And I had the same thought about Jin over Shabbat! It'd be great if we could hire him to do a logo and banner for us. (Right now sites just have the small logos, but our design folks are exploring layouts that would give sites a full-width banner at the top, recognizing that we have to account for phones as well as huge windows.) Monica Cellio 18 days ago

A couple of shtenders (go to Google Images for lots of examples), with open books on them, perhaps inclined a bit. See the image at http://asimplejew.blogspot.com/2007/11/question-answer-with-rabbi-ozer-bergman.html . The 'd' and 'i' of "Judaism" could be morphed into shtenders. Isaac Moses 18 days ago

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A Talmudic website will be very beautiful because with a narrower scope than mi yodeya, centered on text understanding, aside from another general Judaism site.

Mi yodeya is a name explaining the importance of knowing. It is wonderfull. I would love a site based on studying, explaining. Both are wonderfull, but different.

8 comments

We clearly want to support text and talmud questions; they're pretty core to Jewish study, as we've seen on Mi Yodeya. Could you say more about how narrowing the scope to only that helps? Is the concern that you can't find the content you want, that people will be distracted by other stuff and won't contribute as much to this core, something else? We agree on what should be in; I'm asking about what you want to keep out. Thanks. Monica Cellio 20 days ago

@monicacellio I think this suggestion has merit. Compare: on SE- there's both a Christianity site and a bible site. Isn't the bible part of Christianity? A: yes, but there's a difference between discussing the religion and analyzing the text. Textual analysis is very different. Asking a question "in learning" (Why did Rashi explain the text X instead of Y?) is very different than asking about Judaism. (This is for sure true about gemara, maybe even all of tanach.) binyomin 20 days ago

@binyomin text study, from the pshat from the parsha to understanding the kal v'chomer used in such-and-such place in the g'mara to the nuances of a Rambam etc -- that's all clearly Jewish. You expect to see it in a beit midrash. Questions about kashrut or Shabbat hospitality or t'filah or hagbahah or planning a d'var torah are also Jewish. Why don't they belong together? The SE "bible" site wasn't supposed to be just Christian (though that's how it ended up); that's different. Monica Cellio 20 days ago

I agree it's all Jewish. And perhaps the Christianity comparison was bad. But compare: on SE there were dozens of groups dedicated to programming. Why not have just one group called "programming" and that's it? (Full disclosure- I'm not a programmer!) Even though they all discuss programming, each group has a focus significantly different as to warrant it's own group. There's a big difference between asking how to kasher a pot, vs asking how to explain how the shach understood the gemara. binyomin 20 days ago

@binyomin yes there's a difference; not everybody is going to have the same level of interest in all questions. That applies within "groupings" too; maybe you're focused on that gemara and don't really care all that much about this zohar or that Ibn Ezra on an obscure point of grammar in Vayikra or whatever. And you might reasonably ask your chevruta or the rosh kollel about that kashrut question that came up at dinner last night. It's all interconnected and you select where to focus. Monica Cellio 20 days ago

Show 3 more comments
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Regarding the name: I agree that a name like "Mi yodeya" is not so helpful for people without a strong background, thus it might minimize awareness and prevent people from asking questions.

OTOH- I would think twice about calling it "Judaism" for the simple reason that it's too vague.

As discussed in numerous meta-posts on SE, it was generally assumed that the site dealt with traditional, "rabbinic" Judaism. Exceptions were made when they were specified, i.e "What do the Karaites do about XYZ" but the default was always traditional Judaism.

With a name as general as "Judaism" that's asking for problems.

While we want a name which will be clearly indicate that we're focused on Judaism, even to people with weak backgrounds, we also want something which will make it clear which "facets" or "streams" of Judaism are included by default. Again, questions about other "streams" could be relevant, but it would need to be clear in the post. Thus, "what are the limitations given by the conservative movement regarding driving to synagogue on Shabbat" would be ok, but "what is included in the leniency of driving to synagogue on Shabbat" would not be ok, since the default position in Judaism is that it's not permissible and there is no leniency.

Perhaps it's worth raising this as a separate issue, to redecide policy on this new platform, but I think unless there's a major shift in policy regarding this point, the name "Judaism" by itself would be too broad and misleading.

2 comments

I think this post is really more about scope than about naming. What are the underlying assumptions of the new community about which historical or contemporary religious movements/streams/groups are included in the scope as inherently "Judaism, which aren't, and perhaps which are considered "Judaism-adjacent," with some in-between status with respect to topicality? This is a pretty big question with a few facets and lots of implications, and it's a much harder decision than naming. Isaac Moses 20 days ago

I don't think this post accurately represents the policy at Mi Yodeya. (Not that the policy here is under any obligation to mimic the policy there.) AA​ 16 days ago

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