Stack Exchange has a single, simple business focus -- to generate and maintain an archive of content that will be targeted by third-party search engines. Everything else that might be imagined to be central to SE (reputation, badges, tag wikis, and hats) are simply enablers to keep the content generators engaged and productive.
That is not a criticism of Stack Exchange as a corporate entity. The organisation is open about its rationale and its methods, and their business model has been proven to be (very) successful in a range of areas. But it is equally true that there are several areas of human interest and activity where the SE model has not proved productive.
Gardeners know that if you deploy sufficient time, effort and resources (water, fertiliser, insecticide, etc) you can keep most plants alive in even the most hostile setting. But, despite all the effort, the plant will never thrive as it would in its appropriate environment.
Before we commit to extra-ordinary efforts to remedy "what we are doing wrong" in growing SE:G&FH, perhaps we need to ask whether it might not be that this is simply the wrong place for this plant.
The SE model rests upon a steady supply of good questions. If you look across a range of productive SE sites, you can infer that a good question is one that does not depend upon particular contextual variables so it has very broad (if not universal) appeal. It will have one correct answer or a small set of competing answers. And (fundamentally) that answer (or answers) will be "known" to experts in the field.
A good question is assumed to attract good answers, which are delivered comprehensively and authoritatively. They are not negotiated or developed collaboratively. If the answer draws upon information published elsewhere that must be acknowledged, but also restated rather than included by hyperlinking.
When it comes to the way I "do" family history, I find the questions that meet the SE criteria are not challenging and the answers that SE prize are uninteresting. When I review the 455 questions that we have considered, there are perhaps 10% that stand out as being particularly worthwhile (in my terms).
Each one was (on the surface) very specific in its focus and highly dependent upon a particular context that took some time and effort to elaborate; but at its core it rested upon universal principles and techniques that engaged other researchers with no direct interest in the family or location or time period. In almost all cases, the answer designated the best is not a comprehensive response to the question asked but it has either built upon, or contributed to, other responses that (taken together) provide a truly expert response to that question.
There was a period in the heady first weeks of this site when the conversation bubbled and there was a sense of anticipation in monitoring new questions and answers to see what new avenue of investigation might have opened up. It was evident that there is a real niche for that type of collaborative problem-solving in family history.
Now we have begun to learn the rules that go with being a part of Stack Exchange. The focus must be on the product (searchable content) not the development process. Answers should be self-contained (but fully referenced) to keep eyeballs on the site rather than leading them away to (more) appropriate resources. As a result, we now argue about which questions ought to be closed rather than work to construct appropriate answers.
When I declined nomination as a moderator pro tem because of what I described as "concerns" with the SE model, I wondered if I would come to regret that decision. While I have the greatest admiration for the herculean efforts of those who have undertaken those duties, I am very comfortable with the fact that I do not share them. I am now convinced that the SE model has fundamental flaws that prevent it being an hospitable environment for family historians. No amount of "gamification" (at which I am apparently very successful) can make up for those deficiencies.