Before asking for help with our pets, especially before asking for medical advice, we should at least know if we have any professionals here. Having professionals will help us to get good answer and trust in the eye of new users. So, do we have any?
I don't think any online site can replace professional advice that is needed for any individual situation.
There are many issues with Medical Practitioners (here in Australia at least) offering medical advice online or over the telephone. This makes it difficult when attracting professionals to some online sites, as they need to have their legal butts covered (and understandably).
It would be up to the discretion of the professional to declare their individual status and how they would proceed to use this.
I have lived with pets for nearly 50 years, I have owned dogs, cats, birds, fish and horses. At one stage we lived on acreage and housed unwanted cats, kittens and puppies to assist the local animal welfare league. I can offer my experience as an animal lover and pet owner.
As well as the fact I studied the first year of Veterinary Science, over twenty years ago (fortunately I have a good memory and remember most of it). I left the course after the first year, because we were always inflicting pain on animals, and I found some of the farming practices barbaric. I didn't like euthanizing unwanted dogs and then having them on my dissection table. Interesting animal rights movements are now slamming the very practices I found objectionable all those years ago. I actually changed to medical science.
To get back on topic, we studied animal husbandry in the first year (amongst other subjects) and this is useful for such a site. It does not make me an expert.
I should also add, I was active in our local dog club and taught puppy classes.
I have also worked on farms, lamb marking, on a pig farm and on a farm quarantining deer imported from New Zealand (which, in part, involved taking hundreds of faecal samples!).
I started riding horses at the age of four years in fact I spent most of my early childhood pretending I was a horse! There has scarcely been a time in my life I have lived without a pet. Dogs are the universe's gift to humans, if only we could be as predictable and reliable as our pets.
I should add, I have worked for Veterinarians, assisted in surgical and aftercare.
Bred puppies (one litter). Followed the local obedience dog competition circuits and local dog shows (not for breed). Handled many types of animals. Have some experience with Australian wildlife and handling them when they come into domestic environments. It has been a continual life long passion of (em) 46 years. Having studied medical science and worked in a hospital, the medical experience, although human, assists in understanding health problems with pets. (But this does not make me an expert, just reasonably capable of discerning when there is a potential health problem)
I will add things if I have forgotten them.
We are currently within the first 24 hours of private beta. We should be asking questions for the audience we hope to build, not the people who are here now.
That said, this isn't the place to get specific, individualized professional advice, but I hope we will attract veterinary professionals who engage on the less-specific questions of their field. For example, I wish this site had existed several years ago when my vet was trying to figure out a course of investigation for my cat's unusual problems; she could have asked (well, had me ask; she's not on the Internet) here instead of trying to find information in assorted journals.
I am very excited to have found this site, but unfortunately one problem we are going to deal with is people who think of themselves as experts because they have had a dog or a cat or a hamster, or because their grandmother had a dog.
There is also a large bit of subjectiveness when it comes pet care and a lot of myth vs fact, so it will be very difficult for an expert's voice to be heard amongst the noise.
It will be necessary to use our downvotes pretty heavily and commenting why, especially early to try to discourage promoting incorrect information and ensure the best quality answers rise to the top.
I myself am no expert on pets.
I own a dog, but more importantly, I think we should focus on sources.
You shouldn't need to be an expert to participate here.
We need to encourage non-experts to support their answer with credible sources rather than just prior knowledge to ensure that the information is true.
That's what I try to on all of my answers here to show that my answer can be backed up, even if I am not an expert on that specific subject.
It may also be important to leave a disclaimer if the question asks for information that could decide their pet's life (such as medical questions).