Davedave, sometimes you make some good points, and I think the core idea of measuring results and conducting experiments to determine what works and what doesn't is a great one. I wish you could just state that more clearly in less space. I support that idea. It seems pretty obvious, really. If only you could avoid going off on tangents about people being lazy and stupid and something about sloshball and ripping Christian's hearts out, you'd be so much further ahead. But enough with the criticism, on to some thoughts and suggestions.
As has been pointed out, it's difficult to measure these sorts of things, but the effort is worthwhile. So, open question to anyone: How would you measure our success?
I think a first step is to get a baseline of exactly where we are now. People throw statistics around, but does anyone have an actual analysis of religious belief by geographic area, or we all just pulling numbers out of nowhere? What's the best statistical analysis we currently have available, and how often is it updated? Also, do we have a summary of the strength of the atheist community right now? As in, how many people are active, how many associations are there, how many different campaigns are going on? Do we have answers to these questions? If so, they should be prominently displayed on atheist community websites (which I haven't visited many of, but I notice no such measures are displayed here). This would communicate to new recruits that we measure ourselves, so it may be a way of "unifying our base". Also, collecting this type of information helps make a solid case to potential cash donors.
Also, it would be good to get a list of all of the different methods that are currently being tried. Different success metrics may apply to different methods, but each method should have something measurable attached to it, if possible. With things like "Meme vaccines" it might be very hard to measure, because what you're talking about is the spread of ideas. Does anyone have an idea how we can get around this? Another issue is that what gets measured gets done, so we need to be careful about our metrics. For example, call centers (which are great users of metrics) run into a lot of problems with "gaming the system". For example, if the metric is average call time, the customer service level goes down, and customers have to call back more, and in the end the measurement is counter-productive.
Another thing - if we're building an actual organization, we need people willing to devote time and effort to the organization, outside of this forum and its moderation and administration. Example activities would be tracking our progress, linking with other organizations, finding out if there are other organizations doing the same thing, and managing the collection and spending of cash on various projects. Anyone else have ideas about the structure we should have, or the activities the organization should undertake? Volunteers?
Just throwing some thoughts out here. L6, thumbs up for excellent posts.