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I was just at a W3C meeting last night and realized that a StackExchange community might just be the type of community that this standards body needs.

How do the other community sites (english. drupal. wordpress.) get started?

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It seems too small an audience for a SE site, but if the W3C wants a Q&A platform, I'm guessing SE Inc would love to help. But a W3C.SE without official backing from W3C doesn't really seem viable. –  Yannis May 25 '12 at 15:08
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You should email them and ask. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn May 25 '12 at 18:37
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Why does it need to be separate from Stack Overflow? –  Cody Gray May 26 '12 at 7:58
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4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Our usual process for creating sites is through Area 51. (As amanaP lanaC A nalP A naM A mentioned, always check that there isn't already an active proposal for the topic you're suggesting, please!.)

As BoltClock said, if you have a special scenario, send an email with all of the details to team@stackoverflow.com (there's a "contact us" link in the footer of every page on the network). We do consider exceptions to our usual processes from time to time, but - being exceptions and all - they're judged on a case by case basis. In this case, if the W3C as an organization is endorsing and committed to the idea of a W3C Stack Exchange site, definitely shoot us an email to start a conversation.

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I'm not sure whether Stack Exchange's Area 51 can really work for smaller expert communities. The process (very rightly) is more geared at the participation of a large number of people, including a number of high-rep users from the existing network. A W3C proposal (as in, a site where the actual W3 consortium asks questions, exchanges information, and to a lesser extent discusses problems while working on new standards) is unlikely to gain the necessary size.

Also, you have very little control over how the site's features work and develop - this may turn out to be a problem e.g. if the site is used for specific voting procedures.

You may be better off using one of the SO clones.

Of course, that way, you're responsible for installing, polishing, customizing, and maintaining the platform, which can be quite a bit of work.

Another option might be talking to SE, Inc. about a stand-alone copy of the SO engine. They are said to be offering this to companies for in-house use for very large sums of money. Maybe the W3C can get a discount, or a fully sponsored solution, or some other form of co-operation.

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The W3C is not small at all. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn May 25 '12 at 18:37
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@Bolt but is it big enough to form a site that, eventually, will grow into something big enough to support itself? I'm not sure. I think it would need a special cooperation between the consortium and SE, Inc. to make sure it takes off, and doesn't die at some point of the Area 51 process... –  Pëkka May 25 '12 at 18:42
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What good would such a site be? If it's about the use of W3C standards (HTML, XML, CSS, XSLT, etc), then that's pretty much covered by Stack Overflow and/or Programmers.SE. We get questions on these topics all the time.

So if it's not about the use of W3C standards, then what would it be about? If it's for the W3C members themselves... they don't need it. Stack Exchange is designed for Q&A: real questions, which produce real answers. W3C members don't need a Q&A site; they need a place to discuss things. And the SE kinda sucks at discussing anything (which is the point: it inhibits discussion by sucking at it).

And anyway, W3C members already have discussions. Via e-mail and private/public mailing lists. Why do they need an SE site on top of that?

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Mailing lists work fine for some kinds of interactions, but they aren't particularly participatory. It's not as easy to jump into a thread & pursue just one small issue (as it is here). I'd also say that in defining best practices, that it is very much like a QA process. What is the best practice for say accessible modal dialogue interfaces? –  Mike Gifford May 26 '12 at 22:06
    
@MikeGifford: "I'd also say that in defining best practices, that it is very much like a QA process." How? Defining best practices (as opposed to someone simply telling you what the already defined practices are) is something that requires discussion. Back and forth between people with different perspectives and viewpoints. An e-mail exchange or forum would be far better than trying to use the comment system in SE or something. –  Nicol Bolas May 26 '12 at 22:19
    
@MikeGifford: "they aren't particularly participatory" Which is kinda the point. If you're not willing to sign up for a free mailing list, then your input probably isn't that important anyway. –  Nicol Bolas May 26 '12 at 22:21
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You can go to Area51 and propose a new site.

But first make sure a that it has not been proposed already!

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Just by searching Area 51 for the same topic? –  Mike Gifford May 26 '12 at 22:04
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