The league site picker seems to be ordered on site statistics instead of alphabetically:

This makes it very hard to find Photography, Physics and Philosophy (for example) since they are nowhere near each other in the list.

It also breaks accessibility when someone wishes to access the list from a keyboard (or a slower input control) as opposed to a mouse and visually.

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I strongly agree. See also the site picker drop down menu which is ordered by my reputation on each site. That doesn't have type-complete. The Stack Exchange link is not always visible across all the sites; and it means the user has to make 3 clicks then a ctrl+F. –  DanBeale Jul 2 '13 at 11:02
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2 Answers

Living in the United Kingdom I can get quite annoyed by alphabetical lists that don't allow you to type the first few letters1. As I'm mainly active on Stack Overflow I suspect what you're suggesting would be equally annoying; though, I recognise the points raised in your comment on Assad's answer are pertinent:

The timeout between the P and H for this is far too short for people with physical disabilities / accessibility challenges to use effectively. Yes - a quick typist sitting with a full keyboard can navigate on most modern browsers. Not so much on mobile and touch interfaces that lack a full sized keyboard or see tapping the pulldown as a reason to bring up the soft keyboard at all.

The simple fact is that the most used sites in the network are the ones people will be looking for most. It may not work well for people on mobiles looking for physics.se but the probability is that they won't be.

Ordering by site statistics (if that's what happens) is actually the simplest way to improve accessibility for the greatest number of users.

Maybe there could be an argument for having an option to change the order but there aren't that many sites and you're forcing the majority of people who want to visit Server Fault to scroll a lot.

I would be more in favour of an auto-complete box, which would address the issue of accessibility and typing speed on mobiles etc without adversely affecting those people who are looking for the most popular sites.

1. Especially since some sites decide that I live in England, Britain, Great Britain or the UK / U.K. so I'm never really certain where I'm going to find the "correct" country.

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Your point has great merit - having the most popular sites at top makes them literally accessible. I wonder if a smart design could accommodate both an intelligent paint of what most people want along with a better way to navigate things when searching other than having a list with a hundred odd items in them with no visual indication of counts or how they were sorted. What design works well for a country picker to avoid this problem? (living in the UK - perhaps you've been pleased with some designs to solve the long list ordering problem) –  bmike Dec 5 '12 at 18:00
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It is important to note that when you have the select element focused you can can get to Physics by typing P,h,y, to Photography by typing P,h,o etc.

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The timeout between the P and H for this is far too short for people with physical disabilities / accessibility challenges to use effectively. Yes - a quick typist sitting with a full keyboard can navigate on most modern browsers. Not so much on mobile and touch interfaces that lack a full sized keyboard or see tapping the pulldown as a reason to bring up the soft keyboard at all. –  bmike Dec 5 '12 at 17:40
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