We've grown considerably as a network since the days of the original trilogy, when the prospect of growing into a network of over 100 thriving Q&A sites was a distant glimmer in a cloudy night sky. Today, Stack Overflow continues to graciously host discussions about the entire network on its extremely hard won meta site, but those discussions are now dominating what should be the most important things discussed here - stuff about Stack Overflow.
Jeff talked about this some time ago with the beginnings of a plan, I'm extremely pleased to announce that we've finally worked out the remaining details, and will be proceeding with the split in six to eight weeks. No, I'm not kidding, we're shooting for somewhere around the middle of January. Seriously, stop laughing, six to eight weeks is a perfectly reasonab .. I digress.
Here's what you need to know, grouped by general topic. If you're not interested in details, the take away from this is quite simple: Stack Overflow needs a meta site of its own, and will get one soon. You won't lose any rep or badges, you'll just need to bring your questions about the network itself to a different place, the new Meta SE.
Let's get on with it, shall we?
How, precisely, do you plan to do this?
The plan is extremely straight forward, here's the outline that will form the project timeline when we execute it:
- Meta SO goes into read-only mode, or possibly maintenance mode. It's then moved to meta.stackexchange.com and the last post ID noted.
- A brand new, blank child-meta site just like every other meta site in the network is brought up on meta.stackoverflow.com, where the first post ID will be the last post ID we noted on MSE plus one.
- Establish redirects from MSO to MSE for lower post IDs
- Normalize MSE, and the new MSO, fix anything that needs fixing
There are other things to consider, such as chat MSO. Rooms there will probably be migrated to chat MSE during this transition, but we aren't entirely certain of that; I will be updating this post with additional details as they become available.
How will this affect me?
You'll need to remember to bring questions that concern the general network to the new MSE site, questions about Stack Overflow will still belong on MSO. Certain links (like tag pages) can't be easily redirected, so you may need to update a few browser bookmarks, or settings in whatever gadget you use to pull feeds.
Internal links that we control will be automatically updated during the transition. This really isn't a technically spectacular operation.
When you post re-tag or burnination requests on MSO, they'll get more attention as they'll stay visible for much longer. When you come to MSE, you'll see far fewer really smelly programming questions on the verge of being deleted. Everyone gets more of what they like and less of what they don't.
We'll just migrate SO specific content back to the new MSO?
Not initially, but yes, eventually. Stack Overflow is going to get a shiny new empty meta site to begin using as they see fit right away; it's up to them to decide what goes there. In the weeks following the split we will be identifying content that really does belong on MSO and sending it back, but this is going to be a very selective, very methodical process.
We'll be working rather closely with the Stack Overflow moderators during this time. We envision more migrations from MSO than to MSO once this happens.
Who will the moderators be on the new Meta SE?
Initially, us. Employees from the community team will be the primary moderators (and folks providing official responses as we do now) while core and careers developers will be doing their usual bug and feature hunting.
Eventually, we do plan to appoint several moderators from within the larger network community to help make sure that things run smoothly, and to ensure that the community on the new site is represented properly on the moderation team.
We don't yet know if we'll be running elections, we have to see how things go. The original MSE was built to support SE 1.0 - this is something completely different, and completely new to all of us.
What should be asked where? I'm drowning in meta!
If your question is about a specific site or community, ask on that site's meta site, that goes equally for Stack Overflow.
If your question is about something that concerns the entire network, such as:
- A bug report or feature request that applies to more than just one site
- A question about the network, or Stack Exchange in general
- A question about why we do things a certain way as a network or a proposal to do things as a network differently
.. then it belongs on the new MSE site. Proper help centers will be set up on MSE and MSO during the transition, explaining clearly what purpose each site serves and types of questions that belong on them respectively. Questions about Careers will live on MSE.
Area 51 remains a bit of a lone island when it comes to meta discussion about Area 51 itself; those discussions should be posted on discuss.area51.stackexchange.com.
In short, Stack Overflow and its new child meta site will be like every other site in the network; that's something we probably should have done long before now.
I realize that we're moving a lot of cheese around in a relatively short amount of time, but this is something that we really just can't postpone any longer. If you have questions, concerns, ideas or anything else to say about this, feel free to do so in an answer below.
As a MSO user since day 1 and a community elected Stack Overflow moderator, I'm personally looking forward to this finally happening. MSE doesn't need to be attached to Stack Overflow any longer to maintain its culture, that's long since been established. But, we're taking quite a bit from our long-term gracious host, it's time that we let them go about their normal business with a little less noise.
Update (10th January 2014)
I've added some additional details about what content will be quickly migrated back to MSO - please see the linked question and feel free to provide whatever input that you have.
Update (5th February 2014)
Work has been progressing on this in the background. We're still tying up some loose ends on other projects, so the actual switch is slated to happen this month, likely in the next two weeks. However, that's largely dependent on variables that aren't quite clear at the moment, so it might be the end of February. I will continue to post updates here when we near a more definite schedule for throwing the metaphorical switch, but work is underway.
Update (12th March 2014)
Here's where things are:
- Back end work has progressed nicely, a substantial portion of code changes are done and a test is being brought up on our dev tier for us to poke and prod.
- Community end of this is basically done, I've got some miscellaneous copy to finish including a blog post (that mostly just reiterates this meta post)
- Some task-specific tools need to be built, which folks are working on
- A list of stuff that should be migrated back to the new child MSO has been cultivated, and will be updated again a few days before the target date.
We don't yet have the target date outside of the approximation of 2 - 3 weeks, could be less depending on how testing goes on the dev tier. We're going to more or less simulate the whole thing there.
We'll notify everyone at least a few days in advance of this happening. It's moving, we're just being extremely careful and diligent.
Update (18th March 2014)
Core work is coming along very nicely. They're now to the point where they're looking at how they're going to handle the actual migration in a way that (optimally) performs well and (minimally) doesn't explode. There's also quite a bit of work going into tools that will need to run immediately after the migration to update links, rebake content, and other things that go into doing a tidy job of this.
I've got a list of a few hundred active tag/question/moderator action discussions that are both seemingly unresolved, and related strictly to Stack Overflow, I'll be sending these back as soon as both sites stand up on their own and things seems stable. That probably means one of you lucky users will have the opportunity to get the first post on the new MSO, but you'll need to compete with me to do it, and they don't call me Post for nothing.
We think this might be the week when we can actually pick the weekend we're going to throw these switches, but I won't know for certain until close to the end of the week. I'll continue revisiting this post weekly until that happens, just to let you know what's going on.