What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 129 Stack Exchange communities.

About a week ago, late one night, I created a proposal. The title was:

Strictly Programming Questions, Really

(Some of you might note the acronym.)

The description was, in essence, the 'anti-subjective' view of Stack Overflow. Answerable questions about programming -- no careers, jokes, project management, polls, baseless speculation about the future of languages or platforms, or other things with a 'subjective' tag.

About 12 hours later, before much of anyone noticed it, I deleted it. I just didn't want to risk the wrath of whoever.

However, it left me thinking. Could a community jell on good and bad question for Stack Overflow? Or would it bog down hopelessly in controversy? Would the management tolerate the launch of such a site in the event that it actually passed the definition and commitment gauntlets?

And, perhaps more to the point, would it make sense to post this proposal and walk through the definition phase, and then apply the results to Stack Overflow?

share|improve this question
    
Heh, good question! +1 –  Pëkka Jun 17 '10 at 21:59
    
I don't get the acronym, but it's a brilliant idea and therefore will never be accepted by the team. ;) –  Aarobot Jun 17 '10 at 22:01
1  
@Aar 1. google spqr. Second: what was an important symbol of the entity under discussion? 2. What insult seems just below the surface of subjectivist complaints about anti-subjectivist close votes? –  Rosinante Jun 17 '10 at 22:03
    
Now I'm even more confused... the subjectivist complaints aren't exactly subtle, the insults are usually well above the surface. –  Aarobot Jun 18 '10 at 0:52
1  
Guess it shows you sometimes need a benevolent dictator –  Ivo Flipse Jun 18 '10 at 6:16
1  
Senatum PopulumQue Romanum - belonging to the senate and the people of Rome. It was even on the sewer lids in ancient Rome and spoke of a strict regime, supposedly by the people and their elect. In SE lingo: Moderatori ComunaeQue Programatorii (especially the first word makes me think of Morituribus te salutant). –  malach Jul 16 '10 at 7:50
    
No, it'd get closed as exact duplicate of SO. –  CodesInChaos Nov 11 '12 at 14:51
    
By the way, the correct extended form of SPQR is actually Senātus Populusque Rōmānus. :) –  Alenanno Nov 11 '12 at 15:19

3 Answers 3

Would stackoverflow.com survive Area 51?

Yes.

Could a community jell on good and bad question for Stack Overflow?

It provably already has. There are relatively few questions that create long running open and close wars these days.

Or would it bog down hopelessly in controversy?

The nice thing about Area 51 is that the proposal moves forward almost regardless of the consensus - as more people join and vote, the proposal simply moves along the path towards creation. Yes, it might be frenetic in there, but it would not "bog down hopelessly" - it would emerge from controversy eventually into the commitment phase. That's when people decide whether the results are worth supporting or not (and I suspect they would).

Would the management tolerate the launch of such a site in the event that it actually passed the definition and commitment gauntlets?

No, a second Stack Overflow would not be allowed. However, if you wanted a very strict subset of Stack Overflow, say for computer science graduate and research level questions (similar to MathOverflow, newbies need not apply) then it would be fine.

Would it makes sense to post this proposal and walk through the definition phase, and then apply the results to Stack Overflow?

No, the existing community of 190k + users have already defined it. There is no way that a few hundred people on Area 51 could enforce a new definition.

share|improve this answer
1  
Uh... These days, you can only vote to close/open a question once. So close-wars are effectively over for that reason alone: regardless of how controversial a question might be, it's pretty much a guarantee that it'll quickly run out of folks able and willing to close/open it. That's not so much an indication of consensus as a system that avoids the need for one... As you note, this is effectively the same on A51: there's nothing stopping a site from developing with two polar factions "baked in" right from the start! –  Shog9 Jun 18 '10 at 1:43

Could a community jell on good and bad question for Stack Overflow?

No. It hasn't happened on Stack Overflow itself, and I see no reason why it would on Area 51 where, if anything, proposals serve to provide a place for arguments to thrive without the annoying distractions of actual answers needing to be written.

If anything, I suspect an Area 51-born Stack Overflow would look more like Super User: a huge list of "forbidden topics", and a cadre of moderators trying to enforce them. But the same old fringe topics would keep on creeping in, and the same old arguments would be dragged out to support them.

share|improve this answer

In theory, any site, no matter how esoteric, could survive Area 51. The criteria is simply the ability to build a real community. Stack Overflow exists because Coding Horror + Joel on Software provided ready-to-play followers on day one. If they had instead built Area 51 side by side with the initial Stack Overflow engine and used Area 51 to launch the first sites, Stack Overflow would still be here, because they would still have had the followers waiting.

The really cool thing about this is that there's little to stop another pair of popular bloggers or other minor celebs from collaborating in a similar way. If any of Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, or Tim O'Reilly were to suddenly put up a "Free Software" Stack Exchange proposal with a common and well-communicated vision and promote it among their constituents it'd reach critical mass in a matter of hours. If Mylie Cyrus or Justin Bieber were to promote a teen idol site, it would (sadly) take a matter of seconds.

So, yes, I think Stack Overflow would survive Area 51 just fine.

share|improve this answer
    
For future readers ... note that Justin or Miley or any of the others would still need people knowledgeable in the ways of the Stack, altho that's more common nowadays. –  jcolebrand Jun 2 '11 at 1:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .