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Of course, we know how to handle true duplicates. But there are two types of near-duplicates (overlaps or subsets) that have been cropping up recently and perhaps worth a conversation.

The first, sites that overlap with Stack Overflow, has already been discussed in another question. However, my question is how to deal with proposals that overlap with each other within Area 51, for example "Guitar Players" and "Classical Guitar".

At which point is it considered good or acceptable to overlap in this manner, and at which point should one of them be closed? And which one? They're not exactly true duplicates, so closing the newest one immediately doesn't feel like the right solution.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

There is one really important thing you have to remember about Area 51:

A proposal is not a site.

In other words, don't panic.

I've been very light with applying [closed as duplicate]. And that has been very deliberate.

I look at proposals and often feel as you do: "ugh, this is just a subset of [other proposal]." So, what do you do? How do you know the 2nd proposal isn't the better option? There's nothing inherently correct about being first. So, I leave it and watch. A proposal is not a site.

For the most part, ill-conceived or ill-defined proposals—even proposals that seem just somehow off—aren't getting support.1

In short, Area 51 is working exactly as designed. Taking the approach of "ignore it and move on" is an option. State your concerns in a comment, if you must, and throw your support to more interesting proposals. In almost every case I have seen so far, there is nothing to "handle."

But there will be a time where two competing proposals have such a groundswell of support that both have sufficient momentum to sail through. That is the time to look closely at the two proposals. Are they different enough to justify separate sites? Or is the demand so high that, even after accidentally splitting the audience, each side still has sufficient support. In those cases, we'll have to step in and merge the proposals for their own good.

There's no use in worrying about it before then. Ignore proposals you are not interested in.


1Yes, there a bunch of proposals not getting support because the audience isn't there, yet. I'm not talking about you.

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However, why can't people who support the proposals merge them? For example, the gardening proposals discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/q/37/29102 We want to merge these, but don't have a mechanism to accomplish this. –  David Oneill Mar 9 '11 at 20:56
    
@David Oneill: They can request to have them merged. That's what the new Area 51 discussions are all about. Just because the discussions are on-going and no action has (yet) been taken, that does not mean that no one is listening... or acting when the time is appropriate. See: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/79031/… –  Robert Cartaino Mar 9 '11 at 21:39

Frankly I'd love to see any site that gets enough traction become a site. They have to go through a lengthy process that includes a 2 month beta. Only sites that are valued will emerge. And those that are valued should exist, even if there is overlap. JMTCW anyway.

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Many of the same principles we apply to questions should apply to Area 51 site proposals:

  • should similar proposals be merged?
  • should similar proposals be closed as duplicate?

In addition to some of the other close reasons, like "too localized", and "not a real proposal". Maybe even "off topic", though I struggle to come up with a realistic example.

There is a 2k / 3k rep boundary on the site, when you have enough Area 51 rep you can start casting close votes of (some of) the above types.

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Is it that cut and dried though? Another good example of this issue is "Gardening and Farming Organically" and just "Gardening". Clearly these are related, but quite different to those to engage them. Should we close or merge to the Organic? That leaves non-organic (ie chemical fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide) questions out in the cold. To merge to Gardening is the more general solution, but those in the organic camp feel that the organic side to that proposal is it's "Soul". (See the comments on the proposal for reference.) Who is the duplicate? Who gets merged into? –  Vaccano Jun 23 '10 at 19:36
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@vaccano I agree, there's a lot of subtlety to it. It's a risky proposition to make decisions on proposals outside your base of knowledge, a problem we have to a more limited extent on SO, where at least everyone is a programmer.. on Area 51, who is a gardener with the right domain expertise to make this decision? –  Jeff Atwood Jun 23 '10 at 22:14
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Gardening and Organic Gardening are two different communities. Let them both exist if there is support for each of them. –  MikeSchinkel Aug 18 '10 at 4:25
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@Mike actually, the Gardening and Organic Gardening communities want to merge, they just don't know how. discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/questions/37/… –  morganpdx Jan 31 '11 at 18:14
    
@morganpdx - Fair point, if they want it then yes. –  MikeSchinkel Feb 1 '11 at 0:00
    
@Jeff: like @morgan said, we want to merge the gardening proposals. Is this currently possible? If not, can this functionality be added? –  David Oneill Mar 9 '11 at 20:58
    
@Jeff At this moment I find this one of the weaknesses of Area51. Some proposals seem to be closed as duplicate just too easily. I've had this experience with the Advanced Squad Leader proposal myself (of course I'm slightly biased about that). In my opinion there should at least be time for discussion by and arguments of users with certain expertise on the subject, before a proposal gets closed. What is the risk of letting it mature for some time? –  Rogier Apr 12 '11 at 20:56
    
@Rogier - Remember, closed ≠ deleted. All that's needed to bring back any closed proposal is a few users with sufficient rep to vote to reopen. And if those few aren't there, the chance of that proposal making it to launch are slim, anyway. –  Dori Apr 13 '11 at 1:40
    
@Dori I know, but it will not really encourage people, who are unknown with the Area51 concept, to support something that has [closed] behind it. –  Rogier Apr 13 '11 at 8:17
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@Rogier: Keep in mind that Area 51 is first and foremost about determining if there is enough interest in an idea to create a site. A few people thought there was something fundamentally wrong with your proposal. Maybe they got it wrong (who's to say that your game does not transcend the board-game topic?). But it takes a lot of support to build a site in even the best of circumstances. Point being that if it's so difficult to find anyone who agrees that your objections have merit, you might not yet have the audience you will need to make this work. –  Robert Cartaino Apr 13 '11 at 16:59
    
@Robert It is obvious to me that gathering support requires a lot of effort, that is not my point. The point is that closing it in an early stage does not really add to the good "circumstances". –  Rogier Apr 13 '11 at 19:30
    
Partly present in other comments is the relation to people's sense of community, which I think is a compelling reason to not merge sites, take @Vaccano's example. The Area51 mechanism seems very well suited to support this. –  MacMaru Jul 28 '13 at 13:05

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