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Considering that some proposals on Area 51 may overlap by design or even unintentionally, should they be considered in isolation from other proposals?

Someone may say, for example, while one proposal is in beta (or even graduated) that a certain question or topic "doesn't belong here" since there's a proposal in the works that could cover that. But what if that proposal doesn't make it all the way through the process? Will it be only after it dies on the vine that these orphaned questions will be allowed? Couldn't their initial absence hobble the growth of the proposal that has advanced farther? By the same token, might allowing them weaken the more nascent proposal?

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Questions that are off-topic should be off-topic because they don't belong on the active site, not because they belong on another (proposed) site. –  Grace Note Jul 14 '10 at 21:46

2 Answers 2

Since you're asking from the perspective of a user of a current beta site, you needn't care too much about the others - the criteria should be what will make your site a great destination.
If everyone comes at it that way, each site will do better.

If a later site wants to cover an overlap topic, it'll go one of two ways:

  • Both will cover a sub-topic and it'll still work fine. Example: I predict that users with a question about photoshop will someday be able to ask it on either SuperUser or on the soon to be beta'd Photo and Photo Editing site. It just depends on whether you're primarily a computer user who edits a few photos, or primarily a photographer, who happens to edit on a computer. Or maybe one of the sites will decide the fragmentation is problematic, and they'll eventually decide to consolidate and migrate them all down the line. But the key is that either way, both sites have a clear reason to exist so it's not important to nail it up front.
  • One site covering a sub-topic fundamentally changes the other's purpose, so the beta users' preference will decide which one fits it best. Example: I predict the Gadgets site that just went into private beta will get a lot of iphone/ipad questions. But, If the Apple site gets into beta as well, it will also get a lot of these questions, but here's what makes it different than the Photo example above: The apple site doesn't make a lot of sense without them. If gadgets covers those items, the other Apple questions can almost all just go on SuperUser. In this case, the topic can't exist in both places because it's too fundamental to one site's reason for existing. This is where users in the beta have to help show what will work better. If more iphone users are drawn to the apple site, because they can ask about their whole "icosystem," Gadgets will ultimately have to cave, and deem iGadgets off-topic. If, on the other hand, more iphone users want to go to the Gadgets site because they also need help with their calculator watches, the Apple site won't likely make it.

But either way, a beta user should just focus on how to shape their site into just what they want it to be, and worry about those lucky questions with multiple sites fighting to provide great answers once they pop up.

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totally agree, I've always said that each proposal should pretend it is the only one on earth. Otherwise you'll go crazy doing a combinatorial explosion of comparisons relative to a-z. –  Jeff Atwood Jul 14 '10 at 22:40
    
Not to mention that b-z may not make it. –  Noctrine Jul 15 '10 at 23:39

One thing to consider is that if one site is a subset if another, one of the proposals may have the wrong scope. I expect a number of SE sites will take areas traditionally covered by SU, which many feel was too broad.

Either these sites will get the questions, leaving a much smaller SU behind, proving it's scope to be wrong, or they won't, proving it's scope to be better than theirs. And situations like this will crop up between SE sites, not just between SE and the existing sites.

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