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It should've been asked before, but I couldn't find it.

I understand that there's a difference between web design, back-end development and using grep/Curl, but it doesn't seem bigger than difference between Java, MySQL and JavaScript. Yet, we don't have sqloverflow.com and javaoverflow.com.

Another example, some real-life questions.

  • "How to use Facebook account to login via OpenID" - Stack Overflow site (there're dozens of such questions)
  • "Why Facebook won't become OpenID provider" - webapps site strictly (offtopic on Stack Overflow)

Isn't the difference so subtle, that it practically doesn't exist?

Same for web design. If you want to align two divs one next to another horizontally, would you go to doctype.com? But I see lots of such questions on Stack Overflow.

In short, why can't tags and 'expert badges' indicate the difference between a Bash expert and a Perl expert? It seems much smaller than the difference between many topics inside the main Stack Overflow site.

Edit
There's also a gamedev.stackexchange.com, where nearly all questions are about programming (C++, OpenGL, etc.). Maybe more.

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Well, as for Superuser that one is not much of a development site. I mean it is in some ways but, its more for your average Joe. –  thyrgle Jul 29 '10 at 19:09
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I don't agree with your example question; "Why facebook won't become openid provider" doesn't sound like it belongs on any SE site, because I don't think a verifiable answer is available. If one is, please disregard this comment. –  Pops Jul 29 '10 at 19:17
    
"Why facebook won't become openid provider" -- I don't think this has a real answer anyway. You'd have to ask facebook. –  user27414 Jul 29 '10 at 19:17
    
@Popular On SO we have "community wiki" checkbox and 'subjective' tag for that. Generally, you can find there lots of questions without verifiable answer, like "What's the coolest programming comic strip" :) –  Nikita Rybak Jul 29 '10 at 19:19
    
@Jon same answer as for Popular Demand: we have a whole lot of questions without "real answer" on SO –  Nikita Rybak Jul 29 '10 at 19:21
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@Nikita - CW isn't a license to ask an unanswerable question, and the cartoon question (and several others) are well documented exceptions to the rule. –  user27414 Jul 29 '10 at 19:26
    
@Jon now, that's new. Where exactly are they documented? I really haven't seen such documentation before, certainly not in FAQ. And it seems to me that nearly any question here is such exception: stackoverflow.com/questions/… –  Nikita Rybak Jul 29 '10 at 19:30
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Search MSO for "programming cartoon" or "programmer jokes". Here's one meta question on the topic: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/16121/…. –  user27414 Jul 29 '10 at 19:31
    
@Jon Still, questions without single answer and questions not related to programming are different things. "When will java have closures" question has no definitive answer, but it's certainly about programming. But thanks for the link, that's interesting. I'd only say that those exceptions are more "random" than "well documented". –  Nikita Rybak Jul 29 '10 at 19:53
    
Yes, questions without a verifiable answer and questions not related to programming are different things. Also, neither of them belong on Stack Overflow. The former should be closed as Not A Real Question and the latter should be closed as Off Topic. –  Aarobot Jul 29 '10 at 20:45
    
@Aarobot Don't you think that "When will java have closures" is a perfectly valid question for programming website? (we have at least dozen of those on SO) In general, what you said forbids everything with 'subjective' tag. –  Nikita Rybak Jul 29 '10 at 21:22
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It's valid in the sense of being on topic, but it's not valid in the sense of having a verifiable answer. Please read the text of the different close reasons; off-topic questions aren't the only ones that get closed, nor should they be. –  Aarobot Jul 30 '10 at 4:50
    
As for the doctype crossover - there are many questions that do crossover, particularly when you start throwing a bit of JavaScript into the equation (and JS isn't supposed to be part of doctype?). But, and I think this is a big 'but', the community on doctype is minuscule compared with SO and the Q&A system is not nearly as developed. –  w3d Jul 30 '10 at 9:13
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2 Answers 2

There's certainly some overlap, but there are core differences, too. From the SO FAQ:

Stack Overflow is for professional and enthusiast programmers, people who write code because they love it. We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have source code in them, but if your question generally covers …

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers
  • matters that are unique to the programming profession

Networking, servers, or maintaining other people's PCs and contains no source code, ask on Server Fault.

General computer software or hardware troubleshooting, ask on Super User.

Web design and HTML/CSS layout, and your job title is "designer", ask on Doctype.

One of the goals here is to attract experts. It's tough to attract expert system administrators to a programming site, etc.

I think there is room for improvement, however, in how the sites are linked together. The links don't need to be buried down in the footer where nobody will find them.

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I guess, but somehow we magage to attract both javascript experts and mysql experts on SO site. Moreover, wikipedia manages to attract math experts and law experts without separate cages for them. –  Nikita Rybak Jul 29 '10 at 19:27
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@Nikkita - this is fundamentally a marketing problem. The more narrow your marketing, the better you will appeal to your target segment. However, narrow segments are also smaller. If your marketing is too narrow, you will be appealing to very few people. If your marketing is too broad, you will be ineffective in appealing to your audience. SO might be too narrow or too broad - it's very tough to tell. Personally, I think it's pretty close to the sweet spot. –  user27414 Jul 29 '10 at 19:35
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I think the idea is to create communities. The community of game developers is certainly very different from that of web developers, even though some of their questions could overlap.

The reasoning here is that people who feel part of a community (e.g. game developers) are more willing to participate to something that they feel as their own than to take part in a uber-site where everything is allowed.

That said, I do agree that this situation will soon get unmanageable. Cross-site integration must improve, particularly searching. A possible idea could be to have some questions shared among multiple sites.

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The existence of sites for subgroups might also provide the opportunity for users to ask questions that might be closed as "too narrow" on SO itself. (I don't have an example, though, and it's possible that there simply aren't that many questions that are just narrow enough to fail on SO and just broad enough to stay alive on gaming or programmers or whatever.) –  Dave DuPlantis Apr 8 '11 at 16:00
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