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There is a unit test and apple proposal that looks like they will go live soon. These are exact subsets of stackoverflow and super user. But there isn't even one vote to close. One would think there would be more opportunity to be a naysayer. I worry for the day when one needs to check 15 websites to decide where to ask a programming question.

There are 39 people who can vote to close an ill-considered site out of about 11,000 users. That is about 1/3 of 1%.

What kind of community driven democracy only allows you to vote "yes"?

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Apple isn't an exact subset of any of the Trilogy sites, or all of them together. There is nowhere to discuss the use of iPhones or apps for them, since SU decided mobile devices were off-topic. –  David Thornley Aug 12 '10 at 18:07
    
The electronic gadgets site covers iphones and mobile device-- the electronic gadget site is complementary to the existing trilogy. The apple, ubuntu and unix sites will probably put a noticeable drag on SU. But 39 people are allow to disagree, so my opinion doesn't really matter anyhow. –  MatthewMartin Aug 13 '10 at 3:14
    
+1 not because I think the threshold should be lowered, but because this is a good question expressing an important misunderstanding. –  Gnome Sep 11 '10 at 22:52

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The Management has decided that more sites are better. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that they now have investors and a board of directors. In any case, the management of these sites invites the community to comment and participate, but does not cede strategic decision making. This isn't a democracy. If the management wanted to give existing sites a veto over competition, distraction, and dilution, they could hand out more close votes, or use some other mechanism. Clearly, they don't. The voting system on area51 is designed to use the 'close' mechanism only as a way to weed out defective or ludicrous proposals, not as a way to allow existing site supporters to shade out unwanted seedlings.

My sympathies are with the management, since it seems to me that the barriers to success in these offshoots are far higher than the potential for harm to the exiting sites. Who knows, perhaps the original three will, some day, fade away in favor of a large group of fine-grained alternatives? Or perhaps the new sites will wither on the vine, leaving the existing old growth standing unchallenged. The management has decided what experiment they care to perform, and they are performing it.

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+1 "This isn't a democracy." Site creation and most aspects of management heavily involve the community, but it's not the same thing. –  Gnome Sep 11 '10 at 20:04

Consider the impact of a closed proposal vs. the impact of an additional site that might overlap an existing one.

A closed proposal is gone, and all the discussion that went into it and all the momentum that built up for it so far must be regained if it is to thrive. Given how hard it is to get a community off the ground, that's a lot of wasted effort, and you burn out the people who voted for it.

As for overlap: every neighborhood has a bar, and it's not just because people don't want to walk too far. People like things that are similar to each other but differ in some important way. "apple" might seem like a strict subset of "superuser" to you, but to someone else the distinction might be the crucial difference between contributing and not contributing.

In summary, having more proposals around means more choice; choice is democratic. If you don't want to participate in the 'apple' community (or wherever), you don't--it doesn't really impact your experience on other sites.

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But it does. When I post a question on stack overflow related to unit testing, user interface, (an many things that are currently tags on stack overflow), instead of an answer, I will get closed, referred to 2 different sites, or more likely ignored because the people who care about that tag will be watching the stream at unit-testing-overflow, or UI overflow, or sql-overflow, or what have you. Enough programming related stack exchange sites will fragment and kill stackoverflow, which would really impact my experience on stackoverflow. –  MatthewMartin Aug 12 '10 at 13:25
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There's a balance to be struck, for sure. What you're talking about is not achieving critical mass--and the site proposal process is all about establishing critical mass. If a proposal isn't getting enough people signing up, then the site won't get created, and you won't see that problem. –  Alex Feinman Aug 12 '10 at 21:16
    
+1 for implying the failure to amass critical mass (at any stage) is a better way to close than voting. –  Gnome Sep 11 '10 at 20:06
    
Obviously, "achieving critical mass" isn't solving the problem as several proposals that would directly sap the Trilogy sites have completed or are close to completing the commitment phase of the process, which is the point in the original post. There are many opportunities to vote a proposal is a good idea, but very few to vote it's a bad one, which means it's only a matter of time that a reasonably thought out proposal will go live (at least to beta) even if it's a bad for both communities. –  user149432 Sep 11 '10 at 20:34
    
@Mark: How do you vote up a proposal? The critical mass requirements may need to be tweaked (A51 is still in beta, remember), but we still haven't seen what it take for a site to leave (public) beta. Any current SE2.0 proposal/site could still fail critical mass in some way. –  Gnome Sep 11 '10 at 20:39
    
@Gnome by following it, voting/creating off-topic and on-topic questions to get to the commitment phase, committing to it, actively using the site during beta. The beta evaluation is currently the last, best hope to have the subset proposals quashed, but SOIC has seemed to indicate they are likely to side with popular forks. A democratic process is one thing, but the process is heavily favored towards the side that thinks it's a good idea rather than the side that doesn't. –  user149432 Sep 11 '10 at 21:52
    
@Mark: So there is no voting, there is only participating. This requires much more effort than voting (e.g. you can't drive by, upvote every proposal in 5 minutes, then never come back) and actively improves each proposal instead of merely evaluating it. –  Gnome Sep 11 '10 at 22:13
    
@Mark: Perhaps this is better explained by looking at how some users on existing sites get frustrated with close-votes. With A51, you'd be doing that to whole (sub-)communities at a time (even if you honestly believe the end result is a net win for them). It's a different picture and a different purpose than close-votes on questions. –  Gnome Sep 11 '10 at 22:54

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