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I'm continuing my collection of minor UI tirades. Today's rant: getting rid of "Parent".

Parent is the name for the core Q&A side of StackExchanges sites. (It's the alternate of "meta").

"Parent" suggests a superior.

"Parent" is a coding term about inheritance hierarchies.

"Parent" is not comfortable with prepositions. "Go post it on parent," sounds funny.

Non-coders don't know what parent technically means. They think it could generally mean where you came from, but really, parent suggests whoever is in charge. None of these things make the name an intuitive choice for the primary area of a StackExchange site.

There wasn't supposed to be a meta, originally. Now that every site has one, and as StackExchange grows, the name matters. Every UI element makes SE that much more or less intuitive, mobile, and open to newcomers. Unless it's somehow the point to keep new users guessing, I don't see why this particular design aspect is worth keeping through the SE 2.0 rollout and expansion.

What to call it instead? What it is. It's where things happen. It's the center. It's Main.

Meta and Parent? Not clear enough.

Meta and Main? Just works.

Call it Main.

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What use of the term parent are you talking about? – Georg Fritzsche Aug 14 '10 at 15:53
@Georg: when you go to the top of every page on one of the Stack Exchange Sites and click meta, to go to the meta site. then when you wish to return, you go to the same place where you clicked meta and instead click parent to get back – studiohack Aug 14 '10 at 15:54
@studiohack do you think most people know what i'm referring to, or should i make it more explicit? – Ocaasi Aug 14 '10 at 15:56
@Ocaasi: making it more explicit would help. I knew what you were talking about, but as I was reading your proposal I thought about how many people wouldn't know where the word "parent" is used or what you were talking about. – Andreas Bonini Aug 14 '10 at 16:44
@Kop yeah, I updated it. I forgot that SO doesn't really have a directly linked meta-parent in the same way the SE sites do. – Ocaasi Aug 14 '10 at 16:56
I agree with Kop. I'm sure a large number of users on the Trilogy/Stack Exchange sites have not used the individual site's metas yet, as they are only a week or so old... – studiohack Aug 15 '10 at 1:25
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I'm guessing you were born from a mother like the rest of us, thus you have a parent, and the term "parent" is an understandable one to you? :)

I am open to other ideas, and "main" isn't bad, but it is awfully close to "meta" though:


Too close, IMO, and would make navigation.. a pain.

edit: due to multiple network requests for this, I decided to change it from "parent" to "main".

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@Jeff I thought meta and main were a nice combination. But, four letters, starting with 'm'... I guess I can see your concern. The next obvious choice is Home. It's almost universal lingo. Home is typically for the main page within a site rather than the main site within a pair, but I think the word could serve the same function. The only problem is that you don't "visit home", you stay there. Maybe that's another issue. – Ocaasi Aug 15 '10 at 2:59
@ocaasi I definitely like "home" better; let me think about it – Jeff Atwood Aug 15 '10 at 3:31
I like main very much. – Pëkka Aug 15 '10 at 21:52
@Jeff I like "home site" – Jared Harley Aug 15 '10 at 22:09
I like how "main" takes up the same horizontal space as "meta" – Kyle Cronin Jan 24 '11 at 19:40
Heh... I cycled back and forth through main and meta a few times before realizing what I was doing. Obviously, Meta is still too colorful. – Shog9 Jan 24 '11 at 21:14
@JeffAtwood ~ That sucks. I agreed with your original decision and logic. If you revert it a lot of us are behind you. Ah well. – jcolebrand Jan 24 '11 at 22:42
I second @jcole. – Moshe Nov 30 '11 at 12:48
Incidentally, the CS dept chair at my university says that in the field of computer linguistics it has become apparent that "curse words" in English are usually four letters. Just like main and meta. – Moshe Nov 30 '11 at 12:53

Call it q&a to double-joint reinforce the platform model, the base and backbone of these sites.

And throw in some blah-blah about the magic SEO corndog that greases up the pole being so close to the top if the header.

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