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There are some domains in programming which seem to have a specific approach, tools, knowledge, ....

As an example of such domain let us take Game Development, with gamedev site already in beta. You can see reasons why many programmers from this domain consider it is better to have a separate site here

I suppose there are other more or less specialised domains (banking applications, scientific computations, web apps, ....) which could have its own site in a similar way.

I personally do not like this trend at all. I would prefer to have game development programming questions to be answered at the main SO site. That said, I understand some adjustments would probably have to be made if "domain communities" like should feel at home here.

Can you suggest some measure how to achieve this? One suggestion per answer, please.

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I fear that most suggestions will have duplicates... Still, I'll add my 2 cents because I strongly agree with the view that the splitting process is harmful –  Pëkka Sep 13 '10 at 7:37

7 Answers 7

Interesting / ignored tags should be respected more.

Currently setting ignored on interesting tags helps not much. It should be possible to use StackOverflow in such a way that topics ignored by me are almost invisible and topics prefered by my are strongly prefered. This should include all searches, all questions tabs including features tabs.

I have found one particular suggestions about better tag support for searches. While not exactly what I mean here, it is definitely aiming in the same direction.

Another suggestion, more or less what I was thinking about: Tab for interesting questions.

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The desire to have a focused community who cares, and feels that they all have something in common, should trump any desire we have to keep everyone in one place.

Take this to the extreme: why don't game developers just discuss game development on Facebook? It is, after all, the biggest social network on the planet, and it has tools for forums, messaging, even Q&A.

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Hmm, my fear with this is that SO proper will lose quality content that would belong on it, and good people. So many issues in game development (tricky optimizations, rendering, whatever...) are relevant for programming in general, and may have less chance of finding a good answer on SO proper. On the other hand, I can see that game developers yearn for a community of their own, because there is too little going on on SO in that regard at the moment. I don't know... –  Pëkka Sep 13 '10 at 7:43
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Jeff, your own answer taken to extreme will lead in SO being almost empty, as most of us work in some specific domain, and each domain has its own focus, its own tools, established frameworks ... –  Suma Sep 13 '10 at 7:45
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@pekka already answered quite brilliantly here meta.gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/3/… –  Jeff Atwood Sep 13 '10 at 7:51
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I see (and I can see that the game developer site will get to discuss business specific stuff that would be closed as off-topic on SO. I want a specific SE site for me, too! :) but I still think that people whose knowledge would be valuable for SO will be focusing on "their" SE site instead, reducing the value of SO proper. On the other hand, maybe the game dev site will draw in the geniuses who are currently not taking part in SO because it's not game dev related enough. I don't know - time will tell. –  Pëkka Sep 13 '10 at 8:05

A per-community front page featuring community-specific questions and tags.

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Respect domain specific knowledge

The people answering questions should respect the fact in some domains "general truths" are not valid at all, on the other hand there is a set of generally knowns and used tools and techniques. People outside of the domain should be very careful to understand the questions which appears general at first sight might have some domain specific background. This should be respected both when answering the question and voting questions and answers.

As an example, there is famous "early optimization is a root of all evil" approach. In game dev, speed still matters a lot, application speedup about 3 % is considered significant, speedup 10-20 % is a major breakthrough.

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This is a problem, but it i a people problem, not a technology problem... –  dmckee Sep 13 '10 at 15:18
    
A people problem often can be increased or diminished by technology choice, esp. by UI design. –  Suma Sep 13 '10 at 16:54

I understand your desire to keep all programming questions together. But there are many, many industries where programming plays only a small part of the issues covered. Game development is one of them.

Where in Stack Overflow would you want to field questions about designing for game playability, simulating physics, implementing gaming techniques, etc?

It took all of about 15 seconds to find these examples. Maybe you can poke a hole in one or two of them, but you cannot deny that there is a whole lot more to game development than the nuts and bolts of programming.

Stack Overflow is a nuts and bolts site. It isn't conducive to questions about the end-user products people are trying to achieve with their programming. There are a lot of industries where the programming component is but a small percentage of the issues of concerning those communities.

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"Where in Stack Overflow" I do not want to have them here. All I want is to find a way game development programming questions stay here. –  Suma Sep 15 '10 at 16:36
    
@Suma: The problem is, for the 98% of users who are not thoroughly embroiled meta where we discuss these obscure distinctions, it's hard to tell the average drive-by user that "This is a site for game developers but programming is off topic." They're not going to get it. –  Robert Cartaino Sep 15 '10 at 18:10
    
why, thanks for those interesting findings –  Tobias Kienzler Sep 24 '10 at 13:28

A virtual URL hierarchy for tags:

For example, http://stackoverflow.com/git~/latex/ could behave like a virtual SE which covers only questions tagged [git*] and [latex]. The intersting/ignored part would be ignored for these tags, new questions would already (editable!) contain the tags (wildcards would require some drop-down-menu) by default. The link http://stackoverflow.com/latex/formatting/q/2812892 would be equivalent to Change paper size in the middle of a latex document?.

The benefit of this is, that all those proposals at Area 51 that are subsets of others, e.g. jquery < SO, StarCraft < Gaming, could have a virtual SE for their specific tag, and still be part of the big, more general site. The virtual SE could even have it's own domain, if desired by its users. And by adding a subtle "generalize this SE" link, the real SE could also be reached.

edit Clarification: Yes, one can already use e.g. http://gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/starcraft-2, but there will always popup a Starcraft II proposal. But instead of opening another SE for that, you could just offer a virtual SE based on that tag and both sides (those who want one general site, and those who believe their subject is broad enough on its own) will be happy.

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Some more suggestions in the same direction in comments on Joel's blog about merging:

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/merging-season/#comment-50482

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/merging-season/#comment-50346

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