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NOTE: When I say science I mean only chemistry, physics (incl. astronomy if the astronomy site fails), and biology and their mixtures (for example, biophysics)


I'm asking this here because there's no Meta Area 51. A science Stack Exchange is greatly needed, but all the proposals on Area 51 — specifically Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Astronomy — are separated. This means that followers/demand are spread over many requests and there's not much chance of any science site happening any time soon.

I'm talking about merging only the natural science proposals. Theoretical CS and Mathematics should stay separate as they've already proven they have enough demand to get into beta.

Also on Area 51, there are many requests just labeled "Science", that is, exact duplicates, which can be merged without any further discussion.

Please combine the requests so that there's more chance of a science site getting started.

Maybe after the single Science SE has started and people take more of an interest in it, then the chemistry, physics and biology topics can be separated.


Here are all the science proposals on Area 51 at the moment:

That is 4 (the first 4) different proposals for a generic (in other words not specifically biology/etc.) science site. I believe that if a generic Science site is made it should be for all levels of questions, the same as you don't get Advanced Stack Overflow and Noob Stack Overflow, and in the same way you can ask a question about a HP printer problem, and also being able to ask about a Linux script to fill up diskspace on Super User.

Then the specific sites, Physics, Biology and Chemistry and Astronomy are for more advanced users, if they ever make it to and then out of beta.

But I really do not see the need for 4 different proposals for what is effectively the same site


I am proposing to combine:

to site with a suitable name (Natural Science, if that is the correct usage for physics, chemistry and biology)

This will:

  1. Combine the followers increasing the chance of getting into beta
  2. Not cause confusion and stop people from following, because they don't know which one to follow, increasing the chance of getting to beta.
  3. Not cause confusion, if the site does make it beta, for users asking question because they are unsure of which site to post it on, increasing the chance of the site making it out of beta.

I am not proposing that another proposal be made on Area 51, I am proposing that the current proposals are combined!

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FYI: This is the correct place to ask Area 51 metaquestions, so no worries about that. Also, +1 because I think this is a good idea. –  Jon Seigel Sep 25 '10 at 18:15
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This was not well received: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/17115/science –  jmfsg Sep 25 '10 at 23:15
    
The reason I thought that was not well recieved was because there were so many other requests for science sites. I'm not asking about making a new request, I'm asking to merge them to get a better chance of getting a science SE site. –  Jonathan. Sep 26 '10 at 7:48
    
ok, updated my answer. basically: good idea, but keep Popular Natural Sciences and Natural Sciences and the Scientific Method apart as they are intended as a math.SE / mathoverflow.net like couple –  Tobias Kienzler Sep 30 '10 at 8:33

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

edit3 I am for the experiment of trying one proposal for all Natural Sciences, which is why I proposed Natural Sciences and the Scientific Method. However, I am against merging the existing proposals for the single Sciences (e.g. Physics and Astronomy).

Popular Natural Sciences should not be merged with Natural Sciences and the Scientific Method, there is a difference intended: They should relate the way math.SE and http://mathoverflow.net relate, i.e. Popular Natural Science is the place to ask everyday questions that can basically be answered by referring to existing Literature and experiments, while Natural Sciences is intended for active research questions, where few to no papers exist yet.


edit2 The below is no longer entirely valid since Jon clarified he did only mean Natural Sciences and Joris brought some good arguments, too. In fact, I am wondering why we shouldn't try that at least, so I proposed Natural Sciences. Unfortunately, there is no way for announcements during commitment phase yet, so it is difficult to make those committed to Physics and Astronomy aware of this idea


(old answer)

I am so against this. I am a Physicist, and while having a general idea of chemistry I don't have the <dramatization>faintest clue</dramatization> about (research) biology and would therefore not be able to answer questions in these regimes. Merging every science (and probably having regular discussions why astrology and creationism are not sciences etc) would create additional tags ([physics], [biology], etc.) and cause a huge unmanageable mess IMHO.

Consider this: "Merge http://stackoverflow.com, http://superuser.com and http://serverfault.com into Theoretical Computer Science since it's all about computers." wouldn't stand a chance but sounds to me just the same as your suggestion.

However, I also thought it might be a nice idea for a more general place about Popular Natural Sciences (still less general than all "sciences"), and it goes way worse than the pure Physics and Astronomy, although Chemistry and Biology surprisingly don't go so well.

(Disclaimer: My links are referral links)


edit Let's try it. I propose the possibly not-too-broad Natural Sciences.

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Where do you place biophysics then? You might not know it, but it is a large research area. Do we put this on the biology or the physics site? And biochemistry? Where do you put that? Chemistry or biology? For years people try to lift science over the over-aged boundaries of science definitions from another era. I don't know anything about Java, but I do answer a lot of R questions on stackoverflow. Still, I don't consider SO an unmanageable mess, even if there's only about 1% of the questions I actually know something about. –  Joris Meys Sep 27 '10 at 12:02
    
@Joris in fact I believe biophysics and biochemistry to be large enough to stand by themselves. Maybe I'm wrong, but currently the Physics proposal is on 78% of the commitment-phase, while the pop-nat-sci is still in definition phase with 42 followers. I'd propose biophysics to state my point, but I'm against proposing things I don't understand myself... There is always some overlap between SE's, but would you merge gamedev.stackexchange.com into stackoverflow? SO supports various programming languages, but I'd translate this into the many subfields of each P/B/C. –  Tobias Kienzler Sep 27 '10 at 12:12
    
@Joris (contd.) But maybe the classification P/B/C is not perfect, maybe something like "big things, e.g. (astro-)physics" "tiny things, e.g. particle physics, melocular chemistry, genetics" and "[medium sized] things, e.g. classical mechanics, explosives, evolution" would work better. I don't know how to solve the overlap problem, but I'm positive it's the lesser of to evils compared to a too broad scope. –  Tobias Kienzler Sep 27 '10 at 12:15
    
@Tobias : so basically, you don't want your proposal to be combined with other proposals or have concurrention from a similar proposal. Just state it in so many words then. May I also kindly point out that the "Popular Natural Sciences" is not exactly what OP had in mind? May I then again point out that there is no reason not to have a pure physics exchange next to a more general one? which is exactly where the gamedev is coming from (and also because developing is a whole lot more than programming. It's legal issues, design issues, cooperation issues,...) –  Joris Meys Sep 27 '10 at 12:36
    
@Tobias : edit - sorry, our comments crossed. Thx for starting the proposal. –  Joris Meys Sep 27 '10 at 12:41
    
@Joris I am definitely against what the OP suggested. But I am open to the idea of an all-natural-sciences proposal. But it should not replace the existing proposals. Those who committed to Physics did so because the want a place for Physics questions, while not many have joined any more or less combined science proposal so far. We must not re-interpret their decision. –  Tobias Kienzler Sep 27 '10 at 12:46
    
@Tobias : fair enough, you're right on that one. –  Joris Meys Sep 27 '10 at 12:49
    
It's quite simple, if you can't answer Biology questions then don't, if every questions requires at least one of Chemistry, Physics, Biology as a tag, then you can simply only look at the questions tagged as physics. If we have 3 separate sites, where would I ask a biochemistry question? If physics (tbh, Physics seems the most popular science among people who use computers for programming, etc and thats probably why its getting the most attention on area 51) succeeds past beta then we should have a Chemistry and Biology site. Those people who wanted a place to ask physics questions, would... –  Jonathan. Sep 27 '10 at 15:56
    
...on the combined science site. Anyone who wants to filter out a certain sub science can do so by using the tag filters. If you want to ask a biophysics question then you'd tag the question with Biology and Physics. If you dont want to replace the physics proposal then don't but we could still have a science site which includes physics, in the same way gamedev could be part of SO. –  Jonathan. Sep 27 '10 at 15:59
    
@Jon: as mentioned to Joris, we can try it, I made that proposal. But only for natural sciences, or would you include politics and linguistics too? –  Tobias Kienzler Sep 28 '10 at 7:25
    
When I say science I mean B/C/P and possibly astronomy. –  Jonathan. Sep 28 '10 at 15:46
    
@Jon: ok, taking back my downvote. It makes an important difference that you actually mean natural sciences only, which sounds actually feasible. I hope those who committed to Physics and Astronomy will notice this unified proposal somehow, as there is currently no way of announcements: meta.stackexchange.com/q/65908/146482 –  Tobias Kienzler Sep 29 '10 at 7:03
    
I have updated my question to make it very much clearer of what I think should be done. –  Jonathan. Sep 29 '10 at 16:31
    
Surely if the sites are seperated into advanced and beginners, what happens if a beginner asks an advanced question on the beginner site, extra confusion that's not needed. Also all the people who can answer questions will be on the advanced site. There's no advanced SO and beginner SO, it's not a problem to have a huge site. –  Jonathan. Sep 30 '10 at 16:30

Physics has enough steam to get to beta, and Astronomy probably has.

Would it make more sense to have a Life Sciences proposal? These subjects have much overlap with each other, and only chemistry has much overlap with the above two.

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Maybe one should specify "exact sciences". Psychology is also a science, but I can't imagine those requesting a psychology site would like to be added together with chemists and physists.

I explain further: There is a lot of cross-over between chemistry, biochemistry, biology, biophysics, physics, ... These ones can go on one site.

There is less overlap between these and languages, psychology, philosophy, cultural sciences, social sciences, economics, ... to name a few. There is some overlap, but that is not really a problem as those overlap questions can very well be asked on that site.

Mathematics and statistics have their own site, and they're sciences too.

It is possible to combine everything on one site, but there's no need for that. Part of the strength of the whole stackexchange, is the fact that you have broad but well-defined areas to discuss. And for me, throwing all sciences together seems too broad and not clearly defined.

For the record : Throwing all exact sciences together seems broad and well defined.

YET ANOTHER EDIT: I am amazed this gets downvoted by both pro- and con- people.

  • No, music, psychology, filology,linguistics, ... should not all be combined on a science site. That is indeed a mess

  • Yes, biology/chemistry/physics share so many overlaps that combining these proposals seems sensible. Reason is simply the existence of a huge overlap: biophysics, biochemistry, quantum chemistry and other branches of physical chemistry,... All these large research areas cannot be placed easily within one of the three sciences. Either they all get their own site, or we combine these three related sciences. If you don't agree to combine these three, please tell me what you're going to do with the huge crowd of scientists that continuously cross these borders.

Personally, I find it a bit odd to build the sites on science definitions that come from another era.

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People can keep asking for the seperate sciences but they'll never get them becuase there's not enough interest unless you put them to together. For Maths we don't have an Algebra site and this and a that site, it's all in one. The 3 core sciences should be one site, so that includes the overlaps, things like Psychology isn't that more medical? –  Jonathan. Sep 25 '10 at 22:11
    
C#, javascript, python and vb.net are all part of one branch of computer sciences, being programming. –  Joris Meys Sep 25 '10 at 22:23
    
@Jon Where did I ever say that the three "core" sciences should not be on one site? That's exactly what I say! I just said that you should specify it as "exact sciences" Psychology and the likes are also sciences. I don't see what I'm saying wrong here. –  Joris Meys Sep 25 '10 at 22:38
    
"It is possible to combine everything on one site, but there's no need for that. ", I think i misinterpreted, you'd like all 3 "core" sciences in one site but not the less common sciences such as pyschology.? Sorry –  Jonathan. Sep 25 '10 at 22:49
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@Jon : I believe we agree ;-) –  Joris Meys Sep 25 '10 at 23:37
    
Throwing all exact sciences together seems broad and well defined. Did you have a look at science.stackexchange.com ? Sorry, -1, see my answer for further elaboration –  Tobias Kienzler Sep 27 '10 at 10:49
    
@Tobias : maybe you should read my answer a bit more carefully. Science.stackexchange.com contains ALL sciences, including linguistics, psychology, music... Off course that is a mess, that's exactly what I say! So in fact your statement confirms what I have written, which makes it difficult to understand why you downvoted it. –  Joris Meys Sep 27 '10 at 11:59
    
@Joris Meys: Sorry for the confusion, and yes your're right, science.SE is too broad and therefore a bad example. But my -1 is on the quoted phrase, I think there are already enough subfields in P/B/C to justify their separation. However, I certainly don't think a strict separation is the correct answer either, as I replied to your comment on my answer –  Tobias Kienzler Sep 27 '10 at 12:19
    
maybe I was a bit to harsh with my -1, I took it back. re your edit, let's try the experiment: Natural Sciences –  Tobias Kienzler Sep 27 '10 at 12:27
    
You say "YET ANOTHER EDIT: I am amazed this gets downvoted by both pro- and con- people." but this only has one downvote.... –  Pops Sep 27 '10 at 19:09
    
@Popular Demand : It had more, but the extra clarification pointed out that we misunderstood eachother. Never mind, I'll take it out. –  Joris Meys Sep 27 '10 at 20:45
    
@Joris, that's what I get for joining the party late, I suppose. Thanks for letting me know. –  Pops Sep 27 '10 at 21:54

Edit: I updated the answer in response to the asker’s comment and clarification in the proposal (question revision 3).

I do not have a solid opinion about whether biology, physics and chemistry proposals should be merged or not, and probably I will not have one in the near future, either. However, I would like to point out a few things.

First, should they be merged, the merged proposal should clearly define the scope which includes biology, physics and chemistry but excludes statistical analysis, mathematics and theoretical computer science (each of which already has a SE 2.0 website in beta; mathematics has MathOverflow, too). “Natural science” might be the right term.

Second, in a blog post, Joel Spolsky of Stack Overflow states that “the right size [of each proposal] might be somewhere around the size of a university department.” I am not completely sure whether this “size” refers to the breadth of topic or the number of people, but if it means the former, the merged proposal will be too broad.


Below was the original answer in response to the question revision 2.

There are several Stack Exchange 2.0 websites for fields of science (including Statistical Analysis, (All-level) Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science) which are already in public beta. I am participating in some of them.

Does the scope of the merging you are proposing include them? If so, I do not think that I agree with you, considering that these beta sites have been operated separately and independently for some time and have been forming their own communities.

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It sounded like this has more to do with sites in proposal stage, not sites (like TCS and others) that are already in beta. Having said that, I agree that it would make little sense to merge these in. Moreover, the bio/chemistry/physics cultures are immensely different. –  Suresh Sep 26 '10 at 5:10
    
No it doesn't include them, because they've proven that they have enough demand to get to beta. It's fine saying you want seperate B/C/P but if you have that then you won't get any. So it's either combine them and there's a chance of getting one, or there's noway that we'll get any place to ask B/C/P questions –  Jonathan. Sep 26 '10 at 7:51
    
@Jon: Thank you for clarification! I did not state anything about merging biology, chemistry and physics because I did not (and still do not) have a solid opinion about whether I like the idea of merging or not. However, see my updated answer for some thoughts. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 26 '10 at 11:50
    
well i did say that if we want a place to ask science related questions then well just have to accept a combined site. personally i think the area 51 system is flawed because it means people who want a particular site have to know that area 51 –  Jonathan. Sep 26 '10 at 14:27
    
@Jon: I know what you are saying, and you do not have to repeat it three times (once in the original post, twice in comments). As I already wrote in the answer, I do not have a solid opinion for or against merging chemistry, physics and biology proposals, and there is no point trying to convince me. Honestly speaking, I just do not want this proposal to come in the way of the existing Stack Exchange websites about other fields of science. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 26 '10 at 15:07
    
no i totally agree that no other existing sites should be merged, they've earnt their place. –  Jonathan. Sep 26 '10 at 15:22
    
@Jon: ...or there's noway that we'll get any place to ask B/C/P questions Well, the Physics proposal is at 79% of the commitment phase, while the mentioned Science proposal has 1 (one!) follower, and the less general Popular Natural Sciences has 42 (yay for that number though!). Maybe the chemistry and biology community just don't agree they need SE –  Tobias Kienzler Sep 27 '10 at 10:54

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