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There is a number of proposals with a "outdoors" theme and massive overlap on Area 51:

  • Backpacking, Hiking, and Camping - Proposed Q&A site for all age groups who love to travel the world with just a backpack to enjoy new exciting places.

  • Hiking - Proposed Q&A site for everything related to hiking: equipment, trails, weather, orientation, maps, accommodation, food, health etc.

  • The Great Outdoors, Camping, Survivalism - Proposed Q&A site for survivalists, Naturalists, Campers, Woodcraft, Bushcraft, Outdoorsmen/women

  • Backwoodsmanship - for those who like to wander in the wilderness, perhaps only with a knife, some thread and a hook. They know how to camp in the forest, how to wash in the creek and how to identify the edible flora, appreciating the nature as it is.

they all are still in definition, but put together, could easily progress to the next stage.

Updated question: Could we have some manual merging action here? As far as I can tell, much of the audience is in favour.

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Cheers for the good links @Chris. I tend to think that these overlap so massively that a merge without much discussion might be justified (as it's not like "Music" vs. "Guitars") - but that's just my 2 cents, I don't know all these fields in depth. –  Pëkka Jan 14 '11 at 20:21
    
I think there's something due soon to group (and hence provide a path to merge) proposals. See Robert's answer on meta.stackexchange.com/questions/69651/… –  ChrisF Jan 14 '11 at 20:23
    
@ChrisF right. I had pinged Robert about this in a comment. I decided to post it here as I didn't get a reply, but it may well be in the works. Would be nice to see these merged, they definitely have the potential to start out nicely. –  Pëkka Jan 14 '11 at 20:27
    
So was there any decision on the merging or will we have to wait for a function to merge to be built? –  Ross Jan 14 '11 at 23:20
    
@Ross I think we have to wait for the function to be built :) :) –  Pëkka Jan 14 '11 at 23:30

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Generally speaking, we have not been doing routine mergers of complimentary proposals unless there is a really pressing reason to do so. Your hiking proposals look like incredibly obvious candidates (as do many others), but without discussion and communication between participants, we would just be usurping the purpose of the Area 51 vetting and acting blindly. So, for now, I would like to err towards letting each proposal stand on its own merits… for now.

Having said that, we are nearing completion of adding those groundbreaking communication abilities to Area 51 that everyone has been asking for. Area 51 proposals will be grouped into "Categories" so that folks with similar interests can work together and discuss how best to turn these proposals into great sites. The first stages will be released coming month's end.

So yes, I agree in principle that these particular proposals would likely benefit from a merge. But there will come a time where these issues will become so esoteric that I couldn't possibly hope to understand the issues that go into making that decision. That is why I prefer to make sure Area 51 is doing its job (and not do routine "fixes" like this… yet) while I can still hope to understand how it should be working.

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I agree that seeing the discussion will help, but it is not quite the "silver bullet" you describe. If the community itself doesn't have tools to merge themselves, SOMEONE still needs to make the merge call. And even if they do have the tools, they might not be able to reach consensus. –  Jeff Atwood Jan 15 '11 at 5:51
    
@Jeff Atwood: Not all similar proposals have to be merged decisively. There will always be cases where competing ideas will just have to stand on their own... and compete. But for those cases where a clear consensus does start to emerge, at least the consensus is coming from inter-proposal discussions among participants. That's a much more sustainable way to drive these decisions; 1,000% better than me picking and choosing what might make sense or reacting to the occasional flag coming from the same handful of avid Area 51 users. –  Robert Cartaino Jan 15 '11 at 6:29
    
@robert I guess my experience with unix/linux and ubuntu has left me skeptical that this works in practice, and I think leadership has to drive this stuff, not the roar of the crowd -- and at the definition stage is there real leadership or just a bunch of voices in a crowd? Basically it comes down to someone has to do something. Waiting for a magical tipping point that may never come doesn't work for me. (That said, we'll see.. but I am very, very skeptical this magical leadership will emerge. It's more like herding cats.) –  Jeff Atwood Jan 15 '11 at 6:33
    
@Jeff Atwood: Worst case scenario, it gives everyone a forum to be heard... which we have none of now. –  Robert Cartaino Jan 15 '11 at 6:38
    
@Robert @Jeff thanks. The communication abilities will probably sort the situation for the hiking proposals - I expect most folks will be happy to merge and get started. –  Pëkka Jan 15 '11 at 10:16
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@Jeff @Robert re herding cats, in theory, the Meta format would already be suitable for discussing this, wouldn't it? You present a potential executive decision ("Should we merge x and y?") and if there are strong arguments against, they will be written down and voted on. The only downside of this being that all of Meta can vote on a decision that isn't really any of their business. But maybe that's an up side because people would have to explain in layman's terms why a proposal should or should not be merged. –  Pëkka Jan 15 '11 at 13:54
    
Of course, you would have a lot of anger on your hands in those cases where you override the majority decision - something that is probably bound to happen occasionally. But that anger would be there either way, and that way, it would at least have a chance to vent, and you would have a chance to explain the decision –  Pëkka Jan 15 '11 at 13:57
    
We need the ability to 1: Discuss if and how the name and definition of a proposal should be changed, from definition stage even through beta, 2: Change the name and definition based on the discussion and consensus, and 3: Close a proposal based on consensus reached due to changes in a competing proposal. If we got that much, that would be good enough. Maybe we already have most of 2 and 3 (I just don't know), but we certainly don't have 1. –  gilly3 Jan 20 '11 at 18:50
    
@Robert there is a lot of commenting on the four Outdoors related proposals about a merge. Would a manual merge be an option for this specific instance? I'd love to see this start –  Pëkka Jan 23 '11 at 23:06
    
@Pekka: No, it's a very technically precarious function and not used. Suggest users support one proposal and close the duplicates... or just wait for the Area 51 meta discussion Groups, as I described above. –  Robert Cartaino Jan 23 '11 at 23:14
    
@Robert okay, thanks. I'll try to get people to subscribe to the strongest of the proposals. –  Pëkka Jan 23 '11 at 23:27

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