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I just now found the Site Directory, which is an idea that I was going to suggest, but I think some big improvements could be made to the current one.

To be honest, it's not as useful as it could be. All it does is repeat the brief description given in the "all sites" tab of the pop-up div shown when you click the StackExchange logo at the top... plus some statistics about how many posts, views, etc. there are in that section. I think these brief descriptions leave most people are unclear about where to post their questions... the current system simply doesn't allow anyone to acquire a coherent understanding without loading the FAQ of all the sites relevant to their question.

Section 1: Detailed Descriptions
Section 2: TreeView Directory
Section 3: Increased Visibility


Section 1: Detailed Descriptions

I think new users would appreciate longer descriptions... specifically a detailed explanation of what is considered "on-topic" for each site. Example:

CodeReview (objective)

  • Code correctness
  • Best practices and design pattern usage in your code
  • Application UI
  • Security issues in a code snippet, etc.

StackOverflow (objective)

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers
  • matters that are unique to the programming profession

Programming (subjective)

  • Software engineering
  • Developer testing
  • Algorithm and data structure concepts
  • Design patterns
  • Architecture
  • Development methodologies
  • Quality assurance
  • Software law
  • Programming puzzles
  • Freelancing and business concerns

Section 2: TreeView Directory

The list of descriptions would get pretty long if you listed all of them at once, so it would have to be done in a tree view... which you could use jQuery toggle to make. Example content:

Programming

  • Programming
  • Stack Overflow
  • Code Review
  • Code Golf
  • Game Development
  • User Interface

Site & Network Admin

  • Webmasters
  • WordPress
  • Server Fault
  • Database Administrators
  • IT Security

End User

  • Super User
  • Operating Systems
  • Unix and Linux
  • Ask Ubuntu
  • Android Enthusiasts
  • Apple
  • Web Applications
  • Gaming
  • Role-playing Games

Electronic Equipment & Hardware

  • Electronics and Robotics
  • Computer Hardware
  • Computer Architecture
  • Electronics and Robotics
  • Audio/Visual Equipment

Audio & Visual Production

  • Photography
  • Video Recording and Production
  • Vector/Raster Graphic Design
  • CAD/3-D Design
  • Audio Recording and Production

Language & Typesetting

  • Writers
  • English Language and Usage
  • TeX -LaTeX

Financial & Business Management

  • Personal Finance
  • Startups

Theory & Research

  • Physics
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Mathematics

(And so on...)

The tree view could be implemented in one of two ways:

  1. Tree View Nav Bar - The tree view would be off to the left, and if you clicked on any bottom-level node, such as Stack Overflow, Code Review, etc., the detailed description (from Section 1) would load to the right of the Tree View. Allowing the user to ctrl+click the bottom-level nodes would allow them to load multiple detail descriptions at once.
  2. Inline Tree View - The detailed descriptions would be shown within the tree itself (like it is in the Soh Tanaka demo.)


Section 3: Increased Visibility

The Site Directory, once it's made useful, should be either in every site's FAQ or up on the toolbar at the top, right beside "FAQ." This will make new users (esp. those that find StackOverflow via google results) aware that (1) more than one site exists, and (2) what types of questions are appropriate at the different sites/forums.


PS: Of course, the site statistics, questions (answers, % answered, total users, visits/day) could still be included at the bottom of each site's detailed description.

PSS: Is a working example needed in order to convince people of this suggestion's merit? I am more than willing to make one. :)

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Doesn't Area51 already group proposals into categories? The list of sites should use the same category, hmm... –  Yi Jiang Feb 4 '11 at 6:38
    
Hadn't seen it before, but no, that doesn't accomplish what this suggestion would. As far as I can tell, it only lists beta sites, not already-public sites. Furthermore, it, once again, only provides a brief description. I'm suggesting a revamp of the site directory where detailed descriptions are given for what is on-topic within that site... not a one-liner that doesn't tell people anything that can't be inferred by the title. –  Michael Feb 4 '11 at 6:44
    
It does show you already launched public sites, under the launched tab here –  Diago Feb 4 '11 at 6:51
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1 Answer

To be honest, between StackExchange which is constantly being upgraded, the Area51 and the Area51 Launched list, there is enough places to go to find listing of sites.

Apart from that all public sites are shown in the footer of every site, and the name alone should be enough to let you at least visit the site to read the FAQ and get more info.

share|improve this answer
    
I could write a lengthy post about why I think that's inadequate (programming vs. StackOverflow vs. Code review; lack of ability to facilitate coherent understanding of topic division; etc.), but instead, I will raise one concern (accessibility) just ask one question. Is a new user that finds StackOverflow via google results expected to find the "all sites" tab of the pop-up shown when "SExchange" is clicked, realize that there might be a site geared towards their specific question, somehow find A51 even though it isn't listed on the "all sites" tab, and then find the "featured" tab of A51? –  Michael Feb 4 '11 at 7:12
    
As a new user, I hate to downvote someone (which I can't do because I have <125 rep,) but the accessibility of the current implementation is egregious. Simply put, if I was the owner of SE, had someone design the site(s), and they came up with the current system, I would raise my concerns about accessibility. If, upon hearing the concern, they insisted that that finding the "featured" tab of Area51 provided adequate accessibility and refused to both increase the visibility (along side "FAQ" on the top of every page) and the functionality of the site directory, they would be fired. –  Michael Feb 4 '11 at 7:18
    
Sorry... the "launched" tab/filter of A51, not the "featured" tab. My fault. –  Michael Feb 4 '11 at 7:29
    
@Michael. I am therefore incredibly grateful that you don't own nor designed the Stack Exchange sites. I simply just answered your question by clarifying that there already exists various ways to get a list of sites, and the team is constantly improving these. We seem to have no problem attracting new users to SE as it stands, so I am struggling to understand how the proposed solution will make it better? –  Diago Feb 4 '11 at 12:01
    
Are you really struggling to understand how the proposed solution will make the site more accessible, or are you just defending the current system despite its clearly absurd nature? –  Michael Feb 4 '11 at 18:00
    
@Michael ~ I admire your moxie and desire to improve the situation, but attacking the diamonds and calling the site "absurd" is not going to win you favor. Just a reality check. –  jcolebrand Feb 6 '11 at 20:10
    
@Michael ~ And to answer your concern in ` somehow find A51 even though it isn't listed on the "all sites" tab, and then find the "featured" tab of A51?` no. They are not expected to find useful contribution to Area51 before understanding SE in general. If they don't have a personal mentor to show them/explain the sites/concepts and encourage them to use it, then they're really not going to be able to contribute usefully to Area51. My question is why would I want someone with no experience on SE to contribute to/care about Area51? –  jcolebrand Feb 6 '11 at 20:13
    
I am just giving an honest critique of the site's accessibility. I'm not trying to upset anyone for no reason, but rather trying to make the site better. As far as "contributing" to A51 goes, that was not what was being discussed. It was mentioned because if you go there and click the "launched" tab/filter, it shows you a list of all the StackExchange sites. Thus, visiting A51 and clicking on the "launched" tab (which requires no contribution) was described as a de facto site directory. –  Michael Feb 6 '11 at 20:38
    
I agree with you that it would be very difficult for a new user to find A51, however, which is one of the reasons why I think that it fails to perform the role of a "site directory" (AKA site map.) A site directory is intended to increase accessibility, and it must be accessible itself. A site directory that is impossible to find serves no purpose. –  Michael Feb 6 '11 at 20:44
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