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This is a big feature request, so I'm not suggesting an immediate implementation or conversion. For the future of SE however, I believe it solves some existing issues which might only grow bigger as the network keeps expanding. I wrote this originally as an answer to When will Stack Overflow become irrelevant?, but since it's more a request than an answer, I decided to post it as such.

The bottomline:

Questions should be able to show up on multiple SE sites, instead of just one.

Relating to the problems:

  • "Which questions go on which SE site?"
  • "Would a certain new community steal users from another?"
  • "All these SE sites are becoming a mess, there should only be one."

The solution I believe, is to focus on users, and not the categorization. If enough C# developers feel it is useful to have a Q&A site for all C# questions, there is a reason for its existence and it could become a thriving/working community. If it has overlapping questions with other sites, that's what those questions literally should do, they should overlap, and appear on both sites. The advantage is you create a highly specialized group of experts, without interrupting any other SE sites.

Additionally this could have the following advantages:

  • Resolve redundancy of tags. Tags could be filtered out on certain communities.
  • Resolving ambiguity of tags and questions.
  • Easier to determine whether something is on topic. (For users and moderators.)
  • Specialized moderators. More moderators. (Overlapping questions can be moderated by moderators of multiple communities.)
  • Separated (and shared) reputation. When proving your worth in one community it can also count towards reputation in another where the question is relevant.
  • More accurate answers by reaching a more specific audience.
  • Sub sites could start off with subsets of questions of other SE sites. You can compare it with the main Stack Exchange site at the moment. A favorite tagset is a candidate for a SE sub site.

A concrete example:

  • Stack Overflow: specific programming problems
  • Code Review: working code samples to be reviewed
  • (fictional) C#

An expert only interested in C# questions can be active on C#.SE, while generalists can still stick around on Stack Overflow. A user with a specific programming problem could either end up at Stack Overflow, or C#.SE. The question would be visible on both. A user who wants a code review on C# code, either ends up at Code Review or C#.SE. The question would be visible on both.

Of course there are still plenty of details that would need to be filled in.

"How to know what sites a question belongs to?"

  • Some tags become 'site' tags. E.g. C# for C#.SE.
  • Only cross site moderators can make questions overlapping?

...

That's how I would like to see the SE network. Implementing it is a different story. :)


Some related discussion such a design would solve:

  • The 'party problem' where people have nothing in common on a site as described in Stack Exchange podcast 2. This is one of the reasons why HowThingsWork didn't succeed. For people wanting to ask such a question it's a great place, but the community can't have knowledge about all those questions.
  • Which meta am I supposed to post on? General meta questions could show up on the main meta and all child metas, while specific meta questions are only visible on the matching child meta.
  • Overlapping stack exchange sites and rep migration when merging questions.
  • Reputation could become more meaningful as a level of expertise, which when looking at meta is something a lot of people value.

I might update this list if I encounter others.

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@AndersonGreen or vice versa? :) –  Steven Jeuris Jan 18 at 15:12
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marked as duplicate by hims056, Martijn Pieters, Lance Roberts, Aziz Shaikh, Flyk Jan 18 at 15:40

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

4 Answers

No, I don't think anything along these lines would be good. Different sites are different communities with different norms. The best way to ask a question for one of these sites is different from the best way to ask a question for another.

Ultimately it's the questioner's job to do the work of reaching the right audience of experts. Trying to give the questioner a way around doing this chore is bound, I think, to make the sites less attractive to the experts they depend upon.

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That's my exact argument. By giving the questioner (and experts) a site which is obviously the correct one, there is no discussion anymore as whether or not it reaches the right audience. Whether or not it may be redirected to other sites could be solved in the same way as questions are migrated (or even retagged) at the moment. –  Steven Jeuris May 9 '11 at 13:52
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@Steve: You misunderstand my point: you solve a problem for questioners and for the area51 issues of site structure, but I think you undermine the attractiveness of SX for experts. Since attracting experts and making them want to share their knowledge in a problem-solving way is the fundamental thing the sites must do, I think this is bad. –  Charles Stewart May 9 '11 at 14:06
    
Considering my given example C#.SE, why would such a site be less attractive to C# experts? Why would StackOverflow become less attractive to generalists? I consider myself to be a C# 'expert' and would only see benefit in a C#.SE within the design I suggest. –  Steven Jeuris May 9 '11 at 14:14
    
@Steven: Well, the issue there is that these should not be different sites, since there are not different kinds of expert here: any C# expert is expert by the standards of SO and Code Review. The solution to that problem is a change in how we present different views onto one body of expertise. If that is the problem your suggestion is trying to solve, then I guess I don't have a strong opinion on your proposal, and we are headed for another similar gaggle of problems with the various area51 language-specific proposals. –  Charles Stewart May 9 '11 at 15:08
    
"Well, the issue there is that these should not be different sites, since there are not different kinds of expert here" With the current design, agreed. But I don't understand the problems you mention experts would have with my suggestion. Care to give a concrete example? "The solution to that problem is a change in how we present different views onto one body of expertise." That's kind of the suggestion I'm making no? The change being the ability for the framework to show different questions from different areas to different 'bodies of expertise'. –  Steven Jeuris May 9 '11 at 23:00
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There are legitimate reasons to post the same question on two (or more) stack exchange sites. For instance, this question (currently on programmers.stackexchange) could just as easily have been sent off to the SQA stack exchange. (It was originally posted on superuser.com).

The question touches two areas, software quality assurance and hope programmers cope with SQA. If the question could exist on both stack exchange sites, QA specialists could chime in with answers from their perspective, and programmers from theirs. Currently the question can only live on one stack exchange.

Maintaining accounts of multiple stack exchanges is getting to be inconvenient. As a programmer, I monitor two exchange sites regularly, and go to superuser when someone decides my question belongs there instead, and of course meta so I can maybe convince someone to make these useful sites just a tad more useful.

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I am posting a question on mathematical programming and was recommended to ask on math. But I know that like me, there are other programmers who would appreciate seeing the answer, who wouldn't be aware of its existence if it's on math.

I suggest that the cross linking features is incredibly useful, but that you can define a priviledge, to create cross-linked questions, that is fairly high. That way, moderators can help newbies like me by linking specific areas where this works well, like graphics/3d/math to the math site.

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One great step towards this goal:

Ever since launching, we’ve gotten requests to start dedicated communities for niche programming topics, but we’ve always been hesitant to do so for fear of balkanizing the great community we already have. So we came up with a solution that provides the best of both worlds. We can now create a mini-site by selecting relevant tags (in this case, anything Facebook related) and grouping together just the content from those tags. When you visit a mini-site, you’ll see only the content from those tags. Not only will you be able to see only questions related to Facebook, but the reputation on the user ranking pages will also only show reputation earned on questions tagged Facebook.

The key to this functionality is that you’re seeing a filtered view of Stack Overflow, much like if you set up a favorite tags view. That means that when you ask a question on Facebook.SO, you’re still getting access to the entire community of 750,000+ users, and any questions you answer there count toward your Stack Overflow reputation, too.

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not really related to your request; you want things that are currently off-topic to be judged on topic. This is simply a "big city" form of segmentation of existing topics on Stack Overflow. –  Jeff Atwood Aug 25 '11 at 12:33
    
@Jeff: As I said, a great step. ;p Some of the comments on the article are already suggesting to merge Code Review and Programmers to SO again, which would pretty much result in the same thing then no? Either way, I'm glad work is being done on this issue! I'm sure it'll be a great improvement for SE. –  Steven Jeuris Aug 25 '11 at 12:52
    
code review and subjective discussion are still off-topic on SO, so those commenters fundamentally misunderstand what is going on. Sub-sites are exclusively for segmenting currently on-topic stuff in a "big city" environment. –  Jeff Atwood Aug 25 '11 at 21:21
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