This is a mix of a question and comment.

Comment: I notice there are new "Stack Overflow-like" sites. Some that are of particular interest to me are:

But it is much more of a hassle to read through them, and furthermore to try to search for existing answers across multiple pages. The nice thing about Stack Overflow itself is that all the stuff is here, with tags and search queries. Not only do those (and other) new sites dilute Stack Overflow itself but they conflict with each other, reducing the number of persons viewing who might answer. Users must now wonder "Hm, is this a signal-processing question or a scientific computing question?"

Question: is someone at least thinking about this and estimating the number of posts that would have been on Stack Overflow that end up elsewhere? What about rate of similarly-themed questions being answered, on Stack Overflow versus another site? I guess the other sites are justified if there's some data saying that putting DSP or scientific computing questions on their own site raises their answer rate.

Even if that's the case, this will reduce the chances of me randomly answering someone's question on Stack Overflow while I'm searching for DSP and scientific computing issues!

  • 3
    Faced with a whole passel of help sites that don't work, Stack Exchange's founders decided on a different approach. From where I'm sitting, it's worked. SE is now my first stop in looking for tech answers. ... Alas, this does result in a bewildering array of sites to choose from, but it's still better than what we had before. Dec 18 '11 at 1:10
  • @AwesomePoodles Saying "SE is now my first stop in looking for tech answers." doesn't really argue your point, given SO being a one-stop shop for so long. Can you name one of the newer tangentially programming-related niche SE sites you would call your first stop for anything? Even if you can, can you say for sure that any answer you found there would not have appeared on SO if the niche site didn't exist?
    – A.M.
    Jul 5 '13 at 13:39

There's been a lot of curiosity if we have fragmented too far -- along with my own desire for a significantly larger Vote To Close dialog box to match -- but the better way to search the multiple sites is really to just search in Google for the question you have. You'll almost always find the answer on one of the various Stacks -- or one of the many copy-cat sites that use the Stack data dumps to provide "content" alongside their own advertising.


Something I just learned about yesterday or so is the site-wide search -- it can find content on all the sites. I don't believe there's any way to remove the sites you're not interested in but it does collect all the Unix, Windows, Mac, Programmers, SO, etc., in one place.

  • Hold it! Major misunderstanding; "just search in Google for the question you have", duh! ;-) also "man XYZ" or "XYZ --help" are smart. The Time When I'm Stuck and Go to SE is when ***I don't know what to type in Google. I need to be able to either browse marginally related questions and read something that tells me what to google for, or be able to ask a vaguely worded question that someone has a good chance of stumbling across. Fragmentation kills both of these, and we're back to "google it!". By the way, google works just fine w/o SE ... Dec 18 '11 at 4:19
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    Peter, all I know is that I've had far better success searching Stack Overflow for content when I start from Google. Granted, Google sucks bigtime when it comes to searching for punctuation characters, but Google's searches are far more reliable for me than the SO searches. Even when I'm trying to find something that I answered, Google wins.
    – sarnold
    Dec 18 '11 at 5:27
  • [sarnold], I agree if one knows what to type into google! But if I'm clueless and don't know to search for, either (a) someone can read my vague question and say "maybe you meant XYZ, search for that on google" or (b) I can browse through distantly related discussions and find some key pharses that I should google. I'm just saying that both (a) and (b) lose efficacy when S.E. spreads out... the Googling method works even if S.E. didn't exist my friend. Dec 18 '11 at 9:03
  • Related issue: suppose I do use the google method and actually know a reasonable search query. The chance of me jumping to one of the smaller S.E. sites is small, I think ... not sure how this plays into the overall dynamics of random people viewing and answering questions on those topics. Dec 18 '11 at 9:06
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    All excellent points. :) I've personally learned a lot by browsing the "linked" and "related" lists on the right side of the screen (the ones that I overlooked for six months until someone pointed them out to me) -- Oh yes, there's also the site-wide search, which might be what you're really looking for.
    – sarnold
    Dec 18 '11 at 9:29
  • Yeah that site-wide trick is great! Although it seems to make the splitting of sites irrelevant (may as well be a tag); that's fine by me though! Dec 19 '11 at 2:37
  • Final remark: see, never would it have dawned on me to google for "site-wide-search" to resolve 80% of my complaint, I needed to ask here in a 'central single place' and hope someone thinks about what I want, not what I literally ask :-) Dec 19 '11 at 2:45
  • "Splitting" the site by tags (sort of like facebook.stackoverflow.com) has been discussed before, but often gets shot down as not "fostering a community" -- surely the hordes of facebookers are finding it a rough transition to expecting source code and explicit error statements...
    – sarnold
    Dec 19 '11 at 3:34

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