One of Stack Exchange's weaknesses is inter-stack collaboration:

If a question has the tags "Math" and "History" why should the same question, comments, and answers not appear on both the Math and the History sites? Comments from the historians would surely be welcomed by the mathematicians and vice-versa.

Asking the same question on two different sites currently results in one of the answers being overlooked-especially if the viewer comes from a search engine.

Area 51 could be eliminated if a new stack were created for every tag that gets used say 1,000 times per year (or another strategically chosen number) and is approved by a moderator.

The end result of implementing such an somewhat self-morphing system of stacks would look something like a portolan map, with stacks interconnected using tags instead of lines.

Implementing faqs could be trickier than with the current Area 51 system, but a beta period could surely be used for faqs with the people who used the tag invited to the private beta.

Using such a tag system it might even be possible to create a personalized stacks that include user-defined tags/topics. A new user to stack-exchange might be able to select what general topics (science, history, pop-culture, etc., which would include all relevant tags) and even specific tags he/she wishes to be included in his/her own personal stack.

  • please explain why if you downvote.
    – user161222
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:04
  • 7
    You do realize that downvotes here on Meta often indicate disagreement, right? So their answer to your title question might be "Nope". (Just in case you were not aware)
    – Bart
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:05
  • 3
    This doesn't make sense to me. Why should history-related questions be connected with math or gardening related ones? What purpose would connecting those sites serve - seeing as joining the math site as a historian is already only two clicks away?
    – Pekka
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:05
  • @Pekka Some people are interested in math and math-history but not other history. A personalized stack would allow users to define their own faq.
    – user161222
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:21
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    You should refer to Stack Exchange sites as a "site" or an "SE site", not a "stack". This isn't really an official naming convention, just FYI. But really, I disagree with this proposal, and it's been asked and answered repeatedly in the past. Instead of a weakness, the strength of Stack Exchange is in the ability to form communities surrounding specialized groups of experts. Anything that dilutes that leans more towards Yahoo Answers style sites, which have no true experts...
    – jmort253
    Sep 2 '12 at 23:21
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    @JoeHobbit Also, comments asking for explaination if someone downvotes is noise; you can't @ the person downvoting, and voting is anonymous. No one is obliged to answer you. Please refrain from doing so in the future (on any Stack Exchange site).
    – casperOne
    Sep 3 '12 at 0:14

If I understand you correctly, what you are looking for kinda already exists in the form of filters. They allow creating personalized question filters across multiple Stack Exchange sites.

Check out https://stackexchange.com/filters

other than that, Stack Exchange made the conscious decision of having separate, narrowly scoped sites with a set of shared common rules, but room for individual culture (somewhat similar to U.S. states). It's one of the fundamental characteristics of the network as it exists today.

A Q&A site that follows the approach you describe - connecting all areas in one huge site - is Quora.

  • 1
    Perhapse a less drastic change would be an "inter stack" feature that could be added to deal with question like this that are applicable on another stack as well. Such a feather would allow a single question and answers to appear on multiple sites.
    – user161222
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:42
  • @Joe yeah, that would be cool, especially in cases of overlap (like Stack Overflow and Wordpress.SE or tex.SE). However, it's not as easy to implement as it seems. What should be the rules governing the displaying of a question on one site or the other? Which site would reputation and badges be earned on if you answer the question? etc. etc.
    – Pekka
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:45
  • I presented that idea again here
    – user161222
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:57

Area 51 could be eliminated if a new stack were created for every tag that gets used say 1,000 times per year (or another strategically chosen number)

It's a little more complicated than that.

In order for a topic to become a viable SE site, it must achieve certain metrics. It should:

  1. Have at least 15 new questions asked per day
  2. Have answers to 90% of the questions asked
  3. A solid group of core users to assist in moderating the site:
    • 150 users with 200+ rep
    • 10 users with 2,000+ rep
    • 5 users with 3,000+ rep
  4. A ratio of answers to questions greater than 2.5
  5. 1500 unique visitors per day.

There's no guarantee that any given tag will achieve these metrics.

Further, tags don't necessarily make the best topic areas for a site. Subjects can be too broad, and they can be too narrow. Sites that are too broad devolve into Yahoo Answers; sites that are too narrow do not attract enough interested experts.

Nobody really knows what makes a potential site succeed to attract a viable audience. For example, Math Overflow was a highly unlikely success story (during SE 1.0), but they mounted an aggressive campaign to find, attract, and keep highly-qualified experts on their subject matter.

  • Would a portolan structure be to broad or too narrow?
    – user161222
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:19
  • Too narrow, in some cases. But the broad tags, if split off, would draw traffic away from the main site. As an example, the HTML5 proposal was closed because the html5 tag already adequately serves the purpose, and the experts are already at Stack Overflow. Imagine if we had to go to four different sites to ask CSS, HTML, Javascript and jQuery questions.
    – user102937
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:22
  • The idea included "Topical Stacks" which would be comparable to current stacks.
    – user161222
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:26
  • The closed Compiler Design proposal, on the other hand, turned out to be too narrow. The person who proposed the site on Area51 even stood up his own CNPROG site for awhile to host the Compiler Design site. It became apparent within a couple of months that the only people interested in the site were the original advocates for it on Area51. Now, it could be argued that the independent Compiler Design site failed because it didn't have SE backing, but that doesn't really explain the success of Math Overflow (Area51 didn't exist back then).
    – user102937
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:27

The idea is great, but It won't fit in the Stack Exchange model.

Each stack exchange site must have a fixed area and a steady population of users in order to survive. And creating sites based on tags, completely loses control on this.

Besides, tags have a different meaning on different sites. Look for example at this question. The tag at the parenting site is not comparable with the sleep tag on stackoverflow. And with your idea, those are probably mixed with very strange results.

  • There certainly would be ambiguities with the current tag structure, but they could be resolved if ambiguous tags were required have clarification: sleep (biological), sleep (technology).
    – user161222
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:12
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    @JoeHobbit Yeah, if only there were a way to keep all that content strictly separate. Perhaps we could structure them into distinct sites that....wait a minute... ;)
    – Bart
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:13
  • And in the end, we need a lawyer to define new tags... Sep 2 '12 at 20:13
  • The population of experts is no-doubt the hen that laid the golden egg. However, the current "one-size fits all" approach of stack exchange surely turns away countless experts who might be hooked using a personalized approach.
    – user161222
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:16
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    Well, Stack Exchange certainly is not everybody's cup of tea. That doesn't mean we should attempt to adapt it to where it becomes that. (I have the sneaking suspicion it would then become nobody's cup of tea. But that's merely my view on that).
    – Bart
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:18
  • @Joe you really think experts are turned away because they can't ask gardening questions on the math site? I don't think that is the case. I'd say experts are likely to be looking for a place where their field of expertise is dealt with in a consistently high-quality manner, UI considerations being secondary
    – Pekka
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:28
  • @Pekka I think that the current process of visiting 5-6 different stacks is cumbersome and inefficient compared to customizing a personal page that includes those 5-6 interests.
    – user161222
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:33
  • @Joe that is true, agreed. I just disagree that this inefficiency is something that would, say, drive a great programmer to a site like Quora. In the end, it's quality that attracts experts. Anyway, do give the filters feature a test drive - I have never used it myself but the SE team seem to have put a lot of work in it
    – Pekka
    Sep 2 '12 at 20:34

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