I get the appeal of having something talk about itself. I also get the appeal of recursion, how powerful it is in code and with great power comes great responsibility; hense the name Stack Overflow.

But why have Meta Stack Overflow, is it mainly for the same reasons that it is cool to meta-cognate? Is there some practical reason to separate the original site, add this layer of obscurity and separate rating system?

This is a genuine question, I know I am very new to both sites and, so far, I am loving the experience. Perhaps I am missing something critical, but I am sure there are others who would like to hear your thoughts.

Yes I have read the FAQ.... still curious.

  • Did you read the FAQ linked at the top of this site? It will already answer parts of your question.
    – Bart
    Oct 30, 2012 at 22:28
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    One good way to get to know the history of SO is looking in the blog archive: blog.stackoverflow.com/archive the reasoning and process behind Meta is in there as well - somewhere. It wasn't there from the start, and I don't know when it was born.
    – Pekka
    Oct 30, 2012 at 22:28
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    see: How does Meta Stack Overflow work?,
    – gnat
    Oct 30, 2012 at 22:29
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    And this blog might provide some interesting insights as well: codinghorror.com/blog/2009/07/meta-is-murder.html
    – Bart
    Oct 30, 2012 at 22:30
  • Yes I did read FAQ. I genuinely want to know if people think it is wise to separate the sites and why. Oct 30, 2012 at 22:36
  • Admittedly, at the time of this post, I have only used stackoverflow 1 day and this is my first day on meta. Perhaps this question answers itself with time. But I would love to hear direct responses. Oct 30, 2012 at 22:39
  • Thank you for your down-votes. I hear you, and still I am trying to understand this site and the motivations of its users. I am both posting this and currently researching more as we speak. I did look prior to posting, so I feel it is a bit harsh to down-vote my legitimate question, but i respect your opinion. Oct 30, 2012 at 22:41
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    I asked if you read the FAQ because it would at least make you aware of the very different purposes. Meta was a later addition which initially met with significant opposition from the makers. Some of the links will provide some insight there. But besides all that it's not bad to have a separation of concerns. Let's the site be the site and let discussions about the site take place somewhere else. Don't muddy the waters to say. I don't know if I found it confusing initially and certainly wouldn't want to call it cool, but it seems rather clean to me now.
    – Bart
    Oct 30, 2012 at 22:43
  • Interesting Bart, thanks for your thoughts. Oct 30, 2012 at 22:44
  • Meta is a bit uptight about questions that already have been answered somewhere; it's nothing personal, it's just got to do with the great number of visitors and the frequency with which questions are asked over and over. It's a bit different from, say, a pub in that respect. Go through the material provided, the answer is in there.
    – Pekka
    Oct 30, 2012 at 22:46
  • After reading Bart's post on codinghorror, it appears I am not alone in this question. Oct 30, 2012 at 22:48
  • Has it been truly answered well? I am not so sure. Please, show me specifically where to look and I will respond. Oct 30, 2012 at 22:49
  • @user1783588 You realize that the author of Coding Horror, Jeff Atwood, is one of the creators of SO, right?
    – Bart
    Oct 30, 2012 at 22:50
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    @user1783588 Contrary to what you might have heard, we're almost like people. :p
    – Bart
    Oct 30, 2012 at 23:00
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    @Bart I'm almost people too. Oct 30, 2012 at 23:03

2 Answers 2


The philosophical reasons for having a Meta site are eloquently summarized here:

Listen to Your Community, But Don't Let Them Tell You What to Do

Meta is, of course, the place where you go to discuss the place. Take a moment and think about what that means. Meta is for people who care so deeply about their community that they're willing to go one step further, to come together and spend even more of their time deciding how to maintain and govern it.

  • Reading this is starting to convince me. Oct 30, 2012 at 22:52
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    @user1783588 And if you're looking for straightforward "why does Meta exist?" then it's because those kinds of questions should be asked but should not be asked on Stack Overflow.
    – Yawus
    Oct 31, 2012 at 1:29

To add to the existing answers, comments, and your own research, you should know that this is not just the meta for Stack Overflow, but also the 'meta-meta' for all Stack Exchange sites (there has been talk about creating a separate meta.stackexchange.com, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen any time soon).

(Nearly) every Stack Exchange site also has its own associated meta site. Just checking out some of the questions on the meta/main sites will quickly give you an idea what the difference is, and why it should be necessary.

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