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I went through the list of SE sites and counted every one which seems to be related to programming. By my count, 40 of the 125 sites - 32 percent - relate to programming or some sort of computing technology. This is probably an inaccurate count and you're welcome to disagree with individual examples, but it seems clear that SE has a focus on programming and computing.

I'm curious as to why this is the case, especially why SE has many websites dedicated to individual technologies like Arduino, Tor and SharePoint, which seems to be very localised. And there are many proposals that are far more holistic and broadly applicable than some of the websites in this list (Economics, LGBT+ and Korean for example.)

Note that I'm not necessarily complaining that SE has a computing focus. I'm more interested in why this is the case, if there is any reason at all. Did Jeff et al. have this goal in mind when creating the SE network? Or is it because the plurality of users on Area 51 are more interested in computing/programming topics?

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  • Nb: I am aware of this question, but the OP here was objecting about the specificity of SE sites, not discussing the programming focus.
    – Lou
    Jul 14, 2014 at 11:30
  • It all began with Stack Overflow, so programming has always been at the core of the network. See also Which came first, Stack Overflow or Stack Exchange? Jul 14, 2014 at 11:32
  • Okay. So you think it's more a matter of the network's intrinsic design than community or administrator actions?
    – Lou
    Jul 14, 2014 at 11:37
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    Well, programmers tend to propose programming related sites, it's quite natural. Also, it's easier to keep professional in a programming related site, other sites tend to "try too hard" and fail, latest is the dating/relationships site which reached private beta and died due to trying too hard to fit Stack Exchange rules. Jul 14, 2014 at 11:38
  • Okay, that's interesting. You seem to suggest that non-programming topics - and their followers - can't be professional (don't read this comment in an irritated or argumentative tone, I'm simply trying to understand your perspective.)
    – Lou
    Jul 14, 2014 at 11:39
  • @LeoKing not at all, just saying it's harder to keep the "Stack Exchange spirit", as I call it. Jul 14, 2014 at 11:41
  • Some non programming sites are a success, e.g. cooking, gaming, travel and probably many more. Jul 14, 2014 at 11:41
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    @Leo - it isn't about professionalism. It is about the possibility of being subjective. Some topics are simply less so than others.
    – Oded
    Jul 14, 2014 at 11:42
  • Whether non-programming sites have a harder time with professionalism and the "spirit" would be an interesting discussion question. Lots more to say on that I'm sure... Jul 14, 2014 at 11:42
  • @Nick, it certainly would. May I take this dance?
    – Lou
    Jul 14, 2014 at 11:44
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    Let me point out that you are using some kind of computer to get here, so why not talk about how it all works?
    – SDsolar
    May 7, 2018 at 1:39
  • What is Tridion? Yet another CMS you have never ever heard of? ExpressionEngine is another example. Jan 20 at 18:42

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The first and largest site (by a long long way) was/is Stack Overflow, which is a programming Q&A site. It is pretty much the go-to site for most programmers when they have a question.

After it got established, Server Fault and Super User were created, both of which are of technical nature.

A while after that, the notion of creating more communities, as suggested by people came up, with area 51 being the result - this is a site where Stack Exchange sites proposals are made and if they gain enough support, a site will launch.

Now, with Stack Overflow being the place where most network users found out about the Stack Exchange network and area 51, it is not surprising that many suggested sites/topics were and still are of programming nature.

In most of the Stack Exchange sites the proportion of programmers is quite large as result of the historical first that Stack Overflow was and the success it has seen in the programming community.


There are also some topics that are inherently unsuitable/more difficult for Stack Exchange sites - the expectation that there is an objective right answer just doesn't work in certain categories.

Some other topics simply don't have enough real life issues/problems to support a site/community. For example, we had 3 or 4 different attempts at AI sites - though a popular topic, turns out not that many people are actually doing it. Not enough for a thriving site, at any rate.

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  • The example in the last paragraph was surely fine in 2014, but it has become outdated in between. Since 2016, there is ai.stackexchange.com, and it has >12K questions today. As we all know, AI has become a lot more popular over the last years.
    – Doc Brown
    Jan 20 at 7:23

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