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Why do we need the trilogy instead of just one site?

Why did you guys decide to arbitrarily partition off classes of questions into several disjoint websites? Wouldn't the tagging system have taken care of this automatically? IMO this was an absolutely terrible idea, because questions are far less likely to be answered if you have to bounce back and forth between several websites rather than having one centralized repository. Tagging questions appropriately is sufficient.


They didn't partition off classes of questions, they added new classes of questions. StackOverflow is and always has been about programming questions. Questions about hardware or software problems were never really in its purview. However, Jeff and company recognized that their Q&A platform could fill the same need in those areas -- especially considering the number of such questions incorrectly posted to SO. Thus, SF and SU were born to fill those niches.

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Because Jeff and Company didn't want to recreate Yahoo! Answers.

Edit: To be more detailed...StackOverflow started out only as a source for PROGRAMMING questions. The need/desire for questions pertaining to SysAdmins and Computer "Super Users" did not come around until well after StackOverflow as off the ground.

It made more sense to create new sites to cater to the new subject matter than to arbitrarily change SO's mission to fit. Sort of the opposite of Digg when they decided to become more than just Tech stuff and decided to let all the crap in.

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  • I have to disagree on the "it made more sense" bit. I still think it's a horrid idea, and will result in fewer people asking questions and finding answers than just sticking with the tagging system, especially when you get crossover questions that fall under both programming and sysadmin stuff, for example. – soapergem Sep 28 '09 at 20:09
  • Sorry if you disagree. I would much rather have a site stick to its original mission (in this case PROGRAMMING QUESTIONS) instead of modifying its mission every time you feel the need or desire to include more subject matter under the umbrella. – TheTXI Sep 28 '09 at 23:54

On the other hand, having too many questions on one site will make them hard to track. I find interesting questions now and then with tags I wouldn't have expected. Some people just won't get the hang of tags, and will find a mishmash of questions with nothing interesting. Nor can a tag system based on individual tag designation work perfectly.

Splitting into SO/SF/SU made it possible for people to just follow programming or system administration questions easily, without worrying about tags.

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Two (closely related) reasons:

  • The format worked so well that it made sense to "expand" the playing field by introducing more sites which were directly targeted at areas other than programming. SO was advertised and understood to be for programming-related questions only from the beginning. Other people wanted their technical, but not programming-related questions answered using the same system, so the idea for additional sites was proposed and adopted.
  • Segregating the the sites to directly address an area of interest, rather than agglomerating them together, distills pertinent information by target audience. This makes each of the sites more useful to those who read it. Individuals don't have to wade through Apache installation and usage information on SO when they are trying to program an Apache module, because the sites are segregated. Installation and usage questions go elsewhere and have the same benefit.
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