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Edit: Follow up question, concerning only the browsing feature: Improved Question Browsing & UI

I think it makes sense to improve cross community interaction!

One half of this would be to implement a way to have a single question shared by multiple communities (which was discussed some time ago: Allow cross-posting of questions to more than one SO site).

For example on a security related question about macos the following sites all overlap (depending on the specific question) but on SO there are 30 to 1 as many users (or worse).

  • SO (6,000,000 users)
  • Apple.se (153,000)
  • Security.se (106,000)
  • Crypto.se (31,000)
  • Unix.se (188,000)

Looking at those numbers, as a question asker to get the best results it seems to make sense to post your question on SO rather than on any of the others.

My guess is that this relation only grows in numbers over time.

The other half would be to implement a way to browse questions from multiple communities.

As a question answerer, who in my case is a programmer (SO) that mostly works on mac (Apple.se, Unix.se) and is interested in Security & Cryptography I have to browse all 5 sites for questions that I can answer.

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    While various different questions about macos could be on topic on each of those sites, the same question wouldn't be on topic on all of those sites. If it's a question about how to solve a specific programming problem it wouldn't be on topic on Security, even if the problem being solved is related to security. If it's asking a security question then it would cease to be a programming problem. While there is some overlap between sites, by design there isn't much. If there was a lot of overlap, it's a sign that a site has a problem with their scope.
    – Servy
    Mar 3 '17 at 16:31
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    Tbh, the biggest improvement I can think of would be making the stackexchange.com filters page more prominent on all the other sites. I always felt like that tool was pretty underappreciated. I kind of feel like not a lot of people know about it, too. Exposure would give it more use, and more use would give it more feature requests and ideally more work done to improve it.
    – Jason C
    Mar 3 '17 at 21:38
  • I agree, you should create a feature request.
    – John Smith
    Mar 3 '17 at 21:48
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The first part, cross posting of questions, is unrealistic. Different sites have different norms and expectations of questions. Even if the same topic is on-topic on multiple sites (which happens - I can identify more than a handful of overlap between various sites), what makes a good question is going to be different. It seems like it would be a poor user experience to allow blindly cross posting to different sites without forcing to user to consider what communities they are targeting and what the expectations are.

The second half makes sense to me. I would like to have better cross-site browsing. As an expert, things in my area of expertise are posted on multiple sites. However, just saying "implement a way to browse questions from multiple communities" isn't really a tangible idea. I think that this high level feature is something that we should have, but it's not sufficiently well defined in its current form.

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I just realised (thanks to @ThomasOwens) cross site browsing might actually be the key to both problems! Browsing in general might be improved. Something along the lines:

Select multiple tags from multiple sites and then what you want new/unanswered/featured...

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It's really not unusual for a person to be active on multiple sites at once, and if you find a few sites that you are interested in answering questions on, this is the real way to address the situation you are describing.

Nothing precludes users from being active on multiple sites, so the cross-community posting thing is somewhat moot. Also, you can view incoming questions on multiple sites at once at https://stackexchange.com/filters. It may not be 100% ideal, but it is effective, and has good filtering capabilities:

enter image description here

Features lacking from that page may warrant feature requests here.

Note also that the question lists all have associated RSS feeds, which means you can use your favorite feed reader to get notified about questions you are interested answering as well.

This basically means the capability essentially already exists, except the visual theme of the question is different depending on the URL that was in the address bar when the person entered a question.

I agree with all the other concerns stated elsewhere here regarding allowing cross-site posts. I'm not even sure how that would be handled wrt. privileges, review queues, reputation, and all the other nitty gritty that would be involved in something like that.


As an aside, if you ever make any userscript-based improvements to that page, or any page for that matter, you can share them over at https://stackapps.com/.

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The first part is a hugely bad idea. It may indeed reduce the effort and improve the response time for questions.. right up to the time that the skilled and experienced users who regularly answer questions realize that they are often working in parallel on the same question and so a large proportion their efforts are going to waste.

Those users then find a more satisfying way of filling up their free time than answering on SE.

There is already a huge amount of utter garbage on many sites/tags. Any measure that allows cross-sewage must not be implemented.

Wouldn't it 'be nice' if, for once, those users who ask questions would think about those who answer them, intead of merely 'I WANT MY ANSWER NOW AND I DONT CARE HOW I GET IT'!

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  • This feature request was intended to reduce work in parallel, because a single question will indeed be the same question in multiple networks, with the same answers. You cannot work on them in parallel if they are the identical question! But as you might have guessed from my own answer there is a better way to achieve the goal behind it: Allow question answerers to browse cross-site.
    – John Smith
    Mar 3 '17 at 20:14
  • I do not like the notion of you implying that I made this feature request out of purely egoistical concerns. What is with that pessimistic view? I am merely trying to add value to SE both for those asking and answering. Why do you think there are two parts? I just didn't realize before that the second part also is the answer to the first ;-)
    – John Smith
    Mar 3 '17 at 20:17
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    'What is with that pessimistic view?' - sadly, experience :( The browsing idea sounds reasonable, so I upvoted it:) Mar 3 '17 at 20:33

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