I have seen users with more reputation than me using "SO" instead "Stack Overflow" while asking questions in Meta Stack Exchange.

Yesterday I asked a question in Meta Stack Exchange. The question is Logout from every computer I've logged in. I got answer for that question.

My question was edited three times. The first line in my question was,

I know how to logout of SO, what...

It was first edited by Sha Wiz Dow Ard and changed to

I know how to logout of SO Stack Overflow, what...

Then later ale edited it into

I know how to logout of Stack Overflow SO, but what...

Then finnally by Peter Mortensen into

I know how to logout log out of SO Stack Overflow, but what...

So I am really confused here. When asking questions regarding Stack Overflow should I use "SO" or "Stack Overflow"?

  • 5
    FWIW, Peter Mortensen is very rarely wrong in his extremely numerous edits. Sep 7 '17 at 4:31
  • 4
    The edits are pretty close together (they're about 2 minutes apart), so IIRC it's possible that they were making edits at the same time and ale's edit ended up overriding Sha's. There are some checks to prevent that... but I believe they try to compare the changes and preserve the more substantial one, and these look pretty similar? I don't recall off the top of my head exactly how that works. Anyway, I think PolyGeo's answer is on point in the general case, I just figured I'd mention this possibility.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Sep 7 '17 at 5:12
  • @Adam that is correct, we do see a banner "this post has been edited, your edit will be submitted only if more substantial than other edit" or something like that. Pretty sure there's no merge mechanism in place. :) Sep 7 '17 at 6:14
  • Yeah, Sha and I were editing around the same time. Once I noticed I just stopped and moved on to other things. Not an edit war.
    – ale
    Sep 7 '17 at 12:34

Other answers here are correct, I just want to clear a confusion caused here.

Then later ale edited it into

I know how to logout of Stack Overflow SO, but what...

That is not true. ale did not explicitly edit, but rather it was an edit conflict. That's what happened:

  1. I pressed the "edit" link and started editing.
  2. While I was editing, ale pressed the "edit" link and started editing. Note he was editing the original post.
  3. I submitted my edit, where "SO" became "Stack Overflow", and other changes.
  4. ale submitted his edit, where he simply forgot/did not change "SO" to "Stack Overflow", so the "SO" part was still there.
  5. ale's edit "overwrote" my edit since we both have full edit privileges and his edit was more substantial. My edit was essentially lost. The similar parts are just coincidence, parts we both edited the same.

When asking questions here at Meta Stack Exchange I think it is best to spell out the names of Stack Exchange sites, including Stack Overflow.

Consequently, while I might turn a blind eye to SO because it is a very well known abbreviation here, I do not think that it should ever be "corrected" from Stack Overflow to SO.


The abbreviations are fine if you're someone familiar with the sites. SU, SF, SO, AU, SA, AD, RA, MSE and other abbreviations are fine with an audience familiar with the sites or chatrooms, but for a general audience they can get confusing - I've used all these on chat or meta in the past, and I'm sure very few would get all of them.

So, as far as meta.stackexchange goes, it is a great idea to spell out full names for sites or even chatrooms.

Considering the rule of thumb for edits are to make things better, and to respect the author's intent, I don't think there's anything wrong with editing short names to full names for sites.

  • 2
    This the OP's confusion here is why one user edited it into the long name, then other user edited it back to short name. My answer tries to clear this up. :-) Sep 7 '17 at 6:13
  • Just curious: what do SA and RA stand for? Sep 7 '17 at 11:16
  • 2
    Seasoned Advice aka cooking.se and root access -Super User's main room. Both picked for relative obscurity
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Sep 7 '17 at 11:19
  • How about AU and AD?
    – Scimonster
    Sep 7 '17 at 11:34
  • Ask Ubuntu and Ask Different
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Sep 7 '17 at 11:35

Extending the other answers, these abbreviations can be also misleading. For example, PSE means "Physics Stack Exchange" on the Physics Stack Exchange, but it means Programmers Stack Exchange (which is the old name of the Software Engineering Stack Exchange) on the Softwareengineering SE.

On the Meta Stack Exchange (here), it depends.

Also SE can mean the Stack Exchange company hosting our pretty Q&A sites (example sentence: "The SE seems to avoid major changes in the A51 code base"). And also it can mean the Stack Exchange Network (which is the collection of the sites hosted by the Company).

Sometimes people doesn't really like these abbreviations. I think it is a minor issue, best is letting them do, as they wish.

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