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Don't you think the explosion of the number of communities is fragmenting the space uselessly? Lately you don't even know if you need to send your question to Super User, Server Fault, or Unix & Linux.

Note: I agree with this: Too many Linux sites

Notably this fragmentation results in the creation of a lot of accounts, which thank god, is just one click away. But you end up with 101 reputation points everywhere. Also I'm not aware if search boxes do cross-community queries(?).

Another thing is the more questions that can belong to multiple communities, the more you lose the network effect.

I am not alone with this concern, and Robert Cartaino gives good hints about why fragmentation looks bad at first, but may have reasons to be accepted, in the article Unix and Ubuntu: Why Both? .

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    The main SE site search has always covered the whole network - they recently switched from google custom search to the same engine the network uses IIRC Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 3:46
  • @JourneymanGeek thanks. very nice. anyway it's not important because I always land on an SE site from an external google query. But still, when you write a question, you get similar looking questions listed automatically under the title. that's awesome. but not so much if it's a duplicate in another community no ?
    – v.oddou
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 3:48
  • Oh, I don't think anyone minds accidental cross site dupes. Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 3:54
  • also, related meta.stackexchange.com/questions/306974/… though I'm waffling on the dupe vote. Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 4:04
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    What is the actual question here?
    – Werner
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 5:52
  • There is cross-site search: stackexchange.com/search?q=unix but not when asking a question.
    – rene
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 6:56

2 Answers 2

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Kind of sort of. There's some confusion and dilution of talent with many small overlapping communities.

On the other hand smaller communities are easier to manage, often develop their own expertise and regulars - and as such, they're often healthy.

New communities are not a zero sum game.

I've found there's significantly different folks on Super User, Unix and Linux (which is sometimes better for slightly deeper technical questions), and Server Fault. It's always handy to get to know the community before asking questions.

A slightly controversial opinion I have is basically there's a point where moderation tools don't scale. SuperUser manages on about half a dozen mods and people popping in whenever and dealing with things.

Stack Overflow has 20 and a pretty full stack of flags and other things to handle.

A small community you know well is more likely to get you an answer and not have the same problems as a bigger one. Its also likely to be friendlier and less intimidating.

Its also worth considering with a cursory look at Area 51, that we aren't really getting any new general computing sites. Most proposals in beta right now are either topics not well covered by other sites (devops is as much about process as anything else IMO, but is one exception) or various blockchain/cryptocurrency related sites

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  • Oh I see, I forgot about Area 51, but there you have it: this very thing is the driving force into the multiplication we're witnessing, maybe the cause itself. I consider this answers my question best. Also, the moderation argument: I had a suspicion it could be another driving force.
    – v.oddou
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 5:58
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"Linux" is one particular type of question where there's a lot of overlap on various different sites, but even then, there's a lot of nuance about the sites accepting Linux questions that you can learn to determine which place to ask:

  • If it's about Ubuntu or derivatives, ask it on Ask Ubuntu.
  • If it's about professional/enterprise-grade hardware on Linux, and you're working in a professional/enterprise environment, ask it on Server Fault.
  • If it's about commands or utilities that are commonly available on most UNIX derivatives (i.e., not especially Linux-specific) and, preferably, involves scripting or the command line interface, ask it on Unix.StackExchange.
  • If the question is being asked from the perspective of an end-user (or for all other types of questions related to Linux), ask it on Super User.

Doesn't seem that hard to get a gist of where a Linux question should go, and that particular topic is one of the worst cases for site overlap.

Other question topics are far less ambiguous about where you should ask them. If you have a question about the English language, ask it on English.StackExchange. If you have a question about an Apple product, ask it on Ask Different. If you have a question about cooking, ask it on Seasoned Advice. Etc.

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    There's two english sites - ELU and ELL ;p Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 4:04
  • Very fair. You're right that we can fine-tune the choice, but the level is becoming too fine grained, is my complaint. Ok, another thing I'm glad to hear is that you think that this particular example is one of the worst case. I had the feeling it was a bit endemic, in the past months I have been clicking on "create this account" many more times than in my entire 6 years history here.
    – v.oddou
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 6:01
  • Of course things get tricky when you talk about Android. Android devices have their own SE website, unless your talking about them being connected to a PC, then you fall back to SU, Ask Ubuntu, and possibly SF
    – Ramhound
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 13:46

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