Changes have been announced to how Area 51 works in the future. Robert describes how the goal is to bring an existing and active community to Area 51 and start building their new Stack Exchange site, not to start the community building process at Area 51. I left a comment there, but I think the matter is worth more elaboration.

If I can't start building the community at Area 51, where and how could I create a community that I could bring there? There typically is no pre-existing community. And even if there was, it's hard to start building a Q&A community if we first have to get somehow magically organized before we can come to Area 51 and even propose having a Q&A site. If nothing else, it would be useful to have some hints or suggestions to start building a community — and know whether the SE network wants to be a part of that early stage.

For example, I am a Finn and I would much like to see a site for Finnish language (currently in definition at Area 51). I am not interested in starting just any online community concerning the Finnish language, but a Q&A site at SE. It's hard to find followers if I can't show them something they can act on.

As I understand from the announcement, this aspect of community building is outside the scope of Area 51. Therefore I brought this up here on the general meta. My point is not to rant but to make clear what I do not understand about the new site building process; I genuinely don't know how the system is supposed to work at the very beginning.

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    I was wondering exactly this - not only do you have to find a pre-existing community, but one in which half the people are already active SE users to get the 200 committers, 100 of whom are 200+rep users.
    – Nick C
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 14:54
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    @NickC Exactly. If the pre-existing community has to contain so many experienced stack exchangers, wouldn't it be natural to have the whole thing start somewhere within SE? Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 15:15

4 Answers 4


If you don't have the community already, getting the proposal through and building a site would be impossible.

A few communities actually started off as their own Q&A sites - two of our Russian sites for example. Others already had a community - Operations Research comes to mind, and they also had a Q&A site earlier.

If you need to look for a community, you're not there. If you know a community for the subject - say Reddit, or forums, or preexisting Q&A sites which could benefit from being under the SE umbrella - that's the place to start.

The work isn't in finding 200 people interested in a subject. It's to know a place with N people with a enough people interested in a Stack Exchange Q&A site, and hopefully being able to also draw experienced folks from other sites on the network to help with mechanics.

So you might be starting at the wrong point. The community follows the site, not vice versa. Your specific case - a language site may have other roadblocks like SE not doing language sites at the moment, but that's an answer to another question.


Maybe this question should be asked on https://communitybuilding.stackexchange.com/

From their tour page

Community Building Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for community managers, administrators, members, leaders, moderators, and sociologists. It's built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about building, administering, managing and cultivating online and offline communities.


  • Thanks! That's certainly a worthwhile resource, in particular because some of the interested users can be found on that very site. The specific linked question does not answer the question asked here, though. Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 16:06
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    @JoonasIlmavirta: I'm glad that you find this helpful. Regarding the first related question, the current answer looks to be obsolete. Anyway, I added another link.
    – Rubén
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 16:11
  • While these links may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the links for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked pages change. Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 13:45

There is always a community for something, somewhere, and if your site proposal is about something so rare and uncommon that only few people know about it, you don't have a chance for such a site to launch anyway.

In the past the advise was "bring family, friends, post on your social media, etc" - this is not enough anymore though, based on Robert's post, since a strong user base (100+ people or so) is required in advance, and most people don't have so many friends and family they can bring.

So what I'd do is look for existing community, e.g. even Google, find my way inside that community and become part of it, then ask them to support my proposal on Area 51.

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    Why is bringing in friends and family no longer valid?
    – Laurel
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 17:08
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    @Laurel maybe "valid" is wrong word. More like "won't do any good anymore", because very few people have 100+ family members and/or friends they can bring. So they can bring them as "extra", but not rely on them alone. Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 20:22

I cannot speak to your example of a Finnish language site, and so I will use one from the GIS Stack Exchange where I participate as an engaged user and moderator.

The GIS Tour says that:

Geographic Information Systems is a question and answer site for people interested in GIS, Remote Sensing, Photogrammetry, Geodesy and Surveying

While the majority of our users are GIS professionals with little interest in Remote Sensing, we have some that span both disciplines, and a large sub-community of Remote Sensing (RS) professionals. Over the years they have tried to get Area 51 proposals up for a separate site on at least two occasions.

I could easily envisage them, at some time in the future trying again to "secede" from us and the way for that to sensibly happen might be for them to ask a Meta GIS SE question like "Is it time for Remote Sensing SE to launch, and would you commit to it?"

I imagine that an answer saying Yes, with a hundred votes would be the type of proposal that would meet the new Area 51 criteria.

How to migrate old questions to a new graduated site seems to have been about the calving of the Mathematica Stack Exchange from Stack Overflow using a similar mechanism and a mass migration of Q&As to kick the new site along.

  • Recruiting people from existing SE site is interesting idea, but there's also risk the new proposed site will be closed as duplicate of the existing site, no? Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 13:08
  • @ShadowWizard I think a few posts at the Meta of the existing site should be used to establish that there is a sizable sub-community that wants to bud off and that the existing community respects that choice. Perhaps SE could even move a subset of the community's existing questions that are agreed to be those of the sub-community to the new community.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 20:06
  • Did such thing ever happen though? Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 20:25
  • @ShadowWizard there's no example that I can cite but I think the possibility of cleaving a site has been mentioned or alluded to before.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 20:28
  • @ShadowWizard a post related to the example potential future site split of Remote Sensing from GIS is at gis.meta.stackexchange.com/a/4027/115
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 20:39
  • Thanks, but looks like it wasn't going anywhere... Commented May 1, 2018 at 7:13
  • @ShadowWizard Mathematica appears to have been calved out of Stack Overflow: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/152597/… (Adam Lear talks about mass migration of questions).
    – PolyGeo
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 7:35
  • I think it was migration from SE 1.0 site or even some external forum, not Stack Overflow. But anyway, you can say that all other trilogy sites were "calved out" of Stack Overflow, which was the first. :) Commented May 1, 2018 at 7:36

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