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While the most recent round of changes were meant to improve the chances of successful site proposals, I feel it's useful to revisit it.

We're past the point of rapid growth in site numbers - and a significant number of new sites seem to be related to cryptocurrency. While I'm not going to comment on the viability of these sites - to some extent, the current model tends to encourage specialised sites, with knowledge siloed out, and generally there's a lower chance of more generalist sites.

Fundamentally - our current model encourages niche sites (and from the occasional attempts at bootstrapping sites with puppet accounts - there's still a certain cachet to having a SE site), and there's a certain difficulty/unwillingness to propose more general sites - which might lead to both more quality Q&A as well as broader reach.

In some cases - the viability of a specialist site might not be dependent on interest - Windows Phone is currently a ghost town, not due to lack of enthusiasm by its fans, but rather because the parent company of the product killed it off. A more general site might be better for these.

While its a little late for a grand unified cryptocurrency or mobile-tech site - I wonder if there's areas of interest to the tech/SE community that we're not covering and if we could work out ways to build viable sites. Things like smart TVs and other appliances don't really have good homes on the network, and we're in an age where people might want to work out why their washing machine is uploading a gig of data a day.

For niche topics - at this point nearly anyone can spin up a small/private Q&A instance via Teams - could a viable site be proof of concepted there? While there's no migration, it would still prove the viability and show what sort of questions/scope might work.

Fundamentally - could the company and community identify generalist topics we can build new communities around - and figure out ways to cluster and direct niche communities to existing/shared resources to better meet their needs?

In a sense - could we change our model of community creation from staking a claim to building planned communities to help fill gaps in support?

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    "Things like smart TVs and other appliances don't really have good homes on the network" - iot.stackexchange.com? – DavidPostill Apr 22 at 7:01
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    Or hypotheically similar thing. Now I need a new example grumble – Journeyman Geek Apr 22 at 7:04
  • @JourneymanGeek Juggling, conjuring, interpretive dance, acting, Hindu & Urdu languages (as opposed to be subsumed within Hinduism)? – Snow Apr 22 at 11:01
  • Not all on the same site I hope! – Journeyman Geek Apr 22 at 11:14
  • Everyone has their niche! – Snow Apr 22 at 11:31
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    Might be nice if we could... I wonder if it's possible though. One random pitfall would be that when you group things together on a more generalist site, a site eventually develops a reputation of being a site where only the generalist questions, about what all those niche things have in common, are welcome, or where the name is misleading. E.g. technical writing questions that can go on Writing, not many people seem to realize that due to the volume of story-writing questions on it, or Medical Sciences before their rename. – Tinkeringbell Apr 22 at 12:14
  • JG: "... be proof of concepted there? While there's no migration ...", someone wanted migration; but as it fell to -10 the question was deleted. – Rob Apr 22 at 12:32
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    I really like this sentiment. In theory, a more generalist site would be applicable/ enticing to more people, and thus gain more support and involvement... but obviously it isn't this simple in practice. I guess another pitfall might be maintaining the right amount of focus within a generalist site; there might be a tendency to trend towards having too large a scope, which could potentially come to encompass too much to be maintainable. – zcoop98 Apr 22 at 20:16
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    Which is what an answer is about - very much considering how 'specialised' a site could be and working out a sustainable level of generalisation. – Journeyman Geek Apr 23 at 0:45
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    On the current system, a site follows a community. So a generalist site could only work if there's a generalized community supporting it. – Mast Apr 23 at 15:23
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    Well - if there's a topic that could be a good fit, but is underserved - there used to be a willingness to start sites for them. Curated sites as needed are a flipside of the proposal. – Journeyman Geek Apr 23 at 15:35
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I think your idea of using Teams to trial proposed sites is a good one. Initially, someone wanting a particular new site could start a Team and have up to 49 others join it at no cost or SE company effort. That could become (an option for) the Definition phase of the Timeline of a Stack Exchange site.

I think "right-sizing" any new sites is well worth the discussion. I have been surprised by the number of sites related to the flavors of cryptocurrency and would favor new sites being less granular than those.

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    It would certainly be a 'low' stress way to build a core community and demonstrate an idea works – Journeyman Geek Apr 23 at 4:12
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    Specifically with the crypto example, it's possible that having a more general site would've avoided the death of at least one specific-crypto site... and probably more in the future, since there's 7 active in that space right now, and at least 2 defunct. Bitcoin.SE tried to have a broader scope, but shrunk it a few years in to just Bitcoin. – zcoop98 Apr 23 at 13:53
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    The specific issue Bitcoin.SE ran into is that their community was open to general crypto discussion, but built around BC specifically. This meant that BC questions got lots of attention, while general Q's did not... So they tightened scope, which made sense for them. There have been talks on A51.SE about a general crypto site for years, but never one fully realized. – zcoop98 Apr 23 at 13:58
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Sorry for going on a little bit of a tangent, but I wanted to bring focus to a specific detail of your post, where you mention using Teams as a tool for creating a community proof-of-concept– I think this is absolutely an idea worth exploring. A Teams-esque model might be usable for building the community that's needed to sustain a new site, which is something that the current Area 51 model is not designed to do.

In the comments of the Area 51 changes post you linked, there's a comment to this regard:

It would be helpful to have answers or suggestions to the inevitable question: If I can't start building the community at Area 51, where and how could I create a community that I could bring here? This is a non-trivial question, as there typically is no sufficient pre-existing online community for the subject. – Joonas Ilmavirta

The same sentiment is echoed further down, on the top answer of that post by @curiousdannii (some emphasis mine):

I think it's interesting that Robert's post above focus so much on communities - the idea that a site proposal should be made with an existing community in mind is new to me, and none of the site launches I've been part of really had a true community before the site launched.

Fundamentally this is a problem because nothing in Area 51 is set up to foster community development. On launched sites communities develop through the Q&A process. But Area 51 is deliberately not a place where questions actually get answered. And you can't really use the Area 51 Discussion Zone to build a community either. [. . .]

The current model is built around bringing a community to Stack Exchange, rather than building it here. Teams, or something similar tailored for this purpose, could possibly fill this gap, which would be a huge deal, because it would allow new-site communities to be built and "trialed" on a platform that's already inside the Stack Exchange ecosystem, something that isn't currently practical on Area 51, or elsewhere on the Network. It would also help alleviate the disconnect between the fact that Area 51 provides no tools for community-building, but also requires a community to be built on a new site in order for it to succeed long-term.

Related to the thoughts here:

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