I have a proposal at Area 51: http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/85/gardening-and-farming-organically

This is about fundamentally about gardening organically. There is some speculation that this could be merged with the proposal for gardening as gardening is simply the broader version. I have a big problem with this. Gardening involves many activities to which organic gardening is diametrically opposed - spraying herbicides and pesticides for example. To be clear about this my proposal is linked to a preexisting Stack Exchange site, http://organicgreenfingers.com. This is an "organic gardening" web site not a "gardening without attention to organic principles" web site.

I have no issue if the "gardening" proposal wins and the "organic gardening" one doesn't but the idea that they could be merged is frankly offensive.

Take the following analogy - my proposal is for those interested in "nuclear disarmament". AHA - why not include all nuclear related issues including the best power stations, how best to kill with nuclear weapons or give people radiations burns. This is just the broader topic after all. Obviously there are at least two issues here - the latter proposal contains issues that are offensive to the former and a community can't be built around this topic.

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    I think your analogy is poor, but I agree with the principle Commented Jun 2, 2010 at 10:38
  • I don't see exactly how a "how to take care of this flower" is offensive to "how to grow this plant". I can understand these are different things, but I don't see them incompatible. In the end, it's about things that grow in the ground. An analogy would be that Windows and Mac are completely opposed things (and communities, often), but both are still about computers, and questions about them are suited on Super User, for example. I just don't fully understand your "offensive" point
    – Gnoupi
    Commented Jun 2, 2010 at 11:14
  • I accept that the analogy is an extreme one. The point is that discussion about the best way to kill pests with harmful chemicals (amongst other gardening topics) is offensive, or at least distasteful, to the organic gardener. Commented Jun 2, 2010 at 11:41
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    @Ciaran - you can have both, as long as you make it clear and tag properly, in my opinion. But what do I know.
    – Gnoupi
    Commented Jun 2, 2010 at 11:54
  • A better analogy is to take a proposal on "vegetarian cookery", a good clear niche around which you can build a community and merge it with "cookery" which is just a catch-all in my view. Similar arguments of, ahem, distaste from the "sub group" would apply :-) Commented Jun 2, 2010 at 13:31
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    @Ciaran - better analogy, but just because you don't want to use animal product doesn't mean you can't talk "cooking" with people eating meat. Just like not wanting to use harmful chemical prevents you from exchanging gardening advices with someone who does. It's a matter of personal tolerance.
    – Gnoupi
    Commented Jun 2, 2010 at 16:41
  • Why not use tags to separate the different philosophies inside one overall gardening proposal? Works great on stackoverflow, and you get a larger user base.
    – Dan
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 7:12

4 Answers 4


The majority of questions on gardening, organic or otherwise, would not be...

Hey I need some DDT for my garden. For some stupid reason it is illegal in the US, probably because of liberal hippies. Anyway, does anybody have a good source in southern California ?

A question about preferred chemical pesticides and the like could be answered with some version of...

I don't use any chemical pesticides...so I can only suggest some organic (non-synthetic) options. I think you will find they work much better than the synthetics. They certainly do for me...

  • Option A
  • Option B
  • etc.

...as a bonus you'd be helping keep the environment free of questionable chemicals. Remember, it took decades before the harmful, extremely harmful, effects of DDT became known. I would hate to find out, in 10 or 20 years, the same is true for newer chemicals...that would suck.

"...the idea that they could be merged is frankly offensive..."

This statement fundamentally political. If questions that don't fit some definition of "organic" are going to be deemed offensive, treated with scorn and ridicule, the OP considered "The Enemy"... then you'd have a political protest site. Not that it's a bad thing..You'd just better make sure the charter/FAQ explains this clearly.

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    "Offensive" is a bit strong, I have been having a hard day - I DO believe it is a bad idea. Secondly can't I propose a site about a well defined pastime without being accused of political protest? Commented Jun 2, 2010 at 13:39
  • @Ciaran Proposing an organic gardening site isn't bad; saying you're offended at the notion it could be merged into gardening as a whole is a bit silly. Maybe it should be separate, but taking offense at discussing it makes it sound like you're saying "how dare you sully the good name of my organic gardening techniques with your non-organic heathen ways" Commented Jun 2, 2010 at 15:04
  • HI Michael I am not offended at discussing it - I don't think it is a good idea is all. There is a huge difference in gardening according to organic principles (or even trying to) and gardening without them. I don't think the two sit well together or would form a lasting community. Commented Jun 3, 2010 at 6:51
  • To be clear about this - my proposal is linked to a pre-existing SE site organicgreenfingers.com . This is an "organic gardening" web site not a "gardening without attention to organic principles" web site. Commented Jun 3, 2010 at 7:15
  • @Ciaran "...according to organic principles..." I think you might be on to something. If you qualified the site charter as "Organic Gardening: Principles and practice." then your argument is sound. The idea of "organic principles" makes the question of merging with plan old gardening a non-starter.
    – Rusty
    Commented Jun 3, 2010 at 13:12

I think the best way for this to be handled is to have rival proposals and see which one comes out on top.

There are clearly two schools of thought developing. One believes that a narrower, more focused site is the way to go, whilst the other is convinced that a broader site should take care of everything.

I think there that a natural balance between the two needs to be found. How this will happen in reality is anyone's guess.


The question here is whether Jeff and Company want to facilitate attempts to create ... well ... 'Walled Gardens.' On the main trilogy, they do encourage a broad conception of the topic boundaries, but generally refuse to get dragged into any attempt to draw tight, sharp, boundaries. You clearly believe that organic gardening is completely inimical to the alternative. Others may feel that the question is relatively gray, and see distinctions of degree in various gardening practices. I think that you will fail to create an ideological litmus test for one of these communities. You can't just 'weed out' everyone who disagrees with you. Well, OK, you could try, by binning and banning, but it will depend on the existence of a very large group who agrees with you, and perhaps also on the existence of another, more relaxed, site that attracts the people you don't want.

If you can't grow a thicker seed-pod, you might be better off using some other platform and ruthlessly screening who gets to put down roots in it.

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    Of course there are distinctions of degree in various gardening practices and I am not proposing a site than needs a "thought police", just one with a certain main thrust. The danger with the proposal process is that every topic (except maybe 1) is a subset of another topic. We can end up with people creating every more general proposals which may be more attractive to Stackoverflow users but that don't lend themselves to a community that end users of the site want to be part of. Let's hope that sense prevails. Commented Jun 2, 2010 at 13:27

This is starting to look a lot like a dupe of this question: How should we handle duplicate proposals on area51?

Where the site proposal participants on two sites clearly have the same basic audience in mind, I think a merge might make sense, and the tools exist.

But when the groups have a legitimate difference in interests, it needn't (and shouldn't) turn into a battle of wills. Overmerging of two (or more) unwilling groups just means watching a proposal get re-edited every 5 minutes until the name calling starts in the comments.

It's clear that @Ciaran and his Organic Gardening community are more personally committed to the organic aspect than the gardening one. I'd guess that they'd rather discuss organic laundry than commercial farming.

While others have pointed out that they don't own the proposal, forcing a merge here doesn't make a ton of sense to me, any more than it would make sense to force "Gamers" into a "Leisure Activities" site that includes reading. Maybe it's good for them, but they're not going to stay, because books don't let them get fragged by European adolescents online, and that's what they're interested in asking questions about. (If you're interested in questions about dangling prepositions like that one, check out the Language Proposal.)

The organic group is really about organicness (organicity?), not gardening, and it will be big enough to stand on its own, or it won't.

  • The only real objection I have is to a forced merge. I believe that the two proposal have merit but I do think the "gardening" is just too wide a subject matter to build a community around. I am interested in gardening and I do so organically. Gardening is a hobby, interest or profession and doing this organically is a method. I do not think that it makes sense to create a proposal for organicness or organicity. Commented Jun 3, 2010 at 8:25

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