Update 2:

It looks like this is finally getting addressed (see The future of meta.stackoverflow and meta.stackexchange) - I'm quite happy that Jeff has reconsidered this indeed as envisioned in his answer back in July 2010, and will accept it accordingly, once the decision is final, i.e. the discussion has settled a bit :)

Update 1:

While analyzing the count of remaining questions tagged superuser (67 vs. ~295 migrated), serverfault (69 vs. ~110 migrated) or stackoverflow (1517 vs. 12873 total) I just found the question Will the StackExchange meta site behaviour be backported to the trilogy?, and Robert Cartainos answer at least touches part of the topic regarding naming implications when referring to Stack Overflow Inc. vs. Stack Exchange Network/sites.

While this backs my assumption of the subject matter being decided finally for somewhat personal reasons already (though the phrase For now implies here's hoping ;) I'll still keep the question and arguments below as they are addressing the topic in particular and from a different angle after Jeffs considerations have fortunately materialized for Server Fault and Super User at least.

I really applaud your recent announcement to have per-site Metas from now on for Super User and Server Fault too, as well as migrating lots of questions from here over there accordingly already.

Now, I'm pretty sure you have thought this through several times already (haven't found any recent discussion of this though) and are in fact explaining why your are not doing the same for Stack Overflow itself:

For now we are leaving meta.stackoverflow.com grandfathered in, as-is, with no changes; it’s still a standalone community with a standalone reputation system. We think Stack Overflow is large enough to justify this, and it just so happens that Stack Overflow is also the name of the company, too. Meta Stack Overflow will serve as the “National Capital” where we process feedback not just for Stack Overflow but for the core engine itself — while the smaller meta sites are akin to regional or state capitals.

These arguments are understandable and justified regarding having a “National Capital” where we process feedback [...] for the core engine itself as such, and having a standalone community with a standalone reputation system for this very purpose is probably just fine and not the issue here.

However, I still don't get why this means keeping this lone inconsistency and staying at odds with the Principle of least astonishment for all future users of the Stack Exchange Network (and we all hope there will be millions, aren't we?) by sticking to meta.stackoverflow.com rather than making the obvious switch to meta.stackexchange.com and migrating Stack Overflow only related question back to the thus free per-site meta.stackoverflow.com afterwards, just like for Super User and Server Fault right now?

I think my point is obvious, and I'm ready to take the potential downvotes (though I don't think these will be necessarily, a polite argument, or even just a 'because we wanna' will be sufficient, I can't and won't argue about that ;) - still here are some arguments in favor of the switch:

  • As outlined already you will gain a consistent Meta experience within the Stack Exchange Network from now on for all future users.
  • You will gain consistency with your section Proper Use of the Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange Name as outlined on the legal pages:
  • You'll have Stack Exchange [network|sites|API] and, a perfect match, a dedicated standalone community with a standalone reputation system for all things meta regarding these entities.
  • The poor homeless posts living on meta.stackexchange.com right now would finally find a new home, where they will be most welcome and just feel, well, at home ;)
    [I realize there might be some issues for sites staying on Stack Exchange 1.0 eventually though]
  • The diamond moderator shoot-out regarding Proper location of Meta questions might be easier to resolve as well in the long run ;)

Well, I'm going to bed now and hope my morning coffee will be strong enough for the outcome of this instant questioning into the most recent decision of the Stack Exchange Pantheon ;)


4 Answers 4


SE Podcast #30 included discussion that was summarized as:

Meta Stack Overflow is to the federal government as individual site metas are to state governments.

But Meta Stack Overflow is really the Federal government plus the California government. (Someone needs to write this up as a thriller/horror novel. Brrr....) So when I come here to submit an engine bug, I get roped into some stupid StackOverflow problem. Why?

This question was asked a year and a half ago. That's ages and ages ago in Internet time. The time has come.


It may be clear to Stack Overflow users that Stack Overflow is the flagship/capital of Stack Exchange, but at the moment, there's no reason to think users of other SE sites would know this (if they are not programmers or long-time trilogy users).

For example, if you're over on, say, User Interface or Mathetmatics, and you have a question about how comments work or you notice a bug in the notification system, how would you know that you should go to the meta page for Stack Overflow? Would anyone be monitoring meta.ui.stackexchange.com to let people know where they should be asking such questions? Does it say where they should go in the FAQ?

So, I agree with Steffen--there should be a site dedicated to questions and bug reports about the core engine itself, and there should be a separate site specifically for discussing issues with Stack Overflow.

As far as how to make this happen, I don't think there's any perfect solution, but a (presumably) straightforward one would be to do a wholesale move of everything on meta.stackoverflow.com to, say, engine.stackexchange.com or xxxxx.stackexchange.com. This would be imperfect because there would obviously be some Stack Overflow-specific Q/A in the mix (e.g., discussions about merging or separating tags), but I think it's a lot less imperfect than routing everyone through Stack Overflow's Meta site for Q/A about the workings of the engine.

  • A rather belated response to your question about monitoring - Moderators of a site are alerted to all new questions on their own Meta, and the Metas are monitored by SE employees too, so these questions would be picked up and noticed, and could be migrated to MSO if really needed. Jan 5, 2012 at 17:32

rather than making the obvious switch to meta.stackexchange.com

It's not at all an "obvious" switch until every single SE 1.0 site is decommissioned forever.

meta.stackexchange.com is the official support site for all SE 1.0 sites.

Once that's resolved, then perhaps.

  • Yes, I mentioned this already in my arguments - decommissioned forever is a pretty high bar to tackle, but treating SE 1.0 sites as fair as possible like so is much appreciated of course (+1)! So I realize this is a more difficult issue than I thought initially, hence thanks much for considering it at least, and for implementing the per-site Metas in the first place of course, an extremely welcome substantial improvement :) Jul 23, 2010 at 10:04
  • Aren't all SE-1.0 sites that are successful enough to be not decommissioned intended to be upgraded to SE-2.0 anyway? Jul 23, 2010 at 11:19
  • 5
    @Tobias, I think it is a bit more complicated than that.
    – jjnguy
    Jul 23, 2010 at 13:30
  • 1
    What's a SE 1.0 site? ;-) Dec 9, 2011 at 18:08

I may be in the minority, but in my opinion, explaining to new users that as the "flagship site", Stack Overflow's meta also serves as the meta for the core software is not at all difficult, nor would it be particularly astonishing to them.

On the other hand, such a fundamental change to the purpose of meta.stackoverflow.com would be highly astonishing to existing users.

  • 2
    For sure, not to speak of having to use the abbreviation MSE rather than MSO from now on, oh the (coding) horror ;) But seriously, I can see your point, but would still argue that the current users are on average going to be much more experienced for a long time in contrast to the potentially fast growing number of new users on various possibly entirely non technical (or even non computer/web related at all) sites. Those users won't care at all about a flagship site related to software development, don't you think? Jul 23, 2010 at 1:15

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