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Shorter title: Why can't I have my cake and eat it too?

Why is having many overlapping sites bad?

  • Cross-posting is discouraged, because the value of answers is diluted across the sites (you can't upvote a good answer that you never see because it's on another site)
  • Loyalists/"fanboys" (not meant in a derogatory way) will migrate to more specific sites to demonstrate their support
  • Experts/"attention hogs" (again, no offence - it's our pride/hubris that makes these sites possible) will migrate to more general sites where their reputation points can grow faster
  • Of course, some people end up in both communities but with disjointed profiles, reputation points, privileges, etc.
  • drive-by posters will have no idea where to go
    • On the more specific site they may get more specific/higher-quality answers
    • On the more general site they will certainly get faster and more answers

Can we make this problem go away?

  • One profile, one identity, across SO/SE sites
    • (Unless a user specifically wants to have two different profiles on different sites - could that be made to work?)
  • Cross-posting is encouraged and automatic (for example, associated with certain tags: tag something Ubuntu, it appears on the Ubuntu site)
  • One user's reputation points/badges vary by site - on each site a person's reputation points are made up of their participation to questions that were included in that site. By answering one question your reputation points simultaneously rises in all sites that question was considered relevant to.
  • Reputation points requirements for actions vary by site:
    • Smaller/more specific sites need fewer site-specific reputation points to trigger privileges
    • Larger sites (especially top-level!) require much more reputation points to trigger privileges
    • As sites evolve, people might gain and lose privileges depending on their participation's evolution with the site
  • When linking to or indexing a given question, the URL defaults to the most-specific "site" that the question belongs to - so hopefully this would not result in a single large nonsense Q&A site like Experts-Exchange, Yahoo Answers, etc.
  • "Sites" would continue to be set up to maximize on-topic community fostering, with reputation directly tied to the questions on that site

I know this is essentially a restatement of at least one existing post/question, but the question was essentially ignored - one answer, a few countering comments, petered out. I know the whole Area 51 thing was an attempt to "fix" the Stack Exchange process to be community-driven, but what if the direction was wrong? What if the first step needs to be fixing Stack Overflow, Server Fault, Super User and existing Stack Exchange sites to really work together??

  • The same tag can be used for a different meaning on each site. So tag management will become a lot harder. – Ian Ringrose Sep 24 '10 at 10:55
  • The different sites are good, but the various profiles are just a headache. – Jonathan. Jan 4 '11 at 21:08
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Congratulations, you've built Yahoo Answers

  • 3
    Or Quora. – user149432 Sep 24 '10 at 9:16
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    OK, so there are at least two thing that I think you're saying, setting aside the sarcasm: 1) Allowing questions on any topic invites random internet nonsense; 2) Horrible system design, visual design, advertising, etc are not the way forward for stackXXX sites? How else is what I'm suggesting similar to Yahoo answers? Surely the power of StackOverflow came not ONLY from the clear topic, but also from the careful "herding" of users into promoting constructive information-building activities and increasing on-topic responsibility? – Tao Sep 24 '10 at 9:23
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    meh. never mind, just realized who this was answering my apparently stupid question. I really saw something awesome in stackoverflow, and thought the stackexchange concept showed promise. Right now it seems (to me) to be an over-reaching shambles, but I'm sure that the dust will settle and in the meantime I have a great place for programming questions, thanks! – Tao Sep 24 '10 at 9:34

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