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Can Stack Exchange follow a more generic approach?

Tag all the http://stackoverflow.com questions with .

Tag all the http://serverfault.com questions with .

Tag all the http://unix.stackexchange.com questions with .

Tag all the http://ubuntu.stackexchange.com questions with .

Do the same for every other Stack Exchange site.

Merge the databases.

Set up one site which shows all questions.

Set up all the other sites to filter questions based on their tags.

Make http://stackoverflow.com only show questions tagged .

Make http://serverfault.com only show questions tagged with .

...and so on.

Why all the trouble?

  • one search query could give relevant results from all sites
  • questions could appear on many sites at once (e.g. a question about git server on Ubuntu could appear on Stack Overflow, Server Fault, Unix SE and Ubuntu SE).
  • migrating questions could be done by retagging

I don't care what you do with the reputation. I think tag based reputation is reasonable.

Update: I learned that the unified searching can already be done here: http://stackexchange.com/. I also learned that I should read the blog more often. The other points still stand, although I care much less about them now that I can search across all sites.

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    As a bonus, you can search both programming questions and cooking questions in one query! :) – Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 13 '10 at 12:09
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    Anyone have a good recipe for DataTable tar-tar? – IAbstract Nov 13 '10 at 13:37
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    That's not a bad idea. The appropriate URL would, of course, be answers.yahoo.stackexchange.com. – raven Nov 13 '10 at 14:00
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    I've always wanted to search programming and cooking at the same time. This makes lots of sense. Now I can find out how to use LINQ to marinate steak. – user27414 Nov 13 '10 at 15:15
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    A bit related, on the blog: Merging Season – Arjan Nov 13 '10 at 16:13
  • i see i should read the blog more often. – lesmana Nov 13 '10 at 18:38
  • it seems that my idea is getting implemented after all. blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/08/facebook-stackoverflow – lesmana Aug 25 '11 at 5:58

one search query can give relevant results from all sites.

You can already do that on Google. Stack Exchange is not, and is not meant to be, a search engine. Stack Overflow only worked because the community was focused on one large topic, programming. Sure, you can break it down further into C#, Java, PHP, etc., but we all had one thing in common. Other SE sites need to find that same balance between being too broad and too specific.

questions can appear on many sites at once (question about git server on ubuntu can appear on stackoverflow, serverfault, unix and ubuntu).

You can already ask questions on multiple sites if you need to, but the goal should be to ask a question that's best answered by a certain community. You need to be specific about what you're trying to do so it reaches the people who can answer it.

Yahoo! Answers already tried being the Q&A site about everything and it succeeded in being about nothing. Having all cooking, photography, physics, and programming questions coming in to one site would make the front page (think about the New tab) unusable.

  • please explain how i can use google to search all sites at once. also, i am not suggesting to dump the rest after merging. all the sites as we know them will remain as they are. the new merged site is there for people wanting to search over all the stack* sites, and/or for google so people can use "site:merged.stackexchange.com foo" in google. – lesmana Nov 13 '10 at 15:11
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  • @Shog9: wow! that certainly needs to be advertised more. thanks. – lesmana Nov 13 '10 at 18:37

The http://stackexchange.com site has been built up as a hub to act as some sort of an aggregator.

You are able to do a search that will search across the network for results.

You can view hot questions from sites across the network. When you are logged in to this site, you are able to customize the sites that get included for you.

You can view questions by tags from sites across the network. You can customize the tag sets you want to see. You can use wildcards and even add an entire site to get a very customized view. These can be sorted by activity, creation, or no answers.

As for actually combining the databases, this could have a negative impact on performance.


why all the trouble?

* one search query can give relevant results from all sites.

It's no trouble for Google's spiders. They know what to do.

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    i don't know about you, but i am not a google spider. please explain how a human can get relevant results from all sites with one query. – lesmana Nov 13 '10 at 15:07
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    @les: By using Google. – raven Nov 13 '10 at 21:19

I disagree about Stack Overflow, but to me it applies to Super User and sites like askubuntu.com, unix.stackexchange.com and apple.stackexchange.com, and even webapps.stackexchange.com.

I don't care a bit about reputation, but do care about the possibility to edit and vote to close or migrate. Lacking those rights on the "derived" sites is just too annoying to me, which in a way (for me, not for the sites) is a shame as I could learn a lot by just following those sites. Still, somehow I rarely visit them.

And: Super User is not growing at all?

(As an aside: I don't really use the global stackexchange.com, and I rarely visit the site-specific Meta's. Not a complaint, just wondering if I'm the only one.)

Ooops, I didn't even know about this until I read this question. Again, not a problem for those sites, but too bad for me.

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