So, all over the world, the leading web technologies (Google, Facebook, etc.) are trying to unite all ways of communication under one umbrella; everyone talks to everybody in the same place (and all provide good filtering mechanisms).

Stack Overflow was the same at the beginning, one place to do them all, with tag filtering (and you can probably add another level, say category filtering).

Instead of that, you started to break everything to smaller and smaller pieces (hope you remember, that was the punishment God gave us for building something too good).

Today, when I ask a web question I get answers like these: "this should have been asked in the Stack Exchange site for web development for developers with the letter E in their name." -- That's a dramatization, but to me it sounds stupid, we did this type of thing 14 years ago, the site is still up and running (it is in Hebrew: http://tapuz.co.il/ ) it has a forum for very specific subjects.

So, while you have good community, it is not more then 10-20 people per forum (I guess that for an English site you should multiply this a by several numbers). The point is, people are missing data that way.

Another small problem this caused me personally is: I need to ask some questions in Server Fault, which no one wants to answer without a bounty -- acceptable, I just can't accumulate enough points over there, again, the overall effect is loss of knowledge (I do get my answers else where). Why shouldn't points be transferable, at least for this purpose between sites?

The bottom line is: Make your wonderful system as one as possible, do not try to break it to very small pieces any more.

  • 16
    -1, StackOverflow never was "one place to do them all."
    – badp
    Nov 16 '10 at 14:36
  • 1
    @radp - not my point, but, never mind. It will happen eventually, just don't know if it will happen soon or late (in which case is usually too late). Nov 16 '10 at 14:38
  • Maybe a duplicate of meta.stackexchange.com/questions/68214/… ... maybe. Nov 16 '10 at 14:38
  • 6
    Unfortunately, a hypothetical dramatized version of your experience doesn't really help illustrate what is wrong with the current model which SE and SO is operating in. Maybe, you know, a little more facts to back up your claims here will help you?
    – Yi Jiang
    Nov 16 '10 at 14:38
  • @Yi Jiang - No, I wrote what I think, wither you agree or you don't, really does not matter in the long run. Nov 16 '10 at 14:45
  • 2
    @Itay if that wasn't your main point then you chose the completely wrong biblical reference.
    – badp
    Nov 16 '10 at 14:46
  • 5
    We need to pick one "making lots of specialized communities will end the world" post to keep and close the rest as duplicates; this is getting ridiculous Nov 16 '10 at 15:05
  • @radp I believe you miss understood what I meant. Right now it looks to me more like ganging up rather then something I wish to put more energy into and discuss. Take care. Nov 16 '10 at 15:28
  • @Michael Mrozek - how many such post exists, that is interesting. Nov 16 '10 at 15:30
  • 7
    I wrote what I think, wither [sic] you agree or you don't, really does not matter in the long run -- If what other people think doesn't matter to you, then this isn't a discussion question, it is a rant.
    – user27414
    Nov 16 '10 at 15:31
  • 2
    @Itay I don't want to gang on you right now, but if we're misunderstanding your point then it may have been wiser to skimp on the dramatizations and references and just tell us what you're trying to say. The less directly people state their issues, the less likely we'll ever know what's trying to be said.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Nov 16 '10 at 15:40
  • @Grace Note - simple, let ME (the user) decide which topics/categories/sites what ever to see in one place. I want to manage it all in one place, not start to "dance around" and guess if there is (and what would be the name) of the specific SO site I am looking for. and if the points would be transferable all over the place, the better. Nov 16 '10 at 18:40
  • 1
    By the way, in English it is generally referred to as the "Tower of Babel" (think babelfish).
    – Benjol
    Nov 17 '10 at 9:46

In college when I wanted to learn about history I went to the building that housed the history department, sat in a room filled with history students, and listened to a history professor. When I wanted to learn about astronomy, I walked over to that building, sat in a different room with different people and listened to a different expert.

I don't think it would have worked well if we all crammed into the football stadium and shouted out "I have a physics question" and waited to see if a physics professor answered.

Each SE site is a different community with different people discussing different subjects using different sets of standards and norms. Further, you know you can count on the quality of the information you're getting because you know the site specializes in that information.

And in case you don't think my college analogy works, just look at Yahoo Answers.

  • 10
    Yahoo! Answers is a football stadium filled with 12 year olds shouting anatomy questions. Great analogy. :) Nov 16 '10 at 15:07
  • :-) and I sent mail via the post office Nov 16 '10 at 15:22
  • 5
    @Itay - point being?
    – user27414
    Nov 16 '10 at 15:33
  • Why all the hate towards yahoo answers? It's a very successful website that simply targets a different demographic; most of us wouldn't fit very well in there, but many people there wouldn't fit here. To each their own, no need to keep making fun of it. Nov 17 '10 at 16:19
  • @Kop - it makes fun of itself.
    – user27414
    Nov 17 '10 at 16:26
  • this is a great post, referring this to Joel and Robert and Rebecca as well Jan 21 '11 at 4:40

This has been brought up several times before. If we combine all the communities into one, what we will end up with is Yahoo! Answers. Building a community that's focused one thing is what made Stack Overflow work so well.

  • 2
    Focus! Focus! Focus! Not that the focus needs to be too tight. The focus that drove Stack Overflow from the beginning was "Programming", which is a pretty big tent all by itself. Nov 16 '10 at 15:10
  • 2
    No, if you replace the moderation system with something completely broken you'll end up with yahoo answers.
    – Wooble
    Nov 16 '10 at 15:32

I think this talk can help you understand what's going on here. The title, however, should say it all:

Stack Overflow: Building Social Software for the Anti-Social

Should the video not load, here's a direct link. Here, have the slides too.

But the short of it is: Stack Overflow isn't what you think it is. It's no place to socialize. It's no place for general chit chat. It's a place for people to get programming answers, in the most pragmatic way possible.

Transferring reputation is a good idea, and indeed you get 100 free reps every time you link your account to another account on a different site that has at least 200 rep.

If you think that's not enough, you'll have to further explain your case.

Your traffic points aren't substantiated by facts, so I won't address them. Here, have some facts. How many users are there on your forum?

  • that facts page I can't use to prove or dis-prove unless we know how many users are shared between the sites. I am not even aware most of them exists... I gave the statistics of that forum in the post itself. Nov 16 '10 at 15:26

You may not be fully aware of how the area51 mechanism works. It is a multiple stage process that requires a increasing number of participants to build a community from the germ of an idea; into a well specified idea; into the kernel of a site with a core group of committed users; into a working beta site; into a full fledged, independent member of the League of Justice (are we still using that metaphor?).

This limits the degree of fragmentation that will be possible, and indeed has already caused some proposed sites to be merged or dropped altogether.

Add to the the StackExchange™ MultiCollider SuperDropdown™ and the sidebar highlighting of the Stack Exchange "hottest" questions and the easy cross-site sign up (with rep bonus to get over the no-privileges hump), and despite having many sites, you really do have one community.


Since you gave a hypothetical, dramatical version of the future, let me see what it would actually look like:

alt text

Is there the slightest, remotest possibility that this will happen? No.

Case closed.

  • Lol, so I'm Erica now ;-). Nov 16 '10 at 15:51
  • @Gamecat - Sorry, ran out of names starting with the letter 'E'
    – Yi Jiang
    Nov 16 '10 at 15:52
  • How did Raj get an account on that site?!
    – Pops
    Oct 7 '11 at 17:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .