Stack Overflow, Stack Exchange, Area 51: What's the difference in a nutshell? I've read the faq's and they all seem to be the same to me - Just Q & A on a variety of topics.

What's the difference in a nutshell? If I have a software engineering question, which site is best for me to use?

  • 3
    "Just Q&A on a variety of topics." - Read the FAQs again. What part of the Area51 faq caused you to think it's a QA site and what part of stack overflow's faq caused you to not think that you had answered your question? Nov 17, 2010 at 23:55
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    Star Wars, Schindler's List, Samurai Cop... what's the difference? They're all just films on a variety of topics. If I want to see moving pictures, which one should I watch?
    – Kerrek SB
    Jan 27, 2014 at 0:48
  • @KerrekSB - lol nice analogy
    – Sai
    Oct 29, 2014 at 13:33

2 Answers 2


Maybe this breakdown will help you understand the difference.

Stack Overflow is a Q&A site for programmers. This is where you can ask and answer questions about programming.

Stack Overflow became so popular that users wanted to create Stack Overflow-like sites about other subjects. Stack Exchange is the name of the network of sites which users have created. You can see a list of the sites created here.

Area 51 is the place where users can go to propose new ideas for Stack Exchange sites. Users post "example questions" as part of the proposal process, and there is Discussion Zone for more extensive deliberations and discussions regarding the proposal as a whole. You can read more about the Area 51 process here. And here is a list of the proposed sites.


Q&A on a variety of topics is true of Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange -- but remember Stack Exchange is the term for a) the engine and b) the network at


So when you say "Stack Exchange" that includes Stack Overflow. It's a network of Q&A sites.

As for Area 51, that's the place where we democratically vote to create new never-before-seen Q&A sites. The Area 51 FAQ is pretty clear on this point, I thought..


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