It all started with clearly technological SO, SF and SU. Followed by bunch of more or less IT related SE sites. But recently more and more SE sites with no relation to technology at all are created. I feel mixing them with still mostly technological SE creates lot of noise. And hardcore programming sites being the most popular, I feel it creates even more noise and confusion for the newcomers in the non-technological sites. I mean, do you really expect someone who comes to let's say Fitness & Nutrition SE to be able to even understand what hot question "difference between factory pattern and abstract factory?" is about?

Ideally you could have some clustering algorithm, which would show to the users the sites that are interesting to him based on sites and tags he's active in. But for quick and dirty fix, separating technology from non-technology could be a great improvement.

EDIT: I'm not exactly sure how it should look in detail, thus this question is tagged not . I imagine that if you'd log in into let's say StackOverflow, you'd see technological part, while if you'd log into let's say Cooking, you'd see the non-tech part. "Tech" and "non-tech" are descriptive, actual names to be used is something that would need to be discussed. Also the way of cross-linking between them.

EDIT2: I know that kind of separation isn't perfect. But if you remember for example Usenet, it has Big 8, where computer related (comp.*) are clearly separated from recreation and entertainment (rec.*).

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    Can you define where and how this separation should manifest? – Grace Note Jun 6 '11 at 14:23
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    If someone is only interested in Fitness and Nutrition (say) then there's very little chance of them even thinking to look at www.stackexchange.com. – ChrisF Jun 6 '11 at 14:41
  • @ChrisF: There is F&N.SE: fitness.stackexchange.com. As any SE site is linked to the whole SE by hot questions & SE dropdown – vartec Jun 6 '11 at 15:27
  • I think you missed ChrisF's point - he was saying that if the user's only interest is in the Fitness & Nutrition site, then that user may not pay attention to the rest of the network at all. Actually, many of the sites have users that don't pay all that much heed to the going-ons of the other sites on the network. There is definitely a link going back to the rest, but many such users just discount it as irrelevant to their needs in participating in their one site. – Grace Note Jun 6 '11 at 15:28
  • I should have emphasised only in my statement. – ChrisF Jun 6 '11 at 15:28
  • @Grace, @Chris: with such assumption, there would be no point in cross-sites hot questions in first place. But since it does exists, I feel it should be helpful, rather than confusing. – vartec Jun 6 '11 at 21:50

I don't have much to go on because I'm not sure I fully understand your intent.

But as far as I can see, it feels like this separation is, believe it or not, arbitrary.

I'm in both the tech world and the non-tech world. I like pen-and-paper games, I like to write, and I like cooking (however little of all 3 I get to do these days). I also like several parts of the tech sector, mostly in the video game sector but also parts that pertain to my current employment as a SharePoint Developer.

DIY is an excellent site, it has a very active userbase, and it's a non-technical site that I'll possibly never be interested in, whether I'm browsing through Seasoned Advice or browsing through Stack Overflow. Likewise, I don't use Linux, Unix, Ubuntu, or Apple produces, which renders 3 of the technical sites mostly uninteresting to me. Questions about certain features in Unix are as alien to me, a technically inclined user, as your factory pattern question could be to a theoretical Fitness user. Likewise, I have no idea what a Presta Tube is and it won't be any more relevant to me whether I'm tossing about on Gaming or on RPG.

As a result, I don't particularly see any effective impact that this will cause, at least in this theoretical stage. Users cross-pollinate into sites that they are interested in, whether or not it is a result of being technical or not. I think ultimately this tries to fragment the technical population from the non-technical, and I'm not sure what benefit that truly provides us.

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  • The fact that you like bot programming and cooking, doesn't make them related subjects. As for Presta tube @ Bicicles.SE, it doesn't take M.Sc. in engineering to figure out that it's some kind of tube for bike tires. So it's not some alien language that can't be understood by common person. – vartec Jun 6 '11 at 21:47
  • @vartec It doesn't make them related topics, exactly. Just like Cooking and Writing aren't related topics, nor is Unix necessarily the same thing as Game Development. Which is my point. – Grace Note Jun 6 '11 at 21:57
  • first two are hobby SE sites, second two are both IT related and often used by pros. Ok, no matter how you divide subjects, there will always be someone unhappy with the division. But no division at all isn't good either. Look for example at Usenet, it had the Big 8. Wasn't perfect, but it was a start. – vartec Jun 6 '11 at 22:03

I don't think this would help.

Even if one would agree that the "hot" tab should show results relevant to me (which I don't - the tab was designed to show what goes on on the whole of the network), I don't think separating between "tech" and "no-tech" domains would help much. Most "Hot" questions from a domain I'm not familiar with will be undecipherable for me - whether they're technological or not won't matter really.

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  • Ok, so that's one of the solutions I propose -- clustering by subjects interesting to user. It is however much more technically complicated. – vartec Jun 6 '11 at 21:48

The only benefit available to users when jumping from one site to another is the 100 rep association bonus, and that is intended to reflect nothing more of less than "they have shown themselves to be familiar with how the sites work"; that is they know about questions and answers and voting and comments and probably acceptance.

And those things---which are about the structure and operation of the sites---are roughly invariant across the tech vs. non-tech distinction (however you draw it).

As far as the on-topic vs. off-topic distinction, you always have to read the FAQ and watch the site for a while to be sure.

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