Recently, 2 proposals were closed because their subject was allegedly "covered by Super User":

These are probably not the only examples, even if I can't find others for the moment. (I will edit the question if I do.)

I don't think we get this problem very often with other existing sites, so I have to ask: Isn't Super User too broad? I mean, isn't it too broad for the potential users to understand its exact perimeters? Do we need to do something in order to make it more understandable?


My question is not about these two proposals. What I wanted to highlight is that these proposals, which have nothing in common (actually their subjects are really distant), both see their subject covered by the same site.

I found another proposal (which I actually created), also closed because the subject is covered by Super User: http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/32957/computer-peripherals.

  • It seems the proposal were considered too broad. Is there any expert about using open source alternatives to paid software or services? – kiamlaluno Jul 11 '11 at 13:00
  • Do the people downvoting this really think I shouldn't have asked? Beats me! – Alexis Dufrenoy Jul 11 '11 at 16:18
  • 4
    @Traroth: On Meta.SO, downvotes indicate disagreement, not disapproval of the question. – ale Jul 11 '11 at 16:43
  • @Traroth If you want to avoid downvotes on questions on Meta, you will want to avoid controversial question titles. – Nicole Jul 11 '11 at 23:56
  • @kiamlaluno: Your edit altered the meaning of my question, and I disapprove it. Please cancel it. – Alexis Dufrenoy Jul 12 '11 at 13:33
  • 2
    @Traroth you can edit it yourself. I disagree that it changed any meeting though, kiamlaluno mainly cleaned up the formatting and style. – Nicole Jul 12 '11 at 15:40
  • 1
    Indeed. There was no meaning changed there. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 12 '11 at 16:14

In a waxed nutshell, Super User is about getting your computer and the parts with it to work right.

Just like Stack Overflow is about programming and Bicycles is about bicycles. Those two can be seen equally far reaching chasms.

Questions served by an Open Source Alternative site are already being dished out on Super User. That and the only question that would go on such a site is breaking apart a product matrix again and again or rewriting the same blog post that has been doing the rounds since Blogger has been around:

Top 7 Open Source alternatives for people who think nothing in this world should be paid for. Unless they're the ones trying to make some money

Similarly for Computer Hardware. Not to mention it already being covered in the FAQ, working out how to not eat thermal paste as you swap out a live running CPU is also already being questioned on Super User.

| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    Link to that blog post please? That perfectly describes me. ;) – Bill the Lizard Jul 11 '11 at 13:17
  • "Super User is about getting your computer and the parts with it to work right" : No, that's wrong. SU is also about how to use every software you can possibly find, from CAD to music, and from text processor to antivirus. Except video games and development related software. How to bring your compuer to work, from hardware and software point of view, how to choose and use the software you want. That's really, REALLY broad! – Alexis Dufrenoy Jul 11 '11 at 16:07
  • 1
    @Traroth - then StackOverflow is too broad as well - because it is about getting answers to programming questions for any language you can possibly use, from machine code to C++ to PHP. – Charles Boyung Jul 12 '11 at 20:18
  • @Charles Boyung: That's really a software engineer's point of view. Sorry, but a .Net developer and a Perl developer have many things in common. But not a Cubase user and an AutoCAD user... – Alexis Dufrenoy Jul 12 '11 at 20:28
  • 1
    @Traroth - but a user trying to get Cubase installed properly and a user trying to get AutoCAD installed properly most definitely have a very important thing in common - they are trying to get their program working. And for the average user, a program is a program. – Charles Boyung Jul 12 '11 at 20:47
  • @Charles Boyung: Oh, so Super User is only about software installation? That's not what's written in the FAQ! – Alexis Dufrenoy Jul 13 '11 at 8:48
  • @Traroth - that's not what I said. But it is one of the things that its about. You're the one that said those two users have nothing in common (which, to you, apparently is a criteria for them to use the same site) and I was just proving that they do have something in common. – Charles Boyung Jul 13 '11 at 12:14

I don't think Super User is too broad, but:

  1. The Opensource alternative proposal may be way too narrow. Would I go there only to ask for alternatives to X paid application, or would I also be able to ask questions on how to use the open source alternative? If it's the former, then it's too narrow. If the latter, then it duplicates a lot of the purpose of SU.
  2. The Computer hardware proposal is about half of what Super User is for, per the SU FAQ, so I agree that it would be too close to duplicating an existing site.

Also, I think a lot of the questions that did make Super User feel a little bit too broad are now handled by more focused sites like Ask Different, Ask Ubuntu, and Unix & Linux.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Adding to this answer, Ask Different exists also because accepts questions about iPhone, iPod, and iPad, which are excluded from Super User: "and it is not about […] electronic devices, media players, cell phones or smart phones, except insofar as they interface with your computer." – kiamlaluno Jul 11 '11 at 13:04
  • 1
    My question is not about these two proposals. What I wanted to highlight is that these proposals, which have nothing in common both see their subject covered by the same site. – Alexis Dufrenoy Jul 11 '11 at 16:08

I do find Super User too broad. I used to be active there, and found it too difficult to focus on the questions that interested me (mostly unix questions). After a few months I stopped participating and concentrated on Unix & Linux. Unix is a particularly difficult case because its questions span many tags (unix variants, Linux distributions, shells and other mostly-unix applications, …). It's just barely possible to subscribe to the relevant tags, but hard on searches.

Unix & Linux and Ask Ubuntu work well. They managed to be created, even though they're almost a subset of Super User (not completely — there are SF-type questions as well, and a few outliers like design or history questions that wouldn't go well on SU or SF), because it was early in the Area 51 process and there weren't many active closers yet. I think it's a pity that they would not make it through Area 51 now. There are probably other topics that would make a good site, but won't because of the existence of SU.

I don't like SU's scope (too broad, and at the same time too restricted since some computer questions are off-topic), but it clearly works for some people. I do wish, however, that its existence wasn't used as an argument against the creation of other sites around different communities.

| improve this answer | |
  • I completly agree. What's strange is that most contributors here don't see any difference between Super User and the other sites. I think it's a consequence of too deep involvment. – Alexis Dufrenoy Jul 12 '11 at 13:36
  • 1
    @Gilles - and I think it's a pity that those sites (and the Apple site) made it through Area 51 when they did. I don't think any of those really needed their own sites. – Charles Boyung Jul 12 '11 at 20:20
  • @CharlesBoyung Ask Different's top tag is iphone, which was off-topic on all previously existing sites. I've written more on U&L vs SU on meta.U&L; though the difficulty of finding questions that interested me on SU was the main reason I stopped participating there. If U&L and AU didn't exist, SE would be missing on some good content that wouldn't have existed at all on SU. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jul 12 '11 at 20:48
  • @Gilles - wouldn't it be more appropriate to have a "Mobile Devices" SE site then, instead of an Apple site? Having a site essentially for the iPhone is too narrow, and just about every other question on that site has an appropriate place to ask elsewhere. And if U&L, Apple and Ubuntu are truly good choices for SE sites, then there should be sites dedicated to Windows, BSD and Google (for example). And I know for a fact Google.SE has been rejected for the exact reason that Apple should have been. – Charles Boyung Jul 12 '11 at 20:56
  • @CharlesBoyung There was a “gadget” site that covered smartphones, but it failed (in part because it was too disparate, and in part because I doubt smartphone enthusiasts think of them as gadgets). Google, unlike Apple, doesn't have a community around it; people use each of their services pretty much independently, there aren't any Google fans the way there are Apple fans. Windows failed in part because following windows* on SU does an ok job. U&L ignoring the linux tag is ok for a BSD site. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jul 12 '11 at 21:31
  • We are slipping off-topic, here. The Apple site is not the subject. Feel free to ask a new question about that. – Alexis Dufrenoy Jul 13 '11 at 8:50

When SU was created, it was acknowledged that it would be unusually broad. (http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/05/the-stack-overflow-trilogy/)

I think that it will be good if more of SU subtopics splinter, so long as several of the following hold:

  1. The topics have well-defined communities.
  2. The splintering will bring in new users that are less likely to participate in the broader SU
  3. The sub-communities gain little from those on SU that would not identify with that community.
  4. The sub-community is viewed as somewhat of a misfit on SU (occasionally having legitimate questions closed, for example).
| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Problem is: moderators are closing proposals as soon somebody says "hey, this is already covered by Super User". And that's exactly my point! – Alexis Dufrenoy Jul 12 '11 at 20:31
  • 1
    I agree that this is a potential problem. I think that if you propose something that might be closed for this reason, the burden is on you to explain why this is not satisfactorily covered by SU. – Eric Wilson Jul 13 '11 at 10:53
  • Most people won't do it, and valuable proposals will be lost. Can't we try to avoid that? – Alexis Dufrenoy Jul 13 '11 at 12:58
  • 1
    I won't stand in your way. – Eric Wilson Jul 13 '11 at 14:22

You must log in to answer this question.

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