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It has occured to me (with the existence of Linguistics.SE, Writing.SE, Conlang.SE (coming soon?)) that we may be making niche sites now. These almost seem as if they fit such a specific topic that we're drowning the overall collection of sites down.

Compare the three examples as one site to StackOverflow; almost considered a dump site amongst StackExchange. While PowerUser.SE, StackOverflow.SE, Programmers.SE, TeX.SE ... are always crossing over each other, they are still separate sites.

StackOverflow and PowerUser already contains many questions that would be better in Programmers.Se, and it's unfortunately so many that it would be impossible to sort (over 1k questions with Flex (programming language) as a tag for example.)

Does this not mean that between Writing.SE, Conlang.SE (what's it for anyways?), Linguistics.SE, and (wherever law questions go) there will be an extreme amount of overlap as well? Why not solve this .. before it becomes a problem as irreversible as StackOverflow's?

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Question: Are we becoming too compartmentalized? (Writers.SE, Conlang.SE, Linguistics.SE as an example.)

Issue: Less traffic for these "niche" sites, and it pulls users off of a site with a broader scope of help that they may be an asset to. A lot of people on SE only help within their own site (as a percentage, I don't know)

Example: While many people ask programming questions in StackOverflow.SE, would it not be the correct place to ask in Programmers.SE instead? Yet when I ask a programming question in Programmers.SE it's as if nobody sees it. Problem with specialization and overlap perhaps?

Solution: ?

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If there's an SE meta, I guess this should go there.

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feature-request : "... a change to the existing functionality. "

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  • The overall meta-site is meta.stackoverflow.com, but your question is a dupe there. This was discussed several times, just search a little bit. Programming questions go to StackOverflow. Programmers.SE is about programmers, not about programming. This is a little bit confusing, I know. In a nutshell: Programmers.SE was suggested to have a place for questions which are off-topic on Stack Overflow. – John Smithers Nov 12 '11 at 15:13
  • What are some examples of questions on Linguistics or Conlang that you think would fit here? Questions here that would fit there? What over-arching commonality do you see between people who study language construction and those who write? – Monica Cellio Oct 29 '12 at 15:00
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The Area 51 process is, to a large extent, meant to help with this - it gives us a good idea of what sites will have how large a following; what proposals should be merged and what should be split up. Obviously, it's far from flawless.

Some guiding questions on whether two topics should be joined or not:

  • How many questions from topic A will be of interest to people here primarily for topic B? I could see many Writers.SE folks having a natural interest in EngLing.SE; the other way around - not so much.
  • How big is the overlap between A and B - i.e., questions that clearly belong in both topics? I've got a good sense of what belongs where, and I think the distinction is sufficiently clear. Often enough the difference won't be clear to a newcomer, though (however, their innocent error can be corrected quite quickly...).
  • Will unifying the two topics hurt the clarity/focus of one or both topics? I see this as the most significant drawback of merging Writers.SE with just about anything else. We're in a community-building phase now, so we need to have a clear identity and message. We're explicitly aimed at people who consider themselves writers (or editors, or aspiring writers, etc etc.). That's a clear, simple demographic. If you write, or want to write, then you know the site's meant for you. If it's a site for writing AND lots of grammar and etymology... that becomes a lot less clear. Not all sites have such a clear demographic - but I think that's one significant edge we've got, which I wouldn't give up on easily.

Please please don't ask me how tech writing fits into this :P

So I could see some justifications for merging, but they don't seem terribly overwhelming. Also, bear in mind that questions can be (and are) migrated easily from site to site as appropriate - so a little splintering isn't necessarily a big problem. Think of the whole SE network as one huge Q&A site, with some very broad divisions into subsites - there's no hard and fast rule as to where those divisions should be. You just choose some that look about right, and reconsider every now and then, particularly if you've got specific problems. I'm not seeing the scope of Writer.SE as being problematic right now (again, excluding the tech-writing aspect...); I don't think we're losing audience to English.SE or vice versa; I think so far the questions are pretty well sorted between Writers.SE and its various overlap sites.

Without any specific ill effects of the subsite division, I might say we're highly compartmentalized, but not too compartmentalized. Possibly we are just compartmentalized enough.

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    So, I guess I'd be better off suggesting more routing paths? Right now there's only Writing -> Meta Writing or Writing -> EngLing.SE (this) – cbroughton Nov 13 '11 at 1:18
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  1. ConLang is for constructed languages (that other writers have created, and for creating your own). I don't know how much traffic that might get.
  2. I can see overlap between ConLang and Writers, and some between Writers and Linguistics, and plenty between Linguistics and ConLang. Why would law overlap with writing?
  3. Your question is confusing. You first state that we're making sites which are so specific and so niche-focused that it's a problem (what that problem is, you don't specify — low traffic?). Then you note that StackOverflow has become a dumping ground for SE, and that over a thousand questions could be siphoned off to Programmers. So which is it? Are you concerned that SE is becoming too compartmentalized, or not compartmentalized enough?
  4. What solution are you proposing? I'm not even sure what problem you think needs solving.
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  • 1. Alright. 2. People are asking legal questions regarding writing in writers. 3. I am noting another problem, that SO.SE is a dumping ground. My original point is still there; that SE is becoming too compartmentalized. 4. I honestly don't know how I'd fix it. I've edited my main post to hopefully get to the point of it. – cbroughton Nov 12 '11 at 8:47

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