Sometimes I wish to downvote proposals, because I think that a site would not be a good addition to the SE network. For instance, I think that History of Science And Mathematics and Mathematics Educators are harmful, because they fragment the mathematics community and build overspecialized sites, and I would prefer that all their questions were moved to Math.SE and MathOverflow instead, maybe combined with better filtering capabilities.

However, I do not see the possibility to downvote. The only criterion for acceptance seems to be "are enough people willing to commit and participate?". It does not matter whether there is a higher number of people that think that opening a separate site on that topic would be a bad idea.

I would like to see this added as a feature.

  • 6
    Frankly, I think this is a ridiculous concern. While you are worried about this, I have been talking to several historians of Mathematics that do not post on MO or MSE and do not even visit either site, and yet find the proposal for History of Science and Mathematics appealing to the point that some have already committed. The truth is, for several of the questions that I personally have, there do not seem to be experts at MO or MSE that can address them properly. I think the site will be a valuable resource. Commented May 10, 2014 at 2:38
  • @AndresCaicedo I agree with you that there is a number of people interested in these themes that are not participating in MO and MSE. I personally think that changing MO and MSE to make them welcome and encouraging them to participate is a better solution than building a different community and forcing them to go away. I do not see why this is not viable, or ridiculous. Commented May 10, 2014 at 8:27
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    The specific concern is in my opinion completely unfounded. I consider you rainsing it again after we dicussed this at some length in MO chat as a quite odd thing to do. If you are sersious about this go ahead and propose merging math.SE and MO. Good luck! ;-) And, this might be more reasonable. Both ed and hist aspects are simply fundamentally different from the rest and also each other. To have everything together on one site will never work so well. And, you talk a lot about democracy. Why not take your concern to meta.MO where there are many readers that would have some stake in it?
    – quid
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 0:08
  • @quid I am considering it; would it be welcome on MO or only get downvoted into oblivion? In any case, I realize that this is just a personal opinion, not shared by most viewers, and I do not want to insist in pushing it onto others. I'd be fine with having a less intrusive way to voice it, such as downvoting, so that it gets in the records. Commented May 11, 2014 at 9:13
  • I do not know what exactly you intend to suggest, so it is hard to tell. A question/discussion whether the emergence of the other sites has/should have some implications for MO (phrased in a neutral tone, your opinio possibly only put into a self answer) could however work. And, you do not want to insist, but for the second time something quite visible and somewhat hostile on area51 about it? Makes one wonder how you are insistent about something.
    – quid
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 9:22
  • @quid Incidentally, I am doing some research before asking anything and I have found out there has already been extensive discussion on the MO/MSE model, for instance discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/questions/630/… and discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/questions/612/…. Also, I do not think I am insisting here on trying to convince anyone; I am merely asking for a less intrusive way to express my personal opinion, which is negative. Commented May 11, 2014 at 9:49
  • I did not understand you were asking about MO/MSE. Indeed, this discussion might be not necessary, and raising it on meta.MO in a way that would not get downvoted towards record lows could need some skill. Of course you are insistent in your dislike for the proposals. You could have asked the feature request without discussing in detail the scenario were you want to use it.
    – quid
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 10:00

4 Answers 4


If you have specific concerns about a proposal, you should voice them in discussion. Those discussions are read and considered before a proposal becomes a site (assuming it gets that far). But having a network of users vote on which ideas don't interest them is not at all what Area 51 is about.

The creation of Stack Exchange sites is a democratic, community-driven process. That does not mean the majority of Area 51 users have to love your site idea. It simply means you have to recruit a community of users large enough so that questions get good answers quickly.

I talk about this more in Where did the close link go?

  • I don't think that you are representing my proposal correctly here. There is a difference between "does not interest me" and "I think it is a bad idea to split this subtopic from the main topic". There are three possible judgements on a proposal (like, not interested, bad idea), which in my view should correspond to three different choices (upvote, no vote, downvote). Commented May 9, 2014 at 16:53
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    You can't really control how and why a user down-votes something. If you have a macro reason why a proposal might be disruptive to an existing site, it should be a discussion... not a vague vote saying that the proposal should not exist at all. I believe broader voting a proposal would lead to the behaviors I outlined above. Long story short, proposals should generally live or die by the people interested in building them. The macro concerns you cited cannot be clearly expressed as "I down-vote this proposal." It's community-hostile to the folks who are interested in pursuing the idea. Commented May 9, 2014 at 17:31

I appreciate your feature request, although I currently have zero personal interest in the implementation of such a feature.

I would instead like to comment on your example,

"For instance, I think that History of Science And Mathematics and Mathematics Educators are harmful, because they fragment the mathematics community and build overspecialized sites, and I would prefer that all their questions were moved to Math.SE and MathOverflow instead, maybe combined with better filtering capabilities."

While I, a fellow mathematically minded individual, do understand that very small numbers are not identically zero, I also use reasoning and my estimation skills to determine if something is numerically significant.

For example: By my estimation skills, and I could use SE Data Explorer to figure this out if I really cared, the number of posts on either MO or MSE for either the math history tag or any tag involving math education are less than or equal to 1%, and I think I am being gracious there.

If your estimation skills bring you to even a roughly similar numeric conclusion as mine, I implore you to consider how important these newly proposed sites are to the people who have decided to try to make them. Is this really "harmful" to the pre-existing sites? Would such proportions really cause anything more than negligible "fragmentation" for the pre-existing sites? Are the other two sites at any sort of tangible loss considering that any user from MSE or MO can easily join either of the two new sites?

Finally, I completely fail to see any credibility behind your assertion that a community of Math educators, or Math/Science historians is "overspecialized". Both, "Math Education" and "The History of Mathematics" for example, are actually degrees in and of themselves, and very important ones in my opinion.

In the end, I hope that you come to appreciate the enthusiasm of the people who really find these new sites to be important. I implore you to find a shift in your paradigm. Join these sites instead, and help to make them better with your own knowledge. That, in my opinion, would be a great conclusion to this story. Your heart and participation would certainly be a gift to either site.

  • First of all, thanks for the very kind and polite post. I have read your point, but fail to see the implication between there is less than 1% of questions on math history and math history should have a separate site. I am sure that there is less than 1% of questions about Lisp on Stack Overflow, for instance. There is a line to draw for what belongs to a different or to the same site; in drawing this line I would personally err on the side of putting things together, also because I think I would benefit from seeing math history and education questions on the sites where I hang around. Commented May 11, 2014 at 9:20
  • Thanks also for the invitation to join the ME and history sites -- I will for sure, if they are separated from MO; not only to contribute my very limited knowledge, but mainly to learn from valuable experts. Commented May 11, 2014 at 9:23
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    You are excessively modest with the phrase "limited knowledge". Consider this: SE has done what they can to turn this massive pile of separate websites into a bunch of communities, with the property that it is as easy as possible to be a member of several "sister" communities, and still be able to manage the favorites. I follow a few communities, and you follow not many more than I follow. It could get ugly I admit if one were to follow a massive number of communities. These new proposals are really important to some people. They may not work out, but I am glad you will be there if they do. Commented May 11, 2014 at 9:33
  • @FedericoPoloni why "will"? ME.SE is in public beta since quite a while. It is now not clear to me if you were unaware of this. If so I think you should at least have a look around to see that the site is quite different than the other math sites (IMO). In light of this, you might also better understand my negative reaction towards your 'example'(s). Because they are anyway, at least one but in some sense both, past the stage where that voting you want would be relevant. So that it was quite unclear why you still brought them up.
    – quid
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 12:54
  • @quid I didn't know about history, but I've seen ME.SE online. I don't have an account yet, but I've read many excellent answers on it. You keep thinking that I want to 'stop' ME.SE (how could I?) but it's not like that. I think that chopping math questions up into different sites is a bad setup, but I accept how it is and don't hold you 'guilty' for proposing it. It'd be better IMO if Stack Exchange had a different view on opening subsites. I'd like to see the rules changed, but I don't blame you for following them. Please take this question for what it asks, and ME.SE as only an example. Commented May 11, 2014 at 18:58

I agree with the suggestion, if for that people otherwise downvote example questions if they disagree with the proposal, regardless of the example question's merit.


There are methods in place for staff of stack exchange and more experienced contributors to make those decisions.

For example Election 2016 [closed] & Videogames [closed]. As long as the proposal is still open you can assume that it has been reviewed and has at least the possibility that a stand alone site would be viable, without undue strain to existing sites.

  • That is a one-man decision, if I understand correctly, not a "democratic, community-driven process". Personally I think that this system is ok for cases in which the answer is clear (Videogames/Arqade), but not for less clear-cut cases like the ones I am suggesting. Commented May 9, 2014 at 16:45

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