It seems to me that creating communities, splits StackExchange quite a lot, and makes them difficult to start too.

Would it not be better to allow all questions to be in one big pool, and then have communities be views on the pool, with special review rules organised by that community? Posts sent from that community could automatically get a community tag, which would also make them beholden to the rules of that community.

Then communities that found that they had questions that spanned many different communities could point to those questions as proofs that there is an interest there, when arguing for a new community. Entering a community would not split questions apart from the rest, but be entry point for people from different domains to filter what interests them, allowing them to link to overviews of stack exchange that is easy to grasp for their members.

Just wondering if this process could be more flexible...


This is an age-old debate which typically starts: "Why don't we have just one Stack Exchange site with tags?"

It's an arguable point, but Stack Exchange grew out of the ashes of sites like "Yahoo! Answers" and other sites whose priority was placed on the ability to ask a question. Stack Exchange (in contrast) placed an emphasis on the ability to answer a question correctly, and to curate that body of content so communities would be confident those answers could be well-trusted. We accomplish this by first assuring we have a suffiently large group of peers actually working in this space to vet anything which might be posted.

It's not hard to ask a question; there's no shortage of people willing to type stuff into any space provided. But Stack Exchange places a big emphasis on the ability to gather a peer-group of users willing to vet and update that content to keep it relevant. It's that combination voting and wiki-style editing which makes these sites "work".

You cannot throw up a series of sites (or even a single, huge site) and hope that folks who can answer those questions authoritatively will simply show up later; in the meantime, you end up with a lot of folks posting their best pop-culture guess — that's not a trusted system. Getting it right is a more difficult challenge, yes, but the end result is way more tenable than the hackneyed, catch-all sites which came before it.

  • Thanks for that helpful answer. I was now aware of the history. – Henry Story Dec 10 '18 at 7:10
  • I accept that it makes sense to have different StackExchange communities - love stackoverlfow and math.StackExchange. But how large should they be? For example I like to follow JavaScript, Scala, Scala-JS and Java on StackOverflow, where there are others specialists too such as Haskell, Erlang and many others. People who are good at one language rarely are good at that many more. So those communities are quite separate, but coexist well it seems. Often a community uses more than one tag. So I wonder if one could not also create tag based communities by giving them an entry point... – Henry Story Dec 10 '18 at 17:01
  • I am asking this because we just made a proposal for WebData on area51, and discovered that there is Open Data in beta. Should we fuse? Should one rather make a Web Stack Exchange that covers all web technologies? Or perhaps even bigger one that encompasses questions from the IETF and W3C? After all you can't use HTML if you don't use HTTP, and RDFa is RDF embedded in HTML... area51.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/28389/… – Henry Story Dec 10 '18 at 17:04
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    @HenryStory Area 51 is currently accepting proposals which successfully define new subject spaces whose questions cannot be asked on other Stack Exchange sites. Unfortunately, we cannot split off individual tags (even across multiple sites) simply to give a topic an entry point into its own space. Semantic Web has been tried on several occasions, but there doesn't seem to be enough content not already covered elsewhere, which leaves a somewhat gerrymandered definition that isn't all that attractive or tenable. Communities generally find the current sites sufficient to ask their questions – Robert Cartaino Dec 10 '18 at 17:20
  • it looks like there is now an Open Data community in Beta on area51, which covers Semantic Web and Linked Data, so it looks like there was interest to create a community there. Would it be better to extend OpenData to cover Web Data including closed data, and protocols? That's the question I am trying to find an answer to area51.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/28389/… Tag based communities would help the semweb community feel more at home there perhaps. – Henry Story Dec 10 '18 at 17:31
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    @HenryStory That's really a question for those communities (meta support on opendata.meta.stackexchange.com and related sites). You may find your subject is already on topic. Sometimes a subject is on topic for a site which simply hasn't (yet) attracted those questions. If that's the case, you should have your community ask their questions on the site ready to move in. Everyone benefits when a community can expand their coverage in areas which may have seen only light usage in the past. – Robert Cartaino Dec 10 '18 at 17:40

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