As the Computational Science proposal is about to move from commitment to beta, I would like to understand the expected etiquette surrounding the name changes it went through, as I believe it could have been handled better.

Since there was lots of discussion in the proposal announcements, I created a question to try and gather a community consensus. It appears that as a result of this question, the name of the proposal was changed to Scientific Computing, which caused a storm of criticism.

While responses to my question appeared to favour the change, the level of participation there was never as high as the level in the proposal announcements, leaving the consensus muddled. If you look at my question there is a clear preference for Scientific Computing but if you look at the announcements, there is a clear preference for Computational Science. Unfortunately the announcements obviously don't include the reasoning behind each suggestion, so could be considered less informed.

Now, I believe that the right decision was made in the end, but I realise that my original question should have been better. It should have been CW from the start, the original question should have included the one name proposal per answer and no duplicate name proposals suggestion. I should also have written a neutral question and then put my own feelings at the time into an answer, rather than writing a leading question.

So, when is the right time to discuss changing a proposal name? Should it be all done and dusted before the definition phase is over? Is it reasonable to still be discussing it during the commitment phase? If people really aren't happy with the name, is it Ok to discuss it on the meta site in private beta or even in public beta?

In response to my suggestion of taking the question to meta.scicomp.stackexchange.com, Robert Cartaino♦ said:

We really try to resolve these issues before launch. Changing the "official name" displayed at the top of the site is problematic but not as big a deal as the selected URL. Changing the URL post-launch is almost a show-stopper.

  • Shouldn't the title be spelled "etiquette"? Commented Dec 8, 2011 at 4:58
  • While structuring it in a neutral fashion and leaving answers to discuss each option is a wise idea, I don't think community wiki would be at all necessary.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Dec 8, 2011 at 15:07
  • @MarkBooth Unfortunately, I don't have editing power yet. I'm sorry my comment was a bit dry. Commented Dec 8, 2011 at 16:44
  • @GraceNote - Community Wiki wouldn't be necessary, but I think it would be helpful. The idea of making answers CW would be to allow more people to edit the answer to provide more compelling argument for that option. I may write an answer proposing name W and giving reasons X & Y, but someone else might have another reason Z which complements the first two reasons. Having it available to edit more widely would mean it was less likely that these points would get lost in the comment noise (i.e. people making (possibly valid) points against the proposal).
    – Mark Booth
    Commented Dec 8, 2011 at 17:31
  • @MarkBooth Sorry I looked again but I can't see an edit button/tag anywhere on the page> I only have link and flag under your post... Looks like it is specific to Area51 discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/questions/3114/… Commented Dec 8, 2011 at 23:25
  • @FrenchKheldar - No problem, you learn something new every day. Thanks for the correction.
    – Mark Booth
    Commented Dec 9, 2011 at 3:49

1 Answer 1


A proposal is in constant development right up through it's creation and beyond into the beta phase. We try to "sign off" on the name choice, URL, and description when a proposal reaches approximately 45% Commitment. That's why you might see a flurry of activity about that time.

If there is a "problem" with the proposal or a consensus is unclear, we'll try to resolve it before the proposal launches. The evolution of the Computation Science proposal proceeded pretty much how the system is designed. The only process that went a bit awry is letting the naming discussion fragment into too many locations. While a consensus seemed clear at one location, a lack of participation and fragmentation into other meta discussions caused other opinions to split from the first. But we worked it out in the end.

  • Thanks Robert, it's good to hear that we didn't deviate too far from the norm. Perhaps the answer would have been to nip in the bud the discussion in the announcements section, where it should never have been in the first place.
    – Mark Booth
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 11:00
  • @MarkBooth: That announcement-discussion predates the creation of this discussion forum. That legacy discussion was all we had at the time. Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 14:15
  • I only joined Area 51 around 4 months ago, and one of the first announcements I saw was about the announcements area being used for discussion, so I assumed that had always been the case.
    – Mark Booth
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 14:41

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