Note: There really is a question in this, but I feel a little background is needed to highlight the question in context. Also, this is not intended as a rant or a complaint, nor to pick fault with moderators who I am sure have acted with good intentions. If you are impatient, you can jump to the question summary at the end, but I do urge you to read this question in its entirety. Thanks.
I was quite surprised this morning when I decided to log on to Area51 in order to expand the proposal and to make a start promoting it, only to find the proposal has already been closed!
Reasons given were that it (allegedly) duplicates The Great Outdoors, and that "This proposal would tend to drain audience from an existing Stack Exchange site."
A few issues concern me with regards to this closure:
- There appears to be no evidence to support the assumption that GreatOutdoors would suffer as a result of the creation of the FishingLine proposal. Indeed, the proposal was closed without being given the benefit of doubt to run its course. Had this been done, we would at least be able to gather some statistics and provide questions to the community to determine if this assumption would hold true.
- Given the closure occurred within 4 hours of the proposal being created, there has been no opportunity to see if there will be enough interest generated in the wider community. Heck, I hadn't even begun to promote the idea yet among the various fishing communities of which I am aware.
- GreatOutdoors appears so far to have a very low participation rate in terms of fishing enthusiasts. I could be wrong, although I've found it very hard to gather any evidence as yet to confirm if this is indeed the case.
- A prior proposal for a fishing and hunting site seems to have been merged into Great Outdoors, yet from my own experience I know there is a lot of knowledge that is specific to fishing, and I understand fishermen who while they might find GreatOutdoors interesting, would likely feel that it is too broad a category to satisfy their particular interests, and would again likely steer away from a site that might potentially hide much of the information sought in the general noise of the other interests that GreatOutdoors seeks to cover.
- GreatOutdoors is a very broad general interest category. Too broad perhaps in that it doesn't really allow a scope for specialization in the way that FishingLine is intended. Fishing itself is every bit as specialized as Photography is for instance, with lots of sub-categories relating to the various different activities and types of equipment/fish/locations/etc that would be the heart of good fishing related questions. It is one of those subject areas that only loosely overlaps with other areas, unlike Software Development for instance, which touches on areas such as management, recruiting, law, and many others. My concern is that the questions fisherfolk might ask would likely be lost in the general "noise" of questions from many other subject areas if left buried in the vast area of interest that the Great Outdoors represents.
- It does not seem to be in keeping with the community-minded approach that is the foundation of the Stack Exchange network, to have a proposal closure without referring the matter first to the originating member and any others who might be following or committing to a given proposal. It certainly feels that this approach is very non-inclusive and unfriendly, particularly when on your next login you find your idea that you spent some time on closed to you without input, notice, and without a supporting argument behind the reason listed in the closure notice.
"Most definitely, users should be free to propose a site idea again if they feel they are better able to recruit a critical mass of supporters. But, if no further efforts are made to promote the site idea, the site isn't likely to be created."
Reintroduction of a site idea in a slightly different vein is something I have attempted to do here. I'll admit to being a little disappointed to see that the proposal was not afforded the opportunity to attract the critical mass of users necessary to contribute to the idea. I am driven to see projects through to completion, and I can see where other proposals might fail to attract the necessary contributors if not promoted well outside of the Stack Exchange sphere of immediate influence.
I realize also that the Area51 FAQ suggests allowing larger sites to subsume smaller niche sites, however if this were the case, sites such as Programmers should never have been created as separate from Stack Overflow, except of course that there are site ideas that can be niches that are large enough to support a self sustaining community of experts and enthusiasts, and still be of interest to users of other sites without the need to actually be subsumed. My own knowledge of the fishing subject area (as limited as it may be) can see clearly that Fishing would also be an area of wider interest with a level of specialization similar to Programmers. It should therefore be given the opportunity to run its course.
So my question in summary is as follows:
- How can a proposal be closed a mere 4 hours after creation without input from the wider community, and without discussion with the proposer?
- What is the usual policy behind closures?
- How can I see this proposal is reinstated long enough to give me a chance to gather support I know will be available from the wider fishing community?
Thank you for your consideration.