Episode 7: Area 51 Stack Exchange Challenge

Episodes 7 through 9 of this Stack Exchange Challenge will be all about meta-sites. First up: Area 51, the breeding grounds for new sites in the Stack Exchange Family. This episode will not follow the regular “Stats, My own Q&A, Interesting Questions” format, because this subsite is different.

What is Area 51?

The introduction on the site itself sums things up pretty good:

Area 51 is the Stack Exchange Network staging zone, where users come together to build new Q&A sites. New site ideas are proposed, discussed, and the best go on to beta.

Key word here is “users”. This refers to a subset of existing Stack Exchange users: those that take an above-average liking to the Q&A format of the Stack Exchange network. Folks (like yours truly) that leech and occasionally “commit” to actively participate to a new Q&A site, and folks that actually actively propose, monitor, and drive new proposals.

Current Statistics

It’s not possible to roll up statistics as I did in the other episodes, as there are no “Questions” in Area 51. However, there is one interesting statistic, which is the number of proposed Q&A sites by topic:

Topic Number of Proposals
Technology 208
Culture 104
Science 74
Life 70
Recreation 50
Professional 43
Arts 40
Business 27

As you can see, Technology is twice as big as the second-largest category. This is no surprise, because the largest Stack Exchange sites (which are the most obvious gateway to Area 51) are all tech sites.

All this has an interesting effect on Proposals, and on the sites that make it into beta and beyond. These sites, no matter what category they fall in, tend to draw these very tech-savvy users that roam Stack Exchange. This causes an unusually high degree of… well… geekness on those sites. I’ve contributed my fair share of geekness, and others have too.

Interesting Proposals

The default view shows the hottest proposals, which is nice because there’s a total of 616 proposed Q&A sites. I guess from those proposals a few are (as far as I know) interesting in one way or another:

  • Atheism and Agnosticism is interesting, because the same proposal has already been shot down twice. Much to my surprise, any trace to the old proposals has been erased.
  • Stack Overflow in (French / Hindi / Italian / Spanish / etc). Some of those have even been closed before and have been restarted. Glad I’m proficient in/at/with English.
  • Lockpicking! I’m currently committed to actively particpate if this site reaches beta. Purely recreational stuff, of course…

The above proposals are the ones that piqued my interest. Have a look yourself to see if there’s any you like. To each his own.


The basic idea behind Area 51 seems solid. The fact that the user base is not too diverse may not work in its favor though. Not that it matters to me: most topics improve with a touch of geekness to it as far as I’m concerned. I’ll be browsing the staging area every once in a while, and perhaps one day even participate in a beta.