Episode 8: Area 51 Discuss Stack Exchange Challenge

In the previous episode I discussed Area 51, the staging area for new Stack Exchange sites. This episode is about Area 51’s meta site: “Discuss“.

What is “Discuss” Area 51?

The site shares its FAQ with Area 51 itself. The relevant bit of that page describes “Discuss” as:

For more extensive deliberations and discussions regarding the proposal as a whole, we have a separate Discussion Zone.

So where the proposals themselves should have the small and detailed discussions, “Discuss” is the place to discuss bigger issues.

Current Statistics

As I see it there are three different types of tags on the “Discuss” site:

  1. Category tags (“technology”, “culture”, “science”, etc)
  2. Typical meta tags (“status-completed”, “status-declined”, etc)
  3. Actual “discuss” tags (“area51-meta”, “proposal-scope”, etc)

The first one isn’t very interesting, because the popularity mirrors last episode’s statistics. The second one is really straightforward, and not really interesting either. What is interesting, is the last tag. Here are the stats for the top tags:

Tag Number of Questions
Area51-meta 381 questions
Discussion 197 questions
Proposal-Scope 128 questions
Merge-request 104 questions
Feature-request 68 questions

It may also be interesting to dig up statistics in the format I’ve used in earlier episodes on “normal” Stack Exchange sites, even though it’s comparing apples and oranges to some degree. Here goes:

Fact Discuss.Area51.SE
Questions 2,042
Questions with no upvoted answers 392
FAQ (questions with most links) 313
Top 3 questions 111 votes, 106 votes, 90 votes
Questions active last hour 1
All-time rep for top 3 users 14.5k, 13.9k, 13.4k
Meta questions n/a

Not a very active site, compared to other “normal” Stack Exchange sites.

My Questions

There’s a rather old question I asked in 2011, but that’s not all too interesting. What is interessting is something I can’t link to: I’ve asked two moderately controversial questions (as in: they got mixed and animated responses), but both of them are completely gone from the site. No waybackmachine, no Google cache, nothing. Probably intentional, and probably part of the Area51 process, but completely obscure to me.

Interesting Questions

By and large the most interesting question on Area51 Discuss:

The above is a list of one item, and that’s on purpose, because the above is a list of all interesting questions on “Discuss”…


It’s great that Stack Exchange tries to have an “open” process for creating new communities. However, the process and rules are obscure, and the “Discuss” site doesn’t help all that much. I guess that if you dive deep into Area 51 the “Discuss” site is great, but it’s not well suited for “light use”. Don’t think I’ll spend a lot of time there.

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.

Stack Exchange Challenge: Half-time

Almost one year ago I started my own Stack Exchange Challenge: evaluating Stack Exchange sites while trying to contribute. Progress has been slow but semi-steady, and there are currently 6 episodes in the SE Challenge tag.

Wanting to finish this “challenge” somewhere in 2013 I’ve decided it’s time to make a plan. Here it is:


  1. Episode 1: Cooking Stack Exchange Challenge
  2. Episode 2: Programming Stack Exchange Challenge
  3. Episode 3: Gaming Stack Exchange Challenge
  4. Episode 4: Android Stack Exchange Challenge
  5. Episode 5: User Experience Stack Exchange Challenge
  6. Episode 6: DBA Stack Exchange Challenge

To do:

  1. Episode 7: Area 51 Stack Exchange Challenge
  2. Episode 8: Area 51 Discuss Stack Exchange Challenge
  3. Episode 9: Meta Stack Overflow Stack Exchange Challenge
  4. Episode 10: Stack Overflow Stack Exchange Challenge

So there you have it: I’ll be finishing up the coming weeks (possibly months) with the “special” Stack Exchange sites. I’ll update this post with links as I move on.

Boy, I love finishing projects!

Update September 2013: added links to the finished second half.

Content is King

After having several months of fun with various Social Media, I found Twitter to be the best one for me. Took me a while before I understood why. It’s the quick fire-and-forget blogging “flavor” that I enjoy. Not only is it fun to fire some thoughts onto the web myself, but also to see other people’s thoughts, jokes, and other random goodness.

At the same time I was trying out Twitter I also took up a blogging project, using my World of Warcraft addiction to generate content. Because it’s true:

Content is king!

So after finishing that blogging project with my final episode (an Interactive Youtube Adventure), I sort of landed in a void. Without any more content: what was I to blog about? Besides: who’d want to read what I have to say?

The answer is: who cares!? You can also just blog for your own pleasure (or to overcome your fear of writing). So that’s exactly what I’ll do!