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There are some communities with intersecting subjects with superuser.com. For example I could ask this question about volume control in linux at unix community, or this about hotkeys at software recommendations. So how do I choose best variant?

P.S. Second one has been asked at software recommendations and it also was asked and answered at ask Ubuntu, one more similar community.

What about such feature like post a question to several communities? Of course asking should choose the most suitable one. But for example my question could been answered on superuser (if it exist a simple solution) or on askUbuntu (is it eist a solution using OS tools) or on softwarerecs (if it exist a good software). By the way the best answer contains recommendation of software but located on askUbuntu. Please write what do you think about such feature.

  • 2
    How about a feature for posting just the same question and answers to several communities ? I mean that every community sees the very same question. – gr4nt3d Jan 4 '17 at 14:59
  • @hillbilly, I also have also thought about this. I consider that it's exactly the situation when such feature may be useful. But I'm new here and I may err. If we can choose a number of communities for one question, it will work like adding tags. – Pavel Jan 4 '17 at 15:09
  • @Pavel I guess that were a more higher ranked user ability. Else people could spam slightly related communities to get more attention. – gr4nt3d Jan 4 '17 at 15:15
  • @hillbilly, I edited the question adding a part about the feature – Pavel Jan 4 '17 at 15:26
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    I liked your idea about "matrix" posting, until I read allquixotic's great answer. There's a lot of hidden complexity that isn't obvious until you start digging into implementation requirements. You wrote from the perspective of getting answers. Another aspect is finding the solutions that have already been posted. Lots of questions asked on SU, already have great answers on related sites. At posting time, the system suggests similar questions already on the site. It might be useful to expand that to show similar questions on sister sites. {cont'd) – fixer1234 Jan 4 '17 at 20:47
  • Likewise, searching for solutions would be enhanced if there was an option to include other sites in the search. Right now, that feature is called "Google". The Hot Network questions provide a way to see a few active questions on other sites. But some similar type of feature might be a way to alert/share questions across sites. Users could specify sites relevant to their interests, tags of interest, maybe keywords, etc. A tab on the main page could show relevant posts on sister sites. One benefit would be attracting answerers on other sites who probably wouldn't be aware of the question. – fixer1234 Jan 4 '17 at 20:59
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    Vote for cross-posting on SE: meta.stackexchange.com/q/199989/248863 – user Jan 11 '17 at 18:39
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If you are confident that a question is on-topic for a specific site, go ahead and ask the question on that site. Don't cross-post the same question on multiple sites.

In theory, the site with the most active users will be most likely to answer your question (and do so more quickly) than sites with less active users. However, if your question is a "fringe" question for a particular site, its users may not have enough expertise to answer your question, so in some cases it makes sense to post your question, intentionally, on a site with fewer users but more specialized users.

There are really, then, two parts to this:

  • Where can I post (without having my question closed/deleted)?
  • Where should I post to maximize my chances of getting a good answer, quickly?

Where Can I Post

Each site's Help Center details the topicality rules of that particular site. These are further narrowed down by a long laundry list of meta questions on each site.

As long as you ask questions on a site where you can ask them, you're not doing anything inherently wrong - you just might not get the answer you're looking for if you ask on the wrong site. Or it may take a very long time to get the right answer.

Where Should I Post

This is really a matter of experience and preference. As long as you can post a question on a given site, you have to weigh the factors against each other:

  • How many active users does this community have?
  • How specialized is my question? -vs- How specialized is the user community on this site?

You can find the number of active users here for each site.

When it comes down to it, though, you really have to know what your question is about.

Usually there is a ton of information a user can give when they have a technology-related question:

  • The operating system and version they're using
  • If it's hosted (e.g. on the cloud or a private server), what kind of service it's being hosted on, e.g. Microsoft Azure or Amazon EC2
  • The program(s) they're using and versions, bitness, etc.
  • The hardware they're running on (if applicable)
  • The programming language they're using, if they're coding
  • The problem domain (mathematics, physics, home networking, system administration, PC gaming, etc.)

But ultimately, the core of the question is going to boil down to a small number (usually 1 or 2) of extremely relevant details out of that long list. The rest is just noise. If you ask a question on a site where the topic of that site is part of the "noise", you're not going to get very good answers.


For example:

How do I peel an apple without removing too much of the meat? I have a Fisker brand paring knife, a Red Delicious apple, I live in Mexico in a small single-story apartment, I have 3 kids, and all 10 fingers. My hands fit in "Large" size gloves. I generally try to consume around 2000 calories per day.

You might laugh at some of the details provided in that question, but that's what many IT questions sound like. Based on the above, would you ask your question on any of the following Stack Exchange sites, which either exist or don't exist:

  • Gloves Stack Exchange
  • Parenting Stack Exchange
  • Fine Motor Skills Stack Exchange
  • Apples Stack Exchange
  • Food Preparation Stack Exchange
  • Mexico Stack Exchange
  • Apartment-dwellers Stack Exchange
  • Knives Stack Exchange
  • Fingers Stack Exchange
  • etc.

Since this is a fairly easy problem to understand, most people would agree that out of the above list, you'd either want to ask on Fine Motor Skills Stack Exchange or Food Preparation Stack Exchange (or maybe Apples Stack Exchange). You certainly wouldn't want to ask on Mexico.SE, Apartment-dwellers.SE, or Parenting.SE.

...And yet, in IT, people understand the nature of the problem they're having so poorly that they're very likely to ask that question on Mexico.SE. I don't know how to solve that problem of education without delving into politics and other such controversial topics. But such is the status quo. Don't be one of those people and you'll be fine.


About Your Proposed Cross-Posting Feature

The general idea, as I understand it, is to make it so that you can take a given question and post it once while having it appear on multiple sites. Then:

  • The comments made would originate from users of any of the respective sites, and all the comments would be "merged" together.
  • The answers added would be merged together, regardless of which site they originated from.
  • If the question was off-topic for a site, it'd be clos-- wait, what?

Do you see where this starts to break down? There are a bunch of problems with this that cross-cut the very structure of how Stack Exchange works:

  • If the question is deleted, where does it get deleted? Everywhere, or just on the site where the site's users voted to close/delete it?
  • If I have a user account on multiple sites and I want to vote to close or delete the question, which site does my vote get registered on?
  • Is the question ID for each site different, or the same? If it's the same ID, how do you avoid conflicts across sites?
  • If the question is upvoted/downvoted, which site's user gets the reputation change?

More importantly however, why bother having different SE sites if you're going to add a feature like this? Why not just have one gigantic stackoverflow for all technology-related questions?

Well, we already tried that. You don't even need to wonder what the world would be like if you merged all the SE sites into one, because Stack Overflow is so popular that its user community already does that. And there are so many millions of off-topic questions that the users who attempt to improve the site do not have the time and attention span to go through and close all the off-topic and duplicate questions. You can visit Stack Overflow today and see what the "IT soup" site looks like.

In fact, you can probably get away with asking just about any technology-related question on Stack Overflow and, more often than not, it won't ever be closed. That's because SO receives so many questions, and so few users are interested in cleaning up the site, that they can't ever hope to turn back the tide of questions.

So instead of asking for a feature that would make the rest of Stack Exchange just as muddled and crowded with off-topic questions as Stack Overflow, why not just analyze your question a little bit more before you ask it so you know which site to ask it on?

  • Thank you for such detailed answer, I've understood the idea. But going back to my situation, I still not sure. Sorry for the tediousness, but do you think softwarerecs was the best variant? – Pavel Jan 4 '17 at 16:25
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    You are giving a nice example for what is said here. And to peek into the discussion there, I can see two problems: 1. There will always be some users lacking the experience hence being in need to ask general questions 2. There are problems (as Pavel indicated) that can be solved by different means. Some time I tried to ask something purposely general such that I might be redirected. Don't get me wrong I tried to do my homework but couldn't narrow it down. -> Did not get an helpful answer and the question was deleted. Great Help. – gr4nt3d Jan 4 '17 at 16:37
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    Regarding the edit: Those problems are made up imho. Merging questions could be managed similar to tags. If a question is inappropriate for one site and you wanted to delete it, an option to select which site is not too complicated. Up-voting affects the user on one specific site. The ID could be something new or just from any of the selected sites (plus e.g.: if that one is removed, the question gets a new ID from the next site). Why connect and not do the giant site for everything? Well, I don't know how bad the situation on SO is, but connecting sites for some questions is different. – gr4nt3d Jan 4 '17 at 16:48
  • If cross posting were allowed (and solved), then it would implicitly solve migrating as well. But, you're right that allowing users to cross post is going to add some chaos, unless it were done very carefully. – jpaugh Jan 5 '17 at 14:46
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The idea of some form of "matrix" posting is attractive until you get into the implementation details, as allquixotic discusses. But there are some things that could be done to provide some of the benefits more or less within the existing constraints. I stuck them in a comment, but an answer might have a better chance of attracting the interest of our programmers, so I'll expand that here.

  1. Question Creation: When you write the question, the system suggests other questions that might already have the answer. Expand this list to include questions on sister sites. Similarly, the right sidebar on the question's page lists related questions. That could also be expanded to include questions from sister sites.

  2. Searches: Searching for solutions would be enhanced if there was an option to include other sites in the search. Right now, that feature is called "Google".

  3. Question Listing: While implementing actual matrix (multi-site) posting would be very complex, there's a way to simulate it and capture the essential benefits. This would be sort of a hybrid of the main page and the idea of the Hot Network Questions.

    The HNQs provide a way to see a few active questions on other sites. There are some scripts that enhance it to allow filtering of the sites, title keywords, etc. The site main page includes tabs to filter and sort the questions in different ways.

    One way to alert users and share questions across sites would be to add a feature to the main page. Users could specify sites relevant to their interests, tags of interest, maybe keywords, etc. An added tab on the main page could show relevant posts on sister sites matching those criteria. One benefit would be attracting answerers on other sites who otherwise wouldn't be aware of the questions, at least in a timely way.

6

Each website has it's own rules and it's own standards for how a question should look like.

If I post a question to skeptics.se, health.se and biology.se each of the questions would look differently if the question is well written. Users are also going to upvote questions differently.

Crossposting would prevent each sites from having it's own standards of what makes a good question.

  • If only everybody recognized this. :-) – fixer1234 Jan 9 '17 at 14:14
0

Crossposting, no matter how you do it, results in wasted effort.

Specialists and experts will find your question

Specialist users like me often trawl multiple Stack Exchange sites and focus on specific topics or tags, so questions often get seen by us regardless of where they are.

It is annoying to spend time answering a question then noticing the same, crossposted question already answered on another Stack Exchange site–often with the same solution to the problem.

Crossposted questions can actually result in fewer answers in the community: the time answering an already answered crossposted question could have been spent on an unanswered question. We are all just volunteers and we only have limited time each day to answer questions.

Everybody has a shotgun

I foresee that many users would assume "more is better" and would take the shotgun approach and abuse the crossposting feature to attempt to get more exposure for their question. This would make experts less efficient in sharing their time and would dilute the various Stack Exchange communities.

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