I'm not sure whether all users happen to be as eclectic as myself and others who have meet in the other StackExchange sites but I've notice a particular awkwardness when asking questions that cross the domain of multiple StackExchange sites.

An example could be a question that is specific to English grammar and also as it applies to User Experience and as such could fit partly under english.stackexhange.com as ux.stackexchange.com but it would fit better if it could be somehow cross-listed under both.

In some cases there could be even up to three or four StackExchange sites that would make sense to collaborate with in order to properly gather the necessary folks that could best answer the question.

InterExchange Site Proposal

If I could make a proposal on a way to solve this I would suggest creating a new site called something like InterExchange.com or inter.stackexchange.com which would act as a holding area for questions that are tied to multiple stackexchange sites. The idea behind the site is that once a user is logged in they would only be able to answer questions if they belong to all of the StackExchange sites for which that question is associated with. So effectively it would allow questions to be asked in a way that require that those who answer are members in all of the necessary Q&A sites which would have a few inherent benefits which I'll try to list below.

  • Answers will likely be more precise since those answering will already generally be part of the same set of StackEchange sites.
  • Cases can be avoided where members of specific StackExchange sites feel like the question doesn't really fit strongly within one site or another but instead the question will instead be whether the original question belongs cross-listed and thus moved to the new inter exchange site.

To help encourage knowledgeable experts to participate in this proposed site one benefit could be that points awarded within the InterExchange site are awarded as well (perhaps partially) within the sites that a question is cross-listed under. This way questions that truely span the domain of multiple Q&A sites can be found in each cross-listed board and the users have an incentive to participate in the multiple StackExchange sites where they effectively further their reputation on multiple sites by asking and answering a single cross-listed question.

UPDATE: Perhaps instead of a new site this could just be a new function of the StackExchange.com site since it already works as a sort of gathering place for the other StackExchange related sites.

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"Interdisciplinary problems" are a very common dilemma in virtually any field of expertise. Almost any academic discipline has overlapping boundaries with multiple fields. Biology problems can involve physics, chemistry, engineering, medicine; Programmers have to deal with issues of mathematics, sociology, semantics, aesthetics, etc.

But trying to wrap a site around each of these many-to-many relationships would be overwhelming. An expert in chemistry isn't going to follow the (hypothetical) sites covering biochemistry, electrochemistry, geochemistry, environmental chemistry, medical chemistry, food & cooking chemistry… A psychology site couldn't possibly connect to all of its overlapping disciplines: biological, neurological, ecological, medical, occupational, community, consumer, political, gaming, sport … and on and on.

If there is support for a particular interdisciplinary site, users can propose it and go through the normal process. But creating a "special" site for Interdisciplinary is just a sneaky way to implement cross-posting, something we generally discourage.

The ability to cross post a question to a bunch of sites at the hint of it being related would be widely abused. Countering that with a bunch of "you must belong to x, y, and z site to ask" validation rules would be fraught with confusing user experiences. The result would be a diminishingly-small audience with questions that go increasingly unanswered. That's go against the critical mass of experts we require to build a viable site.

My suggestion is typically to start with the site that is most qualified to answer your question. That doesn't really take care of the interdisciplinary problem, but I don't think any of these solutions are workable. But that's okay; People a lot smarter than us have been trying to solve the interdisciplinary problem for millennia.

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Instead of an interdisciplinary site, StackExchange.com should provide this functionality from the question-finding side of things. – Ivo Flipse Jun 1 '11 at 22:49
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It's also worth noting that the choice of which site to post to isn't irrevocable. It's perfectly fine to make your best guess and trust that the site moderators (who spend a lot of time on these sorts of issues, and coordinate with one another) will migrate your question if it would get better answers elsewhere. – HedgeMage Jun 8 '11 at 14:05

Variations of this have come up a number of times in the past and been rejected by the community. Common issues have been:

  • Who are the experts?
  • Why would experts want to visit more than one site?
  • How would novices know to ask questions there?
  • Who decides which sites a question would be associated with?
  • Would everything be on topic?
    Would anything be off topic?

While it's an interesting concept, it clearly wouldn't be a standard Area 51 proposal. If it's something that you strongly believe in, you could try bringing it up at MSO.

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The experts are simply those who have member ship in the associated sites. Experts, such as myself (wink), already visit multiple StackExchange sites and its cases where questions don't fit nicely into one of the sites when it would be chosen by members who already belong to more than one site that would be able to cross list it. Perhaps associating a question with another site would be a function only afforded by members with a certain level of reputation in one or perhaps all of the sites and there could also be a voting process similar to when closing a question. – jpierson Jun 1 '11 at 9:50
    
@Dori - If you happen to have any links to those other variations of this proposal/topic I would love to give them a glance. – jpierson Jun 1 '11 at 9:54

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