Proposal: Technical Communication

NOTE: As a newcomer to this proposal, I apologize for jumping in and kicking sand all over everything. But, I think this is really important to address now, before the commitment phase.

The proposal currently titled "Technical Communication" started its life with the title "Documentation." Due to a name collision with Stack Overflow Documentation, SE Overwatch prohibited the use of the name "Documentation Stack Exchange" for the site. This resulted in the name change to the current "Technical Communication."

If the scope of the new site is to be restricted solely to documentation, then the name "Technical Communication" is a terrible fit for the site. Technical communication includes things like scientific articles, technical reports, patents, slide presentations, etc. I came to the proposal expecting it to be for technical communication broadly defined, and was caught off guard when all of the proposed questions related to documentation.

IMO: Something needs to change, either the site scope or the site name.

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I removed the multiple polling-style answers you posted in favor of an open discussion. If you have thoughts on the issue yourself, feel free to post it as an answer, but it is generally better to let everyone have a voice in meta to express their own opinions rather pre-posting all sides of the conversation yourself. It's not difficult to infer what the community wants from the conversation while allowing for the possibility that there's an issue we have not considered. Polling is generally not a good substitute for discussion. Thanks. – Robert Cartaino Mar 7 at 15:15
    
@RobertCartaino Oops, my apologies. Should I edit the question so it's actually a question? – Brian Mar 7 at 15:15
    
@RobertCartaino Also, is there a Meta.SE post or policy somewhere about not using polling? I've seen it used on a variety of metas elsewhere in the network. Should that not be happening? – Brian Mar 7 at 15:31
    
Polls are inherently opinion-based, hence they're heavily opposed. Meta (both The and per situm) allows leeway in letting questions become discussion because it serves the main sites' purpose, but that's about it. – Nij Mar 7 at 18:26
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@Nij "Polls are inherently opinion-based, hence they're heavily opposed." This makes no sense to me, especially given RobertCartaino's prior comment (emphasis added): "it is generally better to let everyone have a voice in meta to express their own opinions." The whole point of much of meta discussion is the airing of opinions. The question is the proper format of the discussion. – Brian Mar 7 at 18:48
    
Thanks for the input Brian. I am just now seeing your posts and I agree that the description needs to be amended. However, I think the name change is a fair trade-off and that the scope isn't really any different, despite the lack of questions regarding the topics you mentioned. It's a field in great flux and the name "Technical Communications" has a bit of baggage with it, which is why we steered away from it in the first place. However, the subject matters are largely the same, and I hope this site will be a place that serves everything you mentioned and more. – David Vogel Mar 9 at 16:22

I see from the downvotes this question has received that people are not happy about this. I ask everyone to consider, though: if Technical Communication is chosen as the site name, the site will probably get many people wandering in like I did, expecting the scope of the site to include, e.g., preparation of scientific journal articles. Thus, there would likely be a continuous stream of off-topic questions coming to the site from OP's who make the same assumption I did.

Anyways—since the bulk of the proposed questions posted to the proposal thus far are focused on documentation, I assume that most followers want to retain this scope. (To be clear, I'm totally on board with this, and am interested in participating on such a site! Sphinx is awesome.) It seems to me that the name has to have "Documentation" in it somewhere; it just has to be something that stands sufficiently apart from "Stack Overflow Documentation" to avoid confusion. Some options I've thought of:

  • Technical Docs (techdocs.stackexchange.com) – This is similar to a previous, poorly-received suggestion, however.

  • Documentation Tools and Technique (doctools.stackexchange.com) – Descriptive, but probably too wordy.

  • Documentation Best Practices (docsbestpractices.stackexchange.com) – Not my favorite, and it makes for a really awkward URL.

  • Documentation Preparation (docsprep.stackexchange.com) – A bit awkward, kind of redundant, and having both words end in -tion is kind of annoying.

  • Documentation Composition (docscomp.stackexchange.com) – This one seems worse -- 'composition' is too focused on the writing aspect, and it still has the double -tion.

  • Documentation Development (docsdev.stackexchange.com) – Maybe somewhat better than Documentation Preparation? It at least gets rid of the double -tion.

  • Writing Documentation (writedocs.stackexchange.com) – Not bad? Not sure I like using a gerund phrase as a title. Also runs the risk of collision with Write the Docs.

  • Creating Documentation (createdocs.stackexchange.com) – More general than Writing, but doesn't seem like as good of a fit. Still has the gerund-phrase problem. Does avoid collision with Write the Docs.

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Unless someone specifically engages this question or answer, this will be the last post I make on the topic. If the proposal community wants to go with Technical Communication, I will accede to that decision. – Brian Mar 8 at 15:43
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I see your point, and understand your concern. Somehow, this reminds me of the Programmers vs Software Engineering issue. While It's true that many of the example questions posted so far are focused on documentation, this highly voted question is a good exception. I do think that the site description needs some modifications to make the scope more inclusive, and that's why I up-voted your contribution in the site description discussion. – Cebri Mar 8 at 17:51
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Since the site name and scope are explicitly related, I'm confident that "Technical Communication" provides the appropriate scope that we want for the site. The fact of having lots of questions about documentation development should not rule out questions on the developement of other technical documents such as the ones you mentioned, namely scientific articles, technical reports, etc. If the site goes live (which I really hope), efforts should be focused on developing a clear tour page and an enlightening help center that would dispel any doubts about the scope of the site. – Cebri Mar 8 at 18:11
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In short, I agree that we need to modify the site description to make its scope more inclusive. "Technical Communication" is a good site name because it doesn't interfere with Stack Overflow Documentation and it provides the adequate scope for many related topics to coexist. Thanks for your insistence and for raising awareness on this. It's better to have this discussion now than after the site goes live. Hope to see more contributions from you. Good job! – Cebri Mar 8 at 18:37
    
@Brian Thanks for the input, I agree with expanding/amending the description. – David Vogel Mar 9 at 16:25

Relative to part of your question:

If the scope of the new site is to be restricted solely to documentation, then the name "Technical Communication" is a terrible fit for the site. Technical communication includes things like scientific articles, technical reports, patents, slide presentations, etc. I came to the proposal expecting it to be for technical communication broadly defined, and was caught off guard when all of the proposed questions related to documentation.

In my mind, 'Documentation' includes all of those subjects, and others. I'd include assembly instructions (i.e. bicycle), users manuals (i.e. toaster oven), legislative extracts, court reports (and summaries), and many others.

'Technical Communication,' while inclusive of such things, maybe, feels more restrictive. I think the live site will actually receive less traffic from extra-technical realms than it would have with the original proposed name.

I really hope that the Tour and Help Center work suggested by @Cebri does well at encouraging the diversity of document creators I'd hoped to see from the original moniker.

Relative to the lack of diversity in the proposed questions: I think most of them are from computer/tech types, and focus on what they know/do. More, early, interest in the site from professionals outside the computer realm will be, I think, critical to the eventual usefulness and growth of the site once it reaches beta.

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