There are a number of proposals around specific games, of both the computer game variety and the board/card game variety. Meanwhile we have a Gaming site that covers all types of video and computer games and is one of the most successful Stack Exchange sites so far, and a Board/Card gaming site which is struggling. Each of the proposers for the specific game sites seems to think that it would be impossible for them to merge with the larger sites. But I think that Stack Overflow itself shows that isn't true both from a "There would be too many questions" standpoint, and from a "Real experts would only join a specific site" standpoint.

Some proposals I believe this applies to:

There was also a proposal for World of Warcraft but I see that has already been closed. That might be because of the existing SE 1.0 site, although EVE Online also has one of those.

Is one of the specific game proposals willing to make a concerted effort to create their community within one of the existing sites to see whether it really can work? It would need to be treated the same way as a typical Stack Exchange beta, with an initial surge of questions, great answers, publicity, etc.

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What specific game sites are we talking about then? If it's video game related it belongs on Gaming and not anywhere else –  Ivo Flipse Jan 29 '11 at 0:37
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I think it would be both foolish and arrogant of anyone to think that their proposal in their current state would survive outside of Board & Card Games. So by all means, those users who committed should flock to B&CG as fast as they can –  Ivo Flipse Jan 29 '11 at 9:40
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@ivo - "foolish and arrogant" - language like that just gets peoples backs up, as a SU moderator you should be choosing your words more carefully :). "Overly optimistic, maybe misguided" would perhaps be a better way to put it. Anyway as overly optimistic as it perhaps was, I proposed the Eve site. Whilst there's a hugely active Eve community they don't seem that interested in a SO style Q&A site, which is fair enough. It wouldn't upset me to see the proposal closed and useful questions merged into Gaming seeing as it seems to have stalled at a commit of 18% for the past two-three weeks. –  Kev Jan 29 '11 at 12:01
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@Kev I'm simply a user on Gaming and it's exactly the mentality of backup off that's the problem here. They want a place where they can ask their own questions and don't care about anybody else. Well that's not what Stack Exchange is about. –  Ivo Flipse Jan 29 '11 at 12:10
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@ivo - oh I agree that's not what SE is about. But the system does invite people to propose sites. They live or die by their merits through the various phases designed to filter out proposals that may become tumbleweed. You can't prevent people doing that, but you can't go about calling the proposers "foolish and arrogant" either, it's hardly a democratic viewpoint which is what Area51 is supposed to encourage. The EVE proposal may or may not have taken off, how would we know without a proposal. The system has now shown that it's not a sure thing after all, job done. –  Kev Jan 29 '11 at 13:20
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@ivo - It's not about folks not caring about what anyone else thinks, it's about the principle of "suck it and see". I don't think my proposal was "foolish or arrogant", also people are still free to ask questions on Gaming. I just wanted to see if we could build an Eve Q&A community without some of the usual intercorp sparring that happens on the Eve boards which creates a lot of noise. But A51 proved that it's not getting the critical mass and and probably won't survive, so no harm done. –  Kev Jan 29 '11 at 13:21
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@kev The problem is, that together we are stronger than we are alone. If nobody is willing to work together on several larger proposals, a lot of good initiatives will die out. And that's what I think is arrogant, because they won't give it a try on Gaming as long as there's a sliver of change that they'll get their own sub-domain. –  Ivo Flipse Jan 29 '11 at 13:42
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@ivo - Lots of people are passionate about whatever game they play such that they may think that they have a community large enough and with the critical mass to justify their own site. It's a bit harsh to call that arrogance. Meanwhile I'm sure people aren't going to be holding off on their questions about Settlers or WarHammer on B&CG. What next? an area51.area51.stackexchange.com to approve proposals. The present system is doing its job. I have to admit I have been very sceptical about the process but having watched with great interest it appears to actually work. –  Kev Jan 29 '11 at 14:03
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And you think the previous months didn't have any guidance? Robert has done a hell of a job trying to keep things in line, but one man can only do so much. With discuss.area51.SE.com we get to pitch in when we feel things are going in the wrong direction too. As on any of the other sites: just because you can ask something, doesn't mean you should. The same goes for proposals. –  Ivo Flipse Jan 29 '11 at 17:38
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Regarding chess there 8 questions (excluding one closed) on Board & Card Games with the tag chess. I think the on topic question could be asked on BCG and would get good answer. –  Guillaume Coté Jan 31 '11 at 22:31
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Voting to close, the board game site needs these questions to survive, and these proposals would not survive yet on their own. –  Mark Rogers Feb 4 '11 at 16:29
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"the board game site needs these questions to survive" The problem is that it doesn't get those players, even if you close the proposals. There are already forums, wikis etc for those games. So the main problem is convincing the players that SE is useful for them. And a general board game site won't do that. –  CodesInChaos Feb 7 '11 at 10:56
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And you'd need extensions to the SE software in any case. For example a go.SE would need an sgf viewer and support for displaying a board. –  CodesInChaos Feb 7 '11 at 10:58
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Perhaps that is part of the problem with attracting prospective users either to the proposals or to BCG. People who want to ask specific questions about go, bridge, and chess (and possibly other games) may not go to the trouble without tools to assist in describing their situation, and if they can find those tools elsewhere, they may not be interested in setting up the question elsewhere and posting it here. –  Dave DuPlantis Apr 8 '11 at 19:19

4 Answers 4

up vote 44 down vote accepted

In the broadest sense, the issue at hand is: When is it reasonable to create a site for a sub-community, when that community's questions would be on-topic for an existing site?

In most cases, it is not reasonable to create a site for the sub-community. However, there are some rare cases where it is advantageous to do so. It doesn't make sense to have a C++ StackExchange or a Java StackExchange, but we do have a Unix & Linux StackExchange and an Ubuntu StackExchange, and they're both doing well.

We need a way to determine if a sub-community should have its own site, or be merged with the existing, broad-topic site. I believe we can determine this by looking at a few semi-subjective criteria:

  • Unit of topic division
  • Sub-topic overlap
  • Community overlap/insularity

Unit of Topic Division

Communities where this question comes up seem to have fairly obvious units of division. They're typically easy to see in the tags. In Gaming.SE and board/card gaming, the division is between individual games. For StackOverflow, the division is probably programming languages.

Topic Overlap

Once we establish the topic division, we can look at the relationships between subtopics.

  • Is it easy or difficult to separate these sub-topics?
  • How likely is it that a question/answer on one sub-topic would relate to another sub-topic?
  • Are there a lot of similar, broad concepts that apply to all or multiple sub-topics?

In the case of StackOverflow, programming languages are fairly easy to separate. It wouldn't be hard to determine what's on/off-topic for a Perl.SE or Ruby.SE. However, specific language questions on SO tend to relate well to other languages. Many constructs and ideas move easily between languages. In many cases, the syntax is similar, but even when it isn't, the underlying concepts are typically not unique to the language. There are many broad concepts that can be applied regardless of language. All of this points to a unified StackOverflow being a good thing, and individual programming language sites being overly fragmentary.

On the other hand, we can look at board and card gaming. Again, it's easy to separate topics by individual game. However, questions and answers pertaining to a given game are not very likely to relate usefully to other games. Poker strategy will help me very little in chess. Go Joseki will not improve my play in Settlers of Catan. Even when it comes to fairly broad topics like bluffing, strategy doesn't often transfer well between games. This does not build a strong case for having a unified Board and Card Games site instead of sub-sites for individual games.

Gaming.SE seems similar, in that sub-topics of individual games are easy to separate out. But I feel that electronic gaming is somewhat less diverse than card and board. There are some very unique games, but most fit neatly into a few genres, with a high level of overlap. There are effective tactics that can be applied to lots of first-person shooters, or real-time strategy games, or role-playing games. The execution may differ (as with programming languages), but concepts can be transfered.

Community Overlap and Insularity

Finally, we have to look at the overall community and the sub-communities that focus on a particular sub-topic.

  • How much overlap is there between sub-communities?
  • How does overlap differ between casual participants and experts/professionals?
  • How does loyalty to the sub-group compare to loyalty to the larger group?
  • Do sub-communities have the size and interest to support a site by themselves?

On StackOverflow, the overlap between subcommunities is extremely high. Most programmers have worked with multiple languages, and many use several languages on a daily basis. Experts and professionals often have experience and interest in a variety of languages, even if they claim one as their forte. And while there are small religious wars and some people who strictly refer to themselves as Perl hackers, Java masters, etc., folks mostly just call themselves programmers. There is a strong loyalty to the larger group, as compared to specific languages.

As an active participant on Gaming.SE, I think there is a similar situation over there. We may love individual games, genres, or platforms, but above all, we are gamers. Hardcore gamers (aside from super-pros) tend to play a larger variety of games than casuals. There is a lot of overlap between game cultures.

In both of these cases, there are sub-communities big enough to form their own sites, like Java or World of Warcraft, but none of the other points really indicate a need.

However, board games played at a professional level, such as chess and Go, have more insular communities. There are lots of people who take chess very seriously, but have no interest in other board or card games. I believe (but admittedly have no hard evidence) that there is even less crossover among serious and professional players. Casual players are probably more likely to dabble in chess as well as poker, Monopoly and Settlers of Catan.

There are many players of chess or Go that are only interested in that particular game. They do not consider themselves board game players first and foremost. They consider themselves chess and Go players. The sub-group often commands much higher loyalty than the broader board games group. These communities boast thousands of players, from local and school clubs, online play, professional rankings and many tournaments, with and without prize money. People who consider themselves strictly chess players are unlikely to participate in a website for all board games, where perhaps 5% (and probably a lot less) of the questions relate to their game of choice. These people are more likely to be the ones with significant expertise.

Conclusions

I believe these criteria highlight the most important aspects of the argument. Applying them, I think the comparison to StackOverflow is somewhat flawed. I find that Gaming.SE is probably less likely to spin off successful sites for individual games, because gamers as a whole have a strong identity, like programmers. The sub-domains of individual games also relate strongly to one another.

On the other hand, I think card and board games are much more likely to succeed as individual sites addressing a sub-domain. Chess and Go seem like the strongest candidates for success to me. They have large, loyal communities, but have little crossover with other board games, especially at higher levels of play.

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I think that's a good argument, that PROFESSIONAL Chess and Go players may have little interest in other board games. However, I find it unlikely that there are a sufficient number of professionals in those area looking for an online Q&A site to support their own site. Game of Go is fairly close to beta, so maybe it will prove me wrong. –  Brent Warner Jan 31 '11 at 21:14
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I think it is unfortunate though that Board & Card Games is likely to fail on its own partly because a number of people that might participate in the larger site are instead holding out for an exclusive site. –  Brent Warner Jan 31 '11 at 21:16
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@Brent - I believe the more serious the player is about the game, the less likely they'll be interested in other board games. More of a continuum than a binary "you're pro or you're not". If Go.SE makes it to beta, it will certainly put it to the test. –  sjohnston Jan 31 '11 at 22:46
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@sjohnston your well-written answer causes me to reconsider my opinion that single games should have their own Q&A. That leaves only the question as to whether there is a large enough pool of users to keep the site alive, or if it would disappear in the fog of the internet? –  JYelton Feb 11 '11 at 17:02
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+1 for an excellent, well-thought answer. –  Kensai Apr 4 '11 at 4:25
    
I was also of the opinion of a big site for multiple games would be better than one site per game until I read this answer as well. I'm all for it now though! –  adamjford Sep 12 '11 at 14:44
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+1 for good answer, however I disagree with your generalization about Go players. I am a semi-serious Go player (not quite dan-level, but I play multiple times per week). Many of my [other-game-than-Go]-playing friends are interested in Go, but more importantly, at many gatherings of Go players, other games come up and are discussed, ranging from Settlers of Cataan to backgammon. I'm becoming a frequent contributor at B&CG, but I wish there were more Go questions there so I could contribute to those too! –  Gregor Oct 20 '11 at 22:55

I was an active user at early beta phase and I was seeing the site turning more restrictive (winding the rope around his neck). BCG wouldn't took off in that way. Probably all these proposals except video games, should be merged on BCG. Ex. on Poker it'a llowed to talk about celebrities/professional players. Ok, BCG should allow it either. BCG is too restrict and forces new proposals to be created. None of them will take off. BCG could be stringer with these topics.

I can say less for WC and EXE merging with Gaming, but I would expect an improvement to gaming and a viable site to these 2 games.

I play a great variety of tabletop and card games, including Poker, Bridge and Chess. I could play WarGames, if fact I hope I can play someday, and many people like me probably likes Magic: The Gathering and variations.

I don't wanna to sign in 6, 8, 10 sites to ask my doubts.

I read arguments to keep these sites separated but I can't buy them. If it is only a matter of my decision I would be merging them now.

EDIT: I would add: Tabletop Game Design, Game Studies and even Games for education and Game Theory to the discussion.

BCG is not going well but these proposals could helps. Actualy question about game design was on BCG definition. Niche proposals need to be less strict about the topics or they won't survive well.

EDIT 2: Maybe Puzzling could be consider for merging too.

EDIT 3: Bridge proposal has no recent activity. It's dead.

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Just as Gamers and GameDev are separate, Tabletop Game Design warrants its own board - so long as it encompasses everything. The line blurs when it comes to games where design is part of the game, but I trust the community will be able to work out where the divide sits. For instance: someone has an ambition to make an epic D&D campaign. The D&D-specific rule and situation consultations would not belong on Tabletop Design, but there's a point at which the person's designing a tabletop experience, and questions regarding that certainly belong on the design board. –  doppelgreener Jan 30 '11 at 7:42
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@Jonathan Hobbs: Both has success. BCG is not a successful site and Tabletop Game Design will never take off. Game development is extremely technical, tabletop development is not. With the same background I would agree with you but this comparison has different backgrounds. –  bigown Jan 30 '11 at 11:19
    
@bigown: Good point, I didn't consider the difference in background at all. –  doppelgreener Jan 30 '11 at 11:22
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Game Theory has nothing to do (necessarily) with gaming –  warren Feb 8 '11 at 3:19
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Game Theory has nothing to do with gaming, it's a branch of mathematics used in various sciences. –  TZHX Feb 10 '11 at 12:56

Here's the basic problem. Competitive players of games like Go/Chess/Poker have already established online gathering places. BCG in its current state simply can't compete with them.

In the case of SO, no one was particularly happy with ex-ex; the format, the obnoxious advertising and the constant begging for your credit card number (as well as some nasty history) drove people away. The other options were crappy phpBB forums. At least for go, none of our current sites have these problems. In addition, our sites are setup for easily posting board positions (and branching game playbacks).

We might be able to pull people off of them for a dedicated 'go' site, but there's no way we'll pull dedicated players to a demonstrably inferior environment.

Want go players on BCG? Put some effort into it. At least import eidogo. It's not the best system out there (a bit slow), but it does work.

Want chess players on BCG? Get a basic system in place to describe chess moves and pieces. Things like replacing {whiterook} in text with the symbol should be considered basics.

Want poker players? Does your site even allow them to use poker shorthand?

Magic: The Gathering has a ridiculously high number of fairly casual players. There are probably more WotC game players in the US than go and chess players combined. (remember to add pokemon). Auto-linking to the various online card dictionaries seems an obvious first step.

In summary, you don't need any special work to make a place inviting for questions like Where can I watch recorded go games from masters, but if you want to be a serious go site, you need to be able to support Is this corner killable.

The advocates of the individual sites are willing to put forth the effort to make their independent sites comfortable for the appropriate player base. Are the people saying "just merge into BCG" willing to put the effort in to be hospitable to these different games? Because until that effort is put forth, there is no reason for us to move from our current online homes.

EDIT: This is apparently being looked at on the BCG meta.

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"The advocates of the individual sites are willing to put forth the effort to make their independent sites comfortable for the appropriate player base" I don't understand this statement. The things you talk about are not things that can be created by admins, they need to be created by the Stack Exchange team. And if they are created by them, they could just as easily be used at either BCG or a specialized site. –  Brent Warner May 18 '11 at 17:51
    
@Brent: Good point. shidogo was able to embed eidogo because it's based on the first stack engine (and they had the code). But at the very least, understand that while we can make a strong argument for go.sx supporting linking to eidogo... until BCG actually supports go/chess/poker game displays, arguing that those players should "just help on BCG" is silly. –  Something Odd About His Name May 18 '11 at 18:33
    
I should probably mention... I think Go, Chess, Poker could all exist quite nicely on BCG, but not in its current form. I don't see the choice as being between an independent Go site and joining with BCG... it seems fairly obvious to me that at this point it's a choice between a SX site with adequate support (wherever it lands), and our current online hangouts. –  Something Odd About His Name May 18 '11 at 18:43
    
Yah, I think that makes sense. Given the (in my opinion anyway) failure of BCG, and the inability for any of the game specific sites to even get into beta, I think there just isn't enough of a user base to make these sites work on Stack Exchange, regardless of whether they are separate or not. –  Brent Warner May 18 '11 at 19:23
    
Well thought out answer. I think we have a bit of a chicken&egg syndrome on B&CG. You linked to my question about what software is needed, but as you can see, there is only one answer and one upvote (which was from me). I think that if some folks backing Go/Chess/Magic showed up and discussed what software was actually needed and achieved some sort of consensus that we would have a much better chance of getting it implemented. As it is, I have a hard time faulting the devs for ignoring that question due to the complete lack of interest by the community. –  Pat Ludwig May 19 '11 at 1:50
    
@Pat: well... at least from a go perspective, that one answer is fairly complete. –  Something Odd About His Name Jun 1 '11 at 17:04
    
@something -great! Hopefully it will attract some votes sooner or later. –  Pat Ludwig Jun 1 '11 at 17:49

There are a number of proposals around specific games, of both the computer game variety and the board/card game variety. Meanwhile we have a Gaming site that covers all types of video and computer games and is one of the most successful Stack Exchange sites so far, and a Board/Card gaming site which is struggling. Each of the proposers for the specific game sites seems to think that it would be impossible for them to merge with the larger sites. But I think that Stack Overflow itself shows that isn't true both from a "There would be too many questions" standpoint, and from a "Real experts would only join a specific site" standpoint.

This might be a bad answer, because I'm sticking up for a single game, but it's what I believe, so I'm giving it a go. (no pun intended)

Chess is a unique game.

As cool as, say, Settlers of Catan is, it's not Chess. Chess is thousands of years old. Settlers, maybe fifteen?

I suppose a single site for all modern games is appropriate, but games with their own history and culture do not belong "dumped" together with other games.

But I think that Stack Overflow itself shows that isn't true both from a "There would be too many questions" standpoint, and from a "Real experts would only join a specific site" standpoint.

Regarding "There would be too many questions" standpoint, I disagree with you. SO has over a million questions and guess how many are dupes? Probably quite a few. People can find what they are looking for, but somehow dupes keep popping up. I think that is is caused by there being too man questions.

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Why does "having its own history and culture" mean that you need your own website? Do you think that Boardgamegeek should create a different website for people to discuss Chess, because it is somehow unfit to intermingle with newer games? Given the choice, would you rather have no site at all versus cohabitating with other games? –  Brent Warner Jan 31 '11 at 16:03
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@Brent: I'd choose non over an own "identity". –  Robert Filter Jan 31 '11 at 22:09
    
@Robert I think you mean that would rather have no site over one without its own identity. That's fair enough, given the current state it looks like that is what will happen. –  Brent Warner Jan 31 '11 at 22:21
    
@Brent: Really, this is ok for me. As you pointed out, chess is somehow already present as a category on another site. It did neither create nice content nor got lots of attention of the chess community. If we cannot kick this off here, chess will just not be present at SE not meaning that there is no place for chess players to discuss :) Greets –  Robert Filter Feb 1 '11 at 7:35

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