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The (domain) name is very important to the success of this site and a strong, witty one can sometimes be that extra hook to grab a new user, while a weak, boring one can put people off, alienate them, or, worse, make others disdainful of the community. That is why we need to put our brains together and take the time to come up with something really striking!

However, for reasons that I do not understand, the official race for the site name was given only four weeks. (If someone can point out where I can find the decision to make September 10th the deadline, please comment.) Then, although there were some small mutterings about a runoff poll (partly due to a number of negative comments against the declared winner), Suresh recently closed the debate by locking the poll. Robin Kothari (and JeffE with a clever new proposal) reopened the discussion a tiny bit here. Let me formally (propose to) open this again fully.

Full disclosure: I find the current choice extremely unappealing.

For the "yes" and "no" answers, please do not downvote! (Comments on the question and comments giving reasons for your vote are encouraged though.)

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    $\begingroup$ let me ask Robert Cartaino about this. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Sep 28 '10 at 2:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Suresh: Thanks! (I do realise that I'm grasping at straws here, and grieve not pushing my case when the debate was officially still in play, but thought this would be worth a shot.) $\endgroup$ – RJK Sep 28 '10 at 15:35
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So I talked to Robert Cartaino about this. He was extremely dubious that reopening the discussion was a good idea (and liked our current name). But he didn't explicitly say that we CANNOT reopen the discussion: he merely strongly advised against it on slippery slope grounds ("what's to prevent some group from complaining after the next vote") and so on.

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    $\begingroup$ It would be nice to have a witty name, but I don't think it would seriously harm the community in the long run to use a "boring" name. $\endgroup$ – András Salamon Sep 29 '10 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ I have to agree to Robert Cartaino. I am still trying to convince myself that it was right that the proposals I really liked were not chosen because they lost the poll. If we have an option to reopen a once-concluded poll, how can I convince myself that they lost? Please let me give up. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 29 '10 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for looking into it. I guess I'll bow out at this point. Anyway, it doesn't look like there is much support in this. $\endgroup$ – RJK Sep 29 '10 at 23:08
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    $\begingroup$ As RJK wrote, there doesn't seem to be much support for reopening the poll. If this question had over 20 (or even 10) votes that would be different, but with 4 votes it doesn't make sense to me to reopen the poll. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Sep 30 '10 at 6:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: That's not exactly what I meant. The measure should be relative, not absolute. Note that meta generally has 10 times few visitors than parent. But don't worry, I won't start a question that asks whether the question to reopen should be reopened! $\endgroup$ – RJK Oct 1 '10 at 8:36
  • $\begingroup$ @RJK: I agree, the measure should be relative, but I don't know the exact number of visitors for meta so I thought 10 would probably be a good lowerbound. :) $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 1 '10 at 12:11
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Yes, definitely.

Edit: I gave my own justification in the question, and I also discussed it elsewhere, but since Tsuyoshi commented in his answer, I should give a synopsis here too:

  1. There didn't seem to be an outright winner in the original poll.
  2. More time should have been given to the name selection process.
  3. The naming process should have been discussed more openly.
  4. The site is still new, growing and we have no imperative to lock in our choice right away.
  5. Least important of all, but still worth mentioning, in my opinion there are several reasons why the current choice is horrible and some of these are mentioned in the respective comments thread.
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    $\begingroup$ Of course the current choice is bad. Any choice is bad. You can take any name and come up with dozens of reasons why it isn't ideal. But the poll shows that most people thought that the current winner is the best compromise among the candidates. $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Sep 28 '10 at 8:35
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for pointing out my typo-in-an-attempt-to-be-diplomatic. It would be safe to say that not just any candidate is horrible. $\endgroup$ – RJK Sep 28 '10 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ "But the poll shows that most people thought that the current winner is the best compromise among the candidates." Well, strictly speaking, I think the sentence should be "most people who participated in the poll thought that cstheory was the best compromise among the candidates which were available then." $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Sep 28 '10 at 11:14
  • $\begingroup$ ...thought that cstheory.org was the best compromise... $\endgroup$ – Jeffε Oct 1 '10 at 0:35
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I fail to see any good reasons for re-opening the naming discussion. Regarding your points:

  • I think four weeks was more than enough for something like this. People had already lost interest in the naming discussion and voting. Besides, there is pressure to make the decision reasonably fast so that people can start to promote the site (it's difficult to advertise something that doesn't have a name).

  • The result was extremely clear. If you dislike the idea that some users were able to only upvote and not downvote, you can simply ignore all downvotes; again, the winner is clear.

  • In general, I fail to see how a run-off would matter in a poll like this. Remember that people can vote more than once, and they can see the current ranking all the time.

In summary, I think the poll was conducted extremely well and there is no reason to believe that the results would have been that different if it had been given one extra week or a run-off. And you can't just re-poll until you get the result that you like.


So far I have seen only one reason that might support re-opening the discussion:

  • There are excellent new ideas for our names, something that nobody proposed during the original poll.

If this indeed is the case, then I suggest that you make these ideas much more explicit.

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  • $\begingroup$ About your first point, I agree that there could be pressure from some people, but I guess that, even now that we have an official name, most of the promotion is done as follows: "have you seen this website which is like MO but for TCS?" About the second point, there is still the issue of whether users with low rep were able to change their vote. About the third, I did not vote for any of the top three until the last few days but only because I so disliked the frontrunner. Not everyone would have voted for one of the top three. About the fourth point, I was hoping JeffE might pipe in here... $\endgroup$ – RJK Sep 28 '10 at 9:05
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    $\begingroup$ How about either OracleCall or OracleQuery? Actually, I think that reopening is not a good idea. We have a name which is far from the worst possible, so lets get on with things. The name doesn't make such a massive difference in the case of this kind of site as long as it is memorable. $\endgroup$ – Joe Fitzsimons Sep 28 '10 at 14:41
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Joe; the name doesn't matter much, as long as it's memorable. My proposal "STOC Overflow" is admittedly far from perfect, but it is memorable, unlike "cstheory.org"! $\endgroup$ – Jeffε Oct 3 '10 at 6:45
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It is painful to say this to you because I think that your proposal was the best, but my answer is: no, we shouldn’t.

First, I do not know if changing the decision is realistic. I guess that Suresh already told the decision to Stack Overflow, and I do not know if it is possible or desirable to take it back. (Added: The domain name CSTheory.org was registered by Stack Overflow on August 26. While I am sure that they can afford some number of unused domain names, I do not know if it is the right thing to ask them to buy another; it sounds irresponsible to me.)

Second, I am afraid that canceling the concluded poll sets a bad example. This poll was done according to a procedure. If this poll was canceled, polls in the future will not look serious any more.

Third, while a name is important and a good name adds value to the website, I do not think that it is critical for the success of the website. What is critical is, needless to say, good content and good community. We should be done with the debate on website name and domain name.

(More on the third point: Honestly speaking, I think that the name MathOverflow is far from a good name. It only makes sense to those who know Stack Overflow, and the relation to TeX no longer makes sense because questions about TeX are no longer allowed there (in other words, they chose a name based on an element which was only tangentially related to the topic of the website). However, as long as the content is good, these negative facts do not matter, at least to me.)

It must have been surprising to some people that the name “CSTheory.org” was supported by most people. It was surprising to me at least. Please accept this surprising fact.

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    $\begingroup$ Hey Tsuyoshi, it looks as if Suresh is checking into #1. As for #2, my main concern is that the original poll already sets a bad example; there wasn't much "meta-meta-"discussion on the poll, despite that it was an important enough issue to link to directly from the frontpage. Regarding #3, I disagree. MathOverflow is a good name because it connects with something else, while CSTheory.org just has nothing else to it. Have you seen car.com, house.org, or things.net? Actually, I wouldn't visit those, because they might be spammy, and this is precisely the connotation we need to avoid. $\endgroup$ – RJK Sep 28 '10 at 7:59
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    $\begingroup$ @RJK: Someone had to decide the period of the poll. I do not now who decided it, but it is probably our moderators. They decided the period, and did a poll according to it. This is perfectly the right procedure, and it is how things should be done. If you had an objection to the procedure, you should have said it before the poll started or right after it, because a postmortem complaint is difficult to justify. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 28 '10 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ @RJK: As for looking spammy, I do not think that that is how things work. If someone you know recommends the website, whether the name looks like a spam or not will not matter much. If you google something and a page relevant to what you are looking for comes up, you will visit it. As I wrote, what matters the most is the community and the content. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 28 '10 at 14:08
  • $\begingroup$ @RJK: I do not feel like convincing you that MathOverflow is a bad name, but my point is that all that the name “MathOverflow” does is to connect two things, one of which only makes sense to those who already know Stack Overflow, and that the connection itself depends on something only tangentially related to mathematics. Sure, CSTheory.org does not even connect anything, but it is not the point of my argument to compare the lameness of MathOverflow and CSTheory.org. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 28 '10 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Tsuyoshi: Your addition re: domain name purchase is really interesting... Why doesn't it sound irresponsible that the domain was bought two weeks before the deadline for voting? Surely, if purchases were made before the end, then some other frontrunners should have been squatted by SE too? $\endgroup$ – RJK Sep 28 '10 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ @RJK: My brain must have been sleeping because I did not realize that the purchase date was long before the poll was concluded. They sometimes do buy domain names during discussions: see the comments to meta.tex.stackexchange.com/questions/14/…. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 28 '10 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Tsuyoshi: No problem and thanks for the link. Their competition was much more fun! (Dare I say it, it makes me want to join in at TeXnique.com.) $\endgroup$ – RJK Sep 28 '10 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ @RJK: I agree that their competition looks much more fun. Many of the front-runners there have wits, including the first-place “TeXnique.com”. (But the tech/TeX pun is quite common in the TeX community, including the word “TeXnique.” I am surprised that the domain name was available.) $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 28 '10 at 19:18

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