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It appears that all our handwringing over domain names might be moot. webapps.stackexchange.com was the first SE site to exit beta, and had chosen the domain nothingtoinstall.com (which I thought was clever). 3 days into graduation, and the SE overlords suddenly decided that this was such a horrible name that they are retracting their promise to give out separate domain names, and the new URL forwards back to webapps.stackexchange.com

There's a fairly bitter discussion going on in the NTI meta section, along with a parallel discussion on meta.SO. Bottom line:

  • it's unlikely this decision will be changed
  • Jeff Atwood claims that a site reaching "ServerFault" levels of traffic (38k views/day at least count) will get their own domain, else not
  • He also thinks all names in the SE family are terrible, except the cooking site.

This is extremely inside baseball stuff, so I don't expect anyone to care greatly about it. But it does mean our wranglings over the domain name are irrelevant.

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    $\begingroup$ That's really obnoxious of the SE management. The people who invest and create real value in the community are its users. You can only wonder what other areas they will backpedal in when the result of a community's democratic process isn't to their liking... $\endgroup$ – Per Vognsen Oct 3 '10 at 12:18
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    $\begingroup$ By the way, for those who do not know English well enough to understand what “PSA” stands for (like me): PSA stands for public service announcement. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 3 '10 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ seasonedadvice and texnique are pretty cool names $\endgroup$ – RJK Oct 3 '10 at 20:57
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    $\begingroup$ Oh. Silly me. I thought we were dealing with professionals. $\endgroup$ – Jeffε Oct 4 '10 at 5:10
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    $\begingroup$ indeed. what's even more amusing is how they're trying to rationalize it without ever explaining why they jettisoned their much vaunted 'community approach'. Somehere in the MO world, someone is telling me 'I told you so'. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Oct 4 '10 at 6:21
  • $\begingroup$ Well, as of today, "Server Fault" has 37k users and 49k visits/day, while we have 1.6k users and 2.2k visits/day. (According to stackexchange.com/sites.) In addition, while Server Fault is 515 days old, we are 51 days old. The statistics shows that they are 10-25 times ahead of us. Unfortunately, I don't believe that such gain can be earned through time, since the TCS community is inherently smaller than communities like Server Fault. $\endgroup$ – M.S. Dousti Oct 5 '10 at 3:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Suresh, thank you very much for continuing to look into the site naming issue(s). This news really is very disappointing; I feel the same as JeffE. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Apon Oct 7 '10 at 18:30
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Thank you for sharing this information.

I feel disappointed to hear this. I had no opinion whether we should use a separate domain name or a subdomain of stackexchange.com. I simply followed their own policy of using a separate domain name, which was a reasonable opinion although I did not buy everything written in the blog post. After all, they are experts of running websites whereas I am not, and they had a clear policy which was at least reasonable; following their policy seemed just right. Now they have overturned what they had said apparently without any good explanation why things should be changed. This is disappointing.


Edit: As RJK already mentions, Robert Cartaino of Stack Overflow explained the change of the policy. I appreciate the fact that they explained it. He admits that it was a mistake that they asked what a domain name should be. This is at least understandable to me. On the other hand, it is difficult for me to believe that what they really need is “what your community is about in one brief sentence” because the examples stated in the blog post (“Nothing to Install,” “Pause for Help” and “Seasoned Advice”) do not seem to match it at all.

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It occurs to me that Robert Cartaino would have known for a while about this 180 and hence his supposedly vehement discouragement against a reopening of the name change debate. On the meta.SO thread, the vitriolic, at-one-point-highest-voted, Jeff Atwood-locked response by Aarobot has some impassioned arguments for a distinguished, creative, clever, community-embracing name. In any case, this is all quite disheartening.

Added 5 October: There is a blog.SO post on this maelstrom by Robert Cartaino which suggests that asking for a domain name was the wrong question, and seems to be precisely our own predicament.

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