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Are there any disciplines of engineering that this site specifically excludes? It seems Electrical Engineering is covered by EE.SE, whereas Software Engineering is covered by StackOverflow and Programmers.SE. That leaves some of the following:

  • Civil
  • Mechanical
  • Chemical/Bio

Are all of these considered on-topic? If not, what are the limitations? Why or why not?

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We should not be worrying about what is on-topic on other sites. Our scope is our scope, the scope of the other site is their scope. There are plenty of sites with overlapping scopes. If Stack Exchange did not want them, they wouldn't have created them.

I have already seen 2 comments stating "This is an EE.SE question" and this is exactly what we want to discourage. I don't think we want to start pushing people to other sites simply because the other site was first. If we decide that Engineering questions are on-topic, then Engineering questions should be on-topic, regardless of what is on-topic on other sites.

So given that, it seems like we should consider anything under the big umbrella of Engineering to be on-topic. As the site matures, I am sure we will find specific elements are that not on-topic, but I don't think it is necessarily the time to start limiting ourselves.

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All of those are fine. We could probably even take the high-volt and high-amp questions, here.

EE.SE is more like 'Electronics Engineering', for the majority of cases. You can quickly see this by looking at the range of topics in their tags. Only 198 'high voltage' questions asked, since inception. That's pretty low. Probably better to ask HA/HV questions here.

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I would say that yes, all of those things and possibly more are on topic.

The reason I think this is because when I first learned about Area51 and started using it, there was another proposal for mechanical engineering and I remember reading peoples comments about EE.SE and others that might overlap. The general consensus seemed to be that an SE site that is too specific/niche is not good at building the right sort of user-base to make it a good site (especially during the beta), and broader sites with a good tagging system are better. Some even commented that if Engineering.SE existed before, then there would be no need for EE.SE and this would be a better situation. I considered the various points made by people on both sides of this and came to the conclusion that my initial thoughts (that a larger number of smaller/specific sites was better) were wrong.

Here is an example of two related betas that failed:

And one in definition:

And a third site currently in beta that could possibly benefit from having all the people from all three of those above sites on-board (if they are considered on-topic):

So if the people in robotics consider those things on-topic and use appropriate tags for those subjects it might really help their beta to not fail.

The guys at SE obviously have a lot of experience with this kind of thing and know that a site needs a critical mass in order to be successful and attract the right kinds of users, questions, and answers. The rules for making a beta succeed come from this experience. So yes... all those things should be on-topic :)

See also the question Should my idea be part of an existing site, or its own site? in the Area51 FAQ.

Start looking at the tags to see what sort of sub-sites could be subsumed then go find them on Area51 and tell all those guys to come join this beta when it's public.

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    $\begingroup$ But EE does exist. It's pretty well established and probably not going anywhere; not "too niche". So what do we do in this situation rather than a hypothetical? $\endgroup$ Jan 21 '15 at 0:36
  • $\begingroup$ As the original question states - that's already off-topic because it exists and is shown to be not too niche. I don't think it's about should we include EE, it's about what other things (that there isn't already a specific site for) should we include. $\endgroup$
    – jhabbott
    Jan 21 '15 at 0:57
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    $\begingroup$ I think it does say that ..."is already covered by EE.SE" ... "That leaves some of the following". The sub-text here is that EE is already obviously off-topic as there's a dedicated site for that, so what of the remaining subjects are on-topic? Maybe @JYelton could clear up what he meant by this? $\endgroup$
    – jhabbott
    Jan 21 '15 at 1:19
  • $\begingroup$ You're right, I misread the question; my apologies. My disagreement lies mostly with the implied assertion in the question, then. There are a number of SE sites with quite large overlaps, like Movies and Sci-Fi. We absolutely should consider them when scoping our site, but they don't determine our scope. $\endgroup$ Jan 21 '15 at 1:25
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah great point - personally I'd have no objection to including EE questions in this site, but I don't really know how others feel on this or how SE feel on it. You can get an idea of some issues by reading the merging blog post, linked from the FAQ (I just edited a link into this answer). My answer here is yeah let's include all that, tag it, and if it's big then great, if too small (for whatever reason, including another SE site already covers it) no problem it will naturally fizzle away. SE seem to think that massive sites with loads of big sub-topics in the tags work best. $\endgroup$
    – jhabbott
    Jan 21 '15 at 1:34
  • $\begingroup$ @jhabbot To me your last sentence sounds like the engineering and EE should fuse and keep the name engineering. That would probably generate the biggest site with loads of big sub-topics (electrical, mechanical, ...). $\endgroup$
    – Trilarion
    Feb 4 '15 at 12:39

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