Fragmentation of Stack Exchange

For years I am a user of Stack Overflow and network of sites called Stack Exchange. My network profile has a long list of accounts that I have within the network. The sheer amount of sites became really annoying for me years ago, and today's experience was the straw that broke the camel's back.

As I finished the post about Bluetooth incompatibility, I thought about asking online and postedn on Super User. I chose the Stack Exchange network as I have a question and want an answer. And Super User seemed like the best fit for consumer hardware. My question was closed because it was not within the defined scope. Although Super User is about computer hardware and software, it is not about electronic devices, even if they interface with the computer. I have asked the moderator who closed the question which site would be a better fit for this, and got “no idea” as an answer. Great!

Fortunately somebody has asked on the meta discussion page for Super User where one can ask questions which don't fit on Super User. The top answer is really funny to read while writing this blog post. My question might fit into the “Phones and Tablets” category there, but the device is neither an Android, iOS or Windows based system. So all the specialized sites are off, and there is no Tizen specific site. For electronics equipment one could go to the “Electrical Engineering” site, just not if it is a consumer device. For video games and consoles there is an additional site, but this doesn't fit either.

Let me go back to the sites that I have been using a lot. I've spend a bunch of time on “Ask Ubuntu”, which has everything related to Ubuntu. But people would also ask questions about generall GNU/Linux, POSIX or UNIX things there, like Bash scripting, configuring the Apache webserver and the like. This would have been fine with me, if there wasn't a completely separate “Unix & Linux” site. I would have deemed all general Linux question to be a better fit there and “Ask Ubuntu” only to be about things specific to Ubuntu. This hard separation is inherently brittle. The Upstart init system was only used by Ubuntu at some point, and then other distributions have used it. Same with Snap. Should these questions then be migrated? What about a Flatpak issue somebody has on Ubuntu? How do we know from the beginning that it is Ubuntu specific? Just adding the tags “Ubuntu” and “Flatpak” should have been enough to sort it. The most basic Linux things could better be found on “Ask Ubuntu” and not “Unix & Linux”, such that I as a Fedora Linux user often went to the “Ask Ubuntu” site.

And then the Stack Exchange network became more diversified. There was a special site for the Raspberry Pi (which can run Ubuntu), and another site for “Internet of Things”. If I want to install the Nginx webserver to serve my web interface as part of my home automation project, is that something for Stack Overflow (because I'm programming), Server Fault (because it's a server), Raspberry Pi (because it runs on a one), Ask Ubuntu (because I use Ubuntu) or Internet of Things (because I do home automation)?

On each of these sites one has a separate user account, one starts with 101 reputation if one comes from a different site in the network. That means that I don't have the same permissions on Cryptography than I have on Stack Overflow. I am a responsible user in one community, why do I have to start again on the next one? My largest sites are Stack Overflow, Physics and Ask Ubuntu. I just happened to use Ubuntu to program and do physics on. My reputation is split over three sites.

To come back to my Bluetooth question: I haven't found a site which would be a fit. There aren't so many broad sites left, and there are overly specialized ones. There is one site each for Bitcoin, Etherum, Stellar, Iota, Monero, EOS and Tezos, which are all blockchain projects. But there isn't one Stack Exchange site specialized for “Bluetooth Keyboard to Tizen TV connection problems”, where my question would be a perfect fit. Perhaps I should suggest that on their proposal site

Either way, there seems to be no fit for my question in the whole Stack Exchange network. It has diversified so much, but also specialized so much, that there are gaps between the sites and that apparently is acceptable. I find having to search for the appropriate site for a particular question rather annoying, and perhaps that is why I didn't participate that much in them during the last years.