9

In Group focus level -- world or local, and this A51 discussion, and other comments that I've seen in other places (including the late "Renewable Technology" A51 proposal, now closed), it is asserted that the scope of this site is not just "downstream" issues around lifestyle for individuals, but topics around sustainability at all levels, including relatively technical renewable energy questions, measures that companies can adopt, macroeconomic issues, etc.

However,

  1. The title of this site does not appear to match this aspiration. Somebody with (for instance) a question about upstream renewable energy generation may be put off by "Sustainable living".

  2. The site's help page matches the title:

Sustainable Living Stack Exchange is for folks dedicated to a lifestyle that can be maintained indefinitely without depleting available resources.

Should the site be renamed, and the help text updated, to make the wider scope explicit? Could this happen before we leave Beta, since it might help attract more people and thus help the site to graduate?

If so, what should the new name be? I'm tempted to suggest simply "Sustainability", but I sometimes think that that word has been devalued into meaninglessness now.

  • 2
    Maybe "Sustainable living" was chosen precisely because "Sustainability" is somewhat worn out. Of course, the intended meaning is in the wider sense of "sustainably inhabiting the Earth" (which isn't limited to lifestyle), but that's not really viable either... – Earthliŋ Mar 12 '14 at 23:00
  • I was hoping this site would be about ethical living, thus including sustainability, but also answering questions about our treatment of other people and animals. – PJTraill Dec 3 '15 at 15:27
8

I do think that, since quite early on, we've had macro-scale questions here as well as micro ones. The oldest surviving macro questions I've found are from the first few weeks of the site: Which gases increase the greenhouse effect more than carbon dioxide? (which is also relevant at the micro scale) and Are economies that need growth unsustainable? .

My own interests are very much at the macro scale.

So, yes, I'd very much support a change of name, and a change in our tagline to reflect that we cover the macro and the micro.

7

No, I like the current name, thanks :-)

(Adding this as a simple option for those who feel this way!)

Edit: I will however suggest an updated description:

Sustainable Living Stack Exchange is all about working towards a way of living that enables humanity to live in equilibrium with the earth for the long term. This covers a wide range of subjects such as renewable energy, resource extraction, recycling, efficiency techniques and more.

  • Explicitly adding subjects into description is needed because the scope of the site is really wide. – Peter Ivan Sep 10 '14 at 7:45
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Some thoughts:

  • We regularly get macro-level questions here, and we do indeed welcome them, but it is not obvious that they are on-topic.

  • sustainability.SE seems to be struggling to get a critical mass of questions/day (or is this just my perception?)

  • At any one time there seems to be at least one proposal on A51 for a renewable energy technology related site. There was Renewable Energy Technology, and after that was closed, now there is Renewables. Each time one of these springs up, the overlap with sustainability.SE is mentioned.

  • If one of those were to get off the ground eventually, they would probably take some traffic that we currently see. On the other hand, at present both seem to be short of users.

I think it would be valuable to have somewhere to Q&A on upstream technology issues. I don't especially mind whether it is part of this site or seperate, but I am skeptical over whether there is sufficient demand to sustain both.

  • 1
    'Not obvious it's on op topic.' They way I see it, if a question is not closed it is (more or less) on topic. I think the best way to show that macro-questions are on-topic is to have good macro questions and answers. Without a good set of these kind of questions I think there is no point in a name change. – THelper Mar 17 '14 at 9:45
  • With respect to our user base; it's normal for beta sites that after a while the number of questions drops. This is probably because the enthusiasm of the early users has faded. To grow a site needs to gain a critical mass of users. If you look at the statistics you'll see that we continue to grow steadily. Perhaps a new site will slow Sustainable Living down a bit, but I'm not afraid that it will have much influence. Two partly overlapping sites may even be synergetic. – THelper Mar 17 '14 at 9:45
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    @THelper: "Post it and see if it gets closed" is a ridiculous way to tell whether something is on-topic! At the very least, the text that describes what is on-topic needs revising. – Flyto Mar 17 '14 at 11:41
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    I don't think it is ridiculous at all, that and all other questions on the site so people can see what is accepted and what is not. But I am curious about your ideas for an alternative text for what's on topic. Perhaps you want to share your ideas in the meta-question about our elevator pitch as well? – THelper Mar 17 '14 at 12:06
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Overlap is common. Look at AskDifferent, SuperUser, and Stack Overflow. The first is for Apple related questions, but some of them involve command lines and perl or applescript; SuperUser has Mac questions.

I wouldn't worry about overlap too much. If you can, define explicitly, but knowledge doesn't fit well into pigeon holes.

A name change that kept the word 'sustainability' in it would help.

If you want a suggestion:

  • Sustainability & Global Policy.

  • Low Impact Choices

They are both wrong. Maybe they will spark something.

I would like to see a decent definition of sustainability. It's getting to be like 'art' I know it when I see it, but I can't define it.

  • I think this top answer provides a pretty good definition. I do, however, like your suggestion that "Low Impact Choices" is a clearer idea than the easy-to-misinterpret "Sustainability." Whether or not this meets the criteria of deserving a re-name is another matter. – Jack Ryan Mar 20 '14 at 15:07
3

You are right that we do welcome questions about 'upstream' renewable energy and macroeconomic issues. The problem is that those questions are often not the best questions. The more high-level the question, the harder it usually is to answer because there are more factors and uncertainties that come into play. The best questions (for any stackexchange site) are practical questions about problems you've encountered yourself and those are the 'downstream' lifstyle questions.

I haven't been involved in the selection of the name in Area51, but it's been my experience that those names are well thought out. This being said, I am open to a name change provided a large part of the community here agrees with this. Of course if we do come up with a different name, then we still have to convince the SE staff. In this meta stackoverflow post it says that

We typically avoid renaming sites once they've gotten out of Area 51 — and especially if they've graduated and received a custom site design

but in a comment it also says

we have changed site names before as sites evolve, their scopes change and their communities grow.

and

Name changes are entirely case by case. We only change names if there's a big scope shift and consensus around why the current name doesn't work and what the new name should be

My suggestion is to first discuss here whether a name change and/or tagline change is really necessary. If so, then we can start a new meta-post where each answer is one proposed site name and people can vote for each suggestion. The same for the tagline if we decide that needs changingg. But first let's see how people will react to this question.

FWIW personally I am much more in favor of a change of tagline, and not so much for a change of site name.

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