There is a proposal going through the site-creation process that seems to be about the tools used for "sustainable development" modeling specifically:

Open Modelling tools for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

It seems like a stretch — I couldn't find any reference to the subjects covered in their example questions here — but I thought I would check before proceeding with the review process for that proposal.

Is that community part of this site?


I agree with the answer of EnergyNumbers. You can go either way with this.

Questions about the UN sustainable development goals or about sustainable development in general are definitely on-topic here, so I think questions about modelling for SDG-related topics would also be on-topic.

I also agree with EnergyNumbers that the current scope of the Open Modelling Tools proposal is rather narrow. I'm a bit surprised the topic already attracted 85 followers in such a short time (about 1.5 month). I checked the profiles of all question posters on the proposal and it seems that only 1 person (the proposal creator) has an account on Sustainable Living. All other question posters only earned reputation on Area51 and not on any other SE site. Moreover it seems that all recent proposal followers are new users (with the exception of EnergyNumbers). That's why I suspect the proposal creator did some good promoting amongst his fellow researchers. So it seems the question is then:

  1. Is such a narrowly defined site with mostly new SE users viable?
  2. Are these new users also interested in sustainability in daily life?

I suspect the answer to the latter is 'not so much', because otherwise they would have created accounts here already. That's why I have a slight preference to launch it as a separate site. But I wouldn't protest if the decision was made to include it here and/or on a site like data-science or cross-validated.

  • 1
    There's an email list I'm on - openMod-initiative - that circulated recruitment emails. That's where I first heard about it. The list has 200-300 members, so getting ~80 recruits from it is quite impressive. One of the launch requirements for Area51 is that there must be at least 100 committers who each have at least 200 rep on a non-Area51 site. This proposal is about to progress from the definition phase to the commitment phase, so recruiting existing SE members is about to become an issue, but isn't one just yet.
    – 410 gone
    May 26 '16 at 15:30
  • If the followers were recruited, then it seems they were also given instructions on how to vote to pass the definition stage hurdle. If this is true, then I don't know how likely the proposal is to get to beta. (Reminds me of this proposal.) This doesn't mean they don't deserve a chance, but maybe a notice ("discussion") on the proposal would be helpful.
    – Earthliŋ
    May 27 '16 at 10:44
  • @Earthliŋ, EnergyNumbers. Despite all it's flaws, Area 51 is actually unusually effective at sussing out whether it has sufficient support to build a viable site. If there are simply not enough users to make an effective site, the process itself will show that in due time. For the time being, I'm content with sticking to the issue of whether this should be part of another site and not worry about the viability of the proposal itself. Jun 1 '16 at 17:59

I think it's a definite Maybe.

I'm definitely in both spheres - my work covers a lot of the existing questions here, as well as the sort of things the proposal covers, so I'm pretty biased towards "Yes, it's covered here".

I'm far from convinced that the proposal is a big enough community to support itself - there are a few dozen people that I know of involved in it, maybe a few hundred or a couple of thousand globally. It's a very specific niche. But new Stacks have been set up and thrive with surprising niche communities, so maybe I'm completely wrong on this. And it's not for me to second-guess.

Many of those modellers would be well placed to answer other questions here. I did try pointing the community at this site here, but I don't think any actually came. (Is there a consolation badge for being a very poor recruiter?)

And of the example questions on that proposal, the ones that really didn't have a place here, could have a place on other existing SE sites: Open Data, Scientific Computing, Cross-Validated, Data Science, GIS, Stack Overflow, etc.

I've just proposed (on the discuss.area51 question) that it would be best named "Sustainability Modelling", which does bring it very close to being a subset of what we do here.

We don't yet, AFAIK, have any techy modelling questions here, though we do cover some of the numbers and concepts.

I would love to see it succeed as a standalone site. (at the same time, I'd love to see them here, giving this site a real boost of energy, new users and new questions).

Given the absence of questions of that type here at present, then if it were my call, I'd lean towards letting it go through to commitment and seeing if it gets momentum. If worst came to worst and it went to beta but then didn't survive, I'd expect to support migrating the questions here.

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