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One possible solution to the question of where Permaculture questions belong is to just duck the question entirely and put them in both places. Here's the idea, have questions that are given a certain tag on one site be mirrored on a different site, linked through the tags.

To use Sustainability and Gardening as an example, questions asked on Sustainability and tagged "gardening" could show up on Gardening under the tag "sustainable" and questions asked on Gardening and tagged "sustainable" could show up on Sustainability under the tag "gardening". Answers, tags, comments, votes everything could be mirrored across sites.

That way, the questions that really do belong on both sites could get the best possible mix of answers from the crowds of experts draw to either site. Those on the Sustainability site would benefit from the expertise of the Gardeners, but would be able to vote down answers that weren't sustainable.

This would also potentially apply to Home Improvement, Personal Finance and Money and Seasoned Advice. And possibly to sites other than Sustainable Living. Database questions could be mirrored between SO and DBA. AskUbuntu could be mirrored into an Ubuntu tag on Unix and Linux. I'm sure there are dozens of other examples of overlaps that would benefit from a little cross pollination!

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    This sort of question belongs on MSO, and has been asked in various ways: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/64068/…, meta.stackexchange.com/questions/64995/… and the answer is basically an emphatic NO... – bstpierre Feb 6 '13 at 20:04
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    Ahh, there we go. I went looking on MSO but couldn't find anything. Probably because I was looking for "mirror" instead of "cross-post". Yeah, lots of practical difficulties. They could potentially be solved, given effort. As to the philisophical reasoning, I think this stems from our desire as programmers to have knowledge neatly categorized and decoupled. As a programmer I sympathize. As a Permaculturist, heck no. The world don't work that way, and trying to force it into a framework involving nicely separated little subjects just hinders understanding of the whole. – Daniel Bingham Feb 6 '13 at 20:15
  • This is a problem in academia too, which right now is resulting in the spawning of multiple cross-subject fields that combine two academic disciplines traditionally separated: neuroscience, biochemistry, biophysics, etc. The fact of the matter is that the world is a highly complex dynamic system. Breaking it down into categories helps our understanding of it up to a point, but at some point we have to start just dealing with the whole interconnected mess to truly understand it. – Daniel Bingham Feb 6 '13 at 20:19
  • @bstpierre Thank you for finding those, I was stuck on 'mirror' as my search term. Didn't think to search for 'cross-post'. – Daniel Bingham Feb 6 '13 at 20:25
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Will Gardening SE users answer your questions sustainably? You're the sustainability experts; not the gardeners. Without context and expertise, getting the correct answer from another site is a crap shoot.

Mirroring (cross-posting) a question to another site means your are blindly inserting content without any consideration to the scope, customs, and conventions of another community. What about tags? Who can edit the post? What if you don't have an account on the source site? Where does the reputation go? Are you barred from editing questions from a site where you don't have enough rep? What if another community deletes your question because it is off topic over there (but not here)? What if you run afoul of one of their standards? What if they mirror content you don't want?

There are a lot of practical consideration that would make this very unlikely to be implemented unless we severely rework the way we form communities and build sites for experts.

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  • Yes, there are many, many practical considerations. Programmatically and in terms of community building. However, I'm sure with some effort we could come up with ways around each issue. It would certainly be interesting to prototype and experiment with it, perhaps with one or two sites at first. Sustainability and Gardening would be a great one to try it on. Permaculture is Sustainable Gardening. It really belongs in both places. – Daniel Bingham Feb 6 '13 at 22:04
  • Use tags to mirror them. There are tag synonyms already, could synonym tags not be set up across sites. Different databases, programs right? Could they communicate with an API of some sort? If the questions are truly on cross over subjects, most of the tags are likely to be the same already. And the rest could be matched up between sites. If you really mirror the posts, they exist on each site and changes are just propagated over. So you can edit the post on the site on which you have the privileges to and the changes are propagated. – Daniel Bingham Feb 6 '13 at 22:08
  • I think you may be missing the philosophical objection. Injecting content into another site to be answered by folks without your expertise is so fundamentally against how and why we create these sites, the programming considerations don't even begin to address the problems. – Robert Cartaino Feb 6 '13 at 22:10
  • I'm not missing the philosophical object, I disagree with the philosophical objection. – Daniel Bingham Feb 6 '13 at 22:11
  • Sustainability and Gardening are not separate, they are linked at the hip through Permaculture. No, experts in conventional gardening are not experts in Permaculture. Nor are experts in Permaculture also experts in conventional Gardening. But there is cross pollination of knowledge, and allowing that cross pollination would be really healthy for all parties involved. A lot of the knowledge on Gardening does apply to Permaculture. As long as there are Sustainability minded folks watching to vote down/comment the unsustainable answers, there's no reason that cross-pollination couldn't happen. – Daniel Bingham Feb 6 '13 at 22:15
  • As to issues of standards and mirrored content, provide a way to remove a post from one site, but not the other. If a post that gets mirrored breaks a communities standards, then it is unmirrored. (Vote to close could be unmirrored, so that you only vote on one site). Delete could be the same. – Daniel Bingham Feb 6 '13 at 22:20
  • "Injecting content into another site to be answered by folks without your expertise is so fundamentally against how and why we create these sites" Expertise does not always fit into the neat little boxes these sites create. And it often benefits from being challenged by alternate points of view. – Daniel Bingham Feb 6 '13 at 22:26
  • Is it really to the benefit of the Experts on StackExchange sites to build insular echo chambers that do not allow for the cross pollination of ideas between fields? Especially fields with a lot of overlap. – Daniel Bingham Feb 6 '13 at 22:33
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I'm not going to be able to provide a better answer than Robert Cartaino, but I'd like to make a modest suggestion that we the community can implement to make things easier.

Use identical tags across sites

Make sure we use identical tags, across sites where cross-posting is possible.

For example, I've started using the tag here, because we've already been using that over on the physics site

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