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In previous conversations, the community has mentioned that the scope of our site appears to be restricted because of our name. In these conversations there have been a few suggested alternative names:

  • Communities
  • Community Building
  • Online Communities

The moderation team has talked with a community manager and been given the following guidance on name changes:

  1. Name changes are a one time thing.
  2. We have to explain why the current name is bad AND why the new name is perfect for the site. It's not enough to say that the current name is restricting.
  3. We need to show that most of our users are in favor of the name change

We also need to follow the naming standards that were announced last year. I think the two bullet points that we need to keep in mind are these, since we haven't had a proposed name with an ampersand yet (those are highly frowned upon):

  • Names should be as short as possible while clearly capturing sites’ topics.
  • The subdomain should match the site title as closely as possible (even if it's not the shortest possible subdomain we could use). We can still create redirects if there's a true need for them.

I'd like to see this topic used to fulfill #2 from the list above. If you prefer one of the names and have a reason why it is better than "Moderators", let's hear it.

I've made this a community wiki. My hope is that we can get an answer for each of the proposed names, along with proper arguments for each on why it is better than "Moderators"

  • 1
    What counts as showing that "most of our users" are in favor of the change? Do we need to do more to promote this post? – Monica Cellio Oct 20 '14 at 0:39
  • We asked that question of the community team last night @MonicaCellio. Hopefully we hear back soon. – Andy Oct 20 '14 at 0:43
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    Ah, what timing! I didn't know. :-) Thanks for the update @Andy. – Monica Cellio Oct 20 '14 at 0:49
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At its core this site is about Communities -- how to start them, grow them, manage them, promote them, migrate them from one platform to another, and sometimes even end them. Because communities are made of people, most of our questions are about people issues -- motivating, discouraging, or reacting to certain behaviors, interactions among users, interactions between users and moderators/owners/admins, and so on. These are the most successful and the most interesting questions on our site.

Our top three tags are , , and . The top ten also include , , and . Some of our most-popular questions are:

"Moderators" focuses on a subset of community-related content, but that name does not convey the richness of our scope. It does not tell the sociologist, the psychologist, the amateur club chair, or maybe even the community manager that there's something here for him.

"Moderators" is about managing something (by implication an online community, but the name doesn't even say that). "Communities" is about how groups of people with a common interest pursue their shared goals.

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    wonder if it is important to explicitly differentiate from non-online communities – gnat Oct 10 '14 at 16:49
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    @gnat in the past I've argued for Digital Communities, but there is some support here for not limiting it to online so I kept it general. – Monica Cellio Oct 10 '14 at 17:47
  • understood, thanks – gnat Oct 10 '14 at 18:28
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    @gnat Meta post: meta.moderators.stackexchange.com/questions/58/… – Anonymous Penguin Oct 18 '14 at 12:42
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On why Moderators is bad, the main problem is that it does not accurately express the scope of the site and is not a broad enough topic by itself. There are areas of community building that involve the founders of the community or the members of the community, but do not involve the actual moderation.

A community can not exist solely on the backs of the moderators that are involved with it. Yes, they may have a central role in helping guide the community and ensuring the communities wishes are carried out, but the community itself is also key. Many questions can not be answered without looking at the user's role and the role of the community members is key to many questions.

While the site started focused on moderation issues, it rapidly became clear that the topics are actually much more broad and necessarily must hit on both the owners and the userbase (related meta post) as well. This expansion to fill the gap resulted in a necessary change in the topic of the site to something much more broad than just moderation. It is simply no longer an accurate description of the topic of the site.

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    There's additional material that can be mined from here. – Monica Cellio Oct 7 '14 at 15:12
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One of the ways "Moderators" could restrict the scope and growth of the site is it's close association with the role of moderators on Stack Exchange.

People could see the site and think "oh, that's for people who moderate Stack Exchange sites". Now while this may have been the initial thrust of the site, we've seen that there's not enough traffic in this area to be able to sustain a site.

While the site is attracting questions from outside the Stack Exchange sphere of influence having a name like "Communities" or "Community Building" will hopefully encourage more.

As for the name, I'd go for "Communities" as it's a single word and broad enough, but the strap line needs to be something like:

Building and maintaining communities.

This includes moderation but doesn't use the word itself (or other words like "managing") so as to include users not just moderators/admins.

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    Seconded. The other day, I shared a link to a post here on another SE chat room. People were surprised that a link starting with "moderators" was available for everyone. – Jenny D Oct 16 '14 at 9:14
  • @JennyD I agree. We even get a lot of traffic into The Ban Hammer with people seeking advice from the SE team or a SE moderator. – Anonymous Penguin Oct 18 '14 at 22:59
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Community Building

Initially, I wondered whether "Community Building" kept more of a focus on authority figures and early stages than was ideal. Well, it has grown on me.

In particular, I like it more and more every time I see "Communities" proposed as an alternative. I think that's an extreme reaction against the specificity of the current name; it ends up being too vague.

"Community Building" is certainly better than the current name. It captures the spirit of the site by bringing to mind actions and decisions and it offers a good balance between breadth and accuracy. IMO, this is our best option.

Rather than repeat his post in full, I'll link to Gilles' previous arguments for why Moderators is a poor choice. I am in full agreement and I think this is the most important point:

There's more to making a community work than moderation. Our description currently reads “question and answer site for community managers, administrators, and moderators”. Giving moderators sole billing is awkward. Furthermore, the description focuses on a few technical roles, but a community is the sum of its members. ... This site isn't about a particular role, it's about the principles of doing stuff together.

"Community Building" evokes these principles of doing stuff together; verbs, dynamic; action and decision; function over form.

"Moderators" and "Communities" evoke groups of people; nouns, static; composition and definition; form over function.

That's an oversimplification, but what else are site names if not oversimplifications?

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    After much debate, this is the name that was chosen. – Andy Dec 3 '14 at 1:42

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