I was recently alerted to the existence of a "History of science and mathematics" SE (currently in beta). I think I'm missing something about SE creation - why has this entered beta? It seems to fail all four of the test questions in "Should my idea be part of an existing site, or its own site?" on the Area 51 FAQ:

Should my idea be part of an existing site, or its own site?

In general, if a site makes sense as part of a bigger site, it's better to have one big site than a bunch of little niche sites. Site X should be subsumed by site Y if:

  • Almost all X questions are on-topic for site Y
  • If Y already exists, it already has a tag for X, and nobody is complaining
  • You're not creating such a big group that you don't have enough experts to answer all possible questions
  • There's a high probability that users of site Y would enjoy seeing the occasional question about X

In this specific question, I would say points (1) and (2) are met because of the existence of the tag, which shows that questions about the history of biology are on-topic here. Regarding point (3), the stated reason for keeping HSM.SE and History.SE separate here is that they want to solicit answers from scientists, suggesting that the target community will be better reached via Biology.SE than via HSM.SE (I have been on here for ages and only just discovered the existence of HSM.SE). I don't know what other users think about it but I certainly don't mind seeing the occasional history-of-biology question on history on Biology.SE (I was actually about to ask another one about an odd piece of equipment I saw during a recent tour of Louis Pasteur's lab in Paris).

Whatever the criteria are, they seem to be being enforced unevenly. I inadvertently helped to get a proposal for an ecological statistics SE closed some time ago by asking for clarification on whether it should be simply a new tag on Biology.SE, even though in my opinion that had a better defined and larger potential audience than HSM. I note there is also a bioinformatics proposal on Area 51 at the moment, which I suspect would be very similar to the (closed) ecological statistics one, but it hasn't been closed. I don't understand why HSM is okay, why Bioinformatics is (possibly) okay (despite the existence of a tag which has so far been used for 746 questions), but ecological statistics was not (even though we don't even have an ecological statistics tag!).

Personally, I'd be inclined towards lumping rather than splitting on this, given how the SE format works.

(Full disclosure: I found out about this because one of my questions was closed as 'more suitable for the HSM site', but I'm not particularly bothered where that question ends up.)

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    $\begingroup$ People don't seem to understand that they shouldn't vote to close a question because it is better suited for another site but rather flag it for a moderator to actually migrate it. That said, I think history questions should be on-topic here. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ Related: biology.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3630/… $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 16:32
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    $\begingroup$ There was an ecological statistics SE?!?! How did I not know about it?! That would've be so useful -- This is a tragedy! :'(. I think that was likely a mistake suggesting it had a place on Bio, b/c as far as I can tell very few if any folks with knowledge of advanced ecological statistics hang around this SE site... $\endgroup$ Commented May 5, 2017 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ @theforestecologist There used to be an ecology proposal further back as well. Ecological statistics seems far too narrow to me, and it would be better if users would contribute here instead. If youare only interested in a very specific topic, nothing prohibits you to only follow/look at one tag. $\endgroup$ Commented May 6, 2017 at 9:02
  • $\begingroup$ @forestecologist I half-agree; there isn't enough critical mass here now but if they'd joined us there would be (the proposal came out of a society workshop in the US - they were looking for somewhere to descend en masse. I think the experience put them off SE altogether, sadly. I knew some of the people involved and heard about it via twitter.) $\endgroup$
    – arboviral
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ I can see the point of not having lots of splinter groups, but it's a pity that SE Biology can't split into naturalists (some would call them trainspotters) and scientists. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 12:14
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    $\begingroup$ I recently had a question here closed as off-topic despite being about pathology and epidemiology, yet questions as diverse as species identification and biochemistry are considered on-topic here. I think there is a problem with the definition of such a large site as Bio, it either covers everything biological or it needs to change it's name. $\endgroup$
    – Isaacson
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 8:04
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    $\begingroup$ Related: This on Area51 $\endgroup$
    – user25568
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Isaacson There are long-standing and unresolved disagreements on what should on- and off-topic here. Unfortunately it only takes 5 people to close a question. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 2:33
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    $\begingroup$ @canadianer Actually, given the response I've had to other questions I've asked here, I think the broad scope of a site like Bio.SE is being used by some a convenient way of dismissing questions they just don't like. It's all to easy to claim anything peripheral is "off-topic". The question I've referenced was first flagged as "off-topic" then when I pointed out that it was perfectly biological, flagged as too broad. then no-one can answer when I asked how it was "too broad". Can't help feeling it's more about finding anything to close the question than about defining the scope of the SE. $\endgroup$
    – Isaacson
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 6:18
  • $\begingroup$ Looks like the Bioinformatics one has entered beta: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/109245/bioinformatics $\endgroup$
    – arboviral
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 13:21


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