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Beer just doesn't get that many questions, as oft-noted on meta. On Beer SOS - The state of the site I suggested that our scope is too narrow. That answer has 7 upvotes (and no downvotes), which is pretty good for our low-participation meta.

There is some support already for cider, mead, and rice wine being on-topic here, though it's not reflected in the site name or official scope. What about wine? Should Beer expand to be a general alcohol site? It's come up before, but never resolved.

There have been at least two Wine proposals on Area 51. The first was closed for inactivity; the second is new. I asked there if Beer and Wine should combine forces; obviously that would only work if we think so too.

Should Beer's scope broaden to cover all alcoholic drinks?

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Update: 04-05-2016:

The community team discussed it and we're going to expand the scope of the site. See the proposal here.


First, let me say I'm not against the idea of expanding scope. But I wonder if doing so would drive more traffic to it and more community participation.

As I mentioned in my Beer SOS, participation on the site is lacking and is a bit stagnant, while the community does a good job keeping the site clean, we're averaging 0.1 questions per day...Eek. Expanding the scope to include Wine and Cider might drive an increase in traffic but will the community be able to sustain it?

It's been discussed up before, but maybe it's time to revisit combining Beer and Homebrewing. I'm open to thoughts, or other ideas.

  • 1
    (Oh, I did not know about the Cider proposal.) I agree; we should also discuss combining with Homebrewing (obviously with them too, not just here). My gut feeling is that we could either expand scope to other types of alcohol or merge with Homebrewing but not both, so we'll need to do some analysis of our existing and anticipated questions. – Monica Cellio Mar 31 '16 at 18:54
  • I certainly think that combining Beer and Homebrewing is a natural fit, (I've advocated for it before) if it's something they're interested in taking on. – Xander Apr 1 '16 at 0:19
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As bluefeet said, there's nothing inherently wrong with the idea of expanding a site's scope. I doubt that expanding the scope of this particular site to other alcohols or alcohol in general is the right path, though.

In my experience, there's little correlation between knowledge about beer and knowledge about wines, spirits or other alcoholic drinks. And often, people who are really into beer may know nothing at all about, say, wine or vodka. Serious interest in beer does seem to lead to dabbling in homebrewing, though.

Now, granted, my experience may not be representative of the world at large, and I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, but I haven't seen much evidence yet.

The point of all this is that expanding into new territory doesn't really help overall site health if the site's existing users wouldn't participate in there and any new users wouldn't contribute to the "old territory." It'd basically be like operating two small, independent sites that just happen to share a URL for some reason that nobody understands.

So I suppose you could take everything I've said so far as a very long concurrence/upvote for bluefeet's answer. In my opinion, the long-term path forward for this site has to involve (as usual) more good questions being asked. In the SE network, we typically look for "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that [users actually] face"; we probably need a slightly different guideline here. I don't have an idea for that different guideline off the top of my head, and it's probably better off discussed in a separate post anyways; but as one of the world's oldest and most popular drinks, beer certainly ought to be able to sustain a decent Q&A site.

  • Thanks Pops. As I commented to bluefeet, this makes a lot of sense. If there is more overlap between Beer and Homebrewing than there is between beer people and wine/cider/mead/vodka/whiskey people, then merging makes more sense than broadening scope. Maybe I assume too much 'alcohol breadth", as somebody who likes several types; to me the broader scope seemed more akin to asking about bread, chili, and matar paneer all on the same site (Cooking). But I have no data and I'm not at all sure that analogy holds, err, water. – Monica Cellio Mar 31 '16 at 18:58
  • Eww, too much alcohol breath. Oh wait, that's not that you said. So cooking is an interesting example. Some principles apply broadly. Whether you're making marinara sauce, chicken stock or pho, if you keep an uncovered pan on heat for too long, all the water will evaporate, leaving you with a burnt mess. So it's okay to put Italian, American and Vietnamese cooks on the same site. Whereas with the alcohols, I see more of a pastry-chef-and-grillmaster situation; skill sets that are both technically cooking but don't have much overlap. – Pops Mar 31 '16 at 19:55
  • (Hey, I didn't mean I like those all at once. Sheesh. :-) ) So, pastry chefs and grillmasters are an interesting example. Both belong on Cooking; they don't have much in common. Is that a problem there? Or is it not, because the vast majority of cooking questions are of broad interest? (And that wouldn't be as true here, I presume.) Also, I totally get that it's Cooking not Cooking and Eating, while Beer is kind of the "drinking" analogue to Homebrewing. – Monica Cellio Mar 31 '16 at 20:11
  • Sorry, I was attempting a bad homonym joke there (you said "alcohol breadth" earlier). As I see it, the reason Cooking SE can be home to both pastry chefs and grillmasters (and other superspecialists) is the big middle of cooking generalists. Both in the sense that there are a variety of types of cooking and the sense that there are principles and techniques that apply across cooking domains. I can't imagine who an analogous unifying "alcohol generalist" would be. – Pops Mar 31 '16 at 20:29
  • (I saw your homonym joke, but I guess I didn't make it clear enough that I was playing along.) What you said about Cooking sounds right to me, and you're probably right about that kind of generalization not being as applicable here. – Monica Cellio Mar 31 '16 at 20:44
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I don't know what the official SE policy is on changing site scope after launch...I'll dig around on MSE and see if I can find any discussions on the topic.

That said, I'd be in favor. As you know, there is currently a proposal for a Wine site on Area 51, but other alcoholic site proposals, including one for whisk(e)y and one for alcoholic beverages in general have already languished and died there.

Since, as you mentioned, we've already agreed on cider, mead and rice wine being on-topic, and since we have very little traffic with the topics we have, and alcohol-based proposals seem to struggle on Area51, I think it would be beneficial all the way around.

  • Broadening scope while in beta happens, though rarely and only with significant discussion and review. For example, Moderators.SE broadened to CommunityBuilding.SE, complete with rename and URL change, after months of discussion between the site and the CM team. It's the sort of thing the CMs will support at most once -- so we shouldn't, say, ask to be Beer & Wine and then later ask to be Alcohol. – Monica Cellio Mar 28 '16 at 19:59
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    Quite aside from all that, though, would you consider editing the on-topic help page and the tour to mention cider and mead? It appears that both pages are the defaults that all sites get to start with. – Monica Cellio Mar 28 '16 at 20:00
  • @MonicaCellio Yes! This has been on the to-do list fo awhile now. Thank you for the reminder. – Xander Mar 28 '16 at 20:03
  • @MonicaCellio I've updated the on-topics page. Please let me know if there's anything else you'd like us to consider adding. – Xander Apr 1 '16 at 0:16
  • Much better, thanks! Is brewing specifically off-topic here, or just preferred there? (I thought it was the latter, but I haven't been tracking it closely since I haven't brewed my own in ages and don't have questions to ask right now.) – Monica Cellio Apr 1 '16 at 0:56
  • @MonicaCellio Specifically off-topic. Brewing questions get migrated there as a matter of course, primarily because they weren't getting answers here. – Xander Apr 1 '16 at 0:57
  • Ok, good to know -- thanks. – Monica Cellio Apr 1 '16 at 1:05
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When it comes to Beer SE to merge with other alcohol sites, it seems to me that we should be more willing to broaden our horizon, than simply just merging with Homebrewing SE. It would seem the natural step to include the Wine Proposal into this equation since wine homebrewing is already on-topic ot Homebrewing SE. The way I feel is that we should include all aspects of alcohol related topics into any expansion if we were to consider doing so. Not only should we consider merging with Homebrewing SE and the new Wine Proposal, but we could also include distilled products such as liquors and liqueurs, as well the subject of distillation in any future ideas we need to bring to the table if in fact we truly want to expand our horizons here.

This how I see things now and cannot speak for others.

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