This is a follow-up to the discussion on renaming the site to match its FAQ, or changing the FAQ to match the site name.

That discussion is one of the highest voted questions on here, so this is to try and get a definitive answer from Stack Exchange about the possibility of getting this implemented. I apologize if sounds like a duplicate, however I was told to make a separate clear proposal for the feature-request, and not edit the existing question.

If you'd like to discuss the topic itself, please see the linked question

The name "Programmers" was selected for our site back when this was a Q&A site meant for programmers to ask and answer questions that were not related to programming. The site scope has changed dramatically since then to be for conceptual questions on software development only, and the descriptive name of Programmers no longer fits our site.

I believe our name is the biggest reason for the extremely high number of bad/off-topic questions that get asked here, because users not familiar with our site think this is a Q&A site about programmers, not one about conceptual software development.

The best analogy I can think of is creating an Athletes.SE which is only for conceptual questions about sports, while questions about athletes themselves, or technical questions about sports, are both off-topic. It's very confusing, especially to new users.

I don't like sifting through so many off-topic questions to find ones that won't get closed, so would like to pick a new name for our site that better matches the site's scope, and change our site's name by doing the following:

  • Change the Title and Logo displayed on our site from Programmers to something else. This would be a cosmetic change only.

  • Register the name as a new SE domain name for the site to use

  • Keep the programmers.stackexchange domain name active, and simply redirect it to the new site's domain name for SEO and to maintain old links

As for what name to use, I think the name should be something the community decides. If we get the OK to do something like this from SE, we can create a meta thread to determine a new name for the site.

To summarize, we advertise as a Q&A site about programmers, however we are not a site about programmers. We are a site for getting expert answers on conceptual questions about software development. Lets change our name to clarify that.


Thomas' answer also brings up a valid point, that not all software developers consider themselves to be programmers.

Many of the people who are professionals in areas of architecture, process, software licenses, and the business side of software development might not consider themselves programmers.

We're limiting our potential by not being clear that this site is for more than just Programmers

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    AGAIN?????????? – Robert Harvey Jun 25 '12 at 15:02
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    @RobertHarvey Blame Yannis, he told me to make a new post about it – Rachel Jun 25 '12 at 15:02
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    I still think the name doesn't matter. The Apple.SE site is called Ask Different. It doesn't mean anything. – Robert Harvey Jun 25 '12 at 15:04
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    @RobertHarvey Apple.SE isn't called Orange.SE. It's called something that clearly is not the description of the site's content. – Rachel Jun 25 '12 at 15:05
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    The only name change that I would support is "Programmer's Whiteboard." At least it is suggestive of the site's purpose, and it incorporates the original name. – Robert Harvey Jun 25 '12 at 15:06
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    "Software Development" is too vague. You'll get all of the people that are question-banned on Stack Overflow coming over here to ask their "write my code for me" and "fix my code for me" questions. – Robert Harvey Jun 25 '12 at 15:13
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    Please don't make another thread about this. The name is not that important. – Robert Harvey Jun 25 '12 at 15:19
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    Do what you must. Just understand that fundamentally the name change will not make any difference in the way that the site is run, or the questions that people will ask. It's all about the faq, not the site name. – Robert Harvey Jun 25 '12 at 15:35
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    A name change should not affect how the site is run, but I think it will reduce the number of bad questions that get posted here. A descriptive site name is a big advertising piece, and our name is providing misleading advertising about what our site is for. We advertise as a Q&A site about programmers, but that's not what this site is. – Rachel Jun 25 '12 at 15:41
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    The name of a site feels much like one of the 7 essential questions, similar to the elevator pitch question. Thus, it seems reasonable that a name change is in order. +1 – jmort253 Jun 26 '12 at 7:50
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    @RobertHarvey: I don't think that is true. In my experience, few (new) users read the FAQ before being sent there (after posting). Obviously, users that are active and aware of the site's scope are not the problem here. – Raphael Jun 26 '12 at 12:15
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    @RobertHarvey: I have no opinion about what would be a good name and whether a new name can solve the problem. I do think that Rachel's analysis has merit, though, and that people are dismissing it too quickly and for the wrong reasons. Her solution may not be the best there is, but that does not imply that there is no problem. (A side remark: as a less-than-active user of SO and lately Programmers, I have continuously been confused by their respective scopes.) – Raphael Jun 26 '12 at 14:54
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    @Raphael: Her suggestion is not being dismissed out of hand. It's been discussed extensively over a period of several months, in many forms. Look at her question history. The scope of the sites are very simple: if you are sitting in front of an IDE, ask your programming-related question on Stack Overflow; if you are standing in front of a whiteboard, ask it on Programmers. If you are standing by the water cooler, in a management meeting or any other place, your question is off-topic. That's it. – Robert Harvey Jun 26 '12 at 15:02
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    @Raphael You seem to be missing a very important detail: This is a feature request that concludes (?) a six month old discussion. We all had a lot of time to think about all the arguments presented, not just Rachel's. Go read the linked discussion post, and get all your facts straight, please. – yannis Jun 26 '12 at 15:07
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    +1 for "... I believe our name is the biggest reason for the extremely high number of bad/off-topic questions that get asked here, ..." Who could possibly know what the site is about with a name like that? Mess around with the tag-line or the FAQ all you like; you're pushing water uphill with a rake until you do something about the name of the site. – Dawood ibn Kareem Oct 31 '12 at 17:49

I write this both as a 20,000+ user and former elected moderator on Programmers, and as a community manager at Stack Exchange.

First and foremost: we will not be changing this site's name.

Why? Well, let's talk about that.

As others have brought up here, there is no evidence right now to support the claim that the site's name is leading to its problems. If anything, I have a counterexample - the site itself.

I think by now we all know how the site came about. When the new scope was handed down, it was not received terribly well and we're still sorting some of that out. The fact is, though, that throughout most of last year, the site slowly evolved to move away from the "Stack Overflow's toilet bowl" image and to what it is today. It happened through comments, (sometimes bitter) meta arguments, flag handling, etc., and look at what we have now - there's an engaged, active community involved in moderation and governance. Even though there were a couple discussions, the site name did not matter.

I remember when most of the front page would be closed questions and I'd be somewhere promoting the site and trying not to feel embarrassed to point people to it. I wouldn't be embarrassed now. I look at the front page and I see 6 closed questions:

When I look at these questions, I see a pattern: all of them are about some aspect of software development. Changing your name to "Software Development Stack Exchange" or anything of that ilk will not stop questions like these. Changing your name to an abstract concept will not automatically draw people in. What attracts experts to a site is the content. Focus on that instead and you will continue to grow.

Now, Gaming SE is currently in the spotlight after having been rebranded to Arqade, so it's natural that that's prompting other sites to ask about getting a brand and a domain of their own. Our official answer is that you can ask, but there is no definite answer. Name changes will happen exceedingly rarely at best, and you should not plan on, depend on, or even anticipate it. There's no fixed traffic criteria or an "awesome meter" that will say definitively that you've earned your name change and that it will happen. If we do it again, it will likely be an act-of-god kind of scenario.

Another example is Fitness & Nutrition now known as Physical Fitness. In that case, part of the site's name explicitly mentioned a subject that was off-topic on the site. The site's community rallied together to start enforcing that and we eventually matched their efforts with a new name.

Programmers is not in either of these situations. So the bottom line is, stop fixating on the name. A name change isn't a silver bullet that will fix your problems. Keep growing the site, solidifying the scope, addressing whatever other issues you (as a community) perceive to exist, but don't worry about the name. It is not holding you back.

  • "Off-topic, though opted to not migrate, which is fair enough." Also rejected by a Stack Overflow moderator in TL. I went for an answer there thinking I'd migrate it, and... oops ;) – yannis Jun 26 '12 at 20:53
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    "What attracts experts to a site is the content. Focus on that instead and you will continue to grow." Lead by example, you say? What a novel concept! – Shog9 Jun 26 '12 at 21:27
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    Well, I guess rank has been pulled. But, yeah, this is a "community-run" site. Right. – JohnMcG Jun 26 '12 at 22:01
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    @JohnMcG If you are willing to pay the cost to re-brand the site, I'm sure we can work something out. You seem to have a completely incorrect view of what "community-run" means, although for this particular discussion, there was never overwhelming community support in favour of changing the name. – yannis Jun 26 '12 at 22:07
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    @YannisRizos Re-reading the question, I see this is precisely what was asked for, so I apologize. – JohnMcG Jun 27 '12 at 3:34
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    I disagree and think it should be changed to something that is more intuitive to the type of discussion wanted on the message board. – user61488 Aug 5 '13 at 23:28

Go for a more abstract name that invites users to consult the FAQ.

One thing that seems to be established, both by the data and the experience of posters here is that there is considerable confusion about the scope of the site. The primary evidence is the high closure/deletion rate for new questions.

What is disputed is the root cause of this confusion. @Rachel hypothesizes that the name/URL of the site is a contributing factor, and others have asked for evidence to support this.

I don't think it is possible, without any kind of budget, to tease out the reasons for this confusion. My intuition suggests that it is surprising that a site entitled "programmers" is in reality a lower scope. I also suspect that the history of programmers.SE, which started as non-programming-related.SE, a release valve for software-related questions that don't belong on Stack Overflow, plays a role in that. In fact, the founders even recently suggested the programmers.se be used in this way.

Changing the name from programmers.se would have the advantage of both moving away from a general term and making a break from this legacy. This would have the downside of some work and some confusion. My judgement is it's worth it.

Some commentators have noted that the most popular sites, e.g. StackOverflow, have even less specific names, yet do not suffer from this confusion, and therefore a name change is unnecessary. What I think this, as well as things like the Arqade rebranding, suggests is that if a site's scope can not be easily captured in two short words or less, it may be better to have a more more abstract name that invites users to consult the FAQ to get a more concrete idea of what the site is about. This may also help the site to form a unique brand.

What type of name might work for this community? Some have suggested things like "The Whiteboard" which doesn't excite me, but I don't have any better ideas. The celebration of Alan Turing this past week leads me to consider the possibility that we could use the name to honor those who have gone before us in software development.

In any instance, I think both the past track record of SE sites and the current future direction suggests this.

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    the founders even recently suggested the programmers.se be used in this way. -- That's not what that post says. That post says that questions on Programmers are more "conceptual." It's not a release valve; it's a difference in scope. – Robert Harvey Jun 26 '12 at 15:15
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    Arqade is a counter-example; that name has even less meaning than "Gaming." – Robert Harvey Jun 26 '12 at 15:16
  • @RobertHarvey 1. The context of Jeff's post was a discussion of "fun" posts like James Bond ASCII art. 2. My suggestion is for a less, rather than more, specific name. – JohnMcG Jun 26 '12 at 15:19
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    You want to be even more obtuse than "Programmers?" – Robert Harvey Jun 26 '12 at 15:20
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    @RobertHarvey Yes. Then people would need to read the FAQ and look at other questions to get a richer feel for what the community is about. – JohnMcG Jun 26 '12 at 15:22
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    How about "readthefaqfirst.com"? – Robert Harvey Jun 26 '12 at 15:27
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    @RobertHarvey Stop stealing my ideas, please ;P – yannis Jun 26 '12 at 15:27
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    This is another reminder of what a great name "Stack Overflow" is. – JohnMcG Jun 26 '12 at 15:31

we advertise as a Q&A site about programmers,

We do? I must have missed those ads.

What kinds of questions would one ask on "a Q&A site about programmers"?

  • What's a programmer's favorite letter? 01010010
  • How many programmers does it take to screw in a light bulb? None! It's hardware problem.

Seriously... I never got the impression that this was a site about programmers, and I don't see much evidence that new users do either. If your thesis were correct, most off topic questions would be about programmers; my own unscientific impression is that such questions are only a fraction of the off topic questions we see here.

however we are not a site about programmers. We are a site for getting expert answers on conceptual questions about software development.

If you wanted an expert answer on a conceptual questions relating to software development, who would you ask? A lawyer? A chef? No... a programmer! Programmers may not be the best, most descriptive name for this site as it exists now, but it's the name we've got and it's really not a bad one.

Instead of searching for a name whose meaning gives identity to the site, lets continue to build a strong identity for the site that will give meaning to the name.

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    A descriptive site name is one of the biggest pieces of advertisement there is. The name Programmers suggests we are a site for and about programmers, which is not the case. Most questions that get closed are from users who simply want an answer from programmers, and think this is the place to get it. – Rachel Jun 26 '12 at 12:01
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    I would ask a software developer about software development. I'd ask a programmer about programming. Same way as I'd ask a doctor about doctoring and a nurse about nursing. They are different things. – Kit Z. Fox Oct 31 '12 at 18:07

To be explicitly clear, this post is coming exclusively from me as member of the Programmers community, not as a moderator.

I believe our name is the biggest reason for the extremely high number of bad/off-topic questions that get asked here, because users not familiar with our site think this is a Q&A site about programmers, not one about conceptual software development.

Like Mark Trapp, I want to see data to support this. I'm not convinced that the name has anything to do with the closure rate. Anyone who spends a couple of minutes looking at the FAQ or reading existing questions should see what the site is about, and anyone posting here should take a few minutes to understand the site before they post. The very first line in the FAQ even says that "Programmers — Stack Exchange is a site for professional programmers who are interested in getting expert answers on conceptual questions about software development."

I don't have any numbers, but I get the feeling that most people who visit this site learn what it's about. Even if you look at other sites, like Stack Overflow, you can see that there are closed questions that can be avoided if people read the FAQ and understand the site before randomly posting. You don't spend effort dealing with (and I'm borrowing some ideas from some corporate HR policies) the 5% of the people who are the "bad apples". You focus on the 95% of the people who are good contributors and make it possible for them to do what they do best.

we advertise as a Q&A site about programmers, however we are not a site about programmers

I don't see that anywhere. Every place I see refers to the site being "for professional programmers" and a place to ask "conceptual questions about software development". If there is a place that makes it seem like this site is for questions about programmers or being a programmer, please provide a link to it. If there is any ambiguity, it should be cleared up. However, I haven't found any yet.

Now, from my personal experiences (about a dozen or so data points, which is most likely statistically insignificant), the name does cause a small problem when pitching the site to people with professional titles such as "Software Architect", "Systems Architect", "Software Quality Assurance Engineer", "Software Process Improvement Specialist", "Process Engineer", and so on. These people all could ask and answer questions that are on-topic here, however none of them consider themselves programmers. It's not impossible to pitch the site after mentioning "conceptual questions about software development" and highlighting specific topics that they would be interested in, but the name requires an explanation of the acceptable content to people who aren't programmers. It makes an elevator pitch (<2 minutes) more difficult, but not impossible.

I believe that this is the same point that jmort253 brought up in the comments.

If any reason exists to consider changing the name, I think that it would be to rebrand the site to better encompass the things that we consider on topic. Many of the people who are professionals in areas of architecture, process, software licenses, and the business side of software developers might not consider themselves programmers.

I'd be curious about what experiences people have had pitching this site to non-programming software development professionals (anyone who has the potential to ask and answer on-topic questions, but does not professionally build software) and if there were any difficulties creating an elevator pitch (30-120 seconds) to get them interested in the site. I think that such information could be used to make a case for rebranding - if a member of this community can't easily convey the purpose of this community to someone who would be interested in it, that could be problematic to the continued growth and development of the community.

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    This might further support the allegation that the name is the problem: programmers.stackexchange.com/a/3333/12611. If other people think programmer == code monkey as opposed to developer == super cool awesome, smart person who gets things done, then it's possible that developers think programmer == code monkey too. Maybe developers are more likely to read the documentation, whereas programmers just blindly hack away at what's in front of him/her. A more professional, modern, and appropriate name could be helpful to force everyone to change their image of what the site is about. – jmort253 Jun 26 '12 at 14:13
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    [cont'd] - There is of course no data to back this up, at least none that I have, but it's funny that when a company wants to change it's image of itself or its product, it oftentimes starts with the name. :) – jmort253 Jun 26 '12 at 14:14
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    @jmort253 Most of the answers to that question all tend to support a name change. The answers indicates a programmer is someone who is only involved in coding while developer is involved in the whole lifecycle. – Thomas Owens Jun 26 '12 at 15:03
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    My point exactly. The name of the site may inadvertently be putting otherwise intelligent, though-leaders into a different mode of thinking, one where it's okay to ignore the faq and one where it's okay to shoot from the hip when it comes to Q&A, because that's what a perceived "programmer" does. I don't have hard evidence, it's more of a feeling, so I'm not sure my assessment really helps the cause. :( – jmort253 Jun 26 '12 at 16:39
  • Who reads FAQs anymore? Seriously - if there's one major con of the rise of Q&A sites it's how literal the usage is, i.e. Q & A = I have a question, gimme my answer, I don't want to trawl through questions someone else has deemed important - fix my codes for me! People preaching the content of the FAQs while others are complaining that people don't read the FAQs is a futile exercise. On another note I have read the FAQ's and related posts, etc, and I'm still not 100% sure what question I could ask here that I couldn't also ask on SO. – Toby Apr 22 '16 at 9:03

I believe our name is the biggest reason for the extremely high number of bad/off-topic questions that get asked here, because users not familiar with our site think this is a Q&A site about programmers, not one about conceptual software development.

Prove it. Show hard data that demonstrates:

  1. Programmers' closure rates are directly attributable to the site name, and
  2. Changing the name to anything else will significantly affect closure rates on Programmers.

Unless there's actual data to support this hypothesis, making an extremely disruptive change like this is unwarranted and should not be done.

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    +1 - I must admit. I'm incredibly confused. Mostly because I was around before the restructuring but missed the actual restructuring of the site scope because I was away during that time. When a site changes scope, it's name should be changed as well, IMHO. – jmort253 Jun 26 '12 at 7:47
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    @jmort253 The antedisciplining period was ~4 weeks: rebranding a site in early beta due to a scope (but not audience) change isn't really necessary. We're also 20 months past the enforcement notice: the ship sailed on changing the site name with a change in site scope a long, long time ago. – user8 Jun 26 '12 at 7:53
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    Demanding data nobody can obtain (without implementing the change for a reasonable amount of time) is a lame argument. – Raphael Jun 26 '12 at 8:01
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    @Raphael It's no more lame than making assertions that you can't back up. – Caleb Jun 26 '12 at 8:07
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    @Raphael "A wise man proportions his beliefs to the evidence." Significant claims require significant evidence, especially when such claims are used as the only basis for requesting a major change like this. – user8 Jun 26 '12 at 8:11
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    I thought the 30-40% closure rate was proof that we are doing something wrong with the way we communicate with users (it varies on any given day, and I know deleted/migrated questions aren't included in that). If you browse closed questions, the majority of them are by users who simply want an answer from programmers, and think this is the place to get one. – Rachel Jun 26 '12 at 12:03
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    And I don't think it would be that hard to change the Title/Logo on the page to something else. Setting up a second domain name for a site that already exists isn't that hard either. – Rachel Jun 26 '12 at 12:04
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    @Rachel What evidence do you have that shows the reported 30-40% closure rate is a direct result of the name of the site? – user8 Jun 26 '12 at 12:05
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    @MarkTrapp: That's a hypothesis, obviously, but it seems to be a reasonable one: the average new user will have seen the site's name and domain, maybe the pitch, but not more. If there is a significant amount of misunderstanding regarding the site's scope, this is the way to look. (In particular, most new users don't read the FAQ before sent there.) Whether it is feasible to test this hypothesis -- that is rename the site for some time -- and whether renaming solves more problems than it creates, now that are very different and completely valid concerns. – Raphael Jun 26 '12 at 12:12
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    @Rachel What you're describing are people misunderstanding the site's scope, not that they're misunderstanding the site's scope due to the site's name. Do you have any direct, verifiable evidence that demonstrates changing the site's name will have any effect on anything? – user8 Jun 26 '12 at 12:17
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    @Raphael The site name being key to understanding the site's scope is prima facie refutable by looking at other sites on the network: Stack Overflow, Server Fault, Super User, and Ask Different all have names that don't unambiguously define the site's scope, yet they don't have the closure rates or the reported confusion that Programmers has. So I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for evidence showing that what's working for other sites on the network isn't working for us. Changing the site's name—even temporarily—based on a hunch doesn't seem viable. – user8 Jun 26 '12 at 12:21
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    @Raphael I don't think it's necessary to change the site's name to test the hypothesis: simple user or focus group testing should suffice. Ask someone to look at the home page, then ask them what they think is on topic. If they get it wrong, ask them what, specifically, led them to believe their mistaken assumption. Repeat that several times, and if people keep saying "the site name", then we're getting somewhere. – user8 Jun 26 '12 at 12:29
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    @Rachel I'm not disputing there's user confusion; I'm disputing the leap you're making that the user confusion is a direct result of the site's name and not any of the multitude of other ways we communicate with users, like the FAQ, community enforcement of the scope, comments, etc. And again, if it's crucial the site name unambiguously define the site's scope, why don't Super User, Stack Overflow, Server Fault, and Ask Different have the same problems we reportedly have? – user8 Jun 26 '12 at 12:41
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    @MarkTrapp Well SO and AD aren't descriptive site names, and while SU and SF are not necessarily descriptive names, they can be used to identify what the site is about. SU is about personal/home computers or software (ie. things a Super User would do), while SF is about things like office-wide networks and server setups. – Rachel Jun 26 '12 at 12:48
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    @jmort253 Honestly, I don't think the community had any say in the restructuring. You can view the history here and make up your own mind about it, but I felt we had no say since Programmers at the time said no change was needed/wanted, but SE overruled that. – Rachel Jun 26 '12 at 13:12

Two suggestions:

"Blame Yannis" .SE

For the first, I do suspect he'd feel quite honored with the honorific, but it's just a joke based upon the comments from the OP. OTOH, I now fear that any questions I may ask for the next millennium will be auto-closed. :-P

For the second, P.SE is really about programm-ING not necessarily programm-ERS. I don't know that it's worth the effort to setup all the redirects and whatnot. The off-topic questions can be annoying though.

And FWIW, I'm praying the up / down votes on this answer will balance each other out....

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    Upvoted for Blame Yannis SE. ;) – yannis Jun 25 '12 at 18:18
  • Currently running +2 / -4. Not all appreciate my sense of humor apparently. – user53019 Jun 25 '12 at 18:50
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    +1: For Programming.SE. 'Blame Yannis' made me laugh. FWIW: As many already know, Yannis is a good guy (I've chatted with him a few times.) – Jim G. Jun 26 '12 at 3:38
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    +1 Programming seems a bit less "watercoolish" than Programmers. One describes what programmers do, while the other describes the people that do the programming. Subtle, yet could be effective. – jmort253 Jun 26 '12 at 8:25
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    This is the scenario that immediately popped into my head when I read this: person found script on internet and is fiddling around with it to make their blog prettier. "I'm PROGRAMMING! Whoo hoo! But I have a question about this thing in this code that 'doesn't work' but I didn't try anything because I'm 'not a programmer'. So I'll ask at Programming.SE because today I'M PROGRAMMING!" And so on. – jcmeloni Jun 27 '12 at 12:35

We wouldn't be the first site to try a new name, and I don't see the harm in trying it out if we can agree on a new one. Its not unprecedented that a sites name gets changed after launch.

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    Yeah, but your answer doesn't really explain anything, does it? – Robert Harvey Jun 26 '12 at 14:44
  • I don't see the harm in trying it out if we can agree on a new one Hm, isn't that exactly what we are doing? ;P – yannis Jun 26 '12 at 15:28
  • @YannisRizos it looked like most were concerned with proof the name matters at all, not actually changing the name or providing suggestions. – Ryathal Jun 26 '12 at 15:51
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    There's a call for evidence, certainly, not for if the name matters (of course it does), but for if it's actually a significant source of confusion for newer users. That I don't believe, and won't be convinced for unless I see solid evidence. When I asked Rachel to post a separate feature request I was hoping people would keep discussing in the earlier [discussion] post, and keep this one clean for Stack Exchange to either accept or decline. Didn't really worked as I hoped for, though. – yannis Jun 26 '12 at 15:52

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