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It seems like we have a low volume of questions compared to other sites of/at our age. Should we expand the scope of questions here in order to increase the volume of questions we get? If so what direction should that scope increase take?

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  • Take a look at Proposals in Beta and compare to slightly older and new groups; Ebooks is not settting any records for participation. – James Jenkins Feb 19 '14 at 18:41
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I am personally hesitant to expand the scope, as it would be hard to go much broader and still call this a site about ebooks. The critical issue is that the site needs a pool of expertise on whatever topics we consider on-topic. That is, if we (the users of the site) consider a question about X to be appropriate, then we need to offer expertise and expert-level answers related to X. If we can't do the latter, we shouldn't do the former.

Questions about ereader hardware technologies, font rendering, typesetting, website design, and so on are too unrelated to ebooks to really draw from the same pool of expertise as questions about EPUB, MOBI, Calibre, and so on. As a result, I think that expanding our scope to include those questions would be an error and probably exceed the site's mandate.

The one caveat I would make to the above is this: the web can be used as a medium for publication of book-length materials, of course, and I think questions about how to present such materials on the web are generally appropriate. Not questions about page layout, search engines, and so on, but questions about, say, turning a DOC or PDF into a readable, multi-page web version of a book. I don't think such questions would ever have been considered off-topic, but I want to clarify in case my above comments indicated that they should be.

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    This is essentially my opinion on the issue as well - expanding the scope isn't likely to solve this problem. – Nathan Osman Feb 19 '14 at 15:58
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    I would in fact argue that we need to limit the scope more. The questions are already a hodge-podge or questions about how to use particular software, hardware concerns, and a little bit of ebook creation stuff--it already feels very unfocused, which could easily drive people away. – Tom Feb 19 '14 at 18:18
  • @Tom drive who away? We have 48, avid users – James Jenkins Feb 19 '14 at 18:38
  • @James drive away potential experts. Check out this Twitter exchange: twitter.com/dvsch/status/435816208915767297 – Tom Feb 19 '14 at 18:44
  • @Tom I suspect that that is missing how other StackExchnage sites work - e.g. AakDifferent cores OSX and iPhones which differ, SU windows and Unix and hardware all different and So which covers lots where none can be interested in all tags - the question would be which questions are not ebook publishing related and different people will have different cases - also the whole set up is not just for professional publishing anyway. – mmmmmm Feb 20 '14 at 14:08
  • @tom, can you expand (maybe in an answer) on what you believe the scope should be limited to, and maybe include how those topics would be out of scope for stackoverflow.com and/or superuser.com ? – James Jenkins Feb 21 '14 at 11:35
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    Incidentally, we were mentioned on the recent podcast. Apparently the staff were surprised at the quality of questions here. I guess that's a good sign, even if participation isn't as high as other sites. – Nathan Osman Feb 26 '14 at 7:07
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At James's request, I'll lay out some of my thoughts here. I think the question of scope here is really a question of who the audience of this site is meant to be: creators and distributors of ebooks, or readers of ebooks? It seems like other Stack Exchange sites divide these groups up: Stack Overflow is for people creating programs, and Super User is for people using them. Similarly, Arqade is for people who play games, while Game Development is for people who make them. We don't have the activity to justify splitting into two different sites, of course, but I believe that keeping these two audiences in mind is the key to determining if a question is in scope or not. Questions and their answers should serve one or the other of those audiences—they should solve problems that content creators and publishers have, or they should solve problems that ebook readers have.

I've always thought that solving problems is what the Stack Exchange sites are all about—that's why experts congregate here. Questions that don't address a particular problem seem out of place, regardless of how interesting they are—they seem more devoted to a discussion board, because they're of the "I would like to participate in a discussion about _______________" type.

As for why those questions would be out of scope for Stack Overflow: while many questions about ebook creation are HTML/CSS quetsions at their root, there are a lot of quirks to the various ebook reading systems that are unique to those systems—answers from web designer might not work in an ebook. Questions about publishing processes—about ISBNs for example—clearly don't fit on Stack Overflow or Super User, but do here.

Hope that's all useful!

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    Thank you Tom that is very good answer, but I am not seeing where we are on track to have enough visits to support the business model to make this a successful site. While I doubt we are at risk of being shut down in the near term, we are not getting the community involvement to advance the site. Is the audience for the scope you define sufficient to support the site, and if so how do we get them here? – James Jenkins Feb 23 '14 at 11:57
  • P.S. I do write some boarder line, in-scope questions that I am not particularly vested in ensuring are on topic for the site, merely for generating interest during our early days. – James Jenkins Feb 23 '14 at 12:00

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