Do we intend this to be the site for all questions related to Vi and Vim on the Stack Exchange network? Are there any questions that should be off-topic for this site but still on-topic elsewhere?

Let's find some examples. Consider the following:

  1. Questions about using vim, such as How can I copy text to the system clipboard from Vim? [and its SO equivalent]
  2. Questions about vim settings, such as How can I add line numbers to Vim? [and its SO equivalent]
  3. Questions inviting vim plugin suggestions and customizations, such as Is it possible to have vim auto-complete function names, variables, etc. when using it to program? [and one if the many SO equivalents]
  4. Questions about language-specific settings/plugins/programming environments such as How to get intelligent C++ auto-completion [and one of the many SO equivalents]
  5. Questions about NeoVim. We only have What is Neovim? How is it different from Vim? And why should I care? at the moment, which is a bit odd of a question. But in principle, general questions about NeoVim. [There are very few NeoVim questions on SO to compare to as well]
  6. Questions about debugging problems in vim, such as Cut vim load time [and one of its SO equivalents]
  7. Questions about writing plugins/functions for vim, such as Making a box in vim via python [and a morally similar SO equivlanet]

One of the aspects of the creation of vi.stackexchange that appealed to me was the prospect of reducing fragmentation across the network. See for instance this answer by Doorknob at Area51. (Notice also as a comment to that answer that Jon Ericson doesn't consider this a valid reason to create vi/vim - but nonetheless it's something that I would like).


5 Answers 5


It seems to me that if vi.stackexchange site gets through public beta, then questions should be on-topic here even if they're also on-topic at Stack Overflow or elsewhere. It shouldn't only be a place for questions that don't fit anywhere else.

This is also why I think vi.stackexchange doesn't really help with the fragmentation problem unless either:

  1. All the other sites decide a). that vi/Vim questions are now off-topic and b). to enforce this and redirect people here, or,

  2. It gets enough users and traffic that it organically becomes the place to ask vi/Vim questions simply because it's the place where they'll be answered best.


The list of questions confirms something I said on Area 51:

The best site for Vi/Vim questions is Stack Overflow. If you are already interested in asking and answering questions about this family of editor, you really owe it to yourself to follow that filter for a few days. ... Many of the [questions] here seem perfectly topical on Stack Overflow.

Each of the questions on Stack Overflow that you linked to share a number of characteristics:

  1. Were answered to the asker's satisfaction (as evidenced by being accepted) the same day they were asked (often within minutes).

  2. Have multiple upvoted answers. (In fairness, the second answer to this question was deleted after being upvoted.)

  3. They remain open to new answers. If the answers insufficient, anyone may freely add an improved answer.

  4. Have thousands of views.

  5. Are asked on a site with thousands of users who can reasonably be called vi and vim experts.

In order to justify moving any of those questions to a new site, we'd want to know that the new site is a better home than Stack Overflow. According to objective criteria of successful Q&A, it would be irresponsible to move any of these questions. The only criteria that would indicate migrating these questions to this site is fragmentation of the topic.

So let's talk for a moment about fragmentation. It's not enough, really, to move all the questions and answers into one place; preventing fragmentation of a topic requires moving all the askers and answerers into one place too. 4 and 1/2 years ago, a site for TeX and LaTeX was added to the network. To this day, the [tex] and [latex] tags get 3 questions a day on Stack Overflow. In every case I can think of, splitting programming topics off of Stack Overflow has made fragmentation worse. It turns out many programmers would rather ask and answer questions on the site they already use. The "home site" phenomena also explains why there is still an active [ubuntu] tag on Unix & Linux.

In the last few years, we've been trying to get in the habit of talking less about topics and sites and more about communities. I want to acknowledge that the Vi/Vim community does exist and has a right to exist on our network. The same can be said about the C++ community and the Go community and the Fortran community. I think the better way to think of a site, especially Stack Overflow, is as a great city with many different types of people working together. People live in cities, with all their problems, because it's better to work with a diverse group than not. The same thing can be said of programmers on Stack Overflow.

In that analogy, splitting off a site is not so much an acknowledgement that a community has value as a ghettoization of the topic. Now that I say it, that seems a bit harsh. But spinning off a new site implies that the whole depth and breadth of the topic was not welcome in the original community. The SO questions you've listed don't demonstrate anything of the sort. I'm left wondering who is served by this site who would not be served by leaving Vi[m] questions where they are now.

  • 2
    You briefly mentioned the Ubuntu site: Why does an Ubuntu site exist? It would seem to me that almost all Ubuntu questions would also be a good fit for both unix.SE & SuperUser, and that such question 'would be welcome' there. For that matter, the same applies to unix.SE & SuperUser? - (BTW: I'm not trying to make a "it's not fair, why them and not us"-type of argument as I've seen some people do, I just want to better understand the criteria so I can work on making vi.SE succeed as best as I can) Feb 6, 2015 at 21:55
  • 2
    @Carpetsmoker: Good question. There is a blog post explaining the thinking. I don't know much about Ubuntu having learned Unix on IRIX and Solaris, but my impression is that the division is not dissimilar to the division between Windows server administrators and Windows desktop users. Same tool; vastly different questions. Feb 6, 2015 at 23:51
  • 1
    Thank you for writing an answer. But I did not mean to move questions from SO to here. Instead, I was trying to decide what vi questions should still be asked at SO, even under the assumption that vi.se lives and thrives. You see, I'd asked this question about vimscripting and others seemed to think it should be asked at SO instead. I was under the impression that we should throw all sorts of new vi/vim questions here. To end, I also haven't figured out who is served here yet. I hope the beta will make that clear. Feb 7, 2015 at 1:10
  • @mixedmath The thing with that question was that it didn't really ask a question about Vim, but more "How do I do foo with Python", where foo is slightly related to Vim... Feb 8, 2015 at 22:45
  • 1
    @mixedmath: Those questions are certainly ontopic here. The hope of a site like this is that a significant percentage of questions would not work on other sites. Of the questions that are also ontopic elsewhere, we'd hope that posts here would be uniquely targeted to vi[m] enthusiasts. I . . . don't know exactly what that might mean, however. But the difference is likely along the lines of the difference between "I want to do something and I happen to use Vi" and "I want to do something with Vi". Feb 9, 2015 at 1:11
  • 2
    The counterpoint to your first point is that more than half of these questions (1,2,5,6) are not actually on-topic on SO according to SO's guidelines: stackoverflow.com/help/on-topic
    – Rich
    Feb 9, 2015 at 11:44

You have to look at this issue from the point of view of the Stack Overflow community. Unless the Stack Overflow community deems the subject of "vi/vim" off-topic on that site, you have no cause to annex questions from that site to here.

Stack Overflow has their own community; you have yours. If I were a member of Stack Overflow community and someone saw fit to remove my posts in bulk (and the reputation/abilities that go with it) and move them to another site, I would very likely be quite pissed.

Right now, there is nothing off-topic about those questions on Stack Overflow; the creation of this site does not changed that. This site simply has no cause to usurp question on Stack Overflow to this site unless they are off topic on Stack Overflow.

Read: Respect the community – your own, and others’

You cannot hope to build this site off the back of another. It's really that simple.

  • 2
    I'd like to clarify something that I must have made unclear. I am not concerned about taking questions currently at SO and moving them here. That seems disrespectful and silly. I'm wondering what questions about vim we should ask here, and what questions about vim we should ask at SO in the future (under the assumption that vi.se is going to carry on). Rich and Muru began to address this in their answers. You and Jon seemed to have interpreted my post as though I wanted to move questions here. Nope! But I do want to know whether writing vim plugins in python should be on topic here or not. Feb 9, 2015 at 0:13
  • @mixedmath The way you posed this question really was unclear. I think Rev 4 is still subject to misinterpretation. Feb 9, 2015 at 1:34
  • @200_success Ok. Feel free to edit it to capture the intent. Feb 9, 2015 at 1:49
  • @200_success I like that edit. Thank you Feb 9, 2015 at 1:59
  • There is something off-topic about the questions on Stack Overflow, as @muru points out. They are (almost all) not "unique to software development". I do, however, understand there is a difference in between SO's published guidelines about what is on-topic and what the SO community actually treats as on-topic, so the bulk of your answer stands.
    – Rich
    Feb 16, 2015 at 8:46

What fits SO?

  • software tools commonly used by programmers; and is
  • a practical, answerable problem that is unique to software development

Practically every type will fit the first point. So let us compare against the second:

  1. Nothing unique to software development
  2. Nothing unique to software development
  3. Nothing unique to software development (the first question is specifically about programming, but why should it be? Autocompletion can be useful even for writing books. SuperTab doesn't care either way.)
  4. Ah.
  5. Nothing unique to software development
  6. Nothing unique to software development
  7. Ah. However, note that programming in QML is on-topic on AskUbuntu, because it is a recommended way to write apps. Scripting with the various *nix utilities is on-topic on U&L and AU, because their usage is very closely related to the platforms. Therefore, developing [for] vim should be on-topic here. I made this point before, and got some support.

So where does that leave (4)? I don't know.

  • (4) is "unique to software development" if the language in question is a programming language, and not otherwise.
    – Rich
    Feb 6, 2015 at 15:57

Do we intend this to be the site for Vi and Vim on the StackExchange network? Do we want to only take questions that do not fit on SO?

Let's take Python (the programming language) as an example, it would obviously fit on Stack overflow, no question what-so-ever about it. But guess how many other sites have a Python tag?

  • Android enthousiasts
  • Ask Ubuntu
  • Ask diffferent
  • Blender
  • Code review
  • Codegolf
  • Data science
  • Database administrators
  • Emacs
  • Game development
  • Information security
  • Raspberry Pi
  • Reverse Engineering
  • Robotics
  • ServerFault
  • Signal Processing
  • Software Quality Assurance & Testing
  • Superuser
  • TeX
  • UNIX & Linux
  • Web applications
  • Webmasters

22 sites. While some only have a few questions tagged as Python, most have a significant number (>100).

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