I wonder, what was the first Stack Exchange site? I use Stack Overflow and Server Fault quite a lot. Their names suggest that you have a problem and you need to solve it.

If those were among the first ones, then later sites are kind of breaking the theme. English Language and Usage, if it were to follow the theme, might be called “Tongue Tied”. This would then have the same connotation.

Any thoughts?

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    Stack Overflow was the inception of this style of Q&A site. Then came Server Fault and Super User. Then there is some complicated history with paid hosting (Stack Exchange version 1), of which I think Ask Different and MathOverflow are remnants, and now Stack Exchange as you see now. I'm sure there's someone one with a definitive history out there. Perhaps if you look at Meta Stack Exchange, there might be answers there, too. Oct 16, 2020 at 10:42
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    To add to @MattE.Эллен's comment, the many later sites after the first three were community created and therefore not created by the original team. So the theme of clever non-literal names established by these early sites wasn't followed very often. On the other hand, some sites did_ follow the theme: Cross Validated for statistics, Ask DIfferent for Apple, Mi Yodeya for Jewish things, Seasoned Advice for cooking. But these 'styles' are not something to be enforced.
    – Mitch
    Oct 16, 2020 at 19:54

1 Answer 1


You describe a pattern that never existed or which was abandoned very early on; Jeff Atwood's only criteria in the beginning were that 1) he "like" the name, and 2) the name be available. The proposed sysadmin-oriented site was initially called "IT Stack Overflow," before Server Fault was adopted in March 2009. The third site was named Super User because he was able to obtain the domain name. The fourth site was Meta Stack Overflow, which isn't even a play on technical terminology.

The cleverness of a Stack name is to some extent correlated with age, as in the early days of the company there was more interest in developing community, and greater resources put into not only the community names but in having distinctive visual styles as well. Soon, however, there was pushback that the network was becoming fragmented, and that it was too inefficient to spend so much time on names and designs. Nothing To Install was reverted to Web Apps, and while a few communities retained their brands (e.g. Seasoned Advice, Cross Validated), the decision was made to favor succinctness and commonality.

By 2013, the policy was that all sites would be [Subject] Stack Exchange, and I believe a few names were actually reverted to that format ("Travel Answers" comes to mind).

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