This site arose out the merging of three area-51 proposals:

  • Cognitive science
  • Psychology
  • Psychology and psychiatry

From the initial beta period, the site clearly has many questions that could be classified as

  • psychology and cognitive science
  • just psychology
  • just cognitive science

I remember on stats.stackexchange.com that the site was meant to encompass machine learning, visualisation, statistics, data analysis, etc., although over the while in my opinion it has tended to focus more on statistics, data analysis, etc. but not so much the machine learning. I wonder whether this was partially due to the branding of the site "Statistical Analysis Stack Exchange" and the word in the url "stats" as in "stats.stackexchange.com".

I'd really like to see cosci.se maintain its inclusive focus on both cognitive science and the broad science of psychology. I quite like the title "Cognitive Sciences" (plural) and I don't mind the url prefix cogsci. However, I think there is a risk that it may be more inviting to researchers involved with cognitive science and cognitive psychology.


Thus, assuming you agree with the premise of my question (feel free to disagree, of course).

  • What branding strategies can we use to maintain the inclusive focus of the site?
  • Great question!
    – Josh
    Jan 27, 2012 at 2:28
  • I don't know, I don't think there is a better concise way to describe the overlaps in the fields. What areas do we feel are being excluded that should be in the scope of the site?
    – Ben Brocka
    Jan 27, 2012 at 6:13
  • 1
    @BenBrocka I think the scope of the site is fine as defined. I'm more worried about how the branding of the site will influence how inviting the site appears to new comers, particularly psychology researchers in non-cognitive sub-disciplines. Jan 27, 2012 at 6:22
  • 3
    Not the official answer by any means, but I would encourage tags to serve as the filtering and sifting method. Beyond that, keeping an eye on the front page to make sure it reflects an array of topics is the best way to make sure the mix stays, well, mixed. :D
    – Aarthi
    Jan 27, 2012 at 15:52
  • @BenBrocka one of the reasons I feel this is sucha great question is due to the experience I had on area51 prior to launch
    – Josh
    Jan 27, 2012 at 18:51
  • 1
    @Josh I'd still be wary of letting one user's experience form your assumptions about the system. We've clearly had a variety of users use the site, ironically not very many M.D.s at all so far. While your mother is welcome we do want PhDs as well
    – Ben Brocka
    Jan 27, 2012 at 20:00
  • I know @Ben and my experience on the site in no way is in line with her expectations. But still, the question if branding is important to make sure we attract more users, and users from all fields we're targeting.
    – Josh
    Jan 27, 2012 at 20:16
  • 1
    I think an even more important question is how will branding affect our ability to attract researchers and experts. Feb 3, 2012 at 4:06

2 Answers 2


I asked this question for a few reasons.

1. General issues of defining scope

I was hoping to get agreement in meta that this site covers the full range of topics in psychology. It's not just about the subset of psychology that overlaps typically with cognitive science. My sense from patterns of upvoting and existing meta is that this is a belief shared by main users on the site.

2. Marketing

I think cognitive sciences (plural) sounds more inviting to people who self-identify as cognitive science (singular) researchers. Thus, in marketing the site, I quite like describing the site as one for "researchers in cognitive science and psychology". If we wanted to be even more inclusive, we could say "researchers in cognitive science, psychology, and psychiatry", but perhaps the degree to which the word "psychiatry" is included in branding is a separate issue.


In my experiene, reading metas of physics.SE and theophy.SE from time to time facing similar problems, dont worry about branding, experts and esp. researchers will only come, read and post on this place if you yield a high quality of Q&A. And the less number of experts a proposal starts with, the less it will have in the long term. Sorry it is simply this way, thats why a well defined commitment phase is important.

If you dont reach a high quality of Q&As in the private beta and first public beta weeks, dont expect you can turn around this by smart branding. As I mentioned in the other meta question here, the site statistics, scope and background of user here look a bit alarming to me, esp. the A/Q ratio. It looks exactly like philosophy.SE to me, where a lot hobbyist of philosophy wanted a site and commited to it, but currently not a single philosopher or student of this branch is posting, as the questions often deal with Religion, disproof of God, Death, Ethics... topics no modern philosopher cares about.

A lot of questions here like how can we explain mental ability X, disorder y from neurobio. way look very similar to me. Of course, a huge scope means there is not really a common denominator between the users to close bad questions with no initial research effort nor clear terminology or definition. Like questions on reddit and quora. But quora and reddit have a other system to attract experts.

On SE it is the quality of Q at the beginning that attracts or scares away experts. IMHO this site went much too early to public beta, the broader the scope and the needed background of researchers is, the more commiters would be needed for a good public beta start. But simply merging all those sites because some people voted for it on AREA51 was probably really counterproductive in the long term.

I really would like to give out a magic strategy to attract experts, but at least I'm sure its not done by form of special branding. Content is the golden formua. But such a broad scope and very few questions, especially good ones doesnt look like a problem of branding to me. Half of the commiters asked one question...

  • Branding is not the core; good questions and answers is the core; but that said beta is about defining focus and branding is still one thing to discuss; As a researcher with a PhD, and having looked at some of the bios on this site and having read many of the answers provided by people like BenBrocka and others, I disagree with your assessment. I think 10 days into public beta is early days. Feb 5, 2012 at 1:59
  • I have 3rd highest rep on stats.se and was involved from public beta to full site launch. If I compare stats.se after 10 days of public beta to cogsci.se site, I see a similar site. Feb 5, 2012 at 2:01
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    Branding is core as it creates the initial and persistent impression. Our content needs t obe quality to keep people coming back but branding is very important for that first impression.
    – Ben Brocka
    Feb 5, 2012 at 2:18

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