For some time now, we have been trying to get name change:

Whither a more inclusive site name?

And although the post has many up-votes (9 up-votes is a lot, it is tied for 2nd most up voted meta post), nothing is being done about this. When we do talk to the overlords about getting a name change, we will probably be asked to provide evidence that such a change is necessary. I am preemptively starting this question for users to post evidence.

Have you come across academics or other SE users that were confused about what is on topic for this site? Did they think that only cognitive science was on-topic while they wanted to ask questions about neuroscience, affect or social psychology?

Please post one piece of evidence (or highly related evidence) of potential users being confused about the name per answer. If you disagree with the need for a name change, then voice your disagreement on the original post not this one.

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    Similarly, there are a range of smaller things that could be done to make it clear to non "cognitive scientists", that the site is relevant to them. In particular, I think it would be great if the welcome message was changed as per the suggestions here: meta.cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/301/… Jul 8, 2012 at 1:45

8 Answers 8


Blog post on "Future perfect"

The wonder that is StackExchange now caters to those Cognitive Scientists who are not also programmers & computer scientists. http://cogsci.stackexchange.com. HT: the JDM list.LINK

I.e., the author thinks that the site is for "cognitive scientists"; most researchers in psychology do not see themselves as cognitive scientists.

Abid Ullah on Quora

In response to a question on Quora "How will the new Cognitive Science Stack Exchange affect the Neuroscience topic on Quora?"

I thought stack exchange was really for programmers and sysadmins and individuals of similar professions. ... However, cognitive science is more about just the brain and its workings, it combines things from other fields like philosophy and artificial intelligence... LINK

I.e., the person thinks the site is about "cognitive science". They don't think the site is about psychology nor about neuroscience more broadly.

General discussion of site branding

My own rants

This is personal evidence, but I have over 15 years experience in a psychology department where I like to think I have a pretty good understanding of the discipline-specific terms that people identify with. It is quite clear to me that the current branding "cognitive sciences" makes the site feel like it is most relevant to cognitive scientists and cognitive psychologists than for non-cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists. I've been saying this for a long time.

I'd really like to see cosci.se maintain its inclusive focus on both cognitive science and the broad science of psychology. ... However, I think there is a risk that it may be more inviting to researchers involved with cognitive science and cognitive psychology. LINK

Anyone who uses the site will see that the site is much broader, but I think the site name and particularly the welcome message could do a better job of communicating this breadth.


G+ screen capture

The above is a screen capture of a G+ conversation with a PhD student in psychology. The post was shared with a 'limited' circle so I can't include a link, since I am not sure if the author wants to be anonymous or not.


'cogsci (cognitive science) only partially relates to neuroinformatics. for example, discussing electron microscopy to image a neuron would be a stretch as a relevant topic in cognitive science'

(from a Discuss.Area51 answer)


'I'm all for the merge, but would push to have it called "Neuroscience" or the like; "Cognitive Science" excludes affective research (our lab's focus) as well as perceptual and/or motor stuff.'

(from a Discuss.Area51 comment)

  • More detailed answer to follow but basically the powers that be said we needed more community support last time we asked...
    – Josh
    Jul 7, 2012 at 17:59
  • @JoshGitlin I look forward to your answer here. It is always nice to know more about our overlords. Jul 7, 2012 at 22:01
  • @JoshGitlin Thanks. We appreciate it. We also wanted this question to be a one stop shop for evidence we've collected to indicate that a name change might be in order, rather than having to paste together a bunch of chat transcripts, if and when the need arose. Jul 7, 2012 at 22:14
  • Sorry guys, things have been very busy for me. I'll post an update when I can.
    – Josh
    Jul 9, 2012 at 18:13

From the site proposal after Psychology was merged into Cognitive Sciences:

We're scaring off professionals who don't have doctorates. Is this our intention?

Proposal: Cognitive Sciences

My mother is seasoned school psychologist, now retired and running her own private practice. I have been suggesting she commit to the Cognitive Sciences proposal since, well, actually, I suggested she commit to the Psychology proposal which is now merged into Cognitive Sciences.

Even though she has over 30 years experience in the field, she just emailed me and said she won't be committing to use this site, because:

As I look at this it is a bit scary as the questions are very scientific and all the responders are m.d.'s Maybe not for me....

Is this the desire? Thomas Owens mentioned a similar thing and I reassured him that the site isn't only for "experts and professionals in the cognitive sciences" -- we need to attract experts but anyone interested in the field of Psychology would be welcome.

Is my understanding incorrect? Do we want a broad audience here or is this proposal really only for those with a doctorate? As it stands, if I can't attract industry professionals, I have serious doubts about this site and intend to uncommit.


I wonder if this is the appropriate place to ask for a website where a certain question would be appropriate. For example if I have a question about psychology that I like to ask but i dont know if there is an appropriate SE for that question where should i seek advice. (if anywhere)

from: https://area51.meta.stackexchange.com/q/7913/34921


From a suggested question on the "Neuroscience" proposal. In response to Why does neuroplasticity decrease in adults?, Anonymous wrote:

It is more neuroscientific than cognitive in nature, so not entirely clear to me that it belongs in Cognitive Sciences.


Why do you not simply rename this site/ask the SE masters instead of making the fourth and fifth redundant meta thread here to agree that this name is unproductive?!? All this meta discussion here between 4-5 user is more or less useless without actually doing the proposed and voted actions. This site seems to create more meta than main discussion. Seeding the main site with content is the problem and attracting experts. Raising the question rate from 2 to 3 will not prevent this site from getting closed like other ones recently. Another option is to ask the SE master to do better advertising of such sites (chemistry.se similar), e.g. putting some the questions on the hot questions front page from time to time. Somebody stumbling over stackexchange.com and interested in psychology is unlikely to notice "cognitivesciences.se" is the way to go or to find its link at all. Chemistry.se had very good and promising proposal stats, but lost many experts due to long process and bad advertising of SE, the area51 is broken for such experimental sciences sites, its time to also ask the SE masters here to help, otherwise I see no reason that any student or professional will invest time in building such sites, when they get closed anyway after 6-12 months.

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    why do you come and comment on metas of SEs you don't know anything about and don't contribute to? Also, congratulations on finding a way to be off-topic on meta, this question had a specific scope: evidence of name-confusion, unfortunately your answer only provides evidence of confusion of how to answer on-topic and behave civilly. Jul 21, 2012 at 19:36
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    Why do you not simply rename this site/ask the SE masters instead of making the fourth and fifth redundant meta thread here to agree that this name is unproductive?!? Since you've had absolutely positively no involvement in the process whatsoever you would know that this is the approach that the "SE masters" prefer. Now you're on to Chemistry now? Honestly, I'm happy to hear your opinions, but your lack of participation on any of these sites lends them their usual lack of credibility. Jul 21, 2012 at 19:37
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    I think the only one with more meta participation on this site than main site participation is you; you've never even so much as voted on a post on the main site, yet you have 3 downvoted meta answers. Sometimes rants are okay on Meta, but they should be topical and constructive.
    – Ben Brocka
    Jul 21, 2012 at 19:40
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    Why do you not simply rename this site/ask the SE masters instead of making the fourth and fifth redundant meta thread here to agree that this name is unproductive?!? We have asked the team. They said we needed more consensus from the community. Hence, we keep discussing it on Meta.
    – Josh
    Jul 22, 2012 at 12:36
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    @JoshGitlin then they are not honest. You have 7 upvotes on that question, this is more upvotes than the average meta question or answer gets and probably not more than 10 user read at all meta.cogsci. Look alone at the definition of cognitive science on german wikipedia, its a small and specializied field on higher brain functions. Very few students exist in this field. Jul 29, 2012 at 0:07
  • @WernerSchmitt I think they mean we need consensus on a new name, thus, upvotes on an answer to this question showing we all agree to a specific new name. Maybe then they will be convinced?
    – Josh
    Jul 29, 2012 at 11:36
  • My apologies Werner, I was somewhat incorrect. The team said we needed consensus on the new welcome message. Please do vote there if you haven't already. Given that they won't let us change that due to lack of consensus, I think it's clear we need to be speaking more loudly on both issues.
    – Josh
    Aug 22, 2012 at 1:56

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