There's been some discussion of scope lately. Looking at the lousy number of questions and middling user numbers) it occurs to me that we're not really arguing about questions or scope. It's that promoting the site (and getting great Q&A) can't get started without a clear idea of the user base.

What's the consensus on who our user base is? And--as a separate but interwoven question--what do we want it to be?

2 Answers 2


(Self-answer) I'm an advocate for getting experts and building community by attracting athletes, coaches, and people that are serious about physical culture. Practically speaking, that means people who are into a sport (or three). These people know the practical matters of nutrition, exercise, structuring workouts, pitfalls and goals.

The athletic community coheres, promotes, and provides expertise. Coaches have knowledge of physical attributes and training that comes from their own experience, that of their athletes, and often from scientific references.

  • That would be great, but stackexchange is populated by software engineers with hobbies. Experts from other fields are rarely found here.
    – michael
    Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 22:45
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    I agree, see my comment on one of the scope questions and apparently at least 4 other people do too. I still feel the real question is how to attract these people, I doubt anyone would mind having more athletes/coaches around.
    – VPeric
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 13:51
  • I think attracting these people is a clear matter of encouraging the kind of topics athletes and coaches find relevant and engaging. For example, "Is melted cheese less/more healthy than unmelted cheese" is a fine question if we're a generic health/wellness site. It's a massive turnoff to anyone who really trains. Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 14:30
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    @Dave Yes, I agree! (please tag me next time to respond, btw) This is why I suggested removing Nutrition from the site name right away when the question was posted, but there's been a lack of consensus for that and now we're apparently kicking our users in the face.
    – VPeric
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 20:01
  • @vperic see my comment on my answer; I think it's incredibly unrealistic to expect people passionate about a specific sport to get advice from anything other than a forum or website dedicated entirely to that particular sport. Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 4:06
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    @Jeff Atwood There are lots of people who consider themselves athletes but are not tied to a particular sport. Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 13:53

I'm going to disagree with Dave's answer a little here.

I have absolutely zero interest in sports, but I am interested in not dying prematurely. Which means I need to lead a healthy lifestyle that involves some form of exercise and eating reasonably well.

For me, basic physical activities like walking or working in the garden are sufficient.

I don't think the connection to sports has to be quite so overt, and certainly Fitness as a concept has to do with living a healthy lifestyle and getting some form of exercise, whether it is a "sport" or not.

As for broadness of audience "people who want to live a reasonable lifespan through practicing sane fitness and nutrition concepts" is probably a pretty large audience...

  • would you move to amend the first sentence of the F&N About page? "This is a free, community driven Q&A for physical fitness professionals, athletes, trainers, and those providing health-related needs." Perhaps I'm not clear on what the last five words mean. More generally, I notice that we are still addressing this meta question from June regarding "fitness" versus "wellness". Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 15:43
  • Two things. 1) think of this in terms of Stack Overflow. Yes, you want professional programmers there, but there are also a lot of aspiring programmers as well. So aspiring to be fit is a valid use case, just like aspiring to be a programmer, provided you put in the effort to demonstrate that you're serious. 2) I think there's zero chance of this site getting traction with particular sports because anyone interested in that sport would go to a sport-specific site. That is, if you're a baseball nut, you want to learn how to train on a baseball site! Obviously, right? Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 4:01
  • also, isn't it insanely obvious that anyone training to play football is going to be training in an extremely different manner than someone who is training to play baseball? I mean they are worlds apart, are they not? I don't see any 300 lb linebackers in baseball.. the connection is to "fitness", not specific sports because frankly nothing else makes a lick of sense! Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 4:03
  • @Jeff I think you're underestimating the amount of overlap between different sports. At the very least, everybody lifts weights so whatever issue can arise in the gym is probably relevant to most/all athletes. I wrote some more thoughts on chat, I find the comments model too constricting. Anyway, my basic complaint is that I don't think you, as written above, should be in the target audience of this site.
    – VPeric
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 8:08
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    @vperic in all honesty, I'm kind of lobbying for this site to be shut down -- I don't think it's working and should be sent back to square one. Your comment about "I want this to be a gym oriented site" is emblematic of the problem, I think. Perhaps we need gym.stackexchange.com not fitness.stackexchange.com ... Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 8:14
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    @Jeff I don't think that's really fair, there's actually a lot of useful information here. The gym comment was misplaced perhaps, I definitely don't think a gym-focused site could survive. I'm sure that if we redefine our scope somewhat (per Dave's answer eg.) the site will pick back up (after an initial lull I guess). Again, I see the SE model as a major advantage for this kind of site, as you are usually swamped with so much ... it can be really hard for a newbie to get the right information. The whole rep model solves this so elegantly it'd be a shame to lose it.
    – VPeric
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 8:36
  • @Jeff Atwood We have a number of sport-specific people on this site, and no, they wouldn't be better served going to a soccer forum. The overlap across sports and physical culture in general is enormous: training speed, strength, and endurance doesn't change depending on whether I play football or baseball, it's just that my goals are slightly different. Same with fitness-oriented nutrition. Athletes across disciplines have a ton of Q&A to do that can A) be shared and B) is often not best developed within sport-specific sites. Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 13:48
  • @Jeff Atwood For instance, I train judo, but an enormous number of judo players and coaches on judo-specific forums are totally opposed to discussing proper fitness and nutrition. When useful discussions are started, they frequently devolve into admonitions to practice technique instead of physicality, or their answers about lifting, speed training and fitness-oriented nutrition are totally baseless. I've seen the same issues in other sports, where it's a good idea to go outside the existing authority/community to get valid answers. Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 13:52
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    @Jeff Atwood Final comment for now--the site isn't working because, as now half a dozen meta questions show, every time we try to focus the site on useful questions about fitness and physicality, we are shut down in favor of asking whether celery accelerates sunburns. No, the site is not working as long as it focuses on celery. My contention is that the site will work if we move away from general-purpose wellness and towards fitness, physicality, and athletics--which a lot of people, it seems, have thought and intended for months. Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 13:58
  • @dave if the site is starving for questions with a more inclusive scope, moving it to an even narrower scope is unlikely to increase its odds of success. I am simply not convinced this is a valid audience. Can you point to other online sites that have this type of audience that are working? Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 1:52
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    @Jeff Off the top of my head: CrossFit Boards, bodybuilding.com. Seem like big sites to me (I don't visit, though). And those are less inclusive than what we want to be. And I still claim we are starving for questions because of all the pointless nutrition questions, which are a huge turn-off. It's like if you tried to attract programmers with a site dedicated to sysadmins - yes, programmers sometimes do things like that (and questions can be relevant) but it's likely to drive away most serious programmers. </lousyanalogy>
    – VPeric
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 8:25
  • @VPeric: be wary of making comparisons to discussion boards - SE sites start out with a far more restrictive scope purely by not being discussion boards. Take a look at some of the questions asked on CrossFit, and you'll see countless topics that are already disallowed on this site purely because of the format. Beyond that... They do actually have a Nutrition forum, which allows cooking and even recipe posts.
    – Shog9
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 17:52
  • @Shog9 Point taken, but I couldn't think of anything else. At the very least, I don't know about any Q&A site dedicated to fitness, so there's no direct comparison to be had.
    – VPeric
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 18:26

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