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Having been an active member of this site for some time now I have a growing feeling (though have not counted) that the majority of questions we "allow" are now to do with some facet of Agile and this seems to me to dilute the focus of the site.

Let me state right now that I have nothing against Agile (nor do I have any experience in it), however without wishing to generalise labels, it does seem to me more of a software delivery "methodology" and not Project Management in and of itself (please don't let's get into a discussion on boundaries of methodologies).

It seems to me that since there is not much active content that can be said to be definitely pure PM, we are happy to expand the acceptable content to asking questions about the correct ways to implement this or that facet of Agile methods.

I don't really have a solution, I just have an uncomfortable gnawing feeling that Project Management is taking a back seat, and worse, that we are encouraging folk to believe that the Agile "framework" (for want of a better word) is Project Management...

Should we consider changing the name and/or focus of the site to be more aligned to software delivery techniques, methodologies and management since that, in a de facto sense, is what this site is becoming anyway?

  • I'm on the other side of the fence to you, but ironically in agreement. I'm sad that many questions on programmers.Se & SO get the occasional close vote that they should be migrated here; just because they're tagged Agile doesn't make them about project management. Agile is about how you develop software and teams are supposed to be self organising. It's about the audience; I want to ask developers the answers to my questions, not project managers. A mod friend of mine suggested I should start an Agile site. A year or two ago I would have... – Dave Hillier Mar 16 '15 at 20:21
  • There is a proposal for one in Area 51: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/76461/agile – Marv Mills Mar 19 '15 at 13:34
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TL;DR

A casual look at the math shows around 59% of the questions over a sample period are related to the broader project management field. Since frameworks like Scrum are valid project management methodologies, albeit with a shorter history than more traditional frameworks, the big surprise ought to be that there aren't more questions about these newer, complex, and often difficult-to-implement frameworks.

The solution, as I see it, is to leverage the baked-in tagging and filtering tools to enable domain experts and visitors to focus on the areas of project management of most interest to them. I talk about this in much greater detail below.

Agile is Not a Methodology

I won't belabor this, but it needs to be gotten out of the way. "Agile" is not a framework or a methodology. The Agile Manifesto is a set of principles that could (in theory, anyway) be applied to any framework that buys into its value system.

151 of 254 Questions Since June 2014 Aren't "Agile" Questions

There are currently 151 questions just since June of this year that are not tagged , , or . This means that questions about agility represent only around 40.6% of recent questions on the site.

You can run your own queries if you like, using:

created:2014-06-01..2015 is:question -[agile] -[scrum] -[kanban]

as a reasonable starting point. You'll have to sift through them if you want to quantify quality or some other criteria, but I find it hard to accept that PMSE is essentially an organ for any specific methodology given those figures.

Agility Isn't Only About Software

Even if we accept your major premise, Scrum, Kanban, and Lean aren't only about software delivery. I've personally used Scrum and Kanban on purely administrative projects, and Lean is commonly used in manufacturing. While Scrum tends to have a lot of mind-share in the software development space, it is certainly not limited to that, nor are the principles of the Agile Manifesto limited only to such commonly-referenced frameworks or applications.

Use Tags to Filter

I personally have very limited interest in the application of project management to the textile industry, or to abstruse questions about obscure Six-Sigma calculations, but that's what tags are for: to allow experts and visitors to quickly filter Q&A by topics of interest.

StackOverflow is a great example of this: I follow tags of interest (e.g. Ruby) while filtering out questions about C and Java. This allows the overall community to grow, while allowing people to ignore or avoid topics of no interest to them. I don't see why the same techniques shouldn't apply to PMSE.

Some Topics Generate More Questions and Answers

Again, setting aside the false premise of the preponderance of such questions, it's certainly true that some topics generate more questions, answers, or simply interest than others. Again using StackOverflow as an example:

  • TCL has 563 followers and 3.1k questions
  • C has 29.3k followers and 162.8k questions
  • C# has 53.8k followers and 731.1k questions

I occasionally read/post in TCL, but ignore C and C#. By definition, my TCL posts get seen by fewer people, and I don't reap some of the extra rep that posters in higher-volume tags receive. On the other hand, the number of questions that I have to follow to stay abreast of the tag is much smaller, and I rather like that. By comparison to C#, the TCL tag is a bit of a language ghetto, but it also attracts some good questions and some undisputed experts in the language.

Participating in a low-volume tag is a choice that I am able to make freely. If volume were all that mattered, I'd participate in C# instead. Meanwhile, I think the system works well.

From a PMSE standpoint, if you feel that the new Electro-Convulsive Therapy Widget Delivery Methodology is where you want to read and post, you should feel free to do that. You may get less reputation from answering questions in a topical ghetto, or receive fewer answers from asking a question very few people are expert in or have an interest in reading about, but the platform still supports that choice, and the site mechanics of gamification are pretty transparent about the potential trade-offs.

Summary

On casual analysis, I don't believe the site actually skews strongly towards software delivery or agile methodologies. Even if it did, that would simply show that there are more questions (and possibly more varied answers) about these topics, as other topics might represent solved problems or have lower interest to site visitors.

Either way, I don't believe that any action is needed. I think the Project Management tent is big enough for all the methodologies represented here (and more besides), and while having visitors or experts in other methodologies would certainly add to the scope of the site, I certainly don't see the site's current scope as too narrow.

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    Whilst I am forced to agree that "Agile" does not constitute the majority of recent questions- though according to your search it is 80% of the way to being the majority domain, my point wasn't that we should not be accepting Agile, it was that the site appears to be a collection of tools and techniques for delivering IT and software. One of those techniques is "Project Management" and others are the tools and techniques you quoted, together with the principles in the Agile Manifesto for delivering software. My point is that we could accept it as that and not pretend it is a PM site... – Marv Mills Dec 10 '14 at 20:46
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    I think CG's answer was completely on point. I see a host of PM related question (normally directed at a piece of management software). I think the perception of Agile domination is partially 1. Agile, with no firm BoK generates a lot of debate especially regarding what it is and what it is not and 2. Agile techniques are growing in popularity challenging the traditional methods of PM which leads to a greater number of interested/curios parties. It could also be argued SE attracts a more tech-literate crowd with a greater likelihood to have been exposed to Agile/IT Development. – Venture2099 Dec 29 '14 at 0:31
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    I just want to point out that the PMBOK isn't a methodology either. It is a body of knowledge. Prince2 is a specific Methodology, so is Six Sigma. However most project management questions are related to good practices or what you would find in a "body of knowledge" as opposed to direct methodology. Agile is getting a lot of attention now, because it is becoming a dominant player in running projects. If Prince2 was the dominant way, that's where the questions would come from. – Joel Bancroft-Connors Mar 20 '15 at 23:27

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