I found this post on Biology.SE meta and it rises a fair point. Why we have to separate in different SE site? Why bioinformatics is not a part of biology? Is there any actual advantage of being split? Is there any bioinformaic question that would not be appropriate for biology with "bioinformatics" tag?

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    $\begingroup$ Why not knowledge.SE? Then there only needs to be 1 SE site. $\endgroup$
    – Devon Ryan Mod
    Jun 2, 2017 at 11:47

3 Answers 3


Site scope is often more determined by how the community views itself. It's not organized from the top down to minimuze overlap.

Many bioinformatics questions would actually be on-topic. Bioinformatics is also a tool for biologists, and those are generally on-topic. Questions more in the programming area are problematic, they would probably not be seen as on-topic by most of the Biology.SE community, but it's also not impossible to allow them, as long as they're not pure programming questions. But pure programming would also likely be off-topic here, and directed towards SO.

I think it would be possible to have bioinformatics as a subset of the Biology site, but there is a problem selling that to the bioinformaticians. If people look for a bioinformatics site, and don't consider a biology site, there isn't much we can do about this. Very broad sites have a serious marketing disadvantage, and it's rather difficult to overcome that for new SE sites.


Probably for the same reasons why "Ask Ubuntu" is not part of "Unix & Linux", or "Data Science" (and "Theoretical Computer Science") is not part of "Computational Science" (or "Computer Science").

The fields are simply distinct enough, and having them in different Q&A site would benefit both groups without swamping either with unrelated topics.

A question about e.g. running specific a pipeline or well known bioinformatics tool in SLURM would be (and should be) totally off-topic on "Biology", while possibly being on-topic here, as would questions about working with common bioinformatics file formats, etc. etc.

Also, your suggestion would reduce the number of tags from what's currently available on this site to just "bioinformatics", which would make it really hard for someone who's an expert in, say, Sanger sequencing (or whatever) to find and answer questions related to their field of expertise.


Just take a look at the questions tagged bioinformatics on Biology.SE:

  1. Does DNA have the equivalent of IF-statements, WHILE loops, or function calls? How about GOTO?
  2. What exactly are computers used for in DNA sequencing?
  3. Is “computational biology” different from “bioinformatics”?
  4. 120-year-old gene regulation problem independently solved by a computer. How?

Most of these would be off-topic here. The level of expertise that these sites strive for in bioinformatics is fundamentally different. According to our preliminary site description,

Bioinformatics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for researchers, developers, students, teachers, and end users interested in bioinformatics.

Biology.SE certainly also has a segment of professionals asking questions, but it’s also got a large segment of non-experts. Bioinformatics.SE, by contrast, explicitly strives to be a Q&A site for professionals.

Case in point: I wouldn’t think of asking a bioinformatics question on Biology.SE. Instead, I would ask it on Stack Overflow, Stats.SE, or BioStars, depending on the question.

  • $\begingroup$ This is really good point. If the site should be experts to experts, then biology.SE fails badly on bioinformatic topics. $\endgroup$
    – Kamil S Jaron Mod
    Jun 2, 2017 at 12:49
  • $\begingroup$ sorting by votes will always show the more shallow questions with appeal to non-experts first, so I don't think this is an entirely fair comparison. $\endgroup$
    – user46
    Jun 2, 2017 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist Fair point, but I think the level is actually representative. There are more technical questions of course; but the ratio isn’t great. $\endgroup$ Jun 2, 2017 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think "easy" questions should be disallowed on this site. They're not so great for the beta phase, but are a great way to encourage new bioinformatics recruits to visit this site. $\endgroup$
    – gringer Mod
    Jun 3, 2017 at 1:18
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    $\begingroup$ @gringer As long as they don't flood the site and make it unattractive for experts. $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2017 at 8:35

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