Likewise with these StackExchange sites; some of them I had no idea they were stackexchange sites until I actually visited them. It took quite a while to click on their links after seeing them around the net in some cases. Had it been superuser.stackexchange.com I would have immediately known it would probably be a high-caliber Q&A site.
I guess I'm an outlier on both points?
What Joel's point is, I believe, is that generic umbrella series/brands are bad for user/customer perception (such as his "For Dummies" example). And as the entire Stack Exchange ecosystem is going to cover a massive range of topics it makes more sense to separate them as the good perception of a Stack Exchange cooking site isn't going to help the perception of a Stack Exchange mechanics site.
That's not to say I'd put up with crap on a mechanic's QA site even if the cooking QA site was good, but previous experience with Google search absolutely helped sell the Gmail switch.
I'm not saying that there is no such thing as a bad umbrella brand, just that there is such a thing as a good umbrella brand (at least for me). Springer (which also covers a massive range of topics!), and possibly also O'Reilly, are examples of umbrella brands that I perceive as good. In fact, I can think of far more good umbrella brands than bad ones for books; as a bibliophile, I rely on my knowledge that I can trust certain publishers for quality, format, content, &c. to help me make my buying decisions quickly.
I can't think of many examples of good or bad brands for websites—except CPAN and its derivatives, which are (again, to me) a very good umbrella brand indeed. (I can think of CTAN and JSAN right off the top of my head; I'm sure that there are others.)
Although with stack exchange it doesn't matter to much, because the sites all have the same look. So that works the same way the domain name would.
I think it's reasonable to use one of the more interesting points of the article when the original title is so vague.
The poster referenced a piece of the article. He/she did no use gratuitous link bait like "* * * TOP 5 DOMAIN CHOOSING TIPS [vid] * * * ". It's unfair to treat them like they did just because they changed the title.
It talks about the importance of standing out in your marketplace, because consumers want simple purchasing decisions so will only, at best, compare the top few.
Would a site like Reddit benefit from turning some of these sections into top-level domains? I know that they are having financial issues right now, and could this be a possible step to move away from their problems into something that would be profitable?
I listened a great interview with Jeff Atwood on Herding code today (http://herdingcode.com/?p=263). It's funny how their QnA model seems so obvious in retrospect.
Stack Overflow is a brand - in it's visuals and how it works.
The name is where it gets interesting; because often products are "branded" using their name - but not always. And this is one case where there is absolutely no need to brand the sites using the Stack Overflow name - doing so would be like branding it the same way as the supermarket own brand of a top class store. i.e. the store is quality, the goods are quality, but the brand name makes it look cheap :)
Doesn't Craigslist fly in the face of this theory?
To support this, it's ideal if all of its resources (images, stylesheets, scripts, etc.) are also served from within the domain, without being dependent on other domains owned by the parent organization (code can still be shared by using symlinks or multiple virtual hosts pointing to the same resources). This should help simplify any transfer.
The real question is not about some abstract branding truth: people trust/don't trust series.
They should be asking whether they want to accentuate or deaccentuate the grouping. Do they want good brand equity to flow between them. Do they want to avoid bad brand equity (brand liability?) to flowing? Do they want the sites to feel more independent?
Relying on 'series are bad' as justification is like when clients tell me that blue makes their clients feel like buying.
I bet that garden aficionados around the world would enjoy more to be part of the LiliesAndRoses.com community than StackExchange.com/Flowers community.
I'm not saying it's the wrong choice. I don't know much about it.
Just saying that as an argument 'Americans don't trust series,' doesn't cut it. I also think it isn't true. I absolutely do pic 'Lonely Planet.'
To me, dashes reek of desperate SEO.
Dashed domains are to SEO as bogosort is to scalability.
The OP's opinion seems to be 'if you need dashes to make it work, it ain't gonna work, move on'.
www.salesexchange.com - "sales exchange" or "sale sex change"
www.sales-exchange.com makes the meaning clear.
But I agree with you about spammy domain names like http://www.black-and-white-digital-photography.com.
My biggest problem with the series vs. individual sites thing is that I already have to remember so many URLs and information about my identity on each site. Where do I log in to see all of my notifications from the various sites? How do I find my friends when I move from one site to another? How do I see that a bunch of my friends are now answering questions on a cool topic on a totally new SE site? A series approach would have provided a much more straight forward approach to answering these questions. I think the unique sites make leveraging the asset of users who participate in many communities harder.