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A related meta discussion was started over concerns about questions where euthanization of a healthy animal might be a possible outcome for issues relating to professional or amateur breeding.

Up until now, I believe the consensus has generally been that questions on breeding animals are on topic. However, I don't believe any formal discussion has been generated to codify this.

Is there a distinction that needs to be made? Should all questions related to animals that fall under our definition of what constitutes a pet be considered on topic?

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The Area 51 proposal is:

Beta Q&A site for pet owners, caretakers, breeders, veterinarians, and trainers.

I think we've overly narrowed the scope in recent weeks to largely focussing on the first of the target audience, but I don't think that was the intention. To quote Robert Cartaino on a legal question where he commented that, "This site should strive to become The Complete Compendium™ of all things pets." That covers a lot of ground, some of which people may find objectionable, some of which may be more about the commercial side of pet ownership, and some of which may be sad.

If I look at the state of our beta progress there are a couple of areas that concern me:

  1. Question per day. We average 3 and that's not very healthy. Are we making this site too unwelcoming by being too narrow?

  2. Site visits per day. We average 121... 1500/day is good. Ouch, this is worse than our question rate. We have an avid core, pretty clear who that is, but we're not bringing in the new people sufficiently. Again, are we being unwelcoming by being too narrow?

I think we should be looking to expand our scope on Pets, not shrink it. If we keep at it we may shrink to zero and that would be unfortunate...

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    Keep in mind that we're a very new site, so I wouldn't worry too much about those stats. They do grow over time naturally. – Beofett Dec 11 '13 at 1:37
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    @Beofett - Sure, but I'm not seeing evidence of it, really. Mostly the same people asking and same people answering... – John Cavan Dec 11 '13 at 1:43
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    It does take a significant amount of time to get the word out, and I suspect that is something we need to do, independent of scope. That said, I think you are right, narrowing the scope is a bad idea, and I think we need to avoid that. – Ash Dec 11 '13 at 2:25
  • Just a note, it's way too early to look very heavily at those stats, they're still normalizing from after the initial honeymoon and not unlike many early betas that we've seen. – Tim Post Dec 12 '13 at 15:19
  • @TimPost - That's good the hear. :) – John Cavan Dec 12 '13 at 16:52
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    I'm actually glad I read this answer. I stopped visiting after the private beta because I was becoming increasing frustrated by what seemed to be "who can put the most reference links and quotes into an answer" and what appeared to be an ever narrowinbg scope. – psubsee2003 Dec 14 '13 at 10:10
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While I'm a bit late, I'd like to share my input 'from the other side'

The biggest thing is not to make the assumption that all pets are cats and dogs. It's easy to think of breeding return with dog and cat breeding. Yes, they are overpopulated due to bad breeding habits. There is simply a lack of regulation and education. Why not take this opportunity to provide them some education?

Proper breeding of animals involves making sure the animals are cared for. Animals that aren't cared for are going to die sooner. In my personal experience, the people that breed responsibly, are more worried about their pets' stress levels, and pamper them more than some of the crazy old cat and dog people.

Just because I also breed some of my pets doesn't mean I drop them in a box and hope for the best. They're all kept in aquariums/terrariums based on their natural habitats (except for my cats, who are given free reign of the house for some reason). I regulate the temperature, humidity, and their diets carefully. They are my pets, plain and simple.

Most questions that come up on forums are about the care of the pets, how to keep them happy, and what kind of care more exotic animals need. In fact, I think most questions from breeders wouldn't even be noticed as being from breeders, unless we're now going to 'out' breeders.

The only case I can see where breeding questions should be removed is when it turns into an argument on whether or not the person should be breeding. I'm not sure this is the place to argue that, it's not a forum, we're here to help people make informed decisions.

But aside from all of that. Think of all the different breeds of dogs and cats. There are many many more species of animals that are also pets. Different birds, smaller mammals, reptiles, fish of all sorts, crustaceans, arachnids, insects, invertebrates, amphibians. Whose owners do you want to exclude? I don't agree with Iguanas being kept as pets, but I'm not going to refuse to help someone take care of theirs.

The best way to attract people is to accept them no matter your differences. I would have loved it if I found this a couple months ago, I would have asked about plants for my Red Devil Crabs. But if I saw these comments against breeders, I wouldn't have. I'm here now to say I like this, and it could be awesome. But right now, it's not inviting, and people aren't going to join because of it.

To bring this back to the question. I think a lot of valuable users would be excluded because of a perceived distinction. The only reason that there aren't more breeders here, is because they currently only visit certain forums for information. Don't ostracize them before they even find out about this place, and be nice to them when they do find it. Thanks.

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    Yes. Breeders in general tend to be highly informed about all kinds of issues within their chosen breed. They read books, they attend seminars, they have their own discussion forums, they have been working with the breed for years or decades even. To have this kind of breeder in here is an asset, not a nuisance. – Esa Paulasto Dec 22 '13 at 3:47
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A few other answers already touch on this, but breeding is an aspect of care that can't be ignored for many pets. For example, there are tons of r-strategist aquarium pets that are absolutely guaranteed to reproduce in large numbers when kept in healthy conditions. It's not considered even slightly unethical or controversial among aquarists to sell/trade/give away the offspring -- it's often the most humane way to handle them, in fact.

In other words, just being a responsible caretaker for many pets means you are a de facto breeder whether you want to be or not.

If we want build a knowledge base that enables the humane caretaking of our pets, then I don't think we can exclude any aspect of their care or any category of caretaker. To be pithy about it, this is Pets, not PetOwners. The person who winds up being an animal's primary owner is not the only person who's ever been responsible for its well-being.

Don't get me wrong: there are obviously many kinds of pets where certain questions about breeding will be off-topic or out of bounds here, because they have ethical ramifications that stray too far from caretaking for us to cover. And, even more obviously, questions about business management will be off-topic even if the business is pets, and questions about inhumane practices and conditions need to be addressed appropriately. But every pet has to come from somewhere, after all, and personally I would want the people I get my animals from to have this kind of resource available to them, regardless of who they are.

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To me pets is about the care and upkeep of animals that are kept for companionship. This does not limit it to animals that are kept indoors, or that do not have other uses.

One additional use of animals is for show. That the animals are raised and trained to show does not mean they are not pets. Many of the questions that breeders and trainers have apply to or are of interest to those who keep their pets for companionship only.

There are other pets that also have multiple roles.

  • Dogs (herding, Hunting, show, agility, Working(seeing eye, police, sniffing etc))
  • Cats (mousing, show)
  • Horses (show, riding, and husbandry)
  • Falconry
  • Many other exotics

While the farming aspect is off topic here as it is broad enough to warrant its own SE, the other aspects should be on topic. Including the commercial aspects involving pets. That said this is not a business SE so if the question is about the business rather than the animal then it should be off topic.

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    I like all of this except "Including the commercial aspects involving pets." While these are important topics, the audience for those topics is small and some may be extremely distasteful to the larger population of household pets. There are many venues specific to breeders of specific species, to engage in these topics. – James Jenkins Dec 10 '13 at 22:12
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    @JamesJenkins - The majority of the aspects of commercial pets are not going to be as contraversial as you expect. For the others I point you here: meta.pets.stackexchange.com/q/602/9 you will note I took a position similar to yours. Sometimes you just have to deal with stuff you find distasteful or ignore it – user9 Dec 10 '13 at 22:44
  • Given the response to @JohnCavan answer, I would say you are correct on the desire of the community to include much more in scope then previous. The answers on meta.pets.stackexchange.com/questions/638/… may need to be revisited as well. – James Jenkins Dec 11 '13 at 15:48

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