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I'm starting a site that is similar to a wiki. The site will have many different unrelated categories, eg: sports, technology, Spanish, etc. Each category will have many different subcategories.

What do you think is better for users:

  1. Having one large site, www.example.com that has all of the content separated into categories, which would be further separated into subcategories.
    or

  2. Having subsites like sports.example.com and tech.example.com and each subsite is dedicated solely to that category. Each subsite would really be it's own site dedicated to the category, and pitch itself as a site where people can go to collaborate on articles about the specific category.

I'm thinking option 2 has the benefit that users interested in a topic will feel like they have a site dedicated to their interest.

What do you guys think is better?

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5 Answers 5

If you want it to "feel like" one site go with folders (example.com/tech), this will make promoting the site easier (both for SEO and for promoting to people) because you focus all your promotion activities on one simpler domain name.

If you want it to be a network of sites go with completely different domain (example: stackoverflow.com, serverfault.com, superuser.com) this will let you separate the communities and differentiate the sites in ways that make sense.

I wouldn't go with subdomains because they are an half-way solution with most of the disadvantages of both approaches but without most of the benefits.

I would only use subdomains when I have different accounts on same system (example blogspot.com)

When starting up something new I would go with the single domain approach, I need any help I can get getting things off the ground and focusing all the "reputation" on a single domain can help get more visitors.

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Sticking with one domain can help all the websites increase in page rank. This is why most websites stick with www.example.com/tech instead of tech.example.com

example: http://www.apple.com/iphone/ and http://www.nytimes.com/pages/health/

Also, marketing one domain can be helpful. Versus trying to push different domains around.

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If you are using subdomain on your site then it helps you to decrease site loading time since your site contents can be downloaded at client side in parallel.

It also helps to categories your site contents logically in visitors' view. For example webmaster.stackexchange.com

People can understand where are they, by looking its first word only.

Moreover it helps to control url length.

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articlestack, you repeat this assertion that subdomains are good for parallel downloads -- but the OP is asking about subdomains for the content categories. I made a comment to you in the past about parallel downloads (webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/577/…), you should read up on the subject. –  Jesper Mortensen Sep 25 '10 at 19:00

I'm thinking option 2 has the benefit that users interested in a topic will feel like they have a site dedicated to their interest.

It's true, but having different websites for each topic would split your community [if you want have one].

Putting everything together would allow users to "accidentally" go in a topic he likes, even it wasn't exactly what he was looking for.

Maybe a good idea would kepp everything on a main site and, when a specific topic has got enough size, split it from the rest.

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What nir suggested re: single domains or .com/othersite, plus Domain Access http://drupal.org/project/domain so that you can manage/maintain the site more easily (multisite works if you really do want seperate databases which has its own advantage).

Independent domains are going to be crucial for getting good results with SEO but will definately have a specific impact on the communities who use the site and it will lead to added complexity.

Also, I'd like to mention that subdomains are a pain for usability. Many people have enough trouble remembering second level domains, so third level domains are just impossible to deal with for a large portion of users.

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