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This post is an official follow-up to Mike Ciffone's meta post here:
Does ProWebmasters Need to rebrand?

Some community members here have expressed a desire to rename our ProWebmasters Q&A forum to something that sounds more modern, as the term "webmaster" can be seen as dated or "old-school".

Stack Overflow staff has given us the go-ahead to officially gauge community sentiment around the renaming through this meta post.

Please share your thoughts on whether we should move forward with a rebrand, and if we do, what name we should rebrand ProWebmasters to.


For reference, here is the forum's current nomenclature:

  • Page Title Elements: "Webmasters Stack Exchange"

  • Network-Wide Site Name: "Webmasters"

  • Site Banner Image: "ProWebmasters"

  • Subdomain: "webmasters.stackexchange.com"

Staff mentioned that they are not currently committing designers to design site banner images, so we have the option of either keeping the current banner, or changing to a default text banner[1].

[1] See Ethereum Stack Exchange for an example of a community with a default text banner.

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    One option instead of rebranding the site to a different name, or if we just drop the "Pro" from "Pro Webmasters", is to change the description that new visitors see on our Home page from: Webmasters Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for pro webmasters. It only takes a minute to sign up. to: Webmasters is a question and answer site for SEO, Domains, Web & Email Hosting, Internet Marketing, and Website Management, which is directly from our What topics can I ask about here? Help page.
    – dan Mod
    Apr 3 at 16:17
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    The same would go for the Home page's meta description tag and the "All Stack Exchange Sites" list here. We could request to change both descriptions from: Q&A for pro webmasters to: Q&A for SEO, Hosting, Marketing, and Website Management. Maybe that would meet with everyone's support since it covers many of the answers and comments below, and clarifies what the site is about should the term Webmasters be unfamiliar. I'd add that as an answer but already have two, and it's getting a little muddled with all the other answers and comments...
    – dan Mod
    Apr 3 at 16:20

6 Answers 6

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Although updating the name "Pro Webmasters" to be more modern and reflect current terminology might seem like a good idea, it shouldn't be taken lightly:

Firstly, all of our search engine results refer to our name as either "Pro Webmasters" or "Webmasters", and so do a large number of posts & comments on this site, posts & comments throughout the Stack Exchange network, text & links in the Help pages of other Stack Exchange sites, as well as external blogs & sites that mention us... Trying to update all of that would be a massive undertaking.

Secondly, because of the above, the URL would likely need to remain the same: webmasters.stackexchange.com, and a new name wouldn't match that.

Thirdly, Stack Exchange indicated that a custom design isn't currently possible and the banner would be changed to a default one.

The above would obviously lead to some confusion and lack of continuity for visitors. Rebranding a site also typically requires a lot of marketing and advertisement dollars to overcome the loss of name/brand recognition already established, which we don't have.

I'd suggest that if we did change the name, that we keep it short and congruous with the name that we've had for over 12 years. For example, shortening it to just Webmasters would seem to make sense. One thing to consider is that if a term becomes less popular, it could become more unique over time (a characteristic of a good brand), and have less of a connotation as being outdated to people who weren't around during the heyday of its usage. Perhaps we should own and capitalize on that by changing our name to WebMasters (i.e., shifting it slightly from a job title to being "Masters" of different areas of the web). Both of these would require no changes to our inbound and internal links, and would be less confusing to visitors.

We should also take into consideration the popularity of terms and topics people are searching for. When it comes to naming, in the past on Meta we've used Google Trends to indicate that. So for sake of comparison, here is the term Webmaster vs. Web Administration. Clearly the latter isn't very popular or being searched for very often, however "Webmaster" still is.

My concern is that we should be careful not to rename the site just for sake of "rebranding", or from something that we're well-known for to another term that's unknown and not commonly being used. I think that would just end up confusing users because we used to be Webmasters, but now we're calling ourselves by an even less well-known and used term. In that case, we should make the change to something less noticeable and more of an actual brand change than just a name change (see my alternative answer).

Lastly, we should make sure that changing the site's name would be the decision of the entire community as much as possible, and not just a few currently active members. Many of our community members sign-in monthly or even less frequently due to low activity on the site. We'd therefore need to establish how a "consensus" would be defined, and how long this discussion on Meta should be given so that it's viewed by the majority of active members and so that everyone has had a chance to chime in and make their opinions heard.

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    Great thoughts! Personally I'm not concerned about search engine results, which would naturally update themselves over the course of a few weeks/months. Likewise, page titles of questions could all be updated in one fell swoop by staff (likely just a variable somewhere). Foreign site help pages (Stack Overflow, Server Fault, Web Applications, etc) seem to me like they would be the manual part, but I can't imagine that their mods would be too hard to get in contact with to ask for any required edit. Mar 25 at 15:54
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    I agree that this discussion should remain up for a long time to gain consensus. Somewhere between one and three months seems about right to me, depending on how clear cut the consensus is. Mar 25 at 16:05
  • There's a little more to it than just search engines, and we're not quite sure how/if page titles could be updated - certainly posts would need to be edited manually. After over 12 years of "Webmasters", there's also mentions to us in an untold number blogs, sites, forums (including posts on other SE sites), The Internet Archive, etc… Even getting other mods to change their site's Help pages is not so easily done or a given. Depending on the degree of name change, that could amount to increased bounces and confusion, and decreased activity...which is something we really don't need.
    – dan Mod
    Mar 25 at 16:21
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    Three months would seem about right, but we'd need to establish what would serve as a "consensus". For such a large and potentially impactful change, I would think that would exceed the average of votes over the past year or two by a fair margin.
    – dan Mod
    Mar 25 at 16:26
  • If you set aside the stacks with clever/cute names like "Server Fault" and "Super User", I find that most of them use long-form names. For example "Web Applications" looks more to me like "Web Administration" than "Web Admin", which would be more equivalent to the unchosen, shortened name "Web Apps". Several stacks have the word "Development" in them rather than "Dev"; we've got "Game Development" rather than the imo idiomatic/cool "Game Dev". Yet other stacks like "English Language & Usage" and "Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair" seem to err on the side of verbosity but they read fine to me. Mar 25 at 16:44
  • Stack Overflow (the most popular Stack Exchange site by far), Server Fault, Super User, and our site were among the first Stack Exchange sites, and it's how they're known by reference and word-of-mouth. We don't necessarily have to have a long or full name, which could be restrictive and open to debate given the wide-scope of this site. Are all questions here related to "Administration", or are some related to just marketing for example? To me, less is best because it's more memorable, less restrictive, and less of a noticeable change from Webmasters and webmasters.stackexchange.com.
    – dan Mod
    Mar 25 at 16:56
  • I wasn't around during those early days, so you would have a much better feel for how the term "Webmasters Stack Exchange" currently sits in the collective word-of-mouth consciousness. If we distill that question, I think it becomes a question of whether the current "Webmasters" brand is more understandable to established users/visitors and brings more traffic from them, or whether a new brand could be more understandable to fresh users/visitors and bring in more traffic from them. Mar 25 at 17:08
  • I don't think we're referred to as "Webmasters Stack Exchange", or even "Pro Webmasters" much at all - we're just referred to as Webmasters. Even the list of Stack Exchanges sites you referenced here lists us as just Webmasters. It's not a current occupational term, but neither are the other SE sites, and it's still being used by many search engines like Bing Webmaster Tools, as well as having its own entry on Wikipedia for Webmasters. I don't think "Web Administration" has as much meaning for others.
    – dan Mod
    Mar 25 at 17:17
  • In the past, we've used Google Trends on Meta to indicate what terms people are searching for, so for sake of comparison here is Webmaster vs. Web Administration. So would we bring in more traffic from people searching for "Web Administration"? Here's a comparison of Web Admin vs. Web Administration also for reference (the search for Webmaster far exceeds them both).
    – dan Mod
    Mar 25 at 17:24
  • The title element of our main page has us as "Webmasters Stack Exchange", but I believe you if you say that name doesn't extend off-site. While Bing still uses the term "Webmaster Tools", Google renamed their Webmaster Tools in 2015, saying "It turns out that the traditional idea of the "webmaster" reflects only some of you. We have all kinds of Webmaster Tools fans: hobbyists, small business owners, SEO experts, marketers, programmers, designers, app developers, and, of course, webmasters as well." Mar 25 at 18:01
  • I also noticed this box at the top of the "Webmaster" Wikipedia article: "This article needs to be updated. The reason given is: The term may no longer be in widespread use as websites have become more sophisticated requiring the work of a multi-disciplinary team of specialists rather than a single individual tasked with every aspect of designing, building and maintaining a website.. (July 2018)" Just another data point. But if that were true, then I would expect the Google Trends to be less clear cut. Hmmm... Mar 25 at 18:06
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    They renamed it Google Search Console (but still have references to it as "Google Webmasters" in help docs and in forum posts) because Search is their primary focus. Note they didn't name it "Web Administration", and we shouldn't rename our site to "Search" either because our topics cover a much larger scope than that. I'm certainly not saying that "Webmasters" is a current occupational term, but is it worth it to rename it to "Web Administration" just because of that? Or is it better to keep what we're known throughout the Internet and Stack Exchange, or go with a less restrictive name...
    – dan Mod
    Mar 25 at 18:13
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    ...than "Web Administration", which also isn't that well-known or commonly used. Would we just be trading an older term for an unknown one, and would that really increase our traffic and activity, or potentially decrease it due to confusion -- because we used to be Webmasters but now we're something that people really aren't familiar with or searching for too...
    – dan Mod
    Mar 25 at 18:19
  • Regarding the legit concerns mentioned in this post, I'd like to share that back then, Programmers.SE was fully rescoped to SoftwareEngineering.SE. So, (1) while text referencing to this site can't be automatically updated, search engine will reindex the site again (but I believe all of you webmasters may know better than me :). (2) subdomain can be changed, and an alias can also be added. E.g. programmers.stackexchange.com (the old link) will automatically redirect to softwareengineering.stackexchange.com [1/?]
    – Andrew T.
    Mar 28 at 14:11
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    Fwiw, I like "webmasters." It's outdated, but I find it to be charmingly retro. Vinyl and alarm clocks are also outdated, but both are selling. REM songs wouldn't have the same charm if you replaced "radios" and "frequencies" and "transmissions" with "server farms" and "cloud applications." However, let's drop the "Pro"--it's kind of unnecessary. Apr 24 at 1:47
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(For the record, I don't feel strongly about rebranding or not rebranding. I am just adding an alternative thought that I had which should be considered as part of the discussion).

Do we actually need a great rebranding?

The central premise of this discussion is that "webmaster" is an outdated term and we should somehow modernize the label we give the role of the user this site is meant to represent. "Webmaster", "Web Admin(istrator)", "Jack of all trades". Webmasters are "old school".

That's fair. I agree that the term "webmaster(s)" is an outdated term and the "old school" response was not surprising. I also am in the camp that the "Pro" in "Pro Webmasters" has to go. But do we need a complete rebranding to accomplish this?

Dan's points about SEO and site design are quite valid. We also don't know if a rebranding will have any material impact in site participation. We just think it will. That's a lot of change (some of it like the generic site design is an obvious step backwards) for gains that we don't have concrete evidence will come as a result of those changes.

Is there a smaller change we can consider as an alternative to a major rebranding?

For example, although a new site design is not an option, maybe a new banner is. If so, can we keep our current subdomain and site design but just change the banner to include a new site name that better represents for whom this site is for? It rebrands the site without all of the overhead of a new (boring) site design and repercussions of changing URLs. All we'd need to do is agree on what to call the site and humbly ask for a new banner from our gracious overlords. If that change brings positive results we could always revisit whether additional changes would be beneficial to the site.

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    My hunch is that the removal of the "Pro" moniker is something we can all agree on. Mar 30 at 6:35
  • Indeed, "Pro Webmasters" is an oxymoron since there really aren't professional webmasters anymore. It doesn't sound like anyone would have an issue dropping the "Pro", and we could likely get a consensus on that with another Meta question: "Should the 'Pro' go?" We're having difficultly coming up with a good replacement for "Webmasters" because there isn't a more modern term to describe a "Jack of all trades", but we could transition from that to a community of admins or specialists in the different topic areas that we cover, which I believe is what we've become over time.
    – dan Mod
    Mar 30 at 14:12
  • In any case, I agree with John in that we should weigh the benefits of what we think a rebrand could achieve against the possible risks/costs. Perhaps testing that in stages with a new banner at first might be the way to go.
    – dan Mod
    Mar 30 at 14:21
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    Two observations: 1. It sounds like we agree that a rebranding of some sort is needed. We just aren't sure what that exactly means just yet. 2. We don't have a lot of participation outside of a handful of site members. We can solve problem one but having a few meta questions/polls to see what we all agree on or prefer but how valuable will that be if so few people participate?
    – John Conde Mod
    Mar 31 at 1:05
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    Agreed. With our current level of participation, questions on Meta really need to be straightforward and simple. Sticking with the rebranding in stages approach, we could start with a binary "Yes/No" question for removing the "Pro" from "Pro Webmasters". I think that would be relatively harmless. Once we know what that looks like, and how long it takes, we could revisit the total rebranding to another name again. I'd suggest that we work on other ways to increase activity and participation prior to that.
    – dan Mod
    Mar 31 at 14:10
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    Given that we'd just be removing three letters from our banner in that case, perhaps our gracious overlords would agree to modify our current custom banner to remove that without changing the design. That should require very little time to do.
    – dan Mod
    Mar 31 at 14:17
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    Well, the word back from up high was that's a "hard no", so our choice is to either stick with our current banner and logo, or to have a default banner with our name in text and without a logo (e.g., Data Science).
    – dan Mod
    Mar 31 at 15:08
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My naming idea is to rebrand ProWebmasters to Web Administration Stack Exchange.

This name has the following advantages:

  • The term "Web" feels descriptive enough to effectively communicate the topic of this Q&A forum, without feeling so restrictive as to discourage any of the subjects in our on-topic guidelines.

  • Unlike another natural candidate, "Website Administration Stack Exchange", "Web Administration" feels slightly more inclusive of on-topic website-adjacent subjects such as email administration, hosting, and ad platforms, and leaves the community more wiggle room for any possible future expansions of the on-topic guidelines. However, that's not to say that I dislike Website Administration or think that it's a bad candidate.


To help place the site's current name and future name ideas in context, here are some Stack Exchange sites from the master list that are named after professions/groups ("ors", "ers"):

  • Database Administrators (not "administration")
  • Android Enthusiasts (not just "android")
  • (Pro)Webmasters

And sites named after fields ("ing", etc.):

  • Electrical Engineering (not "engineers")
  • WordPress Development (not "designers")
  • Writing (not "writers")
  • Software Engineering
  • Graphic Design
  • Data Science
  • Game Development
  • Computer Science
  • Network Engineering
  • Video Production
  • Woodworking
  • ...and many more

Sites named after professions/groups seem to be the exception rather than the rule, so a name change away from Webmasters could help us fit in better with the other site names, and perhaps help us feel more inclusive and less clubby which is a concern I've heard expressed. (Instead of a group that some might interpret as being "for and by webmasters", our branding could hint to a more approachable/inclusionary group of "people discussing website administration").

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  • My fear with Web Administration is the possible overlap in lots of people mind with ServerFault that deals with servers' administration and a webserver is a server too. More important than that, no matter what final choice is, one must make sure the help sections, and especially the discussion on what is on-topic or not is crystal clear on this and makes the distinction evident. Mar 31 at 14:42
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    The name "Writing" is itself a rebrand from the earlier name, Writers, to try to appeal to people who aren't writing fiction. The URL was also changed (so that the old "writers" url redirects) and it didn't seem to have any negative effect on SEO (actually seems to have coincided with a bump in "visitors and active users" according to the stats for mods). FWIW, I didn't know the site name here even began with "Pro".
    – Laurel
    Apr 14 at 21:58
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This is an alternative answer to my previous answer so that the following suggested brand names can be voted on separately:

If we were to rebrand our site to a different name, then I'm suggesting that we change it to an actual brand name instead of changing it to terms that are difficult to remember, restrictive, and not fully descriptive of our site. Characteristics of a good brand name include being:

  • Unique
  • Memorable
  • Extendable
  • Suggestive

"Web Administration" doesn't really meet those characteristics since it's generic, not very memorable (it's long and doesn't exactly roll-off-the-tongue), restrictive, and doesn't really describe all of the topics we cover either. For example, would SEO or marketing really be considered "administration"?

WebAdmin or WebAdmins could work well as a new brand name however because they're both:

  • Unique - there isn't any other forum, group, or major product currently using them

  • Memorable - they're shorter (three syllables) and more easily remembered

  • Extendable and Suggestive - an admin can refer to anyone who owns or manages a website/app, which is a requirement to be considered on-topic here. That would also apply to SEO specialists and marketers who manage analytics and ad accounts. These days, I often hear, "Check with the admin on that" (not webmaster) in relation to multiple areas. In fact, even moderators on this site are often referred to as "admins" (though we're not really).

These brand names would also be on par with the other branded Stack Exchange sites that are the most popular by far: "StackOverflow", "ServerFault", and "SuperUser". Additionally, they're more similar in appearance to Webmasters and our URL: webmasters.stackexchange.com, and therefore would be less confusing to visitors. "WebAdmins" is a near drop-in replacement for "Webmasters".

They also describe our community of users as a whole fairly well: we're no longer a single person doing every possible job for the web, we're admins that own or manage websites/apps and related accounts (e.g., Google Search Console, Analytics, Ads, etc...). Lastly, they're not restrictive because an admin could be knowledgeable in several different topic areas, as many of us are.

I would support a change to one of the above because I think they would better meet the objective of moving from an older term to a more updated brand name, without restricting our wide-scope of topics or current users who are experienced in multiple areas of the web. They would also be less confusing to visitors who might be expecting to find questions & answers for "Webmasters" since "WebAdmins" would be very similar in appearance.

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  • My fear on Admin is the same as on Administration that I commented out on Maximilian answer. Also I concur with "Web Administration [..] doesn't really describe all of the topics we cover either. ", but then shortening Administration to Admin doesn't change that observation, so the problem persists. Mar 31 at 14:45
  • @PatrickMevzek My thinking was that it describes us more as users (i.e., owners or mangers of websites and related accounts) versus the act of administration, which I agree is more often related to server administration. Seems like it might have more than one meaning, and therefore be a little more flexible. We're definitely open to other suggestions though!
    – dan Mod
    Mar 31 at 14:56
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For me, webmasters is not old-school so I feel nothing wrong in keeping it. (And even if it was old-school for some definition of that, what bad consequences does it have on the content it hosts? I would think none).

I agree that the "pro" in "ProWebmasters" could go as it provides no added value.

Thus, just keeping the name "Webmasters" would completely match the hostname of the website, and only minimal rebranding would be needed.

Or "Webmastering" if you want to put more emphasize on the activity (doing web stuff) than the people doing it (the "masters" of the web).

I have no strong feelings between that or changing to anything else proposed, but I feel no strong urge either to drop "webmasters".

More generally, on the process, I would expect that goals are clearly stated if a rebranding is to occur. And ideally with facts and hard numbers, not just feelings like "being more modern", which is very subjective and hard to assess.

In particular, as stated in some comments, if new name is used, we should make it abundantly clear on what the website covers (what is on-topic or not) to avoid any mistakes and confusions with other websites, and particularly ServerFault and core StackOverflow.

So for example, a good question for me to have in mind would be: if rebranding occurs to name X, does that improve or not possible confusions with other Q&A websites? If yes, in what way?

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  • Good points Patrick - we really should take into consideration what sets us apart from other Stack Exchanges sites when selecting a new name. (note: I'm abstaining from voting so that the community can make the decision, but this certainly deserves one)
    – dan Mod
    Apr 2 at 0:40
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A good brand has a clear focus and knows their target audience.

It is of my opinion that if we're going to change the name, it should be one of the following:

Webmasters - just stripping the "Pro"

Or

Search Engine Optimization

The argument for Webmasters has been made very clearly already. Below I present an argument for Search Engine Optimization.


The primary argument against changing the name to Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is that we cover a lot of other things outside of the discipline.

Looking the front page right now, however, I can't find a single question scrolling all the way down that isn’t about SEO, a Google product, or doing something else within the context of optimizing a site for search engines.

Here’s one that at face value might be about more than SEO:

Minify at the web server level or at CDN level?

The goal appears to be about optimize their website performance using WP Rocket plugin. They’re obviously looking to achieve sufficient Web Vitals for Google since that's a rankings factor now. This is what makes it on topic for our site, and why StackOverflow sent it to us.

In my experience, albeit limited compared to all of you, the questions that are not about SEO that get covered here belong on (or would be a better fit for) either ServerFault, AskUbuntu, or SuperUser.

Brief aside: Many of these get flagged and closed, and many do not because we answer them very well. That said though, I see no reason why those questions can't be migrated to one of the aforementioned sites after one of our own has gotten first dibs.

Looking at our guidelines:

What topics can I ask about here?

Pro Webmasters is a site for asking questions about operating and managing your own website. Questions here are commonly about, but not limited to:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Domains
  • Web and email hosting
  • Internet marketing
  • Website management (e.g., analytics, ads, URLs, etc…)

As far as branding goes, you could call the site "Search Engine Optimization” and get away with covering all of the other topics on that list. Someone that identifies as an “SEO” surely encounters all of them throughout the course of their career.

Overall, my argument is that if SEO is the majority of what we cover, then for all intensive purposes, we’re an SEO site.

Search Engine Optimization has a clear focus, clear target audience, and encompasses the vast majority of what people ask questions about on our site.

Webmasters is the easiest solution, considering we can't change our subdomain and/or logo.


Something to consider I thought of as finishing this answer:

Technical SEO I think is actually very fitting to the skillsets that most of us possess and questions we answer. Technical SEO is pretty much anything these days that requires any sort of code, or an understanding of networking, http protocol, etc.

From Backlinko:

Technical SEO is the process of ensuring that a website meets the technical requirements of modern search engines with the goal of improved organic rankings. Important elements of technical SEO include crawling, indexing, rendering, and website architecture.

There are also really not really any existing sites/communities focused on Technical SEO.

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    Thanks for your input Mike - there are some good considerations here. Most of our users want to be found on the Web, and search engine optimization is certainly the crux of that. Technical SEO is an up-and-coming term that seems to cover a lot of what we do here too. (note: I'm abstaining from voting so that the community can make the decision, but this certainly deserves one)
    – dan Mod
    Apr 2 at 0:44
  • I understand that this won't be popular, like I said I think "Webmasters" is probably the best solution right now. But I think the argument needed to be made. Apr 2 at 13:29
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    It was a solid argument and suggestion. Finding a good alternative to "Webmasters" hasn't been easy given the wide-scope of the site and the limitations we have in making changes, so thanks for adding to the discussion!
    – dan Mod
    Apr 2 at 22:51
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    I do not support rebranding to SEO. I'd much rather make the scope of this site broader rather than narrower. Apr 5 at 11:39
  • @StephenOstermiller Don't disagree with you. My intention here was to make the argument, not necessarily advocate for it. Apr 5 at 16:28
  • Some notes from SEO-now, former hostmaster, former postmaster, former root: real Website management isn't SEO, <any> Marketing isn't SEO, Web and email hosting isn't SEO, Domains is SEO in smallest size (and "too broad" term anyway) May 29 at 9:01

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