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A “beginners” complementation to PhysicsOverflow?

+ 4 like - 0 dislike

Note: This is directly copied from this post on our blog.

PhysicsOverflow has always been, and will always be a site for physics and has always maintained, and will continue to forever maintain a minimum level or standard for questions. Specifically, every question posted on PhysicsOverflow must be at least at a graduate level. For example, in terms of theoretical physics, quantum field theory and advanced general relativity mark the bottom level for questions.

However, we have recently had private discussions with a user who has preferred to remain anonymous, about setting up a lower-level completion to PhysicsOverflow. I personally consider this to be an absolutely brilliant idea. When we first talked about starting a new physics forum or Question & Answer site, we immediately wanted to have a site at a higher level because we felt that a free, frank, and non-censorious environment was most needed for a site at a higher level as opposed to a site for basic physics. When we conducted our poll for the level of our site nearly last year, "graduate level" won the poll. However, now that PhysicsOverflow is up and running, we realise that every community that discusses a scientific discipline needs a free, frank, and non-censorious environment to develop.

First of all, let me note that we are NOT planning to allow lower-level physics on PhysicsOverflow. PhysicsOverflow shall maintain its level forever. Our plan is to set up an additional site at a lower level than PhysicsOverflow at a domain like beginners.physicsoverflow.org. They will get to use our software (since our software contains many additional plugins made by polarkernel to the freely available, open-source Question2Answer software). This was not the first time we have seen the lack of a free, frank, and non-censorious site for lower-level physics. Another user, whose preference for anonymity is unknown, has also previously expressed that there is no undergraduate-level counterpart for PhysicsOverflow. The plan is therefore to set up an additional site (PhysicsUnderflow?) at a subdomain of PhysicsOverflow, like beginners.physicsoverflow.org or underflow.physicsoverflow.org.

Will this positively affect PhysicsOverflow?

Yes, of course!

  • Post migration - This is the main positive impact of a "PhysicsUnderflow" on PhysicsOverflow. If a question is too basic for PhysicsOverflow or too advanced for "PhysicsUnderflow", the question can be migrated between the sites. There is a Question2Answer plugin for this.
  • More contributors - I mean positive contributors. If someone enjoys participating on "PhysicsUnderflow", they have a greater likelihood of participating on PhysicsOverflow, when they're ready to participate on PhysicsOverflow.
  • Post diversion - Currently, we tell new users in their confirmation emails that PhysicsOverflow is a site for physics at a graduate-level and above; basic questions go here: physics.stackexchange.com. If we have a brother site, "PhysicsUnderflow", we can tell users to participate on PhysicsUnderflow for lower-level physics.

How can I help?

The PhysicsOverflow team is unfortunately uncapable of providing our full attention to "PhysicsUnderflow", since we all have long to-do lists for PhysicsOverflow itself. The "PhysicsUnderflow" project requires:

  • At least one Super-administrator. This is essential. A super-administrator's tasks include: executing the will of the community and managing the site in general, importing of posts from StackExchange, if the PhysicsUnderflow deems this necessary.
  • It would be nice to have a Developer to assist polarkernel at least in the beginning for setting up this site. This developer would have to voluntarily support the development of a "PhysicsUnderflow", i.e. to put it straightforwardly, we, as a very small team, are currently incapable of paying an additional developer for the development of a "PhysicsUnderflow".
  • Most importantly, the site needs to have a Community. There are no minimum criteria for activity (unlike in some dystopic settings across the internet), but people who are interested in a "PhysicsUnderflow".

If you want to make the idea of a "PhysicsUnderflow" a reality, then please try to help out.

I am willing to be a super-administrator on "PhysicsUnderflow"! What next?

The first step in setting up a "PhysicsUnderflow", in my opinion, is to set up a public blog for organised disucssion on this matter, like how PhysicsOverflow set up this very blog as per John McVirgo's suggestion. You are encouraged to use as structure similar to that of this blog when writing posts for comment discussion on this blog of a "PhysicsUnderflow". So please tell us if you are willing (and have the time, capacity, and inclination) to be a super-administrator, and tell us the URL of the blog that you have set up so we can link to it from the top of this post.

How will PhysicsOverflow support PhysicsUnderflow?

  • Helping you install all the PhysicsOverflow software (including the Question2Answer core, all our plugins, our theme, admin panel code, and everything) on it. 
  • Providing you with a list of our custom pages.
  • Telling you how we deal with community moderation, provide a list of our community moderation posts.
  • Advising you on managing a "PhysicsUnderflow", etc., ; for example, do you think it that this beginners site would also need to import posts from SE? In that case, it would be a pretty huge burden on you, since there are a lot of basic questions on SE. Maybe you should just import questions with at least 10 votes and not graduate-level+.  
  • Promote the beginners site on the tpproposal blog and on the meta of PhysicsOverflow (done)

Eventually, I hope to see more and more "*erflow" (where "*" could be "und" or "ov") sites form, and eventually form some sort of a large "Erflow" network with each scientific discipline having two sites, one overflow, and one underflow. Like a chemistryoverflow.org, etc. Anyway, that will probably take years : )

asked May 6, 2014 in Discussion by dimension10 (1,950 points) [ revision history ]
edited Apr 26, 2015 by dimension10
Most voted comments show all comments

@Dilaton Thanks. It's just a draft logo for now, the PU community would eventually need to decide on their own logo. 

Also the name itself, Physics.underflow. This is cool too. 

I would seriously support this. :) 

Why does the logo have a black box in the center?

Hello guys. I have not been on Phys.SE and overflow for a long time and today just stumbled upon this post of probably one of the best experts of beginner level Physics. http://meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/7042/question-put-on-hold-for-no-clear-reason It is shameful upon Phys stack exchange's part that even most experienced people found them to be anti-beginner.

dd P.S: Way back machine link in case SE deletes that thread, https://web.archive.org/web/20150910135607/http://meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/7042/question-put-on-hold-for-no-clear-reason

Most recent comments show all comments

@physicsnewbie The development--as far as I know-- is halted. I could not find anyone ready to participate seriously. The idea of physunderflow is still with me. But I am too busy uptill two or at least one and half years. I will start Phys.un surely -- perhaps around 2018.

@Prathyush No idea. Wasn't there when I first posted it. It spontaneously appeared, somehow. Wasn't even that blurry, then.

1 Answer

+ 4 like - 0 dislike

Hello to everyone who is willing to be a part of this forthcoming beginner/intermediate Physics site.  

My answer might go for a length. I have been, for a short time, a user of Phys.SE. When for the first time I had internet, this was one of the first thing that I did. Phys.SE, that seem to be a physics community, is constrained in mundane rules, and has a very harsh culture. It is not friendly and open community. New users(or beginners) are treated very harshly. There were many cases when beginners or new users were treated like "they do not belong there", once this post occurred to me    

After reading the comments of the OP there I was emotionally struck. There were many other cases like this   
The OP in this post said that for wikpedea is too much technical for him etc etc. An answer could have given to him. He could have been helped. The post to which he his redirected contains a big list of books and the OP won't even know which book there is for what he is looking for. No universe was going to fall if a concise answer was given to him.    

Another similar incident, that I have noticed recently is the closing and deletion of the question of this user upon Phys.SE, http://physics.stackexchange.com/users/67587/sava ;

Most of the posts of this kind are deleted on Phys.SE. I will now go to the point. In any community rules should be flexible not become the policies craved in rocks. There should be fun in my opinion. 

Whoever is interested in this idea of a new Physics community, or will like to be a part of it please contribute with me. I can't be a super-admin for some reasons. I will contribute to this new website as far I could ( May be by becoming an admin and the moderation stuff).

Nowadays I'm not active over internet, so I won't be able to help PhysicsUnderflow. Moreover there doesn't seem to be many people interested in it. 

That being said, all what I wrote is my perspective because experience on Phys.SE has been very uncomfortable. Perhaps others may find Phys.SE a good place to ask their questions or perhaps not. 

answered May 7, 2014 by User31782 (15 points) [ revision history ]
edited Jan 12, 2015 by User31782
Most voted comments show all comments

I guess I agree with this.

I noticed that I myself had voted to close the first question you linked to. The problem is that I voted to close the question before it was edited, but the close vote became successful after the question was edited (the question isn't great, even after the edit, but at least it isn't closable). There is no process for the OP to appeal to the close voters in the period between the question's editing and the question's closing.

PhysicsOverflow will eventually have an "advanced pinging system" where users can use commands like @upvoters and @downvoters so that the asker will be allowed to appeal the close votes (which are basically the starting close vote and the upvotes on the starting close vote).

I think that this is a feature that should certainly be enabled on PhysicsUnderflow too once it is actually developed. 

@dimension10  I got you now. Although after OP's edit it should have been reviewed but the review system of Phys.SE doesn't work well http://meta.physics.stackexchange.com/a/5765/31782

@dimension10 I am afraid we are not getting any response on the new Phys.underflow. The discussion of homework is not worth now. This will be really a noisy discussion.     

My philosophy is that if the do my homework question shows effort then the OP is surely interested in Physics. To clarify myself: Let us modify [this](http://physics.stackexchange.com/q/101500/31782) question. Suppose the OP does not ask about the concept but asks directly Calculate the height at the time Tg/2 and along with this the OP shows his own calculations. Let the real error that the OP made is just some multiplication mistake in the calculation or he has misunderstood the concept.   

Now my view is that since the OP has shown his calculations it means that he has studied the relevant Physics concept but since the OP thinks that he has understood the concept correct so he is not asking about concept rather he is asking directly how to find the height at the time Tg/2.    

Since the OP is able to do the calculation it is certain that he has studied the Physics concept.

This is my personal opinion and you should downvote my comment if you do not agree.   

The delay in my comment is because I thought the discussion about "homework" here is useless but after one hour due to my instinct I could not stop me to write this comment :-)

I think it is rather normal, that discussions about a new physics site start slowly. During long periods of time, Dimension10 and I were almost the only ones discussing about things on our blog too ...

What you could do now, is for example link to this meta question and or the corresponding blog post from your internet profiles, watch out for people who could be interested in a PhysicsUnderflow and lead them to the discussion places, etc ... Maybe calling for interested people on Quora can help too, we did this for PhysicsOverflow also. If you get some response on Quora, you can also write private messages to the corresponding people, which is unfortunately not possible on SE for example ...

BTW Dimension10 has an Area51 proposal for Popular Science


Maybe some people there are interested in a beginner friendly PhysicsUnderflow too ...

I strongly disagree with how Physics SE applies the homwork policy even to questions that are clearly not homework, as you can see from my corresponding meta posts there ...

To me it seems that things are getting worse elsewhere, for example for people who want to ask good undergrad technical physics questions. You could watch out for these people and lead them to the idea of PhysicsUnderflow; to me it seems the need for it is rapidly increasing ...
Most recent comments show all comments

Yes I have noted the systematic downvotings of a certain user s posts on SE too ...

Idea: If nobody speaks up against this, maybe an answer of this thread about starting a PhysicsUnderflow could be used to gather "example questions" (new ones or questions that need to be saved from SE) in the comments? Hint: LaTex works in the comment too ...

Questions that do not heavily rely on LaTex could also be gathered in the comments below the accompagnying blog post.

@Dilaton We are only a handful of people, who want to have PhysicsUnderflow. I am also not active nowadays on internet. I think, there is no need for Physicsunderflow now, and no need either to save or to make an example thread.   

I know I am speaking opposite to what I used to. The fact is that there aren't enough people who want to work for Phys.underflow. We should wait for others to speak up. Almost a year has gone now, and no one has shown interest in the proposal of Physicsunderflow.   

In brief my opinion is that there is no scope for Physicsunderflow in the near future.

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