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Mechanism to draw the borderline with Physics.SE?

+ 10 like - 0 dislike

If I feel a question on the site is more appropriate for Physics.SE, what should I do: leave a comment, or bring it to meta? I've actually asked a question here that might be on the border (within the overlap?) with Physics.SE. How do we decide what's on topic here and how "critical"/pro-active should we be with it?

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
asked Sep 15, 2011 in SE.TP.discussion by Slaviks (610 points) [ no revision ]
For what it's worth, any question that is on topic here is also automatically on topic for physics.SE. So in any borderline cases that may come up, migration will always be a safe option.

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@David: what is the mechanism to execute that option? Perhaps, this is a separate meta question.

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@Slaviks: yeah, that could be a separate question. Once moderators for this site are chosen they'll be able to migrate questions, but before then I'm not sure what the best course of action is.

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@David I'd suggest closing as off-topic and maybe making a "to migrate to physics.SE" list here at meta that the future mods (or someone from the SE team) migrates later on

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)

4 Answers

+ 9 like - 0 dislike

I think, a question that is "borderline" (if it's hard to distinguish if it's research level or not) should stay. Drawing a concrete line would be too difficult and rather subjective.

What to do with questions that are clearly off-topic or not research level is a bit more problematic. To set the tone, those should definatly be redirected to an appropriate site.

Furthermore (as was proposed on MO-Meta), if the question is ill-posed, we should definitly link the FAQ of the redirected site and tell the Author to reformulate his question.

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answered Sep 15, 2011 by Michael Kissner (230 points) [ no revision ]
I think this is certainly a reasonable approach. Bonus points for suggesting linking to the FAQ.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
I agree. Unless experience shows us that there are too many borderline questions cluttering up the site, I think a more lenient position is preferable. One possible criterion I'd suggest is that if a senior graduate student in the field wouldn't typically be able to answer a particular question, it should be considered fair game for this SE.

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@Shant you should include "...and wouldn't be off-topic at [physics.SE]" unless you want me to ask you for the meaning of life, the universe and everything :P

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@Tobias; Everyone knows the answer's 42, so those questions go to Physics.SE and not here :D. But seriously, yeah, I mean physics questions that a typical 3rd or 4th year graduate student can't answer should be allowed on TP.SE

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I think that's a very good rule of thumb

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@Shant I'd be asking for the _question_ of course :-7 but jokes aside, I perfectly agree with your suggestion

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+ 6 like - 0 dislike

You are asking about the scope of TP.SE. Defining the scope of the site is the 1st item on the 7 Essential Questions of Every Beta.

Eventually you may want to consider adopting something similar to the following (again, originally from MO, with slight modifications):

Theoretical Physics - Stack Exchange is for theoretical and mathematical physicists and researchers in related fields. We welcome research-level questions in theoretical and mathematical physics.

Although there is no black-and-white distinction between research-level questions and non-research-level questions, questions are considered to be "research-level" roughly when they can be discussed between two professors or between two graduate students working on Ph.D.'s, but not usually between a professor and a typical undergraduate student. It does not include questions at the level of difficulty of typical undergraduate course/textbook homework/exercise.

Also this might be helpful about reducing the number of non-research level questions posted on the site:

Questions should be based on knowledge sharing, not on shirking. You should only post questions you're actually seriously thinking about. Users are expected to do their part and try to answer their question by themselves before posting them on TP.SE and asking for help from others. Search to see if your question is already answered somewhere else (e.g. Wikipedia) before asking a question. Try to make your question interesting for others by providing some background knowledge. Remember, questions should be based on knowledge sharing, not on shirking. Shirking goes against the spirit of the site.

Note: the later one might not be counterproductive at this early stage. You are still defining the scope and would probably prefer users asking as many good on-topic questions as possible.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Sep 16, 2011 by Kaveh (0 points) [ no revision ]
Most voted comments show all comments
+1: I agree for the most part, except for this minor quibble: experimental & computational physics are very closely allied to theoretical / mathematical physics. By allowing "researchers in related fields" we will end up with experimentally-oriented questions, and questions requiring knowledge relevant mostly to computational physicists (e.g. / i.e.: high-performance-, grid-, distributed- computing and heaven knows what else) - these would **not** be appropriate for a forum dedicated specifically to theory- and mathematical-physicists and their own set of specialist questions and concerns.

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@UGPhysics, thanks, but you are misunderstanding that part, read the rest of it: "We welcome research-level questions in theoretical and mathematical physics."

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True. But it becomes somewhat murky when you allow some room for interpretation: basically, this Q&A site should be strictly in line with what Joe initially [proposed](http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/23848?phase=definition). I must downvote for that reason: allowing "researchers in related fields" leaves room for questions that -- while generally speaking may not be completely out of the purview of theoretical / mathematical' physics -- but would still require their own specific body of expert knowledge (especially Experimental physics as far as I know.) ...

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(Reference: [A Theoretical Physics Q and A site](http://blog.jfitzsimons.org/?p=218) ..."I proposed the site as being for theoretical and mathematical physics ... " "spanning both theory and experiment might make the scope of the site too broad".)

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@UGPhysics: Since you are quoting why I wrote, let me interject. I have no problem with anyone posting questions provided the questions are on topic for the site (meaning that the question itself is on theoretical or mathematical physics). In particular, I've noticed that an experimentalist colleague has committed to the proposal, and I would be delighted to see her participate. The only restriction here is on the nature of the questions themselves, and it is entirely reasonable to expect that good on-topic questions will come from experimentalists.

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Equally, an experimental question coming from a theorist would be equally off topic, but hopefully on topic from any future experimental proposal.

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@Kaveh: I wish I could give this more than +1. Very constructive!

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+ 4 like - 0 dislike

Generally, the division may be viewed as such: if you can find the answer to your question in some book, etc. - other than research-level work - it may be more appropriate for Physics SE. If it is a technical question which requires a specialist response, or a question which hasn't been answered in Physics SE for some time (a few days, a week, et cetera) [to use Math Overflow's approach] this may be the place to ask.

Also, for ambiguous-type questions, the associated tag(s) may give a good hint:- if the poster is a researcher or someone knowledgeable they (would) usually have a good idea of the appropriate tag(s) to use: hence, in most cases, the question probably isn't appropriate for this site.

Regarding ill-posed but definitely on-topic questions, (referring to Michael Kissner's suggestion), we should provide a link to the FAQs in the comment section of the post and request the author to reformulate and repost his question.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Sep 15, 2011 by UGPhysics (155 points) [ no revision ]
I largely agree, but let me add that I don't think Springer yellows count.

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Classifying books: there are (graduate, advanced etc.) textbooks and there monographs (definitive in-depth treatises of a given subject). By "Springer yellows" you mean monographs? If so, I readily agree.

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Yes. I was using that specific range as an example.

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There is no mechanism or rule to move unanswered questions from math SE to MO after some time. Crossposting is simply discouraged altogether. The vast majority of crossposted questions from math SE were either off-topic form MO, or gained no new answers on MO.

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+ 3 like - 0 dislike

This is a general comment rather than an answer, but it doesn't fit well in comment boxes...

Considerations of "boundary" between TPSE and PSE (or MSE, or MO) should be left out of definition of the scope of TPSE. In fact, it is to the advantage of all sites if the "boundary" is kept fluid.

As far as migrating posts is concerned, the rule is simple: if the post is clearly off-topic for one site but it is clearly on-topic for another site, then and only then should the post be migrated. This rule applies to all SE sites; there are no special waiting rules and such.

Based on the MO/MSE experience. There has never been a lack of experts on MSE. For example, from the current user front page on MO, around 10 seem to be somewhat active on MSE. It is likely that a similar overlap will happen between TPSE and PSE and that is good for both sites. Defining a "boundary" can only hinder this natural overlap.

Other than the scope of the sites, the only essential difference between TPSE and PSE should be the level of the answers. Answers on PSE will generally be more accessible, whereas answers on TPSE will assume a great deal of background. It is perfectly fine if the same on-topic question is asked on both sites. In fact, PSE should be the natural place to go for a more accessible version of an answer from TPSE.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Sep 25, 2011 by François G. Dorais (0 points) [ no revision ]
I'll have to disagree on this suggestion. MO is not considered part of the StackExchange network, and hence not subject to its rules. .. Generally - as per SE rules / philosophy - two sites with similar objectives should be merged together: the purpose of TPSE was to create a site -*specifically*- for researchers and academics in theoretical / mathematical physics to ask research-level questions (i.e. a MO-equivalent for theoretical / mathematical physicists and graduate students). ... We would probably run for only a couple weeks or more if we allowed the same questions posted on both forums.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
(Rather, a suggestion was to request TPSE users also on PSE to consider gradually migrating their [TPSE-appropriate] questions from PSE to TPSE. ... But this was only a suggestion.)

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
Additionally: "As far as migrating posts is concerned, the rule is simple: if the post is *clearly* off-topic for one site but it is *clearly* on-topic for another site, then and only then should the post be migrated." -- By the site definition of PSE and TPSE, all questions on TPSE are also on-topic on PSE; the reverse is not necessarily true.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)

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