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Mark names of Stack Exchange users who have not claimed their accounts here

+ 1 like - 4 dislike

I saw this stated somewhere and I didn't find it here, so I thought a formal feature request on this meta was necessary.

The Physics Overflow users page currently displays the usernames of all the users, whether Physics Overflow native users or Stack Exchange users, whose posts are in Physics Overflow. This is not a requirement of the SE attribution guidelines but it is nice to have.

However, the users list seems to imply, for a casual visitor, that all the users listed there are active users of this site and it qualifies, almost, as an endorsement. This is particularly important for SE users who post under their real names, or who post in Physics.SE under pseudonyms which they use widely. This is the case, for example, for Matt Reece, David Bar Moshe, Piotr Migdal, Pavel Safronov, G. 't Hooft, and Peter Shor, to take the first few cases in descending user ranking.

In my understanding, this is a professional site that hopes to provide a quality space for high-level discussion of physics. As such, it should reflect this professionalism by avoiding the misrepresentation that e.g. Peter Shor or Gerard 't Hooft are around this site and likely to post here.

I know that one can see whether each individual user has registered here or not by clicking through to the profile; for imported users who have not registered here, if you know where to look, the text "(This user is not yet participating on PhysicsOverflow, but we hope he will)" is present. However, it is too much to expect of a casual visitor to click through to all profiles to see how many of those users are actually available.

(I should note, at this point, the evident language bug. I hope this can be changed, as the gender imbalance in physics is already bad enough.)

The reason I feel that this is a unprofessional misrepresentation is that these users have done nothing to appear here except post in another site. While one hopes they will register and contribute here, they have yet to do so. Would it be OK to create an account for, say, François Englert, or Peter Higgs, and assign them a lot of points? That is evidently a misrepresentation as they have contributed no content to the site.

On the other hand, the Stack Exchange users on the users list have contributed content that is present here: they made their content publicly available on the CC-BY-SA license when they posted in SE. The users page does currently list people who have (directly or indirectly) contributed to this site. It does make sense, then, to have them present there.

There is an obvious middle ground here. Have non-native users present in the users page, but gray-out, or dim down, their entries in a way that makes this visible. For SE users who have not registered here, it is also a courtesy to link to their SE profile on their PO profile stub, and there is little reason not to.

In the end, of course, it is up to the moderators of this site whether to implement this feature or not. However, I hope that this will be implemented in the spirit of civilized and professional discussion that this site, as I understand it, aspires to instantiate.

asked Aug 13, 2014 in Feature Request by SaddlePoint (0 points) [ revision history ]
edited Apr 24, 2015 by Arnold Neumaier

 The information about the activity or nonactivity of anyone is in the profile, just one click away.

avoiding the misrepresentation that e.g. Peter Shor or Gerard 't Hooft are around this site and likely to post here.

Peter Shor didn't register on PO (but was active on the old Theoretical Physics SE, of which PO is the continuation) but Gerard 't Hooft registered, and contributed recent discussion. 

Just opposite as in Physics SE, where Peter Shor is active but Gerard 't Hooft didn't access their site since August 2012. But nobody here concludes that by keeping both names in their user list, Physics SE would suggest that Peter Shor and Gerard 't Hooft are around their site and likely to post. 

3 Answers

+ 4 like - 0 dislike

I agree with Ron, that at present it should be clear enough which posts are imprted and who is actively participated. We simply can not please everybody, and as the site grows, the imported user profiles will slide down the user list in the course of time.

There is a long list of beta feature requests that would actually improve the functionality of the site and the user experience, such as making question and user lists sortable for example... Those for the members of PhysicsOverflow directly useful improvements should in my personal opinion have clearly priority compared to changes that make the site look better to passer-by s, who are for example not interested enougn in the site to click a user profile if they want to know what (if anything) a user is actively doing here.

There are also people like Piotr Migdal, who reclaimed his account and we have very nice email discussions, but he is just watching because he is too busy with his PhD at the moment. Our system development team consists presently of a single very nice and capable person who does this not as a professional who gets payed for it as a day-job. We do our best but it will take us a long time (and we need a second system developer) to look like Stack Exchance (with its professional team of developers!), this will not happen anytime soon.

So I tbink we should focus on feature requests that improve the functionality of the site.

answered Aug 14, 2014 by Dilaton (4,295 points) [ no revision ]
+ 4 like - 0 dislike

I think this issue has been successfully addressed by the text

Note that some of the users listed here may not be active directly on PhysicsOverflow, and are listed here because some of their posts are imported from other sites, including MathOverflow and StackExchange sites.

on the users page. Thank you for implementing this.

answered Apr 23, 2015 by SaddlePoint (0 points) [ no revision ]
+ 3 like - 0 dislike

We are not misleading anyone at all. We indicate every single imported post in bright eye-popping red, and a nonactive user has a clear message on their page. There is absolutely no chance of confusion.

Dimming the usernames gives a strange impression, that the authorship attribution and credit accrual is somehow different for their text, as opposed to others. We intend to assign credit to authors of published papers, as the net score of their reviewed papers. This information is useful for others as a shortcut to determine credibility, their direct participation in the refereeing of their papers is not required, or even necessarily asked for. It's a heck of a lot quieter if they let others talk about their work without responding, because authors can be a tad too loquacious when discussing their own publications.

We are compliant with license, and so far, the folks we talked to were satisfied with the current arrangement. It does no good to modify the site for every hypothetically disgruntled fellow who comes here, you can't please everybody, unfortunately. We're doing our best.

Anyone who contributes to cc-by-sa should be ready to accept their material copied verbatim with proper attribution without kvetching, it's part of the deal. Any blogger may do so, and any site may do so, and we're doing so. It's important to not make special attention to some special demand, because this undermines the purpose of the free license, to be able to fork anytime, by anyone, without hassle.

We encourage all users who become native here to nativify all their postings one by one, so that they are no longer attributed to stackexchange. I have been doing this, hopefully others will do likewise. Once the process is complete, you will know which posts are native. Also, my native posts I intend to delete from all other sites where they appear, so they will be unique to physicsoverflow.

answered Aug 14, 2014 by Ron Maimon (7,535 points) [ revision history ]

I was going to post one of your answers to an imported question from PSE back onto PSE. Would you be OK with this as long as I attributed this to you?

@physicsnewbie: I can't stop you from doing anything compatible with cc-by-sa, that's the beauty of an open license. But PSE does not take material from here, you will just get yourself blocked.

@physicsnewbie, Perfectly fine (legally), as long as you attribute both the OP, and the site, linking to the original post here, and also, as Ron said - as long as you're OK with getting blocked there on SE : )

@physicsnewbie: You don't get blocked for a few links to PO; there is only a threat if you do it too much compared what else you post there (and there are no definite rules what this means).

Copying (rather than link) an answer from here as an answer there of course requires that you attribute your source on PO. But this is bad style (there was one case before, and it was downvoted, and then hidden by the poster). 

The best thing is if you write your own answer based on what you read here, but phrased in your own words, and add the link to PO as your source. Nobody can complain about that.

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