• Register
PhysicsOverflow is a next-generation academic platform for physicists and astronomers, including a community peer review system and a postgraduate-level discussion forum analogous to MathOverflow.

Welcome to PhysicsOverflow! PhysicsOverflow is an open platform for community peer review and graduate-level Physics discussion.

Please help promote PhysicsOverflow ads elsewhere if you like it.


PO is now at the Physics Department of Bielefeld University!

New printer friendly PO pages!

Migration to Bielefeld University was successful!

Please vote for this year's PhysicsOverflow ads!

Please do help out in categorising submissions. Submit a paper to PhysicsOverflow!

... see more

Tools for paper authors

Submit paper
Claim Paper Authorship

Tools for SE users

Search User
Reclaim SE Account
Request Account Merger
Nativise imported posts
Claim post (deleted users)
Import SE post

Users whose questions have been imported from Physics Stack Exchange, Theoretical Physics Stack Exchange, or any other Stack Exchange site are kindly requested to reclaim their account and not to register as a new user.

Public \(\beta\) tools

Report a bug with a feature
Request a new functionality
404 page design
Send feedback


(propose a free ad)

Site Statistics

205 submissions , 163 unreviewed
5,047 questions , 2,200 unanswered
5,345 answers , 22,709 comments
1,470 users with positive rep
816 active unimported users
More ...

  Lost newbie... Is there a tutorial somewhere ?

+ 6 like - 0 dislike

First of all, I beg your pardon, I'm really lost in the structure of this site. I feel it's a great idea to have created such a separated Q&A site for more advanced question than the average post in SE.physics. I'm nevertheless not at ease with the new architecture. 

Is there a tutorial page somewhere to explain me how to find my way in this site ? 

I guess after some days I could figure out how is it going, but I'm still lost between the review, meta and Q&A part. Perhaps a color code would be really helpful. 

Also, it seems to me that the search engine do not distinguish between the different sub-parts (review, meta, Q&A). Is there a way to search only in the meta part for instance ?

I've not been able to find such a tutorial. For the moment I'm trying to send this question to the meta-part of the website. Please feel free to move it in case I've done something wrong.

Thanks in advance for any help.

PS: I also post this question because trying to open the page FAQ, I obtained some error message: You do not have permission to perform this operation... 

asked Sep 12, 2014 in Support by FraSchelle (390 points) [ revision history ]
retagged Sep 13, 2014 by dimension10

Update: The bug on the FAQ not appearing is fixed. You may now access the FAQ without any errors.

2 Answers

+ 4 like - 0 dislike

Is there a tutorial page somewhere to explain me how to find my way in this site ? 

The FAQ is supposed to serve this purpose. Unfortunately, there is a bug in accessing the FAQ as you have mentioned. The bug has been reported.

I'm still lost between the review, meta and Q&A part.

The "Q&A" is a high-level physics forum, the "reviews" is for research paper refereeing, and "meta" is for site discussion.

Also, it seems to me that the search engine do not distinguish between the different sub-parts (review, meta, Q&A). Is there a way to search only in the meta part for instance ?

This is not yet possible, but it is a pending feature request, and will hopefully be implemented soon. The precise feature request is an "advanced search" facility, so you would be able to search only reviews by adding the text "[[Reviews]]" or "[[refereeing]]" in the search query.

I've not been able to find such a tutorial.

The FAQ is supposed to be such a tutorial, but as you say, it cannot be accessed at the moment. Please bear with us till the bug is fixed.

However, the FAQ is somewhat long and windy, so I agree it may be helpful to make a short tutorial on this. I shall make one today as another answer on this very thread.

For the moment I'm trying to send this question to the meta-part of the website. Please feel free to move it in case I've done something wrong.

You've done it right.

answered Sep 13, 2014 by dimension10 (1,985 points) [ no revision ]
+ 4 like - 0 dislike

Introductory tutorial to PhysicsOverflow

As promised in the last answer, here is a short introduction on using PhysicsOverflow for new users.

Site Navigation

There are six parts to the site navigation system:

  • The top-bar is located at the very top of the site, and is best described as a "User bar", as it's main purpose is for user administration. You can access your user page, edit your profile, logout, etc. from here.
  • The header-bar is next to (on the right side of) the logo. It contains some quick, commonly used tools. Here you can go to the page for asking questions, and find commonly accessed lists, such as categories, tags, users.
  • The admin-bar is the white bar you find below the logo. It's mainly for moderation and administration tools. For example, the Moderate link takes you to the main community moderation page, which contains links to the various community moderation threads accessible to users with 500 reputation points.
  • The nav-bar is below the admin-bar, and is basically like an extension to the header-bar.
  • The sub-nav-bar appears on some pages (like user pages and some question list pages, etc.) to complement the nav-bar.
  • The side-bar is the sidepanel found on almost all pages (some exceptions are user pages, etc. It contains news and some tools. It also consists of some convinient navigation tools, like All categories, Most popular tags and Related Questions.

Site Organisation

Site organisation is done with categories and tags.


The main categories of the site are Q&A, Reviews, and Meta (there are a few others which are not as important to a new user). Questions and Submissions can be sorted into these categories. These categories also have subcategories, for example, Q&A has Theoretical Physics, Experimental Physics, Applied Physics, Computational Physics, Phenomenology, Astronomy, Mathematics, General Physics, Community Nowiki. Each category has a description which appears both in the Categories page (accessible from the HeaderBar) and when asking a question.


There are hundreds of tags that can be applied when asking questions. You can search for an applicable tag by typing it's name into the tags field while asking a question.

Discussion and Voting

Post editing is mostly straightforward. You can insert an image (upload is however not yet supported) by clicking the button that looks like a kite or the sun raising over a mountain range. LaTeX can be inserted from clicking the "TeX" button.


Discussion in Q&A is simple - anyone can ask a question, post an answer to a question, or comment. Voting on comments requires 15 reputation, voting on questions requires 25 reputation, and voting on answers require 50 reputation. Each vote on a question yields 5 points to the author of the question. Each vote on an answer yields 10 points to the answerer.


Submitting a paper is currently a slow process as we're still in the first phase of the reviews section. You need to request a submission creation here. A moderator will create the submission for you and it will be up for open community review.

There are two criteria for voting on submissions Originality and Accuracy. The overall score is calculated by

\(x= A \exp\left( \sqrt[3]{\frac{o}{5}} \right)\)

Open Problems

The "Open Problems" section is a platform for researchers to communicate with each other in solving open problems in physics.


Meta is for discussion about the site - feature requests, bugs, support, discussion, official posts. It uses the same software as Q&A, but discussions can be less focused.

Informal Discussion

There are various avenues for informal discussion, such as chat (a category). Chat discussions must however be about Physics, or other stuff relevant for physicists. It is welcome to ask fro discussion on informal notes or books you have written in a chat discussion. To communicate with a particular user, you can visit their user page and leave them a public wall message or send them a private message.


When you receive an answer to your question, a comment to your post, or a ping (e.g. @JohnDoe), or if your post is edited, you receive an on-site notification. A yellow button will appear in the top-bar, next to your username, with the number of notifications written on it. If you click it, you're lead to your history page, where the recent notifications are listed.

Community Moderation

See here.

answered Sep 13, 2014 by dimension10 (1,985 points) [ revision history ]
edited Feb 9, 2015 by dimension10

Your answer

Please use answers only to (at least partly) answer questions. To comment, discuss, or ask for clarification, leave a comment instead.
To mask links under text, please type your text, highlight it, and click the "link" button. You can then enter your link URL.
Please consult the FAQ for as to how to format your post.
This is the answer box; if you want to write a comment instead, please use the 'add comment' button.
Live preview (may slow down editor)   Preview
Your name to display (optional):
Privacy: Your email address will only be used for sending these notifications.
Anti-spam verification:
If you are a human please identify the position of the character covered by the symbol $\varnothing$ in the following word:
Then drag the red bullet below over the corresponding character of our banner. When you drop it there, the bullet changes to green (on slow internet connections after a few seconds).
Please complete the anti-spam verification

user contributions licensed under cc by-sa 3.0 with attribution required

Your rights