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What is a good way to get professors and grad students at my local university interested in PhysicsOverflow?

+ 1 like - 0 dislike
234 views

This question modified repost of my comment on Quora, inspired by a helpful answer of Greg Bernhardt there.

I am thinking about trying to obtain an oportunity to give a talk to intrudoce PhysicsOverflow at my university, to get the local professors and grad students interested in the site. But I am not quite sure what context would be appropriate to do so.

For example there is the weekly seminar for PhD students, or the official physics kolloquium where established physicists or invited external speakers talk about a broad range of physics topics at a level comprehensible for colleagues working in nearby research fields. A talk about an online physics community would not be exactly on-topic in both contexts.

So what are some more viable ideas about how PhysicsOverflow could be introduced at my local university?

asked Jun 2, 2015 in Discussion by Dilaton (4,305 points) [ no revision ]

As Greg Bernhardt (who is by the way the founder and owner of PhysicsForums) said in the same Quoare thread, one has to be careful to not come over as just a promoter.
And a certain amount of patience might be appropriate, as it took PhysicsForums about 4 years to really take off.
What makes things more difficult for us than they have been for PF, is that the internet is changing very rapidly now and there is much more competition and pressures on all sides today.

Maybe there is a mailing list of the physics department for graduate students, postdocs, and faculty where you could post a message about PO.

Mailing lists can be trouble. Busy grad students and professors are often not in the mood for unsolicited promotional emails even if it is relevant to their interests. Take my experience as advice :D

If you want to reach them, try social media.

Hi @GregBernhardt,

thanks for your advice also in the answer below and BTW welcome on PO :-)!

Concerning social media as means to attract a research community, I am not sure how much this would help. Concerning Facebook for example, the MathOverflow community thinks it would rather not help much as not many professional mathematicians are active on Facebook, or that promoting MO there could even attract the wrong (not serious enough) kind of audience.

RIght, Facebook is the last platform you want to spend time on. The PF page only attracts low level members. For experts you should focus on LinkedIn, ResearchGate, Twitter, and Quora.

3 Answers

+ 2 like - 0 dislike

I think that the right way to publicly promote PO at universities is to
mention it when you give anyway a (public or seminar) talk on a scientific
topic. Then you can make a short (2-3 sentence) remark or slide.
But talking about it for 5 minutes in a lecture is already inappropriate
in most contexts - unless you are invited to do so. 

Of course you can also mention PO informally in conversations with your
supervisor and your friends....

answered Jun 3, 2015 by Arnold Neumaier (12,570 points) [ revision history ]
+ 2 like - 0 dislike

Along the lines of what Vladimir Kalitvianski said you could try and tie class activities into the site. Several times I had a professor write extra credit problems on PF for the class or even given them a discussion area just for their class. Results were mixed, but maybe you'd have better success.

answered Jun 5, 2015 by Greg Bernhardt (0 points) [ no revision ]
+ 1 like - 0 dislike

You should oblige your professors to give answers to their students via PhysicsOverflow solely.

answered Jun 4, 2015 by Vladimir Kalitvianski (22 points) [ no revision ]

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