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  achieving critical population for quiescent Q&A categories: nucleation theory

+ 2 like - 0 dislike

I have been involved in activist organizations (not Physics related), so I know a little about encouraging participation. PO has a  bit of problem, in practice, broadening activity to encompass all of higher level Physics. By self description, PO welcomes building  up latent categories, but what intentional action has taken place towards this goal? 

As individuals with interests outside the usual show up and see little relevant to them, they go away. Perhaps you are fine with this. New sub-communities realistically do not build from 0 members to 1 ... then 2 ... then 3 or more. They need to nucleate, go directly from 0 to 3, 4, or 5. Which means a coordinated immigration of a small group of professionals or students.

The culture here is tightly identified with Theoretical Physics, Mathematical Physics, and High Energy Physics. Nothing wrong with that if this was Theoretical Physics Overflow. Assuming PO is serious about expand scope in practice, not just in principle, one of two things have to happen.

1. PO goes out and recruits a seed group for a neglected category. I would guess the probability of that happening to be zero.

2. Welcome a distinctly different group of new participants. This could be problematic however. They would, almost by definition, not fit in. Their field of study would be little more than superficially appreciated by the current membership, and vice versa. Probably considered a lesser endeavor. And only partially culturally miscible with the current substrate. Possibly considered invasive, since inevitably their inclusion will mean change away from what has become customary. They will not be Theoretical Physicists who also do X. They will be X Physicists.

I might be able to make this happen, but I am starting by scoping out the politics here first, so I don't waste anyone's time.

Related discussion: Would a site w/ all the features (eg, Comm Peer Rev) of Ph Overflow, but focused on all of Physics, be useful to you personally?

asked Sep 26, 2015 in Discussion by Aabaakawad (55 points) [ revision history ]
edited Sep 26, 2015 by Aabaakawad

Hi Aabaakawad,

thanks for your thoughts and support.

Yes, all subfields of physics (including astronomy) are on-topic on PO, as long as the contributions are graduate-level+. So it would be great if you could help populate some of the at present not so active subfields.

I personally got the impression, that PO is not yet well-known enough among our targetted audience, so help with promoting the site would certainly do some good too.

Thanks for the retagging. The people I am thinking of are already aware of PO and liked the features @polarkernal has built. But since they have only individually considered joining, rather than together with colleagues, each has seen the lack of material relevant to them and reluctantly passed up PO. I have to believe this is happening to people coming to PO from elsewhere, because PO is getting exposure.

Scientists don't organize very well. Most of us are eccentric and find that sort of thing frustrating.

Successfully creating one subcommunity obviously distinct from the usual suspects might be the pebble that starts the landslide. Because no matter how much we claim to be about all of Physics, if prospective members don't see that happening, they will not have faith.

@Aabaakawad I see ...

What might also help, apart from friendly encouraging physicists of fields that are underpopulated at present, could be to import appropriate posts from SE and bump them to the front page.

For example if you see such questions on SE, you and others could request them to be imported here.

What is the least intrusive way to bump?

@Aabaakawad all activities (including comments) bump a thread to the front page. If do not really have something to add/change in the thread you want to bump, you can just click edit and then save without doing anything.

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