• 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.


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

126 submissions , 106 unreviewed
3,683 questions , 1,271 unanswered
4,657 answers , 19,739 comments
1,470 users with positive rep
440 active unimported users
More ...

Discussion of Ferrie's question on the non-statisticality paper

+ 6 like - 0 dislike

Chris Ferrie posted a question about the recent paper The quantum state cannot be interpreted statistically. In the comments followed a question about the merits of the paper per se, rather than Ferrie's question. Then Moshe came and deleted the whole thing.

Well, I didn't like the discussion that followed (Lubos Motl's comments were particularly unhelpful), even though I participated in it, but I disliked Moshe's action even more. The discussion was off-topic, but I feel it was important to have.

My question is, what should one do in situations like this? Is it appropriate to ask a question debating the merits of a paper as a whole? I for one would be interested in hearing what the community thinks that are the specific problems with this paper.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
asked Nov 19, 2011 in SE.TP.discussion by Mateus Araújo (270 points) [ no revision ]

1 Answer

+ 5 like - 0 dislike

Few clarifications:

  1. On the general issue: Comments in SE sites are treated as provisional text leading, when useful, to changes in the answers. The answers are the permanent and valuable record to be preserved as the output of this endeavor. This general philosophy of SE, as I understand it, is aimed at inhibiting excessive discussion. I was skeptical at first, but I see now how this attitude prevents runaway arguments, personal insults, trolling, and all the other pleasures of blogs, forums and the like. For those who enjoy this kind of thing, these internet forums are still there.

  2. To the specific issue: in this incident, one user came with insulting comments, a few others told him he was wrong. None of of those comments included anything of interest to a third party, not even an off-topic discussion on the merits of the paper. I would have preserved such comments, or part of such comments, which included a substantive point on the physics of the paper, whether or not they were related to the original question. Given that the original comments were unhelpful and offensive, and that the followup comments included nothing but direct response to the original comments, I felt that deleting the whole thing was the only sensible thing to do.

  3. A new question about other aspects of this paper is welcome. But, keep in mind our FAQ - this is not a place for an open-ended debate or discussion. This is a place to get help with specific and answerable questions, preferably of a technical nature. I think there could be an interesting question along the lines you suggested, but whomever asks it would have to read the paper and think about it first, in order to be able to come up with a specific rather than a generic question. Such questions are more likely to lead to a useful discussion, which is the reason they are generally encouraged on SE sites.

As always, feedback is appreciated. This is not my site, and I am doing what I think is the will of the community.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Nov 19, 2011 by Moshe (2,375 points) [ no revision ]
Most voted comments show all comments
I participated in that discussion, and I'm happy that it's no longer there. It wasn't particularly pleasant to be involved in it. Does this happen often though, or was it a one-off?

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
This is the first such exchange so far, hopefully not something we will have to witness routinely.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
Nothing to apologize for, some comments were perfectly reasonable, and deleting them should not be perceived as somehow being punitive. It just made no sense to leave any part of the discussion, which would not even be intelligible for anyone who did not see the whole thing.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
Well, you deleted a comment of mine that was not part of the discussion, but just a general remark directed at Ferrie. I'm not complaining, since it was off-topic, just letting you know.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
About 3: I agree with you; I dislike open-ended questions like [this](http://theoreticalphysics.stackexchange.com/q/531/172); but I feel that asking a more specific question would just be asking "Is this paper wrong?" in disguise. But again, when a new paper comes up people in my lab love to get and discuss exactly this question; and it is a discussion that is often interesting and valuable. I'm just not sure it's fit for this site.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
Most recent comments show all comments
Yeah, that is an excellent post. I hope this place will become a valuable resource, distinct from things that already exist. Discussions of one personal opinion (and a few responses) of a highly publicized paper is not a gap we need to fill, I agree.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
Sure, it is too bad the question was not answered, at least not yet. I hope it is not because of all the noise around it.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)

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).
To avoid this verification in future, please log in or register.

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

Your rights