I'm new to physics.SE, but I have been contributing to Wikipedia for a while. Now, Wikipedia has a space for people to ask questions: the Reference desk. I was wondering if we could collaborate with the science reference desk. By collaborate, I mean that we should also check for and help answer unanswered questions over there, while they may do the same for us (Ill ask there if we reach a decision here). Aside from that, we can detour out-of-scope questions to each other. I myself was introduced to stackexchange when my question was ignored at RDS and I was told to try SE. Aside from that, RDS gets a lot more discussion on more interesting conundrums.



Interesting idea. Our ability to set up an official collaboration is limited because (like Wikipedia) everyone who contributes here does so on a volunteer basis. However, we could certainly add RDS to the list of places that we can send people whose questions are too discussion-y here, and we could also encourage contributors here to also check out RDS from time to time and see if they can offer input.

A good first step while we figure out what else to do might be to create a community promotion ad for RDS to raise awareness among contributors to this site.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm thinking of photoshopping the WP logo text and adding "Science reference desk" underneath it. The WMF trademark policy allows this, it seems (wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/… point 4) $\endgroup$ Feb 16 '12 at 6:34
  • $\begingroup$ Given that it doesn't violate any trademark policies or other legal conditions, that would be a fine idea. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Feb 16 '12 at 6:38
  • $\begingroup$ meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/980/… .. I've thrown in a few equations. $\endgroup$ Feb 17 '12 at 5:30

I was also an avid Wikipedian for quite a while. My area of contribution, however, was not physics, and of what I contribute here wouldn't have a place on Wikipedia in fact.

That actually brings me to an important point. Wikipedia and physics SE could duplicate a large amount of effort. Our equations are in almost the exact format needed for Wikipedia. This brings even more points to mind.

What license are contributions to Physics SE covered under? Would it be technically possible to copy work from here to Wikipedia articles? Would it then be admissible under Wikipedia policy?

My imagination is that the answer is certainly "no", although it's interesting to consider since presumably the questions here are asked precisely because they can't be found on Wikipedia or other online texts.

Of course, I've skirted the actual proposal which is about help, I think. I imagine the people at Wikipedia told you to take your questions about physics to the physics SE because generally, a discussion page on Wikipedia is devoted to discussion about an article or project, as opposed to the subject matter of the article. Similarly, the meta site here is for talking about the direction of the Physics SE site, not physics itself.

Honestly, a pet peeve of mine is that Wikipedia is too limited in focus. If I went to WP:RDS, what would I find as the current goals? The WP:OR policy in particular was frustrating to me. It's hard to get a match between what people want and what people are willing to provide on Wikipedia, and I think that SE answers that very well.

Anyway, I've rambled enough. It is an interesting thing to bring up.

  • $\begingroup$ "I imagine the people at Wikipedia told you to take your questions about physics to the physics SE".. Nope.. WP:RD/S is specifically for asking science based questions. On RDS, people ask questions, and they hopefully get answered. A question of mine wasn't getting any takers, so someone suggested I take it to RD/M (Mathematics). Over there, somebody suggested SE, as nobody there knew the answer either. $\endgroup$ Feb 16 '12 at 6:25
  • $\begingroup$ RD/S has no goals.. Its just a question-answer page. I doubt that it has any bearing on WP policy. Regarding sharing of info, I really doubt that would happen. The WP:OR and WP:NOT policies wouldn't like our non-encyclopaedic,layman's terms, and/or speculative answers. Of course, we can continue to steal stuff from them (CC-BY-SA rocks!). $\endgroup$ Feb 16 '12 at 6:29
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Look at the bottom of the page, physics.SE is CC-BY-SA also. But SE won't qualify as a source by WP:V, so it can't be cited. If we provided refs in SE answers, then it would help, but I doubt that anyone's going to do that. $\endgroup$ Feb 16 '12 at 6:32
  • $\begingroup$ The ability to pour out some writing without referencing it is one of my favorite things about physics SE. If there's a problem with what you wrote, you can rest assured that someone will let you know! $\endgroup$ Feb 16 '12 at 6:48
  • $\begingroup$ Yup! That's why I usually shy away from content work on WP. I can write stuff, but I get bored finding refs (aside from the fact that I don't have access to most scientific papers). I prefer evaluation and programming. $\endgroup$ Feb 16 '12 at 7:01
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, and by e way, we (fortunately) don't have to follow normal citation policies while answering at RDS, unless someone asks for it. The <strike>policies</strike> generally followed rules at RDS are similar to physics.SE. The rules for the questions are a bit different, though, $\endgroup$ Feb 16 '12 at 14:26

This is what I'm thinking of for the community promotion ad:


Yes, the fonts and drawing could be improved (any vector graphics whiz around?)

  • $\begingroup$ The subtext should be completely red, not red with a black border. My mistake. $\endgroup$ Feb 16 '12 at 7:25
  • $\begingroup$ Just for the heck of it, I was toying with the idea of making the WP logo wear a higgs mexican hat (physics.SE favicon). Thoughts? $\endgroup$ Feb 16 '12 at 7:27
  • $\begingroup$ I think our site icon is copyrighted/trademarked by Stack Exchange under different terms from the content. You would have to get permission from the higher-ups to use it. Here "permission" may have to take the form of a legal contract, so I'm not sure it's worth it. You could use a different picture of the Higgs potential if you like, but I don't think it's necessary because a community promotion ad is supposed to promote the actual (external) thing the ad is for, not so much its connection with SE. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Feb 16 '12 at 7:39
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, thats fine with me! Should I finalise this one or wait for someone to improve/comment on it? $\endgroup$ Feb 16 '12 at 7:48
  • $\begingroup$ It's your call. In general you can just post things on the community promotion ad thread (as long as they're in the proper format), you don't need to solicit comments or improvements. Though for what it's worth, I think it'd be fine as is. (Making the subtext a solid color would be an improvement) $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Feb 16 '12 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, im planning to do that anyways.. Just something that I overlooked. $\endgroup$ Feb 16 '12 at 17:43

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