As theoreticalphysics.se was closed and obviously isn''t continued further outside of SE, I was asking myself, how much experts (bachelor/master/phd) can a site like physics.se have at the same time contributing and therefore competing on reputation. I think this graduated established SE site has currently reached a limit of qestions/day (maybe increasable to 40questoins/day but thats probably the maximum).

Expert user compete on reputation (gamification), gainable reputation per day is limited of course by questions/day and amount of competitors. If the average amount of rep a user can gain during, say 1-3 months, is low and he therefore slowy gains privileges and reputation (moving the ladder up like in a scientific community), he decides to either only read ( take for example me lacking time as a professional and family father and always too late seeing a unanswered question here (most seem to be well answered within 1-2 hours which is excellent community property), comment here and there, leave the site, or gaiming it :)

This is all fine, no critics, thats how SE was designed, while there are probably thousands of java experts in the world, probably only 100-1000 game on stackoverflow (the majority is passive), as there arent more questions and rep to feed all. But the question I asked myself therefore is, does that mean, that the diversification and level of very specialized java and physics questions (research, practical, laboratory questions) is therefore also limited to a maximum value and very highly specialized sites like theoreticalphysics or theoreticalbiology cannot work per se, as you can never attract the amount of experts and their expertise on measurement techniques etc. It needs to be able to answer very specialized questions in such fields.

The explanation of the SE masters for closing appliedphysics, nanotechnology, experimental physics proposals was, this topic already exists because of physics.se. But following the reasoning above, I dont see how enough professional experts and expertise will ever contribute to phyiscs.se competing on reputation to answer very tricky and localized question with the current growth and reputation model. I was against moving astronomy and astrophysics in physics.se. Most of the top astronomy.se user left the site, didnt register to phyiscs.se which affirms my hypothesis above, theoreticalcomputerscience.se wouldn't work and attract so much experts when integrated as tagged-only questions into SO. More competitors and limit of attention.

What are your thoughts on this, I dont see how such questions and subfields can organically grow on physics.se due to limited rep, experts and attention these topics get. Resolving this problem by better and level-tagging also doesnt work. area51 proposals are closed. So take open-source SE software clone and do it yourself like biostar, mathoverflow or artificalintelligence.osqa? I think there is limit of thematic broadness, when you can reach only higher quality by starting a smaller specialized community, feeded by experts coming from the established site like SO --> TCS. But for much more broader and trickier fields like physics, funnily this is forbidden.


1 Answer 1


I can't agree that there is any kind of limit to the number of questions the site can manage in a day--just look at Stack Overflow--but there is a limit to the number the current user base can manage in a day.

Likewise the problem with getting answers to highly specialized questions is one of having users who know that topic. Stack Overflow has managed that for a great many topics.

Alas, I know of no general strategy for bringing in users but time and good questions and answers so that we can creep up in Google's relevance metrics.

  • $\begingroup$ I cant follow your reasoning to find those experts for localized questions in astrophysics and theoreticalphysics here, when exactly most of those user left physics.se. None of the theophys nor astronomy.se phd experts (there were quite a few) re-registered to physics.se after the merging of the questions. And you know the reasons. SO is the wrong analogy here, because there are several sites for computer science, TCS, programmers.se, you dont see the majority of the TCS experts answering or even browsin on SO exactly for the reason of limited reputation to compete on and too much low-lewel $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ reddit oneliner questions. Most experts come to this site and leave it besides the old regulars of the early days who have their heart on the earned rep here. Why do you proclaim the only 1 physics.se site mantra, when programming can have 5-6 sites... $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ @WernerSchmitt "Why do you proclaim the only 1 physics.se site mantra" I don't proclaim anything of the sort. I was an active if not particularly repful participant on Astro.SE and I cheered TheoreticalPhysics on from the sidelines (they had kinda drawn my expertise outside their domain, after all). I had nothing to do with the decision to close those sites. I simply disagree with you analysis of what Physics.SE is capable of supporting. Nor do I think you should overlook SO as an example as it grew in it's solitary splendor to many times our current size and traffic over many topics. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 22:44
  • $\begingroup$ Many of the experts from Astro and TP did, indeed, leave but that is not because we weren't happy to have them. I suspect they were disappointed by the loss of what they had invested their time and energy in. Some will, perhaps, be back. For the rest Physics can only concentrate on growing by itself. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ I think there is no danger that a java-expert will try earning rep by guessing badly answers on C-questions. This problem doesnt exist on SO. Contrary on physiscs.se you can see a lot user do exactly this guessing and that drives experts away, because they have to compete with several of such rep-gaimers. On most big internet communities I participated over the years, the quality decreased with similar increasing size, SO is an exception of the rule, because tagging, categorizing of subfields and competence work here, as most questions are related to working programmers, $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ but I dont see it working here. I.e. you have these ron-fan clubs, crackpot theories spam and wars between user like on usenet. This drives experts away. It was much more clean and familiar on theophys. and astronomy.se. Theophys imho made some things really wrong, but astrophyiscs.se would have been a much better site than integrated now in physics.se and loosing all experts. There are many german astronomy forums, they dont want crackpot theories spam and wars in their forums, so they specialize. I hope you are right, but as explained, I dont see any evidence for this hope... $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 16:32

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