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Some users have in their info that they are faculty or post docs or working in other fields, other users have no info.

Is there a way to locate/list all those users who are physics faculty/postdocs in academic institutions?

I am interested in reading the answers written by them.

Update: Let me be clear about a few points:

1-I am looking only for users who said in their info that they are physics post docs or faculty, do not care about his/her name or about the name of their institution

2-I do not want to contact them, I only want to read the answers they post, since their posts will be more authentic (on average) than other users.

3-Since I cannot look at the info of every single user to see if he is an academic or not, that would take forever, I just thought that there is a way in the site by which one can search for users by being an academic or not

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    $\begingroup$ The data dumps do contain user profile details (you want the AboutMe column of the Users table) which you could scrape for certain words to compile a easier list to troll through. The data explorer provides an online interface to dumps. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Aug 20 '12 at 23:19
  • $\begingroup$ Excuse my ignorance, but I do not know what that dump procedure mean. Any FAQ on that? $\endgroup$ – Revo Aug 20 '12 at 23:32
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    $\begingroup$ It's a SQL interface with provision for linking some constants to a web form. You can examine existing queries and go monkey-see-monkey-do on them (works for a lot of things), or check out the Software Carpentry sections on SQL for a quick lesson. Software Carpentry is a huge boon to busy scientists who need to learn some computer geekery. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Aug 20 '12 at 23:35
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Users who want you to know that about them can (and I suppose generally will) put that information in their profiles.

In some other cases you may be able to deduce their present employment somehow. For instance, you could find my current situation pretty easily by following the link in profile that leads to the inspire listing of my publications and working from there.

Personally, I do not wish to be contacted out of band which is why there is no explicit information about that in my profile.


The team are unlikely to provide support for this use case beyond making the data available in the data dumps/data-explorer because the focus is always on questions and answer rather than on users. The mantra here is "Stack Exchange is not a social network".

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  • $\begingroup$ No thats not what I meant completely. I edited my question. $\endgroup$ – Revo Aug 20 '12 at 23:16
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    $\begingroup$ The point about contact is why I don't provide such data. I get email about ... uhm ... new theories ... yeah ... from time to time as it is. I don't know how they find me, but it is always sent to my professional address. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Aug 20 '12 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah I completely understand. I bet also professors get those emails all the times. $\endgroup$ – Revo Aug 20 '12 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ Any idea why my question was downvoted? $\endgroup$ – Revo Aug 22 '12 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Revo Well, I guess someone didn't like it. In any case the site-meta do not maintain their own rep, so votes here serve only to show agreement/disagreement. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Aug 22 '12 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ Comments deleted. Meta is even more not the place to have debates about physics than the main site. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Aug 23 '12 at 0:59
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Whether the answer comes from a postdoc or a professional is only mildly statistically correlated with the correctness and completeness of the answer. You could probably extract a positive correlation coefficient, but it's not overwhelming, and this is not the useful criterion by which to judge things as correct. You need to read it and make up your mind. There are users who usually say completely wacky things that have on occasion come up with original and interesting observations, and great physicists who made a mistake here or there. I don't see any authority filter which is helpful.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes and no. I only meant the following: regarding the ones who answer questions related to their specialty then on average one who practices physics in research most probably will have a more legitimate/correct opinion/answer than the one who left it long time ago and only interested in physics as a hobby. Also the faculty on average are more knowledgeable than postdocs, and postdocs are more knowledgeable than grad students..etc $\endgroup$ – Revo Aug 22 '12 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Revo: Not really. Unless you get a super-duper top-tier expert, all you will get from a post-doc or a grad-student is something more nice-sounding for the status quo of pedagogy. I have had debates with nice and sincere postdocs, who are knowledgable, but who are brainwashed by their education into repeating half-correct things, which are worse than totally incorrect things. It takes give and take between insiders and outsiders to sort out the truth--- the outsiders have a lot more freedom, while the insiders have a little more knowledge. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Aug 23 '12 at 0:45
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I use three methods:

  • Browse the difficult looking questions on the main page and look at the profiles of people with up-voted answers.

  • click on USERS on the main page and order them according to yearly, monthly, weekly votes.

  • click BADGES on the main page, then gold/silver on the right, then "good answer" on the left, which will list users with outstanding answers.

Do a Google search on the filtered user info using the above and you'll find there's one Nobel Laureate, a few teaching/researching at world class universities, a few ex-academics with PhDs/Masters etc.

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