9
$\begingroup$

UPDATE (25 Dec 2010):

Anyone else want to discuss some idea or contribute with another one?. Maybe this is the wrong date to ask for it. We certainly can wait a few days but the time to finish the Public BETA is coming closer.


Until now there hasn't been any further discussion on the ideas drawn from the chat session. Therefore, I think it is time to begin such a discussion.

I will take the nine ideas I could catch from the transcript (although, I think everyone is open to new ones).

  1. Seed questions. Apparently, seeding questions 'to fill the site' is frowned upon, however, a milder form of seeding can be quite interesting and useful. For example, take a problem you know the answer of, but ask for a cleverer solution. That can be potentially challenging.

  2. Simple questions vs Hard questions. Well, frankly I don't see a conflict here. The site can maintain both easy and difficult questions. Hopefully experts will be attracted to the hard questions and novices can contribute to answer simple questions adding value to the site while, if they're interested, learning from some hard questions. However, let me be precise; obviously, hard questions for its own sake do not attract experts (or anyone, really), as the interest from people is based on particular topics or on certain kind of ideas. Therefore, we need simple and hard engaging questions.

  3. The important thing is questions that can be answered in a high-quality way. It is a safe bet to assume we all agree on that. However, one question could be 'How can we assure that?'. As far as I know, the only way to manage the quality of the answers is by managing the quality of the questions. Of course, it would be great to hear other ideas.

  4. Posters for promotion. That's a wonderful initiative. I think that the initial idea is to get those posters in universities, which is perfectly fine. Besides that, it could be very helpful trying to distribute them online. Where? As already was mentioned in the chat session, getting relevant blogs to mention the site is a great idea. Using a poster could be a less awkward way to promote the site for the blogger and a smoother way in social media.

  5. Get promotion by getting relevant blogs and other sites to mention the site. I think I covered that part in the last point, so I leave it there.

  6. Using the Stack Exchange team to get support. As this is very generic, it would be very nice to come up with particular ideas. For example, I mentioned to David that I found a bit worrisome to notice that the site doesn't appear in a decent ranking for general Google searches (such as 'Physics forum, Physics Q&A, etc), even if some of the questions do appear when a search is very specific. I think this is one of the things in which the Stack Exchange team can be quite helpful.

  7. Improve the titles of the better questions in the site. Well, I doubt very much that that can result in an appreciable boost in the site popularity. Nonetheless, it can be good in the long run.

  8. Asking elementary questions that require expert answers. Maybe someone else will chime in to offer a possible way to do that.

  9. A great answer could be not recognized as such by the asker. I think that answers need to be targeted to the appropriate level of the asker, minimizing the possibility of having the OP unsatisfied, except when the quality of the question is not acceptable.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I'll try to write a longer answer when I'll have time. For now, regarding 8.: see this question at MO by Tim Gowers I recently stumbled upon. He asks why there should be any non-trivial zeros of the Riemann zeta function. When you first hear that question you think to yourself: "that's quite stupid, everybody known there is an infinite number of them". Well, turns out it's not so simple if you spend a moment's thought and/or read the answers there. But how do you come up with these questions on regular basis? No idea, but it would seem having a Fields medal helps :-) $\endgroup$ – Marek Dec 22 '10 at 10:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Marek: Nice example. Since there is shortage of Fields medals in Physics, the point 8 is in wait mode. $\endgroup$ – Robert Smith Dec 22 '10 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ +1 great question. It's worth noting that the chat room is also always open for discussion of promotion or anything else related to the site (although there are probably not many of us there most of the time). $\endgroup$ – David Z Dec 23 '10 at 6:14
4
$\begingroup$

Get promotion by getting relevant blogs and other sites to mention the site. I think I covered that part in the last point, so I leave it there.

We'll need to have an ample supply of link-worthy questions, since we're more likely to get bloggers etc. to link to specific questions

Using the Stack Exchange team to get support. As this is very generic, it would be very nice to come up with particular ideas. For example, I mentioned to David that I found a bit worrisome to notice that the site doesn't appear in a decent ranking for general Google searches (such as 'Physics forum, Physics Q&A, etc), even if some of the questions do appear when a search is very specific. I think this is one of the things in which the Stack Exchange team can be quite helpful.

I'll take this up with Robert Cartaino and see whether he or any of the other SE people have anything to offer us. I've been wondering a lot lately about what we can do to improve our search engine rankings.

Improve the titles of the better questions in the site. Well, I doubt very much that that can result in an appreciable boost in the site popularity. Nonetheless, it can be good in the long run.

I'd imagine it can help us bring in clicks from Google (et al) searches of the type that people are likely to do.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ @David: Great. As for your third answer, well, it can help but given the enormous amount of diverse ways people search for a certain answer, I think the clicks we can get are rather modest in number. $\endgroup$ – Robert Smith Dec 29 '10 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ By the way, where are the other moderators? $\endgroup$ – Robert Smith Dec 29 '10 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Robert (2 comments up): true, I can't argue with that. It'd be a small benefit. As for the other moderators... I can't really speak for them, they pop in and out as they have time. I probably spend too much time on the site myself ;-) If you wanted to contact them directly(-ish), you could try using an @-notification in the chat room. $\endgroup$ – David Z Dec 29 '10 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ @David: Uhm, I didn't want to contact them for anything in particular, however, I thought now we have moderators, we could push some changes in the benefit of the site. Maybe the time of the year is the least appropriate. Fortunately, the statistics for the site have improved a bit. $\endgroup$ – Robert Smith Dec 29 '10 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Robert: yeah, I think this is not the greatest time of the year to work on the promotion, especially because a large portion of our target audience is university-affiliated and would be on vacation now. We can definitely step it up in January. $\endgroup$ – David Z Dec 29 '10 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ @David: That sounds good, even if we have less than a month for doing some significant changes. Probably, we'll get an extended period of BETA. $\endgroup$ – Robert Smith Dec 29 '10 at 23:34
2
$\begingroup$

9. I backup your opinion on this item. Many physicists (me included) have the habit of wanting to share all the knowledge they can. While the intention is good, the result is could be more harm than good.

It's ok to write complex and extremely high-level answers. In fact, I think we should encourage these answers, as they are the ones that might get expert users interested in this site. However, these questions might not help the OP. It will vary on a case-by-case basis: some people will love to see complete and general answers, others will be intimidated by them and prefer the simpler ones.

In the end, I think we need to encourage both. If every (interesting) question had two good answers, one that fully explores the interestingness of the question and one that answers it on a more basic level, than we would be giving different people the full amount of information they can take. (Though, if a single answer can do both roles, than that's awesome ;-). )

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Great. Let's wait for more opinions to come. By the way, additional suggestions to promote (or improve) the site are welcomed. $\endgroup$ – Robert Smith Dec 22 '10 at 7:08
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree. If you'll read answers at other SE sites you'll find various levels and all of them are enlightening. Some give you big picture, some give few details and some are elaborate answers that show you all the technical details. All of them are great and not allowing some of them just because OP can't comprehend them is short-sighted. I agree you should try to help OP as much as possible but in the long run this site should be a well of knowledge and the OP (and his technical level) will long be forgotten but the great answers, that anyone can benefit from, will stay. $\endgroup$ – Marek Dec 22 '10 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Marek: I'm not saying we should down-vote or close these answers. I'm just saying that the person answering has to keep in mind that, if he goes over the top, than the asker might not care for his answer. It's not about not allowing, it's about remembering that physics answers (unlike a few other SE subjects) have greatly varying dependencies, and greatly varying reading effort. Though an A student will (usually) love to read all he can about something, and average student might look at that answer and think it's not worth the effort. $\endgroup$ – Malabarba Dec 22 '10 at 11:45
  • $\begingroup$ There's a difference between giving extra technical information (the information asked for is in there, and it just has to be read), and giving very high-level answer (the information asked for is written in general ways, and will require a much greater effort to comprehend). If you derive the entire general solution, but the user doesn't understand the derivation, than you didn't help as much as if you had derived the specific case. He might know the answer to the specific case (if you write it), but he won't have understood how to reach it. $\endgroup$ – Malabarba Dec 22 '10 at 11:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Bruce: yes, I understand what you are getting at but I still disagree. Recently I asked this question at MO. I received hugely technical answer that is not completely clear to me but I understood what it's trying to say and it has given me further opportunities to study related concepts. For me such an answer is the best there can be. Though I admit my preferences towards answers might be hugely different from other people. Still, I think it's OK to post any answer you want. Votes will take care of the rest (or they should, at least, but that's for another discussion). $\endgroup$ – Marek Dec 22 '10 at 12:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Marek: Now that I think about it, perhaps my concern was misdirect. I'll change my answer. $\endgroup$ – Malabarba Dec 22 '10 at 14:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Marek: Obviously nobody is proposing to downvote answers which do not comply with the level of expertise of the OP. However, if you're willing to give such answers (which undoubtedly add great value to the site), better keep in mind that 1.- The OP may not choose your answer as the best answer and 2.- Your answer may pass overlooked even for people who can appreciate it. That's why I regard a better strategy to answer the question at the appropriate level and if time or willingness permits, add 'some' perks which provide additional value to the original answer. $\endgroup$ – Robert Smith Dec 23 '10 at 7:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Robert: yes, those are definitely valid points. $\endgroup$ – Marek Dec 23 '10 at 9:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .