I heard that the first Astronomy.SE finally merged with Physics.SE after private beta. But, the second Astronomy.SE is under a hot progress. One question and it enters the commitment phase. We have two cases:

  1. It succeeds the beta and the site is launched - If this happens, will we have to move (migrate) the astronomy, astrophysics and other related tags along with the questions over there ? I think it would be a lot-of-work.

  2. On the other hand, it could fail. (I strongly believe that this would happen.) Then, do we have to migrate the posts from there to here. It's perhaps a dirty situation.

NOTE: I still support Astronomy.SE because I really like it. But as Eduardo says in the previous post, it wouldn't survive (compete) with Physics. What about migration then?

Update: Astronomy.SE beta phase was launched in 2013.


4 Answers 4


I'm very concerned about this, because if it goes through there will be a direct competitor to Physics.SE. Every time I look, the proposal has more support. Yet right now 4 of their top 5 example questions fit well within the scope of physics.

We already suffer from low traffic here, and a site solely dedicated to astronomy has proven to not be viable (probably because there are hundreds of good resources for amateur astronomy already out there, offering interactive sky charts, photo galleries, and day-to-day distillations of recent publications). Yet here they are trying to carve off a piece of physics to make another attempt, and it's not clear why. Note that I am in astrophysics, and I enjoy "amateur" activities more than most people in my field, but I can't condone driving a further wedge between Earth-based physics and everything that happens off this planet.

So regarding (1), donating material to the fledgling site, as charitable as it may seem, would be shooting ourselves in the foot. And as dmckee rightly points out, this probably won't be an issue anyway.

For (2), I suppose we should recover anything that fits within our scope that we don't already have, and I'd gladly help out. That said, it seems a little much for the powers that be to expect us to clean up for a second time after the same experiment fails again.

Finally, I'd like to know if there's any way to formally bring these concerns to the SE powers, via a petition or something. (I never fully understood the enigmatic forces behind this whole network, but that says more about my ignorance than anything else.) Of course, if no one agrees with my concerns, I'm willing to go with the flow of an informed populace.

[End rant fueled by years of exposure to passive-aggressiveness between physicists and astronomers.]

  • $\begingroup$ I don't know about formally, but I've already expressed my concerns to the powers and they have stated their intention to let the proposal go. Then again, maybe something with community support would go better. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Dec 5, 2012 at 3:36
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    $\begingroup$ (1) Anyway, donating old material to beta sites isn't allowed--it harms their community (not so much ours). The injection of rep and posts destabilizes it, and it sorta aligns the beta site tone to the mother site--bad, since beta sites should have the full freedom to decide their own tone. (2) Well, we operate outside the Matrix, so you're not supposed to know how the forces work. The diamond is the red pill ;-) Just kidding, actually David/I (I forget who brought it up first) notified the comm team in the moderator chat room. $\endgroup$ Dec 5, 2012 at 7:20

If the site does launch then there is absolutely no need to migrate existing astronomy and astrophysics questions to the site. There are several reasons for this:

  1. They are still on topic for Physics.
  2. Migrating old (> 60 day old) questions is no longer possible - not even for moderators.
  3. Dumping a whole load of questions onto a new site is not a nice thing to do to the new site. It distorts the reputation of the users on the site and potentially creates a bunch of high rep users who have no interest in using the site in the future.
  4. If the questions were off topic in the past they are still off topic and should just remain closed.

It happened with Programmers and old questions from Stack Overflow and it wasn't pleasant I can tell you.

If the astronomy and astrophysics site does look like it's going to succeed then we can have a discussion about tweaking the scope of Physics - but even then the rule about migrating old questions still applies.


This is the first I'm hearing about it.

I'm surprised that that proposal still exists - in general, proposals which duplicate existing SE sites are closed.

  • $\begingroup$ But, David. The site "Astronomy.SE" has already been closed and merged with Physics. Now, the new proposal "Astronomy & Astrophysics" is hot in progress. There's also a discussion about this situation where Manish talked about it... $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2012 at 6:00
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    $\begingroup$ True--though the a51 mods (read:Rob Cartaino) probably haven't heard of the expansion of the physics scope which is probably why it's not closed yet. I saw the proposal after Eduardo's metapost, and I posted that on a51--till then, nothing was there. I had flagged the proposal, but I can't see my flag history these so I have no clue as to what happened. Maybe ask a comm team member? $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2012 at 8:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Manishearth: Hello Manish, Maybe we could leave it for a while. It may succeed definition & commitment but its not worth a beta. As for me, the public beta wouldn't succeed for sure. As nothing happened after flagging, I followed it. Maybe, users really wanted it :-) $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2012 at 10:46
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    $\begingroup$ @CrazyBuddy: What's the point of leaving it? It's not that "it won't survive"--It may survive. The reason it should be closed is that it is a complete subset of Physics.SE--such sites are generally not allowed by a51 and get closed. Nothing happened after flagging because the mods may not know of the Physics scope change. $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2012 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ I really can't understand why it says the phrase, Ask your Astronomy & Astrophysics questions "NOW" on Physics Stack Exchange! Then - during (& after) the beta, we should ask there. huh? (new rules over physics.SE for migration of questions posed daily). Anyways, I respectfully agree dmckee's comment $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2012 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ @CrazyBuddy: Oh, that. I asked a community team member to look into it. He added that hatnote, and they may close the proposal later. The purpose of the notice is to let people know that there is already a site for those questions, no need to wait for A&AP.SE to be launched. I really doubt that there will be a beta due to the overlap. We'll have to see, it's too early to tell. $\endgroup$ Dec 5, 2012 at 6:25
  • $\begingroup$ issue solved :-) $\endgroup$ Dec 5, 2012 at 6:36

But as Eduardo says in the previous post, it wouldn't survive (compete) with Physics.

Forgive me if, as a non-native speaker, I may be not understanding this sentence well. But I don't say that Astrophysics.SE wouldn't survive with Physics. What I am trying to state is that the existence of Astrophysics.SE will be harmful for both Physics.SE and Astrophysics.SE itself. Because there is too much overlapping. Astrophysics touches nearly every field in physics, and so I consider very confusing to have two separate sites.

Say, for instance, that I have a question about General Relativity that arises in the context of FLRW Cosmology. Should I post it twice, in the two different sites simultaneously, so that I am sure that both cosmology astrophysicists and theoretical physicists will read my question?

I think it is pretty easy to select only astronomy questions at a first sight in the list of Physics.SE. At the same time, every time I enter Physics.SE I read about questions and answers from other fields in physics.

It is a waste of human resources. Your question will be less likely to be answered by someone competent, if you have two different sites. Let me quote here a chunk from my latter answer in the other post, I think it is relevant:

In astrophysics more than in any other branch, contents are strongly related to other fields. Just to mention a few of them: spectroscopy, plasma physics, numerical modelling, fluid dynamics, nuclear physics, Newtonian dynamics, General Relativity, Thermodynamics, particle physics... And so I am very interested in showing my questions to physicists from other branches. Cross-feeding is a source of richness.

It would be nearly absurd, and the moderators would have to be always deciding if the questions belong to the site or not... Nearly all branches of physics are related or directly involved in one or another topic in astrophysics.

And, although there are many users in physics SE, very few are high-level physicists. More fragmentation means loss of quality.

  • $\begingroup$ Sorry for that... Eduardo, I precised it somewhat (but badly) It is okay with me that you gave a response:-) $\endgroup$ Dec 5, 2012 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ No problem. Thanks! I am used to read scientific english, but more conversational-styled expressions are sometimes easy to misunderstand, because we people in other countries are never exposed to such expressions. $\endgroup$ Dec 5, 2012 at 13:24
  • $\begingroup$ Glad I've got some company. Same here Eduardo. Its not at all my native. So, I speak bloody English. If you ask the chat members, they'll tell a story about my chatting-skills. I'm still learning English. And BTW, I like your astrophysical answers. I'm not providing this as an AD, but you and Chris would be welcomed (atleast by me) to Astrophysics.SE. Also, this proposed site would be great for us :-) $\endgroup$ Dec 5, 2012 at 13:34

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