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There's a banner that pops up when someone visits physics.SE without being logged in, which says, "Welcome to a Q&A site for active researchers, academics, and students of physics!" or something like that. Someone made an interesting comment at Cosmic Variance about how this might discourage people who are not actually active researchers or students, but are interested in physics and capable of posting good questions and answers. Basically, the banner could give the impression that this site is exclusively for the named groups of people, which is certainly not true.

Should we try to have the banner text changed to reflect the fact that anyone is welcome as long as they can make good contributions? If so, what should it say?

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    $\begingroup$ What encourages of discourages people from participating, far more than the banner text, is the attitude of those already on the site. If we practice open-mindedness rather than knee-jerk reactionism - symbolized in particular by excessive usage of the "crack-pot" epithet - we are likely to attract more and more capable individuals than otherwise. And let us be clear that the word "crackpot" is an epithet and not just a harmless adjective. $\endgroup$ – Deepak Vaid Jan 20 '11 at 13:19
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I think it's alright to keep it as it is. It's obvious that there are already lots of people with no physics education whatsoever so that banner clearly hasn't discouraged them. Perhaps we might lose a valueable person here and there but I prefer that to lots of sci-fi and pop-sci fans joining in and overrunning the site.

Feel free to down-vote this if you disagree. I'd actually wouldn't have anything against modifying the banner if someone comes up with a clever slogan that supports the right kind of people but puts off the wrong kind.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm accepting this, but like Marek, I certainly wouldn't have anything against the banner text being changed if someone comes up with a better phrasing that we can all agree on. $\endgroup$ – David Z Apr 9 '11 at 23:48
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I just noticed that math.SE has the banner text "Welcome to Q&A for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields," which I kind of like. So I was thinking we could use something like that, such as

Welcome to Q&A for physics students, enthusiasts, and professionals in related fields

although Marek makes a good point that we don't want to be overrun with uninformed popular science fans, who would probably consider themselves "enthusiasts." So I'm not sold on this.

I'm making this CW so anyone can edit in a better modification of the slogan if you can think of one.

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    $\begingroup$ You make a site by its content, not by its title. The title is mostly irrelevant because people do what they see others do. If they see that popular questions are being answered, they'll ask popular questions. Of course, a minute percentage won't follow this rule, however, we can't based our decisions on what the 2% does. $\endgroup$ – Robert Smith Jan 18 '11 at 2:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Robert: true, although that doesn't necessarily mean we should ignore the banner text. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jan 18 '11 at 7:47
  • $\begingroup$ Well, of course not :-) $\endgroup$ – Robert Smith Jan 18 '11 at 15:14

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