I observed math SE is more active than physics SE. They don't close problems. I think Physics SE should encourage problem solving. Moderator should not close homework problem. This will help community to think about harder one.


3 Answers 3


Let me draw your attention to the first sentence of the "About" page

Physics is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics and astronomy.

The level of the site is defined as being interesting to serious students of the discipline,and has been that way since its inception on Area51.

This level of professionalism is similar to that maintained at Stack Overflow for programming, and they don't have any problems with scale.

Indeed, many people feel that the current state is too permissive of basic questions. I can promise you that most of these people are not interested in thrashing over the basics again and again. Indeed, many of us do some (or a lot) of that in our "real" life. I, personally, would not be interested in participating in the site you envision.

In any case, Physics is the third or fourth largest and most active Stack Exchange site in the "Science" group (including Math.SE) and growing steadily. We regularly feature in the network wide "hot questions" tool.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Amen..., +1 :-)! $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    May 26, 2013 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with every word you say except the last couple of sentences ;-). Of course, I don't downgrade Physics.SE (and its users). But as far as my vision, we're one of those lowest populated (popular) sites, having less questions, votes & active members unless there's a hot question in the active page ;-) $\endgroup$ May 26, 2013 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ @ϚѓăʑɏβµԂԃϔ there is nothing wrong with this, not every site has to be that large as MO etc. Physics SE has a naturally smaller audience as described in the About than larger more populated sites and therefore fewer but spezialized questions too... if it does not get flooded by (bad, good ones I sometimes like too) homework, popular science, everyday life, etc questions and the corresponding people interested in them. I guess in the real world too, there are more (to be) professional programmers than (to be) professional physicists studying or working in the corresponding subject for example. $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    May 26, 2013 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton: Because we're so complex, rare and unstable :D $\endgroup$ May 26, 2013 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ @ϚѓăʑɏβµԂԃϔ ... and singular :-P $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    May 26, 2013 at 17:30
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    $\begingroup$ @ϚѓăʑɏβµԂԃϔ "I agree with every word you say except the last couple of sentences"* That is a simple report of the facts. Try sorting the Stack Exchange science sites various ways. $\endgroup$ May 26, 2013 at 17:37

I stopped participating in math.SE precisely because it was being overwhelmed with homework questions. Sometimes people will post stuff on mathoverflow that's a little short of research-level, and the response is often that that's OK, because the alternative would be math.SE, which is unusable because of the huge volume of homework questions. Homework questions are allowed on physics.SE, so I don't understand the complaint. If anything, I wish I could filter them out completely so I would never see them (not just dimmed but invisible).

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ When you click on prefs at the top of your profile, there you can set a checkmark to "ignore ignored tags" which makes homework questions completely invisible if you ignore the homework-tag. This should work on maths too. $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    May 28, 2013 at 1:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton: Actually, it doesn't make it invisible. It just dims it..! (which is too awful) You know, it's ridiculous to have a 50-Q page size where almost 70% are dimmed ;-) $\endgroup$ May 28, 2013 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ @ϚѓăʑɏβµԂԃϔ hm, I dont know why it does not work for you. When I check the "hide ignored tags" option with the green checkmark, the questions disappear such that I dont see anymore questions with these tags. When I uncheck this option, the questions with ignored tags are just grayed out. I agree that too many greyed out questions looks not very present ;-). But I do it nevertheless to highlight the questions I could be more interested in than those that have tags I ignore. $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    May 28, 2013 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton: This does work for me, thanks. $\endgroup$
    – user4552
    May 28, 2013 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ You're welcome ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    May 28, 2013 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton: Ahh... I got that. Haven't noticed enough ;-) $\endgroup$ May 29, 2013 at 2:34

Precisely, they've stopped closing homeworks and our HWs are quite less compared to Math.SE and we've got enough active users (especially me) and actively rushing mods to close those things...

Over there in Math.SE...

I observed math SE is more active than physics SE. They don't close problems.

Then, you haven't observed it right. In fact, they have their policy which is more or less very similar to ours. They also do expect work from users...

Show your work: You should definitely include any partial work you have done. This will help bolster your claim that you are not just coming here asking other people to do your homework for you, and it will help the answerers to give more clinical responses. Showing your work will help us gauge where you are having problems: if it is a technical thing near the end, a short to the point answer will suffice; if it is some fundamental problem with understanding the subject, we will then write a longer, more detailed response. It will also prevent people from spending a lot of time going over ground that you have already covered or understand well already.

First, Math.SE is huge (populated to around 50k users) and over 140k questions (where 14k are homeworks) How good can 8 mods and 400 users (who can VTC) manage those questions. I mean, how many users are there who wait for someone to post a discouragable homework so that they can close it? We also don't know how many users are always interested like mods (for example, in Physics.SE - users who have VTC privileges don't participate in closing questions except some 10 guys). They have another discussion which says that they don't won't encourage questions which directly restates the problem statement.

This means that they support homework questions which ask politely without just ordering users to solve the problem. How do they support? They provide a simple Hint (which can be seen in bold for HWs).

Neither do they close (I think this is the important point). Mostly all are possibly asking direct questions and the important thing - all are giving hints, because they've "They don't provide direct answers"..!

How we differ?

I think Physics SE should encourage problem solving. Moderator should not close homework.

You've told us that we should encourage. But, you didn't say How? Like, if someone asks "Tell me this formula, Explain step-by-step", etc... then, we shouldn't close it and just do it for him..? Then, this isn't the site for the homework author. The reason for us to close direct HW questions and expect work from users is because we think we should be a barrier to the asker's creative thinking. If we're doing his work, they there's no necessity for institutions to give HWs. We can forget that word.

The way you've expressed in your question makes me feel that we're guilty and merciless that we don't reopen it again and downvote it rudely. NO, WE DO FEEL FOR IT. If you don't know before, I'll quote the words of Manish: "The actions of moderators are reversible" (unless they're user deletions and suspensions). I have seen many question authors (after closing their HW) editing and pinging us and we have reopened those. For instance, have a look at this question and its revisions.
You can see my VTC & my VTR...

2 more to go...

  1. We don't have so many users interested in answering HW questions (for example, we aren't interested to check the answers to HW too i.e. we neither encourage nor discourage the answers) All that we are interested is in conceptual Physics. We often do encourage basic questions like Does the sun rotate? Because, In math (no offense), but that is what they all do - calculation. Mostly, we keep ourselves out of calculations (as far as I've seen) unless it's an interesting topic (something like this) - Cancelling special & general relativistic effects

  2. To the comparison: Physics.SE is small, totaling to users around 14k and questions around 20k (where only 2k or so are HWs - 1:7). Because of the diffuse number of uninterested HWs and active VTC users, we're closing HW questions..

  • $\begingroup$ After writing this answer, I recognize now that I had screwed up something somewhere. If someone (2k user) is patient enough and interested in meta, feel free to update, clear off or add something to my post ;-) $\endgroup$ May 26, 2013 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ Math.SE has a similarly worded homework policy to ours, but they don't enforce it very well. (Somewhat understandably because they have so many more questions, but still...) $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    May 26, 2013 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZaslavsky generally they to the right thing on math by creating their own culture and enforcing (external) rules or ignore them in accordance with the needs and preferences of their local maths community. If they like leaving homework problems (or study material/reference questions) open and the majority is happy with it this ok. I think trying to establish the exact MO/MSO philosophy and culture by all means on every site in the network without the agreement of the local respective communities by enforcement "from above" does no good. $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    May 26, 2013 at 23:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Dilaton it's not your place to decide that they do the right thing on Math.SE. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    May 26, 2013 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZaslavsky of course can I not decide, since I have not the sligthest impact or power to decide anything. But I can express my honest conviction in accordance with my concience and experience about what is right or wrong :-) $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    May 26, 2013 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZaslavsky: But of course David, that's what I said. Math.SE members don't follow their policy so well. I think everyone are misunderstanding my post. I didn't disgrace any policies here... $\endgroup$ May 27, 2013 at 3:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton: I've already told that we're more interested in dealing conceptual Physics and sick of doing calculations. There aren't so many members interested in solving homeworks (like they do on Math.SE). For example, see the question I've linked. It has been closed, revised & reopened. But, it hasn't got any answers :/ $\endgroup$ May 27, 2013 at 3:07
  • $\begingroup$ @ϚѓăʑɏβµԂԃϔ (2 comments up) yeah, perhaps. Though I don't know why you would think you disgraced any policies here (whatever that means)... $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    May 27, 2013 at 3:35
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    $\begingroup$ +1 Crazy Buddy, the improvement in your English is remarkable, keep it up please! (Don't care for the "creative" signature, though.) $\endgroup$ May 28, 2013 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ @EugeneSeidel: I had totally forgotten if I had previously talked to you. Looks like many users are (have been) watching me. Thanks Eugene ;-) $\endgroup$ May 28, 2013 at 15:16

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