Related: How can we improve participation on Physics.SE? (Not a dupe, this is about what a user can do to improve his/her own experience, and that is about more global changes)

This post is meant to help users smoothen their own Physics.SE experience. Later on it will be turned into a community wiki meta- post, but for now please post any constructive suggestions you have on this thread.


5 Answers 5


Level up your communication ninja powers

  • Make sure your questions, answers and comments are clear, understandable by the audience and on-topic. Use proper English. Be reasonably polite in tone (as you would be with a professor you like).
  • Never fight with other people, or discuss their intentions. They are not wrong, their posts are. Understand the difference! It's not personal.
  • Are you posting more than 1 or 2 comments on a post? Forget about it, it's time to move on to do something else. It's seriously not worth your time.
  • Most people here are really, really smart and they are really, really into physics. Always assume your counterpart is at least as smart as you and/or as knowledgeable as you.
  • Good content is favored by time and voting. Give it time.
  • Don't have conversations with other people on the site. Honestly, conversations are nice, but this site is about asking and answering questions. Keep it in mind.
  • Don't try to answer in a 600 letters comment! If you disagree with an answer, write a better one.
  • It takes time and effort to learn how to be effective on the Stack Exchange network, that's why we have a point system. Learn about the system before complaining it's all wrong.
  • This site is not only about physics. It's about communicating physics.
  • This site is not a forum.

I am considering setting up a meta-list of tags that show some categories of tags, as well as a bunch of beginner-level tags roughly sorted by difficulty for easy favoriting/ignoring. Thoughts?

Favoriting and ignoring tags

Questions having your favorite tags appear highlighted on the front page (and most other question lists).

Questions having your ignored tags are hidden from the main page, and greyed out in other question lists.

You can edit these from the side of the main page, or from your preferences:

enter image description here


Making your own main page

The search feature is pretty useful to create your own main page, if you're only interested in a particular set of tags.

Searching for [research-level] or [mathematical-physics] or [string-theory] -[homework], for example, takes you to this page, which shows the questions tagged by at least one of those three tags and does not have the tag. Using the "active" tab on the search page, we get a page which behaves very similar to the main page in that one can see question bumps.

Bookmark the search page link you just created and use it instead of the main page!


It's OK to step back

Sometimes, one gets caught in unsavory, long discussions with users who aren't quite getting it.

You don't need to stay caught up in these discussions. You have a right to step out of the discussion, and you should feel free to exercise it whenever the discussion is getting too annoying for you.

If you are feeling that the user is harassing you, mention it in a custom flag.


Use chat

Many times I see long discussions on the main site being conducted in real time, in the comments.

This is a rather non ideal way of communicating1 as many a time one is still typing a long comment and receives multiple replies while doing so, making it confusing.

Instead, create a room in chat and link to it in the comments. You can have much more free discussion in this environment. It doesn't get cluttered like the comments, and it's more amenable to back-and-forth conversation.

Besides that, it works for non-realtime discussions as well, and works for many users chatting just as well as 2.

(Also, discussing in chat means that there's no worrying about the comments getting deleted later on. Chat discussions are preserved)

Besides chat rooms for individual discussions, we do have a main chat room that is reasonably active. This is usually just a place to hang out and discuss physics, the site, or pretty much anything else.

1. besides not really being allowed; while short discussions are OK, long discussions shouldn't really happen in the comments.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Discussions in comments often contain information that's useful for future visitors. How does one make sure that discussions carried out in chat are available and discoverable for them? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 14:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @emilio Usually, one should collate the imfo from a comment discussion and incorporate with the post. That's what comments are for, and if possible it should be done with chat discussions, too. However, it's perfectly ok to link to a relevant chat discussion in the comments or the post itself. "Related discuasion [here]" or some such. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 18:36
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    $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty If comments are useful for future visitors, they should be incorporated into the answer. Treat comments as transient, like they may be deleted at any time. $\endgroup$
    – user31346
    Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 20:24

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