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Question #7 of the 7 essential meta questions is about promotion: once the private beta ends, how do we get people, and especially experts, to sign up and start asking and answering questions? I thought it would be useful to have a meta question where we can coordinate or discuss our promotion ideas.

Here are a few points to consider:

  • What channels of communication can you use to make people aware of the site?
  • What incentive can we offer researchers and other experts to participate?
  • What distinguishes this site from other existing physics Q&A sites?
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  • $\begingroup$ I have some followers on my twitter feed I will probably tweet when the beta goes public. If someone has ideas to make a 140 characters long pitch I am interested ! $\endgroup$ – Cedric H. Nov 7 '10 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Cedric I think you should definitely include a link to, say, a page where you (or I, or someone) explains what this site is about and how it works. I plan to do this in an e-mail. $\endgroup$ – Mark C Nov 7 '10 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ But this could be the "about" page of the site right ? $\endgroup$ – Cedric H. Nov 7 '10 at 21:58
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    $\begingroup$ I've done my job! :) blog.noldorin.com/2010/07/physics-community-on-stack-exchange (It's actually an oldish post that I just updated.) $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Nov 7 '10 at 22:38
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I came up with the following fairly generic "sales pitch," with Ami's feedback incorporated. Please offer suggestions for improvement if you have any. And of course, feel free to use it, either as-is or in modified form, if you like.

Hi everyone... I wanted to bring people's attention to a new physics Q&A site that just opened up to the public.

http://physics.stackexchange.com

The site is built on the same system as Stack Overflow, the most popular computer programming Q&A site on the internet. It's a system specifically designed for the question-and-answer format, rather than extended discussions. Anyone can answer questions, and the best answers are voted to the top; registered members who consistently give good answers are rewarded with "reputation" and increased privileges on the site.

Everybody is welcome to contribute; in fact, you can ask and answer questions with no registration required! But we're most interested in attracting experts: researchers, graduate students and advanced undergraduates in physics or related fields. We want this site to be a place where anyone with a question about physics can come to find quick, reliable answers.

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  • $\begingroup$ Looks good. Two points: 1) I believe we do require registration to ask and answer questions on this site (unless you don't consider openID registration...). 2) And this is purely stylistic, unless you're just showing this to people you know, I would get rid of the "Hope to see you there!" at the end. To me it makes the pitch sound less honest/informative and more like you're running an ad campaign. $\endgroup$ – Ami Nov 10 '10 at 3:47
  • $\begingroup$ A few more suggestions - technical stuff: 1) I'd take out the word "recently" in the first sentence. 2) "The site is built on the same system as Stack Overflow, the most popular..." 3) "The system is designed for the question-and-answer format, not extended discussions." 4) "We are most interested..." 5) I recommend ending off with words "quick, reliable answers," either by taking out the parenthesis altogether or by moving that sentence before the "We want this site..." sentence. $\endgroup$ – Ami Nov 10 '10 at 3:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Ami: well in a sense I am running an ad campaign ;-) but yes, I could drop that bit at the end. I'd like to have some kind of conclusion after the note about it not being primarily a homework site, though. Also, the FAQ states that registration is not necessary, and I checked in another browser (where I'm not logged in) to make sure. It seems like answering questions is possible with just a name, email address, and (non-OpenID) website URL. $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 10 '10 at 3:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Ami (2): thanks for the technical feedback as well! I've incorporated most of it into an edit (there were a couple things you suggested that I thought didn't "flow" quite as well, but I guess that's just me). $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 10 '10 at 4:07
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Promote physics.stackexchange on physics conferences. Distribute flayers, make a showcase (ok, that is a bit expensive) I am definitely doing this next one I go.

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    $\begingroup$ If you'll have any neat graphics for those flyers be upload them somewhere! On a related note: has anyone thought about graphics, design and such once the beta ends? I guess I should really ask about this as a question of its own. $\endgroup$ – Marek Dec 11 '10 at 22:35
  • $\begingroup$ I think it is very important for us to improve the quality of what is on the site before encouraging people to check it out. One of the ways i tried to rpomote MO was by talking about the high level of the math that is on the site as well as the excellent people answering questions (I can say that various experts in my field whose opinions are valued participate). I can't do the same for PSE (mostly because I don't know any physics). If people feel that their advisor or other senior researchers in their area could learn some physics from visiting this site then go for it. $\endgroup$ – Sean Tilson Dec 13 '10 at 3:23
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I can't understand why I haven't thought of this before but actually there is a very simple way for every student: post (lots of) posters at your school!.

Actually, this is simple only as long as there are any posters to post. I think David's text will do very well for starters. But in order to attract people's attention it would also be needed to have a nice design and perhaps a logo.

That being said, I'll try to come up with some reasonable poster later (and will update this question then). In any case, I am certainly doing this one way or another and I hope other people will too :-)

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  • $\begingroup$ Good idea, in fact we could have another meta question to collect graphics and poster designs. I've been thinking that actually including question titles on the posters might be a good idea, kind of like the ads you see on Stack Overflow for questions on other SE sites. If the questions are interesting they could entice people to come look up the answers here. $\endgroup$ – David Z Dec 14 '10 at 1:55
  • $\begingroup$ @David: hehe, right. I was also thinking both about the question collecting graphics and putting good questions on the poster. Actually, perhaps the poster could be just questions and maybe also with one of two nice answers. That would describe the site pretty well. No need to bore people with long description (although I think yours is quite good). I was actually in the middle of writing the question polling graphics but then I found up I don't really know how to formulate it and what to ask for. If you can, certainly go ahead and ask it. $\endgroup$ – Marek Dec 14 '10 at 7:46
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It seems to me that the physics community is highly accessible and well connected through the Internet.

Physicsforums.com is a very popular Internet forum. If anyone is an active member of that community, perhaps they'd be willing to spread the word about this site.

Physics.org ("Your guide to physics on the web") happens to have a Best Q&A Site Award. Working as a group, we should be able to make ourselves known on that site as well.

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    $\begingroup$ I can take care of making a thread on Physics Forums, although I don't think they're going to be happy about it. (I've broached the idea of a physics SE site there in the past, and they were rather dismissive) If anyone else is a PF member, feel free to chime in and back me up - I'll post a link in a comment when I make that thread. $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 9 '10 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ Posted: physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=446588 $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 10 '10 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ @David, did they close you down? $\endgroup$ – Ami Nov 10 '10 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I guess they must have deleted the thread :( $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 10 '10 at 20:16
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One thing that might entice serious physics researchers is if the questions were at a higher level. The signal to noise ratio is not good enough to get serious researchers on board. There is nothing wrong with low level questions, but there are some obviously half-baked questions.

If there are no high level questions then no serious physicists will want to stay on the site. Also, sifting through nonsense isn't any fun, in the end it won't be worth their energy. I think that advertising the site before we have anything worth their time will have a negative effect on the impression of the quality of what is on the site.

Maybe we should try to close down the cranky questions more effectively. Do we have pro tem moderators yet?

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    $\begingroup$ We do have one temporary moderator, Noldorin. Originally we were supposed to have 3, but it's been a couple weeks since Noldorin was appointed so perhaps he will be the only one. $\endgroup$ – David Z Dec 12 '10 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ It seems like that is a lot of work for one person to do. $\endgroup$ – Sean Tilson Dec 13 '10 at 3:16
  • $\begingroup$ I suppose it would be. Now it looks like we will have 3 temporary moderators after all, it's just that Robert Cartaino was busy and didn't have a chance to make additional appointments over the past couple of weeks. $\endgroup$ – David Z Dec 14 '10 at 1:57
  • $\begingroup$ that makes sense, those guys are busy! I just think we need to revisit the level issue. Maybe i will post a question on meta tomorrow. Also, I was being very sincere, I think it is an awful lot of work to do, and I really appreciate all that you have done Noldorin! $\endgroup$ – Sean Tilson Dec 14 '10 at 5:19

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