I am trying to get a holistic picture of the users' opinions on the site. Both positive and negative reviews are welcome. Being a reasonably broad topic, I will pose some specific questions. Feel free to include in your answers other things that I may fail to mention. Of course you don't have to answer all the questions posed.

  1. Are you happy with the kind of question being posed on the site? Do you find that the site gives satisfactory answers to the questions asked, and has the requisite people to engage you in an interesting discussion.

  2. Is there a well-balanced demographic? Do you find it to be the case that the site targets(perhaps unintentionally) a specific audience, if so which one? If you have been an old user has the demographic of the site shifted in some particular direction.

  3. Are you satisfied with moderation on the site? Have you ever been unfairly treated? Have you noticed instances of other users being unfairly treated?

  4. Are you comfortable with the implementation of network-wide policy? Is there any particular network-wide policy that you wished was different and not applied to Physics Stack Exchange?

  5. Do you find it to be the case that some people whose answers you enjoyed reading have abruptly left the site due to issues that originated within the site? Do you it was due to an issue that can be fixed?

  6. Has anyone's account been suspended unfairly? Or for a much longer duration then you would find reasonable.

  7. Does the site satisfy a researcher's interest, such as finding new topics and problems to learn about? Does it have a sufficient mass of professional physicists?

Please be honest and direct in your reviews.

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    $\begingroup$ Very well, I will be honest and direct: your questions bore me beyond description. $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri May 25 '15 at 1:01
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    $\begingroup$ Fair enough ;) It bores me too to be honest. But I need understand a few things, therefore this question. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 25 '15 at 1:10
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    $\begingroup$ "Please be honest and direct in your reviews." I suspect that what has been frustrating you is that people have been being honest and direct in their interactions with you. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten May 25 '15 at 5:49
  • $\begingroup$ Be aware that answers here need not represent the entire demographic of the site. It's somewhat like mailing a questionnaire which includes "do you enjoy answering questionnaires on the post?" - you will get a skewed picture of that. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty May 25 '15 at 10:39
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    $\begingroup$ @dmckee No that is not correct. EmilioPisanty: I am aware that it is a somewhat skewed picture, but nevertheless a representative. My own impression has been that the demographic of the site has changed and significantly, and as reflected in Ben's sentiments as he left. I want to identify the reasons behind it, if it is true at all. My own impression is that there was once a more active community of researchers. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 25 '15 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ My concerns are, is physics stack exchange really doing something wrong? Is it simply a natural progression of things. Is this what the site gets, for instance driving away Ron Maimon as reflected in "Eduardo Guerras Valera" sentiments, and not listening to the whole community shouting to keep him here, reduce his detention and so on. I will be clear, I am not interesting in discussing that incident either, so don't bother justifying it now. If there any lingering dissatisfaction on the user's side, I would like to know about it. If my concerns are Ill founded I would like to know. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 25 '15 at 12:57
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    $\begingroup$ Damn dislexia! I read that first sentence as "I am trying to get a hostile picture....." That kind of changed the tone of the rest of the post when I read through it $\endgroup$ – Jim May 25 '15 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Kylekanos I don't think Emilio and HDE took that attitude when they made those statements. Research topics may produce papers, however the question mostly concerns itself with things like active discussions and Highlighting of recent progress and so on. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 25 '15 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Kylekanos we can wait for a clarification, He says "no on all counts", which includes "is this a place where you can productively ask research questions?". In any case We need more people to answer atleast this one question about research activity, Even moderators are users, I wonder why they have been silent in reviewing their experiences. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 25 '15 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Kyle It seems this is not the day for nuance. I asked a series of three independent questions with an honest hope that you would answer them, and clearly indicated they were different questions (counts, plural). In a world where it's OK to skim others' words and then fill in the gaps with one's own preconceptions then I guess a so-called rational observer could mistake it for the mangled impression you got. I have no idea why you think my answer 'perpetuates the notion' that 'research == papers' but I encourage you to take a day out and then read it again. I shall do the same. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty May 27 '15 at 17:03
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, I do miss @wolfram jonny who answered most of my questions during the late 14 - early 15. Suddenly I saw he was banished due to some sort of problems for one year! I'm not complaining against the moderation, but yes if he were here, it would be different:( $\endgroup$ – user36790 May 30 '15 at 10:58
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    $\begingroup$ @user36790 Indeed even I do miss a lot of characters who used to be on this site. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 30 '15 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ @user36790 Why don't you compile you comments into a full answer? You have very valid concerns. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 30 '15 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ if you want graduate level and up questions and answers you could try physicsoverflow.org/questions/main @user36790 a lot of the people who left answer there $\endgroup$ – anna v May 31 '15 at 6:56
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    $\begingroup$ @BardiHarborow I won't ask the obvious question. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush Jun 6 '15 at 14:08

I'll bite:

  1. For the most part, I am happy with the questions asked here, zero-effort homework questions being the obvious candidate for 'wish we didn't have those...' The answers are usually more than satisfactory & provide for good resources for my own learning.

  2. The demographics seem to be split as 'under-grad', 'grad-student', and 'post-grad' (meaning graduated from grad school with the MS or PhD and working). Seems to be well-balanced to me.

  3. Yes, the moderators do a fantastic job here. I've never been unfairly treated, nor have I ever seen anyone being treated unfairly. The mods do a fantastic job at what they do.

  4. Yes, I am comfortable with the implementation of Network Wide policies (which ultimately boils down to 'Be nice.').

  5. I am not disturbed by anyone's life choices surrounding any internet site, be it here, Google+, Twitch, or whatever. If [insert known user] left because of (what appears to be) their own problems that they had with authority & civil conduct with society, so be it. The only person who can 'fix the issue' is [ insert known user].

  6. AFAIK, no one has been suspended unfairly. SE policies on bans are progressive (1 day, 1 week, 1 month, & possibly 1 year, with each longer date requiring a previous suspension as well as continued inappropriate behavior in a 30 day window). The policies of suspensions are very reasonable (because it expects people to actually learn from mistakes, rather than keep making the same stupid ones over & over again)

  7. Yes, this site satisfies my research interests. There are many questions on my field of expertise, as well as some outside my expertise that I'm interested in learning (specifically, GR). I think there are plenty of professional physicists, just need more active reviewers to help keep up the closing of unfit questions.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, I am quite glad know this. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 25 '15 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ Hey, just a little curious. Are there bans for > 1 yr too? AFAIK, users really cool down in one year, and/or find alternative methods of procrastinating! $\endgroup$ – 299792458 May 25 '15 at 4:25
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    $\begingroup$ I'm curious about your answer to 7. Do you really feel that PSE is as valuable a research resource for astrophysicists as is MO for a mathematician? Is this a place where you can productively ask research questions? Is content here of enough quality to spark papers? As a strong field physicist I'd say no on all counts. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty May 25 '15 at 10:46
  • $\begingroup$ @TheDarkSide: IDK about such bans. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos May 25 '15 at 11:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Emilio: I'm not at all of the opinion that a question must spark a paper for it to be considered interesting to my own research interests. But yes, there have been questions that I've had to dig around for a while to get the answer, which I consider as satisfying research interests. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos May 25 '15 at 11:42
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    $\begingroup$ @TheDarkSide I am aware that 1 year bans have been given to people. I am of the opinion that bans have to be a community decision with the facts being made clear to the public. Close door policies are potential reasons for mistrust. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 25 '15 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Prathyush: Open door policies lead to more ridicule after the "time served," which is contrary to the point of suspensions. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos May 25 '15 at 16:59
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    $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos I know the argument made, I was there when It was made, Except when the bulk community was against a decision, In my opinion it deserved to know precisely(with references to posts and so on) why such a such a harsh penalty was being imposed.In my opinion all bans must be imposed by the community, and no otherway, and if it was really really necessary. Atleast personally speaking I would not ridicule such a user. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 25 '15 at 22:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Kyle I do not at all equate paper-sparking insights with research-level questions. I'm mostly interested in whether this is a place where you as an astrophysicist can take the I've-been-stuck-with-this-for-a-week-it-can't-actually-be-that-hard-somebody-please-help sort of research questions. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty May 26 '15 at 0:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Emilio: Your original comment (specifically, is content here enough quality to spark papers) contradicts your latest. To your latest question, then yes I have done that in past, if you'd look at my questions asked (sadly one is still unanswered and I've not had the time to find the answer and post it myself). $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos May 26 '15 at 2:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Kyle those are multiple questions in my first comment, not multiple aspects of the same one - research helpfulness us a continuum. I did look at your profile, but four questions is not a lot, I feel. I suspect the help you get on your research from this site is not your main motivation to be here. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty May 26 '15 at 6:34
  1. I can see a lot of activity on the homework front, but the tags I am mostly interested in (quantum mechanics and mathematical physics) do have a fair amount of interesting questions and good answers. I can also learn something from other research-level tags. But I believe there is a very big flaw with your question here: You ask "Has [the site] the requisite people to engage you in an interesting discussion". This site is not about discussion. It is a question/answer site. If I want to truly discuss a matter, I can either go to chat or to other sites. Of course I can ask for clarification and leave comments, but it is not supposed to be a whole discussion.

  2. There are people of all audience, the people with more reputation have usually more experience, so yes, I believe the demographic to be sufficiently balanced. For my taste, there could be a few more researchers.

  3. Never been unfairly treated, my interaction with moderators was minimal so far. To be honest, nearly always when I see people upset, it's because they ask questions not fit for this site. We agreed we wanted conceptual questions and many people don't really understand that.

  4. In my eyes, everything seems to work.

  5. There are people that have left that I enjoy reading, mostly before I arrived. From what I can see, the site works for most valuable users and there are problem with at most a few of them. Every area where a number of people interact has these problems, so it is not necessarily a problem of the site, but the interaction with the site and some user personalities (NB: this is not judging the user personalities, it's just a description of what happens). If there were no tries to resolve problems, this would be a problem. However, it seems that moderators/the community do try to resolve issues, so that's okay.

  6. I think I don't have the information to comment on this. It is a conscious decision (community + site owners) that certain discussions are not open for everyone. If you don't agree, that's your, not the site's problem.

  7. For my field of expertise (quantum information), I know at least three highly prolific researchers who regularly visit the site. That's not too much and I sometimes wish there were more, but it's not nothing. This usually means that all questions that I find interesting and can't answer myself do get answers - and good ones. It would be nice to have something like MO for physics, but I don't see participation to be much greater from the physicists in total.


This started as a comment but it got too long. I will not attempt to answer the original questionnaire, but you can take the following as a partial answer to question 7.

Let me try to bring back some of the nuance which some users seem determined to strip away. I consider MO to be a very successful site as a forum for mathematicians to discuss research-level mathematics. There are several independent measures of this success. A non-exhaustive list of success measures includes

  • mathematicians can take high-level questions which come up in their work to MO and resolve them quickly;
  • mathematicians seem to find the content on MO to be stimulating and thought-provoking at a level commensurate with e.g. attending a research seminar;
  • a nontrivial fraction of the online discussion of research-level mathematics takes place on MO;
  • discussions on MO have sparked a significant number of off-MO collaborations which their participants have found to be rewarding research projects;
  • some of these collaborations have published their findings.

These measures are related but ultimately independent. I would like PSE to be all of this and more. Some of this does happen, but I feel that we are not at the level of MO or anywhere near it.

The thing, though, is that this is obviously field-dependent. As regards the parts of physics where I do most of my research, the activity on this site is very low, and I do not feel I can successfully bring here a high-level question related to my work and resolve it quickly. (One example should do: take this search and exclude my contributions.) I find this site to be useful and often very thought-provoking, but I do not consider it a useful tool for my research.

That said, others may find that PSE does cater much more to their research interests. There are a number of different ways in which PSE can be helpful for a researcher, and I'd be interested to know, for the people that do find it useful for their research, how exactly they find it so.

  • $\begingroup$ Has this discussion been a discussion about separating physics homework into a separate website. If you look at the homework and exercises tab then you can see that there are 16 questions(physics.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/…) in the last 24 hours. This by area 51 standards definitely qualifies for to be a separate website. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 28 '15 at 4:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Prathyush I don't see how you conclude that - definitely not from my answer, and I don't really see how that site will succeed. That's a discussion for another time, though. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty May 28 '15 at 10:59
  • $\begingroup$ It would seperate audience, for one I don't want to see a flood of questions that can be easily answered with a little bit of work.(I doubt any serious researcher who already learnt to basics well would want that, unless he is specifically interested in it) Yes I can use tags to fiter, But I can not check all the tags so there is always a chance that I miss out of a question that I would otherwise like to. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 28 '15 at 14:47
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry for steering the discussion a bit, I had no other way to ask, as there are no private messages here. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 28 '15 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ well Emilio, there does exist a physics overflow site, trying to be similar to MO physicsoverflow.org/questions/main $\endgroup$ – anna v May 31 '15 at 6:59
  • $\begingroup$ @annav careful when you post physics overflow links, It could sound like advertising, recently some people have been banned for a similar reason. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush Jun 1 '15 at 3:58
  • $\begingroup$ I only suggest it to people who demand higher theoretical level answers. This is answering a need, the way I would suggest enginnering sites for engineering questions. Highly technical questions will get more experts to look over them than here, as many experts have left or are inactive . After a while it becomes difficult to sift through all the questions. $\endgroup$ – anna v Jun 1 '15 at 4:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Prathyush it is only the repeated nature of such comments that is frowned upon. This has been extensively discussed elsewhere but if you wish to continue the discussion please do so there. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 1 '15 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ @anna I'm perfectly aware of PO. I don't think it is anywhere near equivalent to MO, but if there's people that think otherwise I'd be interested to know why. My impression is that the PO community is much too small, but it's impossible to know how big it is. Perhaps if they used more transparent ways of reporting their userbase it would be clear what their status is. (Personally, I'm bit sure a physics MO is possible. There's a lot about maths that makes MO much easier to sustain.) $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 1 '15 at 8:32
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    $\begingroup$ It is a new effort and one of the reasons it started was because theory.SE did not take, and was dissolved. I look in at the rare experimental questions there, but I see quite a number of complicated theoretical questions. $\endgroup$ – anna v Jun 1 '15 at 11:21
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    $\begingroup$ I just dont' feel that there's enough activity on PO for it to be useful. If I had a high level theoretical question, I'd expect to get a useful answer here first. $\endgroup$ – Jerry Schirmer Jun 2 '15 at 21:34
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    $\begingroup$ About comparisons to MO: There are honestly no more than two dozen people in the world in my field, and I pretty much know them all. I would be weird to meet them on SE rather than just emailing them or meeting them in person. I wonder how much of the productivity of MO is just the big fields with hundreds or thousands of practitioners. Perhaps the dichotomy is not between math and physics but rather between big fields and small. Maybe we can ask MO about this. $\endgroup$ – user10851 Jun 3 '15 at 23:09

It can really go either way if you ask me, but generally its good.

The type of questions can be pretty interesting or just good for enlightening other newbies but I feel like a few of the mods are too quick to start acting belligerent if they don't particularly like the question. There's always room for improvement on that front but sometimes there are really bad judgement calls being made and there is a bit of a mental inertia that some of the mods refuse to overcome. I'd rather see a good few real rebuttals to the various sub-questions of the EmDrive then a million closed questions that mods respond are duplicates of other closed questions. If NASA is talking about it it's not exactly fringe anymore so at least we should get the EmDrive out of our system. As a whole I think if moderation got a bit laxer the site would benefit alot.

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    $\begingroup$ Completely agree, if the question and or comments praise physics, research accepted wisdom, they tend to get upvoted. If they are critical of accepted theories, research teams, experiments, they get downvoted. Or if someone doesn't like you or disagrees with you, they flag and then the moderation gives in and closes or edits. Have to agree the ability to flag and or close should be used less often $\endgroup$ – Brad Cooper - Purpose Nation May 30 '15 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ To be clear, by 'mods' do you mean elected moderators, or 3k+ users? $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 1 '15 at 8:33
  • $\begingroup$ what priveleges do 3k+ users have that elected mods dont $\endgroup$ – Skyler Jun 1 '15 at 8:59
  • $\begingroup$ @skyler: mods have more 'powers' than the 3k members, but for the most part it is the 3k members who do the review queues (e.g., closing questions). Emilio is asking for clarification on who you mean there, the closers or the mods. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jun 3 '15 at 12:42

I agree with almost all of Kyle Kanos' answer, but I have one or two slightly different points.

  1. I think there is a very good spread of questions - both in level and topic - across the site. Homework questions have been extensively discussed, and even have their own meta post, How do I ask homework questions on Physics Stack Exchange?. There are those people who would like to do away with homework questions altogether, those who think we should welcome them, and those (perhaps the majority) who are somewhere in between. Homework questions don't, in my opinion, detract from the overall question quality.

    Regarding the second part of #1: Yes, I've always been satisfied with the answers I get. Very few of my questions go unanswered, even some of the basic ones. Roughly two thirds of my questions are answered, and comments on some of the others have helped enormously.

  2. Judging from some questions, there seems to be a decent number of users asking at the high school level. They make up a certainly non-negligible amount of users. However, there are many users who are at the college or graduate level (or beyond). The demographics seem to be pretty well balanced.

  3. I have yet to have a problem with moderators or community members doing moderation tasks - on any Stack Exchange site. Moderation can be a tough job; they often get hit with the brunt of blame in some conflicts with users, because of their responsibilities (deleting rude comments/posts, unilaterally closing questions, etc.), and moderators on Stack Exchange - and certainly Physics - do well.

  4. I have no problem with any Stack Exchange policies.

  5. I really have no comment here, because while users have left the site, I have not interacted with them, nor was I around when they left.

  6. Again, no comment on any specific situations; I have not interacted to a significant extent with any user(s) who was/were suspended.

    However, suspensions are between the moderators and the suspended user. Sometimes, it is easy to guess at the reason for the suspension - often repeated rude comments, spam, vandalism, etc. Other times, it comes from a conflict behind the scenes. It is always best to not get nosy about this; keeping out of this can save the user some embarrassment and avoid large conflicts.

    A related Meta post - "This account is temporarily suspended for voting irregularities."

  7. Yes and no. My primary area of interest is astronomy - and, as such, I participate on Astronomy Stack Exchange. I find that it has higher traffic than the Physics tags for and do. Neither the tags nor Astronomy.SE has a lot of traffic. I tend to ask questions about astronomy on Astronomy.SE, simply because there is a larger audience there than on Physics - at least, in terms of users who ask and answer questions (though there is some overlap), so it's harder for me to judge on questions on Physics.

    Being completely frank, I don't think I see a high number of general "research-level" questions on either site. I can answer a decent amount of them on Astronomy, and many on Physics, though I tend to hold off on some because there are better answers already there. The importance of this is that I'm a high school student. If I can say this without sounding a bit arrogant, I do know a lot more about astronomy than the average high-schooler. But if a well-read high-schooler can answer many of the questions in either place, what does that say about the level of questions, on average?

    As an aside, I have asked questions related to research I'm doing on Astronomy, and they have attracted low-to-moderate attention; I think it's possible to extrapolate that and say that there might be about the same amount of attention on Physics.

    A related Physics meta post - If it's possible, do we want to expand the scope of this site to include astronomy?.

    Oh, but on a general note, yes, there are plenty of professional physicists here. And you can't say that about many places on the Internet.

    I should also mention that I do not equation research-level with published papers; the one does not imply the other.

  • $\begingroup$ "However, suspensions are between the moderators and the suspended user." I am afraid not, Suspensions effect the users in the site. If someone who you have known on the site for a very long time is suspended, it certainly raises an alarm. But I don't want to discuss suspensions either, its kind of helpless situation. I really want to gauge if stack exchange is really helpful for research. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 27 '15 at 1:43
  1. For the most part, yes. I do wish there were more post-graduates around and more folks well versed in things like quantum noise.

  2. The demographic is massively skewed towards theorists, and it seems particularly folks interested in field theory.

  3. AFAICT the site is fair because it's based on up/down votes and what questions people think are interesing.

  4. No comment.

  5. I have no idea.

  6. I have no idea.

  7. I think there are not enough professional physicists in my field. As far as I know there's only one other user who can give good answers to questions I really care about.


I am much more active on math than physics, though my degree (long ago) is physics. I see a huge contrast in reaction to homework problems between the two sites. The stated policies are similar, but physics is much quicker to close anything that looks like homework than math, even if the poster has shown effort and isolated the problem s/he is having. That may reflect the fact that math has many more readers, some of whom are eager to show off what they know. On math, many (far from all) homework problems get solved before they are closed, even if OP has not shown any effort. I try to give hints and am often frustrated that somebody else solves it completely. That said, I feel physics is poorer for its behavior. Homework problems are usually more carefully stated than others because the textbook author has given serious thought to making a problem with a clear answer. They are also often designed to illustrate some point. I have learned a lot reading/hinting/trying to solve homework problems.

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    $\begingroup$ You hit a central point, IMO. The fact of the matter is a fair number of people here don't particularly enjoy homework question, you can see indicated in several posts, including this thread. Atleast some people would like a site without homework questions, and text book material, which MAY explain, your observations why many questions are closed, even If to OP shows effort on their part. Though my proposal of having a offshoot site called "Physics Learners" has failed for the moment, I still think it is a good idea so that homework questions along can get the requisite attention. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush Jun 3 '15 at 9:06
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    $\begingroup$ +1; One thing to say: here quantity is more important than quality. I'll advocate "Physics Learners" proposal though the suggestion isn't new & the earlier alike proposals had been poorly appreciated: don't know why. But this would make PSE the desired site of the past days & that should what be the only goal I see now. $\endgroup$ – user36790 Jun 3 '15 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ MSE has accepted its position as a homework help site whereas PSE has repeatedly rejected such a position. Most HW problems asked here are of the plug-and-chug variety and rarely have a point outside of rote memorization of some particular equation. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jun 3 '15 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos I don't think so, Kyle Kanos I learnt a lot from homework questions, they are not merely of a plug and chug variety. Also Physics learners is not simply about homework question either it is about all text book level and other well understood material. Details ofcourse can be arrived at through discussion. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush Jun 5 '15 at 3:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Prathyush: I don't believe you read my comment fully. I did not say all HW questions, nor did I say anything about no one learning anything or Physics Learners or anything outside of the difference of MSE vs PSE HW policies & the most common type of HW question asked here. As I have reviewed over 5500 questions on PSE (in close review queue, way more if you count the other reviews & flagged posts), I think I am in a better position than you to say what the most common type of HW question asked here actually is. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jun 5 '15 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos You may be right about the type of homework questions most frequently asked in the site. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush Jun 6 '15 at 3:09
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    $\begingroup$ I was not advocating a change to the homework policy here. It was established (I did not participate) and I accept the community view. We were asked to comment on our experience and I did. Certainly math gets many plug and chug homework problems as well, but my sense is that the posters don't know how to plug or they wouldn't ask. I would like to give just a hint, but it is hard to control the behavior of others. We also get some physics questions because they are not welcome here. $\endgroup$ – Ross Millikan Jun 6 '15 at 3:20
  • $\begingroup$ Ross, policies can be changed if there is a consensus. Feel free to bring it up if you think there is such a consensus. Mind you, I'd be pushing for a more stringent homework policy, but that's just my opinion. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Jun 7 '15 at 15:34

Yes, I do miss [insert-here-the-user-who-shall-not-be-named] who answered most of my questions during the late 14 - early 15. Suddenly I saw he was banished due to some sort of problems for one year! I'm not complaining against the moderation, but yes if he were here, it would be different:(

The moderation is really good here. But it does depend, or you can say, the perspective of each of the individuals. See you can't seek a utopian scheme but we do want more. Take me; On an average, I remain on the site for over 3 hrs & during that hour, I come to junk questions like "solve this, urgent"; "can you check this?"....Day in & day out , we advise to please show some effort & even cite the meta link but of no avail. They have no eager to read even the advice on the right side of the "ask question" page.It becomes really bothering to me; this site isn't for dumping waste. Another that really bothers me is the indifferent attitude of the person who asks the question. Though I ask most of the times(hey I'm still a student!), I try my best to contribute something to the site & answer questions that are competent.Take this quo; I answered this & got decent votes, but the asker never came again! This is irritating!! Then why ask, if you are negligent to your very own query???

Another, to me the horrendous one, problem is the abuse of downvoting. If you have the time to downvote, you ought have time to write the cause. Though a notification appears, but this doesn't stop him/her to downvote without presenting the cause. I have no problem with downvoting; this is essential but it is the duty to make aware of the flaw which attracted downvoting.

Regarding the moderation, I would say again that it is really pretty here: just think about them: they've taken a part of the time to devote here & make it a part-&-parcel of their lives. Salute to them. At some point, I thought they are really rude, but then could comprehend "yes, it was my fault" Compromise?? Yes/No! But in the long run it is really comfortable. However there are some members , who are really not at all happy with this "moderation-atmosphere", like him or here as one of the founders of Physics Overflow wrote his allegations. However, I do respect their predicament:) And so do everyone.

As that of professional physicists, they themselves know much about that as expressed in the other answers. There is even another counterpart that deals with the interest of them. However, to me, this is the place where I get moksha from the evils of confusion, uncomprehandable stuffs .

For man may come, & man may go, I'll will come here forever! (sorry Alfred Tennyson!!) This will evidently reflect my attitude towards this wonderful community:)

  • $\begingroup$ are you aware of the reason for [insert-here-the-user-who-shall-not-be-named] being banished? It seems like he was a rather popular user. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 30 '15 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ I really do not know. In the past, he had some spat with the moderator or sort of that & was suspended for that. However, he changed a lot after that. $\endgroup$ – user36790 May 30 '15 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ This is one the problems that I can't address at all, and that annoys me. The OFFICIAL reason is "Voting Irregularities", this is completely orthogonal to your story. If it was upto the community I think banning would be much more infrequent, there would be more understanding among users. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 30 '15 at 16:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Prathyush: I disagree totally. "Spat with a moderator" is something that a user can see. "Voting irregularities" isn't, so of course his user3790's story is completely orthogonal. If it was voting irregularities, this usually means using other accounts to continuously upvote/downvote certain answers, etc. This is something that is completely contrary to the workings of this site, so something like this must be punished with a ban (and I guess the site-owners would want it punished that way), if it has happened on larger scale. There can be no discussion, so we don't need to know the details. $\endgroup$ – Martin May 30 '15 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin Lets just say there were actually voting irregularities otherwise this would be very very wrong. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 31 '15 at 1:17
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    $\begingroup$ @user36790 I am currently supremely disappointed with the site, It used be just awesome at one point. There were a lot of people I would really look upto with awe. My impression is that the research community is nearly on the verge of death. Bans only made things worse. I don't want to write an answer, mostly because my viewpoints are reflected in my meta posts recently, and it would be a bore to repeat the similar points again. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush May 31 '15 at 1:34
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    $\begingroup$ I fear that these comments are being watched carefuly, If I say something even slightly unpleasant it will be deleted. I won't say it is completely dead, it is definitely far from what it used to be. I can definitely say that there are a fair number of people on the site who post interesting questions/answers. But you have search to find these questions. At one point the largest percentage of the demographic here were researchers, or students pursuing research. Even questions on "Everyday life" type topics were much more challenging. Take a look at the Supersymmetry tag, very little attention. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush Jun 1 '15 at 4:06
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    $\begingroup$ There are others who were more closely involved with the events, that made the community slowly disappear, they would give you a first hand account. First was the closing of TP.Se, so there is no longer a dedicated site for research, Yes the activity was somewhat low. But really research is a very very slow thing. Questions take years to get answers. And VERY GOOD questions were being asked, and some excellent physicists would post(ex look for user yuji). So with the death of a dedicated site, People moved here, and it was great for a while. Then the stuff about Ron banning happened. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush Jun 1 '15 at 4:20
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    $\begingroup$ Ron opposed a candidate in an election an obviously he did not have anything particularly positive things to say. He was banned for his criticism, and the word "RUDE" was used to describe him, and with that as an excuse he was banned. Most people did not like it, including me. The moderators or SE representatives wont budge. I would suspect a fair number of people left because of that, I know a few of these people. It was still not bad until then. I did warn about the flood meta.physics.stackexchange.com/q/4382 No one really cared. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush Jun 1 '15 at 4:31
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    $\begingroup$ Then the FLOOD really started, Hoards of very elementary questions came in, Without TP.SE, research questions which would get lost in that swarm. I cannot say who left, and how many, But definitely Ben Crowell a very long time user had left with a parting message, you can find it on the meta. If your peer group is dwindling then I imagine people would lose interest. I did say there are some good people here, there is a group of young people, Entering or in phd who are quite good. I rarely see the older researchers post any more, Urs Schreiber still posts here. So there are good things here. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush Jun 1 '15 at 4:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Prathyush quick comment - Ben Crowell had been back for some time. May I suggest you have a dig through the days explorer to back up your claims? The data there is only so precise and it's a proxy for the measures of real interest but if there's lower traffic on high-level tags you should be able to tease it out. I mostly agree with you but at this stage the table only has anecdotal evidence. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 1 '15 at 8:49
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty Last answer of Ben was on Nov 21 '14, I will dig through the data explorer, I have no idea how to user the data explorer however, I found some codes, and from a preliminary survey It seems like most topics underwent a steady rise, with exceptions to supersymmetry, string theory and renormalization. The questions in these topics were either dipping or remained steady(ball parked with the eye). I will write a separate question with this data. Right now however I am very busy. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush Jun 2 '15 at 3:53
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    $\begingroup$ @user36790 Thanks you for listening. Clearly there are not enough people agree with the proposal to start physics learners with the intention of separating well understood aspects of physics. But at some point I hope to convince more people that it is important. $\endgroup$ – Prathyush Jun 2 '15 at 3:58
  • $\begingroup$ Be aware that the moderators are forbidden from commenting on suspension, so you're only hearing one side of the story. In particular the characterization of the reason for suspension is necessarily a mixture of conjecture and what the suspended users said about it in other contexts. You are welcome to decided for yourself how much weight to give that data. You might also consider meta.stackexchange.com/q/203643 $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Jun 7 '15 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ @dmckee: OH! that link was horrible; have you seen sir how the asker vehemently attacked the moderation? I can't understand at all what made some users against the moderation; some even left & some suspended . They always allege of the infiltration of external mods & that PSE is not anymore the ground of professional physicists. They call them the crusaders & opened the Physics Overflow site. Only want to know, sir, what actually their bone of contention is. $\endgroup$ – user36790 Jun 7 '15 at 16:12

1. Are you happy with the kind of question being posed on the site?

Not totally. I thought this was a site for physicists, but there seems to be an awful lot of high-school kids asking homework questions.

Do you find that the site gives satisfactory answers to the questions asked, and has the requisite people to engage you in an interesting discussion.

Some answers are very good, some not so good. Ditto for the people. The only issue I've noticed is a tendency for some people to close down questions they can't answer.

2. Is there a well-balanced demographic?

It's not bad, but see 1 above.

3. Are you satisfied with moderation on the site? Have you ever been unfairly treated? Have you noticed instances of other users being unfairly treated?

Yes, no, no.

4. Are you comfortable with the implementation of network-wide policy?


5. Do you find it to be the case that some people whose answers you enjoyed reading have abruptly left the site...

No. But I am relatively new here.

6. Has anyone's account been suspended unfairly?

Not to my knowledge.

7. Does the site satisfy a researcher's interest, such as finding new topics and problems to learn about? Does it have a sufficient mass of professional physicists?

IMHO no, because there's too many homework and/or naïve questions drowning out the good stuff. If there was another site where there wasn't, I'd be interested to hear about it.


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