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I am of the impression that we want the questions and answers to be searchable and provide a good reference for physics students and above when using search engines.

There exist questions asked by ~15 year old kids and answered by the same age group, and checked as correct within a very short time. Here is a recent example.

I have great sympathy for all these young kids enthusiastic about physics, who should not be discouraged. But the level is sliding downwards, because often checked answers might not be looked at by somebody with more experience.

Are the moderators checking the content of checked answers?

In order not to discourage the young I would be willing to add a more sophisticated answer to bring up the level, and have often done it, but these are one off cases.

I think maybe there could be a list of questions, regardless if they are checked or not, for the attention for more senior physicists, as with "unanswered questions", example: "new answers useful". Then one could have a look if one could contribute something better, raising the physics sophistication level of the site.

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    $\begingroup$ You make a valid point, but the risk factor with this proposal is, you are effectively implying that there be an answer club which has the responsibility of ensuring standards. Agreed, I generally find your more sophisticated answer to be better that others in most cases, but we don't want to be leaving out the not-so-accomplished bunch from the answer club. The democratic process of upvoting/downvoting can ensure that the answers that the community feels are better, end up with more upvotes than even the "accepted" answer. $\endgroup$ – 299792458 May 31 '15 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ Not really. The unanswered queue is computer chosen, but the hold etc are monitor chosen. It is a suggestion that if the monitors find a question has too unsophisticated an answer they put it also in that queue, to be looked at by people who are interested. This will not diminish the question in general, but may raise the standard, in a similar way that "hold" raises the stadard. $\endgroup$ – anna v May 31 '15 at 14:02
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    $\begingroup$ Do you think that my answer was bad or incorrect? $\endgroup$ – Jimmy360 Jun 2 '15 at 5:12
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Jimmy , it is OK at the level of Physics you are. If it were wrong I would have told you. Anyway down voting does that. Here I am questioning a goal for this site. $\endgroup$ – anna v Jun 2 '15 at 5:24
  • $\begingroup$ I think that we always have to remember the level of the person who is answering the question. I don't think that the OP would have understood a more complicated answer. $\endgroup$ – Jimmy360 Jun 2 '15 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Jimmy360 Search engines bring up all sorts of sites. My question here addresses that the stated interest for this site is to be a resource for physics. It is fine that there exists an answer on the level of the questioner, but if the goal for the site is serious a more thorough answer would be also useful, in addition. $\endgroup$ – anna v Jun 3 '15 at 3:10
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The diamond moderators don't have any more control over checked answers than unprivileged users (i.e. we can accept answers to our own questions). So the answer to that part of your question is "No, not as such."

The only realistic response to a poor accepted answer is to downvote it and either upvote an existing better answer or if no better answers exists to provide one.

To prevent this situation from developing in the first place the correct procedure would seem to one of:

  • Closing questions which don't conform to the site guidelines with respect to style and content as quickly as possible.

  • Providing correct answer to questions which do conform to the guidelines. My very unscientific observation is that these young askers will uncritically accept anything if it is the only answer they get, but at least sometime will exhibit a bit more caution if they have more than one answer, especially if they are contradictory.

Obviously no single user can make this happen: it is going to take a broadbased commitment to policing the site while on-line.

There has been a consistent, if modest sized, majority of users who don't want to put some kind of hard limit on the level of acceptable questions, so we're going to continuing seeing these grade-school pop-sci queries. We can insist that they live up to the "framed like a scientist" expectation and we can try to emulate John R. and the other expert users who write really accessible but good answers to these questions.

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  • $\begingroup$ by "grade-school pop-sci queries", are you describing questions from ordinary people who've heard something about physics, maybe from the television or a news article, and want to know more? $\endgroup$ – innisfree May 31 '15 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ That would be plain, vanilla "pop-sci". $\endgroup$ – dmckee May 31 '15 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ Most people's education in physics doesn't go beyond grade school, does it? (I presume grade school is compulsory education up to 16 years or so). $\endgroup$ – innisfree May 31 '15 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ I do not see it as policing but as a "drawing attention to" . I do not read all of the page , just the questions that catch my attention, and often I see I have skipped many that should have caught my attention. I suppose I am asking what COMMUNITY does + with a human intelligence behind, not just unchecked and no upvotes. $\endgroup$ – anna v Jun 2 '15 at 5:30
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    $\begingroup$ @dmckee Mmmmmmmm..... vanilla pop-sci-cle $\endgroup$ – Jim Jun 4 '15 at 15:29
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Your question, if it is one, is part of recurring trend of (a few) users worrying about the level of physics questions at this site. I find your particular worry strange - the ages of our users ought to have no bearing on whether we judge their questions or contributions as valuable. It shouldn't matter whether a user is 15, 50 or 500 years old.

The example you cite is a strange one - it's a question about an infinite mass moving at the speed of light. The question is now on-hold as non-mainstream, but, in the meantime, received answers that I found quite reasonable. The original poster didn't accept an answer immediately - he decided to, in his own words, "wait for more answers to clear the confusion. And, then accordingly choose the wisest answer." You are willing to write a more sophisticated answer - what exactly would you say? I find nothing problematic about that example - everything is operating as it should.

In general, I'm often amazed that simple questions receive sophisticated answers, probably unintelligible to the original poster but of interest to the broader community here. I haven't seen any evidence that the level of physics is sliding downwards.

As for review, first-posts are already reviewed and I see no reason why accepted answers need the approval of a moderator. The conventional stack exchange system of voting seems to be working just fine.

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  • $\begingroup$ I am questioning the statement that the site is supposed to be a good physics repository for search engines. even now, that this particular question is on hold, if you search "Stopping a Body (travelling at the speed of light)" it comes up. I am making a suggestion towards the goal, if it is a goal. $\endgroup$ – anna v May 31 '15 at 14:08
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    $\begingroup$ Woah now! 500 years old? We have to draw the line somewhere. I say to hell with 500 year old contributors. They should all be banned $\endgroup$ – Jim Jun 4 '15 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ Where do I sign to be able to live until 500 years old? $\endgroup$ – Alenanno Jul 9 '15 at 10:33

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