Physics is a field that should be up for interpretation always, and consistently being challenged by people who can think differently. Just as Galilean relativity was improved by Einstein's theory of relativity, and Newtonian (Classical) mechanics was added on by the ever-growing field of Quantum Mechanics, there is a large probability that the way we visualize how the world works today may be completely different to how people 200-300 years from now will see it.

It truly is a scary thought to think that most of our ideas we believe today will just be abandoned. Far beyond our lifetime, newer concepts will be accepted over older ones that will bring even more light to the scope of what science enables humanity to see. The more amazing thought, though, is to be a part of the community of people who can bring more light to the areas of physics that are not fully understood.

A DISCUSSIONS section next to the QUESTIONS section of this website would influence people to question areas of science that aren't fully accepted, and even areas that are conventionally accepted by the science community. I understand that there is already a chat section on this website, but it is generally not a formal way to discuss sophisticated and intricate topics. These discussions should be unfocused on people having a wide knowledge of terminology, and rather focus more on intellectual reasoning. As well, it is essential to make a comfortable environment for people to feel unworried about challenging a generally accepted concept with a more refined one, or to bring up an entirely new concept to explain a specific phenomenon.

The OP would be posting a topic of discussion. People can discuss about the topic with either: Agree, Disagree, or Append. These responses are the same as an answer to a question, but geared towards discussing why the topic may be true, why it can't be true, and how the topic should rather be looked at.

If a response gets enough up-votes, they will be taken to the top of the discussion, where people will more likely be able to see it, similar to how the most up-voted answer typically goes to the top. Although, if an append response gets 10 more up-votes than the topic of discussion made by the OP, the appending response will take over the topic of discussion. The original poster's post (, as well as anybody else's appending post that got appended over,) will be available to anybody by clicking on Show Previous Poster(s) at the top of the current topic of discussion. As well, you can see the previous discussions associated with those poster's topic of discussion by pressing on Show Discussion on the specific previous person's post.

The newer topic of discussion has a new slate in which people can then Agree, Disagree, or Append. The topic of discussion's title will always stay the same, unless there could be a method of requesting it to be changed.

A discussion's section would allow for the community to be able to develop their idea's upon intellect rather than pure logic.

(All of this is up for interpretation, but is a general idea of what is possible)

Tell me what you think about this idea. I do understand that there are many related posts to this, I am just tackling it from a different angle. Finally, don't let my reputation influence what you think about this, I still am a human being with intellectual thoughts just like anyone else on this website.

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    $\begingroup$ Stack Exchange is not a forum. Discussions like this are okay in chat, though, which could help fulfill some of your needs. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Aug 18 '15 at 22:22
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    $\begingroup$ @HDE226868 that's a funny thing to say. That's exactly what meta stack exchange is for...it's a forum for everything except the topic at hand. $\endgroup$ – Zach466920 Aug 19 '15 at 0:58
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE226868 Chat is not suitable for elongated discussions on a specific topic. You cannot count on everyone participating in the discussion, as well everyone seeing the discussion's key arguments. $\endgroup$ – Neil Graham Aug 19 '15 at 1:03
  • $\begingroup$ @NeilGraham - So, you mean, just like the hot meta posts on the right hand pane, if there is a hot chat room alert (i.e. the topic being taken up in a specific chat room, and more activity, particularly by multiple users => "hot"), this problem may be remedied. So, that could go down as a feature request too, I guess :) $\endgroup$ – 299792458 Aug 19 '15 at 6:19
  • $\begingroup$ @NeilGraham You'd be surprised at how long discussions can go on for. Besides, there's no guarantee in your system that everyone will participate. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Aug 20 '15 at 0:15

You'll find that resistance to setting up a discussion section has a long a storied history on Stack Exchange sites going right back to Stack Overflow.

The core problem is that the engine is not well suited to holding a proper discussion. Oh, we press the engine into that service on the meta sites whenever there is a big decision needed, but it works very poorly.

Even if it stay confined to a single question (which it rarely does) the discussion ends up scattered through

  • The question.
  • A bunch of answers, whose sort order is user selectable and therefore not consistent (and the default value of votes first gives no hints on temporal ordering), and each of which may have been edited one or more times since being originally written further muddying the temporal picture.
  • A bunch of comment threads. And while each thread is in chronological order once expanded, (a) they can be collapsed bringing up-ticked comments to the fore in a list where they may have no visible context and (b) there is no way to see the time-ordering of comments under different posts except a laborious manual reconstruction, which no one does when you start talking about discussion with hundreds of different context items (posts and comments).

So, long story short: the stack exchange engine is a really crappy discussion engine.

And that is because it is optimized as a Q&A engine, and that is not going to change.


Your first paragraph is certainly true, but you underestimate just how far physics has come and how far away the leading edge is from most of us. To get even a basic understanding of the current frontiers in physics requires years of work and is beyond the vast majority of us (it's certainly beyond me :-).

So your idea that a discussion section here would usefully contribute to the advancement of physics is a pipe dream. In practice a discussion section would become full of questions from interested amateurs wanting to learn more of established physics and crackpots wanting to air their latest fantasies.

There are already various places on the Internet where you can discuss physics, but you'll find they all provide an unsatisfactory experience (unless of course you are a crackpot wanting to air your latest fantasies). The Stack Exchange is unique in managing to attract and retain experienced physicsts willing to put in considerable effort (for free!) to answer physics questions, but it has managed that only by being tightly focussed and strictly regulated.


As mentioned in the comments, the Stack Exchange Network does not host forums. This site is not a forum for discussion nor is it at all the intention for this site to be a place for discussion. This site is a question and answer site that is meant to allow physicists to ask other physicists questions and answer them. The content on this site is not meant to push the frontiers of physics at all. The physics we present on this site is restricted to published, accepted, and/or mainstream viewpoints. This is the case because we want this to be a repository of information where physicists can find the current or accepted physics about any given topic. As John Rennie pointed out, this narrow approach to our purpose is what has kept our site relevant and what allows us to establish ourselves as an authority on the internet. If you like, there are other sites that can allow for physics discussions. I won't go so far as to say that is not a great idea, it may well be; however, our site is only to be a Q&A about physics. That's the way we want it. That's the way the entire Stack Exchange Network operates. It is a Q&A network about various topics.

It's not that we feel your idea necessarily wouldn't work; it's just not what the site is about. We intend for this to be a place where there is no new physics; just explanations of current physics.


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