I don't think I need to tell you that recently there was an historic discovery that captured the interest of the popular press and general public, as well, of course, as that of the broader scientific community. As a consequence, we saw many questions about LIGO (see the ligo tag); some simple, others more involved.

At the moment, we deal with these events in an ad hoc manner, treating questions about them like any other questions. This works OK, and I applaud the efforts of those involved.

In this case (and in many similar cases), the announcement was anticipated. Though admittedly such occasions aren't that common, I wondered whether we were failing to exploit the full potential of PSE during similar moments of intense interest in a scientific result.

We could, e.g.,

  1. Prepare high-quality questions and answers in anticipation to make a cool resource, and e.g. display something like "Coming here for LIGO? Click here" on the main page, or
  2. Invite/encourage experimental groups to utilise PSE by e.g. having verified users (like on e.g. twitter) spending time answering a few questions, or
  3. Organize a set of the best questions and answers recieved about the topic (no prepared answers as in 1.), and as in 1., display them prominently
  4. ...

Thoughts? (preferably on the general idea rather than the concrete examples).

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    $\begingroup$ Do you want to have session where some verified user answers question on the topic? This idea has been greatly materialised in Quora where Peter Graham, a Stanford Professor, is hosting a similar session on LIGO:quora.com/profile/Peter-Graham-28/session/88 $\endgroup$ – user36790 Feb 15 '16 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ As to that of 1st point, do you want a canonical Q&A or a list of Q&As? The third point is airing the same thing as that of the 1st, BTW. $\endgroup$ – user36790 Feb 15 '16 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ @user36790 thanks I've made 3 vs 1 clearer $\endgroup$ – innisfree Feb 15 '16 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ @user36790 oh dear, quora are doing exactly what I'm describing. Well, is it working well for them? $\endgroup$ – innisfree Feb 15 '16 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ I definitely like this idea (upvote for that) but what kind of session do we want to have? Would we invite some external visitor or existing user with respect to point 2? Also, for all this, we want promotion. Where would we promote this? $\endgroup$ – user36790 Feb 15 '16 at 12:58
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    $\begingroup$ Hmm.... I never liked Quora at all; its platform is different than that of SE; nevertheless, there came some good questions and he seemed to answer few of them quite well. However, there is always a lack of communication with the session holder. Some questions went unanswered and that is what makes Quora different from SE; check every question on LIGO here, most of them have got good responses; no one were unnoticed.That being said, I think the initiative is quite good. $\endgroup$ – user36790 Feb 15 '16 at 13:01
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    $\begingroup$ IMO: if there is a major announcement, we need the 3k members to be more vigilant with closing dupes & too broad questions, linking relevant posts and fixing tags. Going beyond that is probably difficult (e.g., #1, #3) or not our duty (e.g., #2) $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Feb 15 '16 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ Though with #3, we can emulate that with appropriately tagged questions $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Feb 15 '16 at 14:32
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    $\begingroup$ #1 was suggested in chat, but nobody seemed particularly interested in doing it. (At least the part about preparing questions and answers. We don't have the ability to prominently display anything on the front page.) $\endgroup$ – David Z Feb 15 '16 at 17:31
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZ: Something I thought of last night: What about a Meta post linking the relevant topical questions already asked & answered and making it a Featured post? It might be a tough task (finding all the old & updating with newer non-dupe ones), but it could do what innisfree suggested. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Feb 17 '16 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos it's not a bad idea, except it should probably be a main-site post in the style of the master book recommendation question. But of course that wouldn't really be an actual physics question... it would be nice if we could put that information in the tag wiki (and then feature the wiki). $\endgroup$ – David Z Feb 17 '16 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ Good question, innisfree. I'm not sure what the answer is, but for myself I was a bit unhappy to see some of the regulars complaining about novice questions and maybe being a bit unwelcoming to visitors. $\endgroup$ – John Duffield Feb 18 '16 at 13:58

I'm not a big fan of live Q/A because I don't think they produce really good answers. Personally I find a good answer requires me to go offline for a few minutes and think about exactly what is being asked and the best strategy for answering it.

However I think the chat session worked really well and was very enjoyable. many thanks to everyone involved. That is certainly worth doing again if a similar situation presents.

The strength of this site lies in the fact that we have knowledgable users who are willing to sit down and take the time to write well thought through answers, and I think we should continue to play to this strength. We aren't especially well positioned for instant science journalism and I don't think we should try. Pre-writing canonical Q/As is a nice idea, but in practice we could easily find ourselves wrong footed if we fail to anticipate the announcement correctly. Also writing canonical Q/As is a massively time consuming business and I doubt the resource to do it exists.

  • $\begingroup$ +1; That's why I hat Quora; many good questions remain un-noticed during these session s. $\endgroup$ – user36790 Feb 16 '16 at 9:06
  • $\begingroup$ Also, some of the more interesting questions related to the GW thing would have been difficult to anticipate -- namely, the questions of "why did we interpret the result as THIS, rather than THAT?" Those are the questions that I have the most fun answering on SE, rather than the rote "what is this thing?" type questions that you can answer just as easily on Wikipedia. $\endgroup$ – Jerry Schirmer Feb 22 '16 at 21:38

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