Many of you should be familiar with the theoretical physics stack exchange (and current beta), and are probably familiar with the arguments against that proposal.

As someone who's focused basically on classical physics, myself, I've been wondering if there is a better way to break things up. Firstly, a large part of the problem is that we have so many remedial level questions and homework questions. I wonder if the needs for such a breakup could be better served by leaving this physics SE as the "theoretical" physics SE (and by many accounts, I think this is already the best term to describe it), and create a new stack exchange focused around exchanging and answering physics problems.

By doing this, we could expand the scope of physics in stack exchange (something I think is missing in the other proposal), meaning that we could loosen the acceptance criteria for physics problems. I think that a physics problems stack exchange would have great utility to teachers as a problem bank, for students in classes, and for practice in general.

  • $\begingroup$ I like the idea where people can rate the value of the homework question and answers. I'm sure there's a lot of questions in jackson's book that would get rated very highly $\endgroup$ – Larry Harson Oct 24 '11 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ At the moment, I think we can be happy if the company does not close / sell the whole SE network. Check their MSO posts, the company statements consequently ignore all their sites except the English SO. $\endgroup$ – peterh - Reinstate Monica Feb 5 '20 at 9:15

I don't think this is a good idea, for two reasons:

  • The physics community at Stack Exchange is already fragmented, and introducing a whole new site will just divide people's attention further. Alternatively, if one of this site or TP.SE is going to disappear, it's going to be this one.
  • The kinds of problems you're talking about treating at this new site, namely homework-like problems, are really just not suitable for the Stack Exchange format, unless they're carefully written. Homework-like problems usually require a discussion, because students tend to be unsure of their work and you have to give them step-by-step hints and explanations.

In any case, you say that we have a problem of too many remedial-level questions, but I don't think that's true. I look at the front page of the question list and I see very few questions which I'd consider "remedial" (i.e. so basic that they are of essentially no value). If you want to say that we have some low-level questions, then sure, we do, but that's not a problem. One of the goals of this site from day one has been that physics questions of any level are acceptable as long as they're well formulated.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree with most of what you said. I was echoing a lot of what I thought other people were saying, but I didn't mean to present them as my own view. For instance, I don't think that physics SE has too many remedial level questions at all. And obviously it would not make sense to have 3 physics sites. $\endgroup$ – Alan Rominger Oct 20 '11 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough. It never hurts to bring the idea up. $\endgroup$ – David Z Oct 21 '11 at 3:04
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    $\begingroup$ I dont understand the first bullet point, in particular the last sentence. Has TP.SE not already disapeard, such that there in no fragmentation of the physics community at SE left at present? $\endgroup$ – Dilaton May 13 '13 at 10:36

I think we can have many of these questions here.

I'm thinking about classic excercises you find on problem sheets, like:

Movement of a bead on a wire (Lagrangian mechanics)
Prove that angular momentum is conserved in two-body problem
Gravitational field of a hollow spherical-symmetric shell
Electromagnetic field of a certain charge configuration
Calculate the density of states in 3D

These tend to be well-formulated problems. They have canonical answers that are not trivial, but not too long. Every physics student encounters them in their studies. But they are not "trade secrets", since they are documented in many books, so posting them here will not do harm to the students or their tutors. Questions like this are an easy way to generate some quality content for the site.

While yes, in principle there could be another site (like code golf for stackoverflow), I agree with David that there are not enough contributors, and not enough questions to carry two sites.

Note that I'm not arguing to open the gates on all homework-type questions. We shouldn't allow "do my work" questions, but rather have people ask about the specific problems they're stuck with, as we do know. But there's a big difference between "do my homework" questions which tend to be sloppily written and too localized, and "here is an interesting problem"-type questions, that are polished and have an insightful and useful answer.


I think that a problem corner inside the Main Physics Stack Exchange Site will be extremely useful and convenient.

The reasons being

  • The same people who participate in the Physics Stack Exchange will also be interested in Homework problems, And it is not aimed at a different audience.

  • I have no issues with people asking Homework Problems, barring the fact that it would end up turning into a site where Assignments will be solved, and will dilute the purpose of this site.

  • The site as it currently works most homework like problems end up being closed, unless the user demonstrates he has attempted to solve the question and has got stuck at some place, criterion that is fairly arbitrary in my opinion.

  • Personally I feel that the community would benefit from questions based on homework like problems, But it should be done in way so that it does not cause a distraction from the main activities of the site.

Therefore I feel something like a "Problem Corner" inside the Main Site, would be a nice addition. It would keep questions segregated and As Homework problems are a fair chunk of this site, It is a pity to see them closed.


I like your idea very much. We are well aware, for whom Phys.SE is for.

I've proposed a new website named Physics Problems on Area51. The targeted audience is not required to be a student of Physics.

I, in no way favour to help verbatim homework questions. My sole purpose is to make a platform, where people, who do not have access of teacher or peers etc, could get help for learning Physics.

Stack Exchange Q&A site proposal: Physics problems http://area51.stackexchange.com/ads/proposal/69198.png

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    $\begingroup$ This would be immensely useful for people who are selfstudying or delving into a new subject on their own etc, who have nobody to ask face to face, and who are at present not served by the existing physics SE site. +1 $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Jun 14 '14 at 11:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Dilaton It looks like I'm again going to be suspended. This time for just saying "thank you". What to say, rules, policies, bla bla bla. $\endgroup$ – user31782 Jun 14 '14 at 12:37

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