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So, some of you may have heard of how a couple of us tried to propose a new physics site for less conceptual questions and more problem solving, the proposal was closed, and we ended up creating a new site outside of the stack exchange network (see here for more details). In this post, I'm going to explain the scope of the new site, the current site construction progress, and at the end, ask about what the community thinks about migrating questions and such matters.

Scope:

Our site is currently called Physics Problems Q&A, and is a site that is for students of physics, physics enthusiasts, and all those who love explaining physics. The purpose of the site is to help answer questions users have about solving specific problems about physics. We do require that work be shown, both the thought process and the actual math - to quote our first meta post:

Defining "efforts" is most certainly not easy and merits some thought. [...] We ask that you try to show two main things:

  1. Your train of thought, or why you were thinking what you were thinking. So don't just put the math, necessarily, put why you thought that math was appropriate for the situation. Then, the answerer can clarify whether or not that approach was appropriate, and why.

  2. What you were thinking. This goes more along the lines of your actual attempt, i.e., the math you used to solve the problem. Sometimes this is not applicable like in situations where you have absolutely no idea what to do. In that case we'd ask that you include #1 and why you are having trouble including #2. However, I would always include your math if you have it, even down to the more basic steps.

Feel welcome to join our site and read through this meta post to have an understanding of what our site is all about, and even contribute to the discussion!

Construction Progress:

This site is incredibly new. Currently, we have a meta, the main site, commenting, answering, flagging, closing, upvoting, downvoting, MathJax accommodation, a basic rep system (I'll be updating this with more information on that for the curious) - in general, the main features of a stack exchange site.

One of the main things we're missing is a full chat room - currently, it is moderators only and doesn't accommodate pictures and such, so currently we are using a stack exchange chat room (ping us there if you have any questions). We're also designing the background of the site, and the rep system might be updated as we find things we should fix. We're also editing the flagging and closing features such that you pick a reason instead of just typing in whatever.

Please, please, please: ping us if you notice something terribly wrong or just something that bothers you - we'll work on that.

Relations between Physics.SE and Physics Problems Q&A

So now, the open questions I have for the community here.

  1. Would you be okay with us copying over (and attributing) some of your closed questions that would be on-topic at our site?
  2. Would you want to have some of our closed questions that would be on-topic at your site? (One of our close reasons is "too conceptual".)

These are just some thoughts to get the ball rolling. Please, tell me what you think!

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    $\begingroup$ IANAL, but I think that in order to really answer the questions posed, Physics Problems Q&A is going to have to first settle on a content policy. At least after a quick perusal of the site I couldn't find anything on this matter, which might be problematic. As per SE's Terms of Service all subscriber content is licensed to SE under CC BY-SA 3.0, which broadly specifies under what conditions content can be copied. $\endgroup$ – user29205 Nov 4 '16 at 11:59
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    $\begingroup$ @arjafi, thank you for your concern, but this isn't really about what's legal, but what the community wants. $\endgroup$ – heather Nov 4 '16 at 12:00
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    $\begingroup$ @arjafi, very good point, we will be working on making this available as soon as we can. $\endgroup$ – Kenshin Nov 4 '16 at 12:14
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    $\begingroup$ It is curious to me that you have created a site entirely separate from Physics SE, and the whole SE network, yet you think that there should be a close and enduring relationship between them. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Nov 4 '16 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ @JonCuster Well, SE declined to host the site. Otherwise it would have been a part of the network. $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 4 '16 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/9537/… $\endgroup$ – Muze Jan 30 '17 at 0:54
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I'll just post a quick note regarding your questions on 'migration'

Would you be okay with us copying over (and attributing) some of your closed questions that would be on-topic at our site?

All of the user-contributed content on the Stack Exchange platforms is licensed under a Creative Commons license, as indicated in the footer everywhere on the site:

user contributions licensed under cc by-sa 3.0 with attribution required.

This means that you are free to re-post any user-provided content you find on any Stack Exchange sites, as long as you follow the attribution guidelines indicated on the link above (within a reasonable interpretation on the constraints of your platform). Normally this means

  1. Indicating that the content comes from the Stack Exchange site you took it from, with
  2. a link to the page it appears in, and
  3. a link to the user profile page of the author of the post, along with
  4. visual indication of the author's username.

One site that does this correctly is Physics Overflow - if you head over to there and click some random question, odds are that you'll see the post import banner. It doesn't need to be in red, though - it just needs to be clearly visible.

In addition to these attribution requirements, you also need to comply with the Share-Alike component of the license. You can sell the content if you wish, but whenever you make the content available to other people it needs to be under the CC BY-SA license or a compatible license. Please make sure to take the time to understand this license before re-publishing any SE content - it's good for you, your site, your users, and the internet as a whole.

On the other hand, I would recommend that you weigh carefully whether you want to import content directly, as opposed to asking the OP to re-post on your site. That will get you a much more engaged asker, which is particularly important for your model. If the asker re-posts, the legal issues go away, even if it is an exactly identical post. This is because the OP retains the copyright for the content, and they are just licensing it to you separately to the license they gave to SE.

... and, speaking of which, if you haven't done so already, you need to have a clear policy of the terms under which users contribute content to your site. I would recommend a CC BY-SA license as on SE sites and Wikipedia (which among other nice things enables you to use content from SE and Wikipedia), but ultimately it's up to you. Just choose something, and don't leave it in the air.


Thus far for the "legal" part. As for what the community "wants", that's mostly what the legal part is for: when users post on Stack Exchange, they agree that their content is re-postable anywhere under those guidelines. (And, of course, if this makes you uncomfortable, you should stop posting now.)

That said, if you build a site that's built entirely (or almost entirely) out of PSE questions then you might get a bit of evil eye from people. This is particularly so if you import questions which are open on PSE and try to hijack or co-opt those discussions (or do stuff that looks like that's what you're doing). If you only re-use closed questions, this is much less likely to be an issue.

There is, though one relatively sensitive issue, and it's to do with how and where you link to your site. If you reuse a closed homework-like question here, the polite thing to do is to inform the OP that you have done so, thus providing them with an avenue for answers on the terms of your new site. I personally don't find it that problematic (particularly for strict homework questions that are clearly not a fit here and which will eventually get sweeped up by the autodeletion mechanisms).

However, some people here take an exception to that, and it can be perceived as spam. This has happened in the past and it has led to suspensions, so: before you start doing systematic commenting campaigns that link to your new site, make sure that you have a significant consensus both of users and moderators that this is OK.


Oh, and one more thing: If you import users in some way, and you make some user board that includes imported users, like Physics Overflow, then do not list imported users without some visual indication, on the user board itself, that this is what you've done.

If you don't do this, then you are making an implicit guarantee that the people you're listing endorse your site, when they may not even be aware of its existence or be less than thrilled at your reuse of the content. This isn't a great way to start a relationship, so be careful with how you present that: be mindful that many people contribute to Stack Exchange under their full names, and that using their names online in ways they haven't approved of is a breach of courtesy.


Regarding your other question,

Would you want to have some of our closed questions that would be on-topic at your site? (One of our close reasons is "too conceptual".)

We will continue to accept questions as usual. If someone asks something on your site that's not a fit there but which would be on-topic here, feel free to send them this way. (Of course, we won't relax any standards just because it came from your site, either.)

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    $\begingroup$ Mostly this is what I would have written. I'd add that suspensions for spamming tend to come when most of a person's contributions consists of links, and they get warned and don't stop. If you keep contributing normally and happen to post a few links here and there, it's fine. Also, I'd be even more reserved about importing user accounts - it's somewhat deceitful to create a full-fledged account for someone who didn't actually register on the site. E.g. when a question is migrated to an SE site where the asker doesn't have an account, one is not automatically created for them. $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 4 '16 at 17:12
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, David, but I find that to be extremely disingenuous - it certainly wasn't the case on the last go-round (around the time of this one), when users with a long and fruitful history of contributions were suspended over posting common-courtesy links to Physics Overflow (and, as I recall, without warning, either). Pretending that this wasn't the case, and that there's no danger of it happening again, helps no one. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Nov 5 '16 at 1:09
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    $\begingroup$ On the user accounts, I'm not opposed to PO's solutions for the individual user pages, which have stated from the beginning that they are placeholder accounts for a non-PO-active user's imported posts. It also takes a lot of coding to produce non-active accounts that become active when users take possession, so I don't think it's a useful grudge to hold. However, the original PO user board, with no indication of active/inactive status, was completely beyond the pale of anything resembling common courtesy. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Nov 5 '16 at 1:12
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    $\begingroup$ I'm hesitant to recommend any user importing, regardless of active/inactive flags or otherwise indicating such. I shouldn't have to go and interact with a site I have no desire to interact with in order to have my name scrubbed from its list of users. Linking to answers/questions is one thing, I contributed those here under CC, but I didn't contribute my username to be listed as a user anywhere somebody feels like it. It should be an opt-in (entirely, not partially like claiming an account) rather than an opt-out. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Nov 5 '16 at 2:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Emilio (5 comments up) What are you talking about? The meta question you linked has nothing to do with any suspensions, as far as I can tell, and it certainly doesn't link to any evidence of the claims you make in your comment. If you're going to make those claims, you'd better back them up properly. $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 5 '16 at 4:45
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZ as you are asking for evidence for what Emilio says (he is exactly right) I am probably best qualified to provide it, as I was among the people who got suspended without warning for 1 year for posting on-topic comments that summerized and linked to answers on PhysicsOverflow. I am willing to repost here the banning moderator message you have written to me as proof if needed. This meta discussion is also relevant in this context. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Nov 5 '16 at 12:28
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    $\begingroup$ @tpg2114, we won't be importing users on the new site :-) $\endgroup$ – Kenshin Nov 5 '16 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZ The evidence has kindly been provided by Dilaton. I should note, however, that asking for proof of a previous suspension is much too high a bar, by construction: all official signs of suspension are washed away when it ends, there is never a statement of reasons by the mods, and meta threads discussing individual are explicitly shut down. I don't disagree with those policies, but they do mean that finding explicit proof is an enormous challenge. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Nov 5 '16 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ @heather I don't think it should get you suspended (pending seeing said comments), but as I said: to avoid any unpleasantness, please make sure there is a user and moderator consensus that it's OK before embarking on a systematic campaign. I would say that you're safe until and unless you get a warning, but that seems sadly not to be the case. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Nov 5 '16 at 14:17
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    $\begingroup$ @heather uhhh... ask? Seriously. I would suggest commenting on ~5/10 posts as a sample, and then asking on chat and on meta (an answer here would be a good venue) whether it's OK or whether it's seen as overly promotional. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Nov 5 '16 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty Dilaton has provided a claim. That's something, but it's not evidence. Anyway, I may have taken the wrong approach in my last comment; part of the reason we don't discuss details of suspensions is precisely to discourage people from rehashing past misdeeds like this. So let me repeat that the suspensions in question tend to come when a person is contributing mostly links, and not without warning. It's unfair of you to publicly claim that this has not been the case in the past, knowing that we do not discuss specific cases. If you have such concerns, take them to the SE team. $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 5 '16 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, @DavidZ, but no. I stand by the claims in my answer. If you feel that Dilaton's comment is inaccurate (or any other information in the public record), now is the time to set the record straight. You're also on record stating that there is no requirement of warnings before suspensions. Similarly, if you feel that my calls to caution are unnecessary or alarmist, this is the place to reassure heather and others that they won't be suspended for posting links. You can't provide that assurance? Then that's precisely my point. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Nov 5 '16 at 16:30
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZ I commented that because that's what happened, and you were essentially whitewashing over it. You cannot deny past events as precedent. If you want to move past that, an answer on this thread laying out an explicit policy for links-in-comments to this new site would be very welcome. It does need, however, to be consistent with the public record on the previous application of such policies, or explain that there's been a change of policy (or set the record straight if it is incorrect). $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Nov 5 '16 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZ I don't insist on referring to specific instances - I insist on not pretending that they didn't happen. As for a separate meta question, it's probably best for the organizers of the new site to post that. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Nov 5 '16 at 17:13
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    $\begingroup$ For the record, the official block reason given by David Z for Dilaton's suspension was "in the past 3 months 39 of your 62 comments have been links to Physics Overflow" (full text here -- txt.do/d5xx2 ). But it's the past, during a time where a couple of other SE policies got ignored as well (e.g. the lack of response from SE for requests of text for previous block reasons, or the silence under the "proper channels" that David suggested for discussing suspensions), and hey, even the mods here agree it's not going to happen again :-) $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Nov 6 '16 at 12:25

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