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Physics Stack Exchange is experiencing the throes of very bad days. Lots of main and key users (compared to the total number of them) have left or are leaving.

Examples of community destruction, with such users leaving, have been discussed in Physics Meta posts:

Others have become inactive:

Many others are suspended:

The professional aspect of the site is heavily suppressed, and the site is now converting to a homework-answering site.

Now, many of the users there believe that the arguably authoritarian, thoughtless and naive style of moderation is the main cause of these issues.

I didn't ask this using my real account because these type of discussions are considered "useless" and "harmful to the community" there by the moderators. And they're often deleted, such as this , which was exactly a discussion on the same issue.

I want to know if the StackExchange Community Team (those other than the currently involved moderators at Physics Stack Exchange) can intervene and solve the issues.

We really need help.

Important Note:

  • Almost all the mods at Phys.SE are among those knowledgeable academics and experts themselves and their presence is honestly appreciated. Moderation is another story, and what I mean in the question by bad style of moderation is mainly caused by some of their decisions, and more importantly those guided by some external mods, mostly in the past. (As Shog9 pointed to in his first paragraph of his answer)

closed as off-topic by Martijn Pieters, rene, psubsee2003, ShaWiz, Undo Jul 12 '14 at 22:50

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question pertains only to a specific site in the Stack Exchange Network. Questions on Meta Stack Exchange should pertain to our network or software that drives it as a whole, within the guidelines defined in the help center. You should ask this question on the meta site where your concern originated." – Martijn Pieters, rene, psubsee2003, ShaWiz, Undo
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 18
    "I didn't use my main account to ask this question" -- Why not? – Josh Crozier Oct 30 '13 at 23:53
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    Before this gets downvoted to oblivion, can anyone validate what this user is saying? Is there a problem? – slugster Oct 30 '13 at 23:55
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    @Emrakul I do not expect you to exactly understand the situation there. I just wanted to know how to contact someone other than the current moderators at Phys.SE for help. – Vanished User Oct 31 '13 at 0:06
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    By pivotal you mean polarizing – random Oct 31 '13 at 0:28
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    A a noble prize winner .. awesome – NullPoiиteя Oct 31 '13 at 1:03
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    Thanks for your concerns and trying to help Physics SE, but as you can see no help can be found here. A good idea would be to look at what MathOverflow, which is a rather academic research-level science site, manages to retain its experts, keep up the quality of their content, and adjust the style of moderation on Physics SE accordingly. And please dont mind the downvotes, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your question. It is a well meaned and honest try to help wich is good. The people who are not interested in the issue or do not want to spend time reading it could just ignore it. – Dilaton Oct 31 '13 at 1:29
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    Ironically, none of the suspended users is a professional physicist. – Sklivvz Oct 31 '13 at 1:38
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    A someone who downvoted this prior to Shog's comment, I did so because it seems like this question was posted anonymously to meta for questionable motives which are far more likely to make the situation worse, not better. The fact that it's posted anonymously makes me think that the person knows it was a poor idea, knew so before hand, and just didn't want to take responsibility for it. – jmac Oct 31 '13 at 2:09
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    @Dilaton, I'm a bit confused. Skliwz said they are not professional physicists. Your argument is that they are not only not professional physicists, but they also aren't academic physicists either? – jmac Oct 31 '13 at 2:19
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    One of the suspended users is actually a good physicist, and we (the moderators) tried many ways and many times to get him to conform to the (quite modest) guidelines for civilized conflict on the site (because physics often engenders some conflict). I personally once spent more than an hour painstakingly editing a 30 post comment-string to strip out the personal attacks and leave the interesting and valuable physics argument therein. The user then returned and re-posted the insults and added a few directed at me. – dmckee Oct 31 '13 at 2:26
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    @VanishedUser I have almost 6000 reputation on Physics. As a comparison, Dilaton and Dimension10 do not reach 4000 (IIRC). Yet in your comments they are "key users" and "I know NOTHING"? – Sklivvz Oct 31 '13 at 2:27
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    You two need to break it up. Dilaton, Skliwz is not claiming omniscience but rejecting your claim of their ignorance. There is no argument to be had here. – doppelgreener Oct 31 '13 at 2:38
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    @DImension10AbhimanyuPS I am trying to be as polite as I possibly can now. You have a fixed view point which you are unwilling to concede. I think it would be best if you maybe started participating on other forums/sites since the only thing I see you doing here (and I have seen many times in the past, which is something, as I dont even actively participate on Physics.SE) is acting highly unprofessionally and then complaining about dropping standards. – asheeshr Oct 31 '13 at 4:32
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    He's saying, if you don't like it here you should leave, @DImension. Which is... pretty good advice. It's a big Internet; why do something that makes you unhappy? – Shog9 Oct 31 '13 at 4:54
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    Read my answer, @Vanish - then read this and this. I can't "save" P.SE - heck, I'm not even convinced it needs saving. But if it needs anything, it needs the folks who make up the community there to sit down and talk to each other, calmly, respectfully, and work out the problems with the site among each other. I'm sick to death of every discussion I see on that site, no matter how trivial, being clogged with juvenile drama... So, will you be part of a solution, or part of the problem? – Shog9 Oct 31 '13 at 15:48
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I want to know if the main moderation team at StackExchange (someone other than the current involved moderators at Phys.SE) can intervene and solve the issues. We really need help.

Be careful what you ask for... The last time we had to step in and help moderate Physics.SE (as in, daily flag-handling, support, etc.) we ended up having to suspend one of the folks on your list because he wouldn't stop harassing people on the site.

You want to know what the problem with Physics.SE is? Most of you don't want to be involved in the dirty, boring parts of running a site, but you'll cheerfully spend all damn day criticizing anyone who is willing to step up and do it.

Tired of lazy homework questions? Then close them. Tired of crackpots arguing endlessly? Down-vote them, and create some guidelines that let you delete such posts / conversations in good conscience. Tired of intelligent, knowledgeable folk leaving? Stop kissing the feet of every loud-mouth who wants a soapbox.

If you don't have the time, guts or talent to do any of that, maybe stop spitting in the faces of the folks who do. Spend some time talking to the moderators, letting them know what you hope to accomplish, and then get out of their way and let them help you.

What's that? You say you're unhappy with the moderators you elected, and you want folks like me to step in and save you from them? Nonsense - you just want someone else to take your side in yet another stupid, unproductive argument that has nothing to do with Physics and everything to do with your own boredom.

If you want our help, show us that you deserve it - step up and try to do something yourself, using the tools you've been given, and when you hit a roadblock then ask for assistance.

Until then, stop whining - you're annoying the folks who are actually trying to get stuff done.

  • 29
    @Vanished well, what should he say? That it's great? That it's a tragedy? What difference would it make what Shog says about it? His point is that it's up to the Physics community to formulate its own policies that help make the site attractive again. For example, banning homework questions, one of Ben Crowell's main complaints. This (tightening the scope to explicitly exclude non-professionals) has been done before, e.g. on Serverfault – Pëkka Oct 31 '13 at 1:22
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    Hmm, this seems too much like someone who actually knows what's going on. Such bias – random Oct 31 '13 at 1:23
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    The start? Oh, good lord no, @Vanished. You think experts weren't leaving until then? Why do you think we were there helping out in the first place?! Were you even around when the discussions you refer to were deleted, when this was all discussed on meta and a compromise arrived at? Did you help in any way, or did you just wring your hands uselessly then too? – Shog9 Oct 31 '13 at 1:39
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    These are communities, websites, not prisons, @Vanished. Folks leave. Sometimes, they come back. Would you stand in their way? Tell them, "I say where you go and what you do!"? Surely not. Yet you wonder why someone with many accomplishments would not spend his time where you want him to be for your amusement - this is foolishness! If you want the site to be more welcoming to the folks you respect, then start by doing respectable things on it. Strive to make it a place you're proud of, and then hope that others will be too. This is how good things are born, not from crying and wishing. – Shog9 Oct 31 '13 at 1:45
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    You woke the Shog! :) – Larian LeQuella Oct 31 '13 at 1:49
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    I'm liking this side of you (but I'm also a little scared of it). – Jamal Oct 31 '13 at 1:54
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    The future of Physics is in the hands of its membership, @Vanished. But I appreciate the well-wishes for Pets - I think it's off to a pretty good start. – Shog9 Oct 31 '13 at 2:46
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    @VanishedUser The only argument that you seem to be making here is that anything and everything the "knowledgable" users say should be preserved and set in stone, while anything and everything that the mods have been telling and doing by spending hours on maintaining the site and doing janitorial work is bull. Please have a look at what Stack Exchange sites are about. Its about communities and groups sharing knowledge, not the personal playground of a few users. Also, had mods been breaking SE policies or violating network standards, they would have been spoken to, before things aggravated. – asheeshr Oct 31 '13 at 3:03
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    We just hired a new gal, @AsheeshR - I guess we could put her on it. But I kinda want her to not quit. – Shog9 Oct 31 '13 at 3:10
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    @Shog9 As a somewhat high-rep user of -- and, more importantly, active contributor to -- Physics StackExchange, thank you. Every point is spot-on. – user206562 Oct 31 '13 at 7:55
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    As a relative newbie to Physics.SE, I agree with Chris White – user234239 Oct 31 '13 at 8:28
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    the only way out is what @shog is suggesting. we can't fix your community from the outside. we have a set of rules because, empirically, communities will degenerate if they don't tackle some specific problems. the problems you have are mostly due to having tolerated nasty people because of their technical contributions. the facts are that good contents are ultimately a product of a healthy community and not vice versa – Sklivvz Oct 31 '13 at 11:52
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    @VanishedUser: MathOverflow has succeeded in no small part because they crush relentlessly the kind of behavior that has caused such strife on Physics. The moderation you've had to endure on Physics is kindergarten stuff compared to the level of oversight the overlords on MathOverflow provide. – Robert Harvey Oct 31 '13 at 17:44
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    Heh... Just to confirm what @Robert said: the MO mods are awesome people who dearly love their community and are fiercely protective of it. Since upgrading MO to the SE 2.0 platform, I've had the opportunity to more closely observe how they handle cranks and malcontents on their site... The Physics mods are kittens by comparison. – Shog9 Oct 31 '13 at 18:12
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    @VanishedUser I've seen MO being brought up a lot in the context of these discussions. You know about those civility rules? They have them, and don't see why an academic community would need the ability to be rude. – Manishearth Nov 1 '13 at 12:55
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As you posted with a sock puppet I'll address the vocal dissenters ( Dimension/Dilaton/...) directly.

Ron's suspension was perfectly valid, he habitually ignores the rules and has announced a few times on different sites that he'll never follow them. I was watching most of the stuff that happened when he was suspended, and he was just throwing a temper tantrum because one of the moderator candidates was someone he didn't like.

As for everything that has happened after that, I haven't seen such destructive and immature behaviour on any SE site so far. You're always assuming the worst about the moderator's motives when they act, you never even consider that they could have well-intentioned reasons to act that way. You imply or outright accused the mods of deleting posts just because they disagree with them and to suspend users just because they don't like them. You spend hours upon hours to insult Physics.SE users on your comment page on Lubos' blog, calling them "obnoxious non-physics trolls", "politically trolling shithead", "totalitarian monarchs" and similar insults. Anyone that disagrees with you is assumed a non-physicist that only wants to suppress you for political reasons.

You're not helping Physics.SE, you're trying to divide it and destroy it if you don't get your way.

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    Yes, this happened to me, merely because I liked how another member's profile was written (and stated that I did not care who it was about, just it was written well in my view). On that blog, my character was dissected by people who do not know me at all. Regardless of what they assume, I am a physicist and I am happy with my life. They're opinions of me are just words on a blog by names on the screen. – user234239 Oct 31 '13 at 7:56
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    It;s obviously none of the users' you have listed. All three of us know that SE intervention is negative, and Eduardo hasn't even visited this site since a long time. You're not doing anything positive by adding this obnoxious (yes I read that part of your answer) answer, you're just parroting Shog9. – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Oct 31 '13 at 7:56
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As an observer from the inside, here's my view. I've shared this about a million times between the Physics meta and the Physics chat, so what's one more time.

Homework

Do homework questions suck? Sure they do, they're annoying, particularly when they show absolutely zero research effort, are poorly formed, and come in with a "you owe me the answer to this immediately" attitude. But rather than whine and moan, I do my part (because, ya know, I'm part of the community) to clean them up. I downvote, I edit, I flag, and then I move on with my life. There's a reason I've cast hundreds of flags. Do I wish there were more technical questions in my field? Absolutely I do. That's why I am still 25 rep away from 3k. And once I get there, you better believe I'll be closing down really bad questions every chance I get.

Most of my time on SE is really spent doing the janitorial work with the tools I have available to me. I'm busy trying to get my research done and don't have time to answer questions but I do have time to take 5 minutes every few hours and make sure that other people can; that the good questions aren't lost forever in the abyss of homework. Why? Because I see the potential of the site rather than lament the demise. I'd rather take 5 minutes to be part of the solution than complain about the symptoms.

Atmosphere

One of the underlying issues is the suspension of high-rep users who make supposedly significant contributions to the site. This cause other high-rep users to leave. Okay, so we've lost let's say 5-6 users (not all of them significant contributors, but let's just stick with that number) that you can count due to that.

Do you know how many "well respected" potential users were turned off from the site because of the belligerent nature of suspended users? Neither do I. But maybe 10 Nobel laureates took one look at it and said "I don't want to take time to help somebody and be insulted doing it" and walked away.

More to the point, how many good users have been turned away by the acrimonious environment created by this insistence that nobody takes the site seriously and that it's a massive conspiracy to do away with "serious physics?" Do you know? I don't. But I have never in my life heard somebody say "Hey, the people over there are really intelligent and friendly. I think I'll avoid them."

So users who are leaving because the signal to noise ratio is too low, I honestly don't blame them. Because what other reason is there to stay when the environment is so toxic? And, I hate to burst the bubbles of the minority here, but the toxic environment is not created by the moderators. Despite your accusations.

Lastly, Johnathan Hobbs pointed this out in a comment on another answer and I've said it repeatedly too but the message bears repeating. The way in which you present yourself instantly turns people away. Nobody likes a bunch of people who do nothing but insult others and whine. It's not even the message but how it's conveyed. And this is what lead to the suspensions to begin with -- just because you disagree with somebody doesn't mean you have to be rude when you tell them! There is a HUGE difference between "This answer is incorrect because you forgot to consider factor X" and "This is flat out wrong. Downvote! It's stupid that you didn't think about X."

Your supporters say that you have to be argumentative in physics. I disagree. You have to be willing to debate, but not argue. I have never gotten a paper review back that says "You're just a crackpot, REJECT!" because that's insane anybody would do that. And yet that's what the comments tend to be on questions or answers.

Conclusion

Here's the thing. You contend:

Now, many of the users there believe that the arguably authoritarian, thoughtless and naive style of moderation is the main cause of these issues.

I contend that the disgusting and irritating environment created by a select few users who insist that the moderators are only out to censor and suppress them, and that the user base is out to destroy the study of physics are the main cause of much deeper issues. Why on Earth would anybody who reads the posts of the very vocal minority want to jump right in and participate? Why would anybody from the outside look at it and say "Hey, here's a group I can get behind?" Why would good users who see a lull in questions they like to answer decide to stick around just to hear more of the same old whining? Who is to say that you're not causing more problems than you would be solving?

You don't like it? Then get the heck out. Good riddance.

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    You now have 3k rep on physics. Use your new powers wisely, young padawan. – EnergyNumbers Oct 31 '13 at 15:44
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    Well said, @tpg2114, especially about the papers - I have had 4 lots of feedback back lately and the errors, misunderstandings (on both sides) were communicated politely - the notion that being impolite is necessary to Physics is just an opinion of a few - the physicists I work with (internationally in real life) are all polite. – user234239 Oct 31 '13 at 20:17
  • Most of the questions closed on the PSE as "homework", clearly visible aren't. – peterh Feb 12 '17 at 16:45
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First, I'm sure that the Community Managers are aware of the situation(s) on Physics, and they are probably considering what should be done.

Also, if you want to talk to 'the people in charge', there is a contact us link at the bottom of every page:

enter image description here

Or email team@stackexchange.com. Messages sent via either means are considered confidential and aren't shared with anyone outside of the SE team.

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    Both means go to the same place. The contact form is generally more reliable because Google sometimes likes to trap real emails sent directly to team@ in the spam folder where we will never see them because of the sheer amounts of actual spam we get. (And also because hardly anyone opens the actual mailbox since we switched to Zendesk.) – Adam Lear Oct 31 '13 at 1:28
14

I'll note that the Nobel prize winner vanished after being repeatedly harangued by one of those suspended users. So maybe, just maybe, those suspensions aren't part of the problem: maybe they are part of the solution.

I notice that one of the other suspended users, DImension10, has deleted their answer from here. And then, after it was restored by one mod, it was deleted again by the community and a mod (thanks for the correction Sklivvz)

I think that's a shame, because the answer illustrated some of the problems we have over on Physics.SE.

Though not in the way the author intended.

Because DImension10's answer illustrated the problem that Physics.SE has, I've reproduced it below, because it answers the OP's question, though not in the way that DImension10 intended. It answers it by demonstrating by example what is wrong on Physics.SE.

Readers here who have not kept up with the meta.physics of this, may wish to know that some physics users named in the question above are trying to set up a competitor site to Physics.SE outside the Stack Exchange. So their behaviour in dragging Physics.SE down (and trying to get it closed) is consistent with trying to boost their own putative competitor site. Ironically, they even use Stack Exchange chat, profiles and meta questions to try to promote their (as yet non-existent) competitor site.

Anyway, here's the deleted answer, which stood at +2/-31 when I grabbed it. I've made one edit; in an edit, Shog replaced a swear word in their answer with the word "nonsense"; so I've made the same edit to the quoted text below.

Don't shoot me, I'm only the messenger.


Answered 2013-10-31 04:32:47Z DImension10 Abhimanyu

If I have permission to, let me point out how fundamentally stupid Shog9's answer is.

Be careful what you ask for... The last time we had to step in and help moderate Physics.SE (as in, daily flag-handling, support, etc.) we ended up having to suspend one of the folks on your list because he wouldn't stop harassing people on the site.

Harassing people? Criticisting wrong answers is harassing them? You've obviously not seen any real physics, which is why you think that criticism is harassment. Who criticise in programming? It's impossible to convince you, but let me at least try to convince someone else who is hopefully open-minded enough to listen for a while.

Physics does not run on stupid opinions, what the stupid media says is right, or what armchair people say is right. It is obvious that you will have arguments of facts in Physics, because it's not programming, where you can only say "Hey, I like this language!", "No I like this language", "NO, THAT!", etc. Therefore, you think that physics is the same.

In my opinion, it's you who is being the "harass"ing person, as you don't even have facts to support your argument.

You want to know what the problem with Physics.SE is? Most of you don't want to be involved in the dirty, boring parts of running a site, but you'll cheerfully spend all damn day criticizing anyone who is willing to step up and do it.

Like whom? Who, precisely, is this wonderful person? Is it you, Shog9?

Contrary to your claims, we are criticising people who don't give a crap about the site, and only want to earn lots of money from the site.

That's you, Stack Overflow.

Tired of lazy homework questions? Then close them. Ok, here, you have finally made a sensible point. Indeed, there are very few \geq 3000 users who are actually voting to close/reopen. See How much are 3k+ users moderating through the review queue?.

But the problem is, that while mods say that they have refrained from the close vote queue, this is only for the bad questions! They continue to close the good questions as primarily this, too that. What's the problem if a question is slightly opinion-based?

What's the problem with book questions? What's the problem with career advice?

Tired of crackpots arguing endlessly? Down-vote them, and create some guidelines that let you delete such posts / conversations in good conscience.

Who creates the guidelines? The moderators/. There is a non-mainstream policy, but it is often not used, with pathetic excuses, and it doesn't even apply to answers!

Crackpot answers are "just wrong"!.

Tired of intelligent, knowledgeable folk leaving? Stop kissing the feet of every loud-mouth who wants a soapbox.

Tell that to your disciples.

If you don't have the time, guts or talent to do any of that, maybe stop spitting in the faces of the folks who do.

Again, who is this saint? You?

Spend some time talking to the moderators, letting them know what you hope to accomplish, and then get out of their way and let them help you.

Like they care, anyway.

What's that? You say you're unhappy with the moderators you elected, and you want folks like me to step in and save you from them?

What do you expect us to do if the moderators turn into people who don't care about the community, and only about the "SE Model", shun the 2 only good moderators (mbq and Qmechanic, who actually care about the community), etc.?

And we did not elect all of them. The harm-meaning folks from the other sites who never actually care about the site have proven to suddenly start caring about the elections, as can be seen about last year's elections, from the now-censored post who'se html can be found over here: http://psiepsilon.wikia.com/wiki/Ron_Maimon_Suspension.

And don't worry, no matter how much you've censored, the WayBack Machine is there to help us. It now even allows us to archive webpages our selves, from the "/record" page. I have archived everything and have them here: http://psiepsilon.wikia.com/wiki/User_blog:Dimension10/Future_Plans_for_this_Wiki#Physics_Stack_Exchange.

Nonsense - you just want someone else to take your side in yet another stupid, unproductive argument that has nothing to do with Physics and everything to do with your own boredom.

Oh, yes, of course. We just get bored when Ron Maimon got suspended, isn't it ?.

If you want our help, show us that you deserve it - step up and try to do something yourself, using the tools you've been given, and when you hit a roadblock then ask for assistance.

Nobody needs- your help=.

Until then, stop whining - you're annoying the folks who are actually trying to get stuff done.

That's you, isn't it?.

So, after writing your answer, did you ban yourself for unfounded accusations/violation of the "Be Nice" Rule? \ If not, why do these stupid rules only apply to the normal people? Huh?

You obviously want to make another crackpot-filthy wikipedia.

Oh, and I kindly apologise for the rudeness in this post, but it's obviously useless to think that "Well, the mods really don't "not care" about Phys.SE, they just,... don't know how to handle it, maybe they're deaf or something.".


Like I say, I've just copied & pasted DImenstion10's answer, because I think it exemplifies the challenges that the moderators of Physics.SE face. Don't shoot me, I'm only the messenger.

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    Correction: the answer has been nuked by the community and one mod. – Sklivvz Nov 1 '13 at 22:02
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    Well, the first time Dim10 nuked it himself (and after accusing the people who had cast two votes to delete it as a non-answer of censorship). To judge by his comment above he did that in order to be able to cast down votes. Then he seems to have wanted it both ways and undeleted it. Then it was deleted by a user and a mod. – dmckee Nov 1 '13 at 22:56
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    The description of the purpose of a new higher-level physics site in this answer is not correct: As the working name of the project PhysicsOverflow says, its relation to Physics SE should be very similar as the relation of MathOverflow to Mathematics SE. The originial site meant to be some kind of a higher-level PhysicsOverflow complementing Physics SE, Theoretical Physics SE, did not attract a large enough community to be maintained inside the SE network. So it is more reasonable to some kind of restart it with with a slightly broadend scope outside the SE network, instead of venturing ... – Dilaton Nov 2 '13 at 0:30
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    ... a restart at Area51 to not having to fullfill externally prescribed growth and activity criteria. And yes, another (in my personal opinion) advantage of doing it outside SE is that the new site will not have to comply with the SE model and the community can determin all policies and rules by itself. Reading recently a few comments of other people fearing that Physics SE will not survive in the long run, together with some recent meta posts, made me worry too. So I asked this meta question to investigate if graduated sites can get closed too – Dilaton Nov 2 '13 at 0:40
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    for some reason in principle, or if they are save. Happily I learned that such a things are really not expected and most importantly, what I read out of the discussions to this thread, it will not happen to Physics SE ... – Dilaton Nov 2 '13 at 0:45
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    Huh? @EnergyNumbers What swear word? – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Nov 4 '13 at 4:08
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    @dmckee: I nuked it because I needed to cast a downvote. – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Nov 4 '13 at 4:09
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    I find @EnergyNumbers's claim that 't Hooft vanished upon being "harassed" by Ron Maimon a totally misleading claim. Ron Maimon even supported 't Hoof Beable models;!. – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Nov 4 '13 at 4:13
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    It was restored by myself by the way. – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Nov 11 '13 at 13:28
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Well tl;dr is an understatement for this post. I feel like I read a novel. Shog makes such an excellent point about community. Act together as a community to solve problems or it will be difficult to come together on solutions.

In my opinion, the exchange system is not set up purely for professors and professionals to post their findings. As mentioned earlier, it is for professionals and enthusiasts. It just so happens that most students are enthusiastic.

I know a lot of professors, and some Nobel prize winners at UCSB (they have several in physics). Those people are busy. And by busy, I mean that they are being leaned on by their institution to produce the next Nobel prize - not an easy task. Expecting this caliber of person to be actively contributing is a tall order.

All contributions should be appreciated, and taken for what they are. Thus, if a contribution is of little to no value it is downvoted and its folly highlighted. It is important to attract the future contributors of a community, not just to retain current ones. If that means that some people get help with what they got stuck on, albeit homework in some cases (although not copy paste assignments requesting others to do their entire work - no one likes those), then so be it.

In my opinion, there is not a suppression of professionals as much as an increase in enthusiasts. Enthusiasts are important too. Keep in mind that Fall is usually the most active time for the exchanges from a traffic perspective.

Last I checked Jon Skeet doesn't have a PhD, but his contribution to stackoverflow is priceless.

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    The Jon Skeet example doesnt really make sense in the case of Stack Overflow. He was part of the team that designed a programming language (C#). I think thats as high as it goes in the field of professional programming. – asheeshr Oct 31 '13 at 5:19
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    @AsheeshR - Hard to quote every comment I read for perfect context. My point there was in reference to the back and forth about students or professors. The point being that the user does not have to be a professor in order to teach. And although I believe Jon Skeet could probably design the c# language, I am fairly certain he had nothing to do with its inception given that he had only just graduated a year before its appearance and he was not a MS MVP until 2003. – Travis J Oct 31 '13 at 5:28
  • My bad. My statement was incomplete. He was part of the team that worked on one version of C# and wrote the specs for it or something along those lines. – asheeshr Oct 31 '13 at 5:34
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    @AsheeshR Are you sure you're not thinking of Eric Lippert? Granted I'm not an expert on Jon's history, but I'm pretty sure he's never worked at Microsoft. – Servy Oct 31 '13 at 16:44

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