I’ve become totally enamored with the CSTheory stack exchange site. It’s proving very addictive, but in exchange for the time I spend on the site I am finding that I am learning a lot of new things, and a few new tricks.
I had hoped that the Physics stack exchange site might become a similar resource for physicists (and I still very much self-identify as a physicist). Unfortunately this has turned out not to be the case. There was never a policy dictating that questions should be research level (as there was both for CSTheory and MathOverflow), and this has led to the majority of questions either being basic undergrad type questions or pop-sci question. As a result, there are also very many poor answers which contain common misconceptions, but which get up-voted. Consequently, I don’t think the site is likely to be an attractive propositions for active researchers.
However, I don’t want to just complain and not offer a solution, so I have set up a proposal for a Theoretical Physics stack exchange site. The aim of the site would be to provide a question and answers site aimed at research level questions only, akin to the CSTheory stack exchange site and MathOverflow. Personally I find both sites to be phenomenal resources, and I think it’s high time we physicists had something similar.
I proposed the site as being for theoretical and mathematical physics and not physics in general only because I think that spanning both theory and experiment might make the scope of the site too broad, making it harder to get good answers to specific questions in any one area. Experimentalists with theory questions (or better yet, theory answers) are of course encouraged to participate.
The process of defining the site is entirely democratic, so you don’t need to worry about whether you trust my judgement or not. If the site reaches beta temporary moderators are elected by the community. This is also why it is important to have a solid group of physicists early on, to set the level and tone of the site.
So, if you are a physicist and this sounds like something that might interest you, why not visit and help shape the scope and level of the site by submitting sample questions or voting on whether you think the questions submitted by others would be consistent with such a site?