Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Discussion about old and new theoretical physics forums

Update: Physics Overflow is live!
I am not taking any positions about these matters – and about the Stack Exchange forums, their contents, and their moderators, among related topics – but this blog entry was written with the only purpose: to allow the exchange of information and opinions between users who are interested in the debate about the sufficiency of the existing forums and about the possibilities to create and sustain new ones (and about their desirability and role).

However, I must assure everyone that it is not easy to create and maintain a discussion forum and to guarantee the appropriate amount of quality traffic, especially if the forum is supposed to be focused on a narrower class of topics than the Physics Stack Exchange – and "purely theoretical" physics questions represent a small subset, indeed.

Years ago, we established a USENET group, sci.physics.strings, that was supposed to be dedicated to string theory and other topics in particle and theoretical physics that aren't beloved by the armchair physicists who dominated in a related and larger USENET group, sci.physics.research.

It was moderately hard to go through the bureaucracy and technical arrangements needed to create a new USENET group. We (with Arvind Rajaraman, Urs Schreiber, and perhaps others) won the existential vote. Hundreds of quality contributions and threads (400+ threads?) were posted but it needed lots of work. The traffic tends to be low especially because serious researchers don't have the free time and desire – or they think that they don't have the time and desire – to discuss on the Internet.

I think that at the end, the USENET group was closed for some technical reasons. Some scripts became dysfunctional on an updated Linux or something like that. I forgot what was that exactly. USENET was arguably an outdated technological framework for any discussions from the beginning of sci.physics.strings, anyway. Those are the reasons why I attribute some credit to the "owners" or "managers" of similar forums and assume that this service they're doing for the world gives them some natural rights, too.

The debaters below are encouraged to maintain some professional tone, especially if they're discussing about the people (and their work) who can't defend themselves here.


  1. Mille thanks for this Lumo :-)

  2. I am interested in a string theory forum and would like to see comments in one. I am not an "expert" in the field but I had some kind of preparation. (Some courses here and there on string theory, CFT, etc.) I am extremely interested in dualities. I try to get more into "mirror symmetry" and see the different ways in which it manifests itself and right now I am into reading several books... (looking for some introduction in intersection theory)... Well, I would certainly like to see a discussion forum about these topics but I am not sure how much I'll be able to contribute at least at the beginning... without making myself look like a complete idiot... :) I am really surprised that string theory is so "unpleasant"... my limited knowledge in the field may already bring me some benefits so I really don't understand why people are so "against" it... Really glad I found this blog and the associated forums!

  3. Now that the firewalls are splashed on the pages of the nytimes, I wonder whether the debates in modern science have not grown by far more sophisticated and complex in how they unfold. I give kudos to Dennis Overbye in tracking down all the connections that are splashed across the web in a far reaching debate (although, I suspect he had help). What is interesting is that firewalls are a multimedia discussion topic, ranging from chalkboards and emails, to papers, blog posts and entire essay contests (e.g. fxqi). Just tracking the debate is outside the abilities of most armchair amateurs (although not for some of the professional armchair types...ahem...woot-woot!). Some of this is a natural evolution, a gentlemanly open discussion that can only be followed by people who can recognize the names and subtle trails of old debates, a little head nod here, and a friendly nudge there. The string debate is similarly far ranging. While the overt paper or blog post may occasionally address the topic directly, the discussion has moved into a metaworld where the debate and research never mention the word string, yet continues with every 1/L-ie that one finds carefully embedded in the subtle subtext of an argument. Discussion centers around people, and the debates are fleeting, spontaneous and flashlike. A landscape of elite minds engaged in whirlwind of seemingly non-coordinated banter. Admission to discussion is merely understanding and time. Someday the sophisticated student will begin mapping this menagerie of dialogue, so some future professor can ponder the bizarre enormity and significance, only to ponder about how history is now and no one was none the wiser.

  4. Where is Dilaton? He knows that stuff better than anyone

    Anyway the problem with these forums is that they get
    momentum at the beginning but then people get bored and the whole thing starts to decline.

    The thing is that you need experts with spare time and these are very hard to find. If there are dedicated people out there willing to contribute, it would be amazing.

    I would also propose some kind of a fee, let’s sat 20 euros per year. This would enable people to take it seriously.

  5. Hi Giotis ;-)

    I'm here, planning to write some longer comments ...

  6. I think it is high time to start a new higher-level theoretical physics question and answer site, because even though Physics.SE still claims to be a site targetted at researchers, academics, and (university?) students of physics and astronomy, as can be read for example here

    this is in fact no longer the case as one can see when looking at the question lists today. The site is largely overrun by people and their questions who are more interested in popular and very basic physics

    and nobody seems to be seriously interested in doing anything about this.

    I have often enough complained about what is in my opinion going very wrong on Physics SE, so I dont have to repeat all of this here and it is enough to link to my profile for details

    In summary, the main grievances are that

    a) The site is heavily politically overmoderated to conform to the (ill defined) goals of the SE network, meaning that some moderators just enforce their personal opinion.

    b) The level of the content has dramatically dropped, research-level fundamental physics questions get no longer the positive attention they deserve

    c) Experts and their contributions and needs are not taken seriously and with the respect they deserve

    d) It hase become legitimate to bully theoretical physicists and/or their work

    e) With the elections at the end of the last year, the nice helpful acadimic community spirit of the site has been replaced by the typical for the larger SE sites unpleasant negative and cold atmosphere

    The bad things have gone too far, they are probably not reversible, so it is best to start a new theoretical physics site for people seriously interested in and working on nice fundamental physics topics such as the FFP is dedicated to for example.

  7. There have already been some discussions about starting a new higher-level physics site on Physics SE, even though not all people were happy with such discussions taking place there ;-)

    and most recently here in this chat room

    At present, only allowed people can talk in that room but people interested in discussion how to start a new physics site would be welcom.

    From our discussions, I and Logan see basically about three ways to go for starting a new higher level physics site (or achieve that we will end up with having one).

    1. The most straight forward way to go is to try it inside the SE network using Area 51, for example by reopening the old TP.SE proposal, which was a very nice small high quality site but was closed in Beta because the SE network does not support such small communities:


    One does not have to worry about hosting and technical support.


    There are 5 friendly people with 2000 rep on Area51 needed to reopen, and in the best case some more to counter possibly occuring closevotes by the usual suspects.

    (Re) Starting a (new) theoretical physics site inside the SE network has as explained in other comments the drawback, that one can not avoid having to deal with (potentially negative) interference with outsiders, and certain activity/traffic criteria have to be fullfilled to keep the site alive and avoid happening (again) the fate of TP.SE

    2. Starting a new higher-level theoretical physics site outside the SE network, maybe on the server of a university with a nice theoretical physics department?


    No negative interference by outsiders, the cntributing community can determine the rules of the game completely on its own.

    No stringent externally prescribed activity/traffic creteria that have to be fullfilled, so a smaller specialized community has better chances to stay viable.


    As Lumo explained, this is a lot of work, financial and technical issues have to be adressed, and some competent people who are willing to but some effort into the project are needed.

    3. Improve the existing Physics.SE site such that people interested in higher level theoretical physics and their contributions feel more welcome and at home again, in order to build a large enough research community such that high-level stuff gets the positive attention it deserves again.


    From a technical and practical point of view this is the easiest and most traight forward thing to do, as the site already exists.


    At present, the site is not exactly welcoming and appreciating higher level theoretical physics, and the current moderation is rather obstructive to building up a research-level community on the site. The site is overrun by people more interested in popular and very basic physics Q&A and higher-level stuff and researchers are marginalized. It may well be that things have gone too far and the changes, that came in the course of the latest elections are irreversible.

    Concerning other physics sites on the internet, I only know Quora a bit:

    My experience is that even my dumb slightly technical questions do hardly find answers there :-/...

    Physics Forum I do not know mach about, it seems to be well structured and maintain some nice fundamental physics topics too, which as I have seen from afare are sometimes even discussed and an acceptable level. However, as the name says this is Forum and not a Q&A site, so for me it is less straight forward to specifically extract information from it about questions and issues that bug me.

  8. If we want to establish a new physics forum, I don't see why it should be limited to theoretical physics. Include experimentalists as well.

  9. Maybe this would help keeping up enough traffic too... So how should it then best be called in this case? Professional Physics, or something along these lines? Thanks for coming here :-)

  10. I am in favor of a new, higher-level physics Q&A site.

    One big advantage of mathoverflow's advanced material is that when a mature researcher is shown the site for the first time, they are more likely to stick around. In light of this I think that high-level material and homework help cannot exist together in a successful site.

    I think that having advanced material means it is also easier to recommend the site to colleagues. Mathoverflow in its early days spread very quickly among grad students, post-docs, and eventually professors through word-of-mouth. We need to be active in getting our colleagues involved in the new site by friendly suggestion, signatures on websites, stickers, &c.

  11. I agree. I think it's also key that we try to include not only high-energy folks, but also condensed matter physicists, quantum informators, and so on.

  12. That is a good point, I suspect the current Physics SE is no longer promotable to grad students, postdocs researchers, etc with all the low-level stuff cluttering the site today ...

    Looking at the first page of the question list would probably not make such people wanting to hang around on the site, so we probably have positive feedback loop (with negative net effects) ... :-/

  13. Here we had some discussion about hosting a site outside SE

    Different more or less straight forward to install and more or less easily adaptable solutions seem to exist.

    An important question to clarifie is if the software has to be free or if people are willing to pay a reasonable fair amount of money for hosting a nice site etc ...

  14. Physics Overflow : )

    I really think that it would be better if Physics.SE would disallow Pop-Sci questions, as it was when Tobias Kleinzer had initally proposed it: . There, most of the low-level questions where gently redirected to Popular Natural Science , the latter being a now-deleted proposal .

  15. About the first llink:

    I also downvoted the question. Simply because the question was phrased like "I hate this site. Where should I go?". Sure, Physics.SE has problems; but really, are you going to ask on the meta of Physics, "I hate this site. Where should I go?"? As a commenter had said, it seems rather parasitic, with no offense intended.

    About Option 1a, reopening TP.SE; impossible. Will take a terrible amount of time, and would require a lot lot more followers and commiters.

    About Option 1b, also very difficult if you want to set up a TP-onlyy site. But if you want to set up a TP+EP (e.g. of the name would be "Physics Overflow", analogous to Math Overflow), that would probably be possible.

    About Option 2, who will really be willing to pay for it??? Who will be *so* willing as to pay a fee each year? ... Unless you're fine with a site that looks nothing likke Stack. Like, on wikia, or propboards, or something. Propboards would look like a forum, and wikia, like a wikia, or a wiki (note that it's not so hard to control vandalism; wikia has an optional reputation system, and pages can be protected as per this reputation too...). Hmm,... Now that I check, it wasn't propboards, that's a forum on its own.

    About Option 3, I would really think that would be good. It may be possible if the popular science proposal succeeds...
    About Option 4a (quora), it's more of a **forum** for **everything**. Certainly not suited for an advanced physics site.

    About Option 4b (physics forums), I had asked some really really really stupid questions there when I was very new to physics, and people didn't mind about ***that***. But when I said something at least slightly sensible, (1) about strings, but I jumbled up the formatting (2) about quarternions, and (3) about the Minkowskian formulation of SR, etc., I was banned. I was also banned for making a sockpuppet and making a fake discussion because I was bored, but they were right there... So they seem to be ok with nonsense posts and not ok with correct posts...

    Here, I propose Option (5):

    Just continue to participate on Physics.SE normally, ignoring the bad questions (and flagging/VTCing if they' are reeeeeeally bad)... Not as ideal as (3), but still, ideal...

  16. "I would also propose some kind of a fee, let’s say 20 euros per year. This would enable people to take it seriously."

    I don't know if you're joking.

  17. Hi Dimension10,

    I some people I talked to said they were willing to even pay a reasonable fee, if needed. So it is not my idea :-)

    That was really Physics Forum that tolerated confused questions and banned you for reasonable contributions.I have observed that quite a large group of people interested in LQG is gathering there, a user called Marcus is very active in this topic there ... So maybe they do not appreciate string theory there ...?

    Your option 5 is a good temporary solution until some kind of Physics Overflow can get started.
    For Physics SE to become a nice higher level site, it would be needed to exchange the current heavy political overmoderation against efforts do mitigate the negative interference of the SE way of thinking ignoring rules and guidelines which are detrimental to the (re)establishment of a nice experts + advanced students rather academic in spirit cummunity...

    And we know both that this will never happen with the current moderation team.... :-/

  18. Looking at this question in the meta part of the Physics proposal

    you see that many SE people have not only strong objections against having two different sites of different level with the same topic...
    Even worse, in the answers to this question people claim that the goal of an SE site is NOT to be useful for the local community who does all the contributions, all that counts is that it is useful for outsiders who google through the internet and randomly stumble upon an SE site.

    Reading this question and its answers is quite disillusioning and my interpretetion of this attitude is that SE sites are by definition NOT meant to be nice places where experts communities can build and enjoy science for example. They are NOT meant as a help and support for international scientific communities, which is a fairy tale I believed in too long :-/

    So to have a high level rather academic physics site inside the SE network, you need a strong moderation team that defends the needs and interests of the expert community against adverse external influences and a community that holds together. And even if there is such a good reasonable moderation team at a certain point in time, there is no guarantee that it will stay that way, since the whole SE network can take part in moderator elections for example, and they do ...

    So my conclusion is that we should really try to build a "Physics Overflow" outside the SE network, if possible!

  19. Physics.SE is a perfect example of the fact that very specific titles are really needed for sites. Maybe if it was named as "Non-popular physics", or something of that sort, it would not be at such a fate right now... In the definition stage, that was certainly the original intention.

    And Wikipedia says that the Stack Overlordss don't interfere with each site...

  20. Oh my God, have they edited the links to this TRF post out of my profile on Physics SE...?!
    Why did they do that ...?

  21. No, the links just disappear when you're suspended (because some users get suspended for promotional material), so they'll return on 22/12/2013.

  22. Yep, I have seen this too,

    I have just copy pasted David's message here to TRF. CrazyBody is really crazy, but I usually thought he is a harmless, cheerfull, funny guy ...
    But now I see that I am wrong, he has been Gollumized to as Gordon Wilson would say ...

    Are there really elections this year too ?! People should not vote for CrazyBody, he would be a terrible mod...

    If there are elections at the beginning December this year indeed, this could be another an additional reason why David has suspended me for such a long time, if you know what I mean ...

    BTW I have written him an answer to his message, but of course nobody will reply ...

  23. Elections are whenever they determine that they need more moderators. Currently Physics SE has 5 moderators and ~40 questions per day. That's a pretty reasonable number. I don't foresee elections this year unless one of the moderators intends to retire.

    In any event, the elections are not regular annual events. They happen whenever they're scheduled. It's not particularly likely that the next election will happen exactly one year after the previous election, though it is possible.

    In any event, regarding elections, all the evidence I've seen suggests that higher rep is very strongly correlated with more votes (to the point that in most elections rep is the single determining factor) for all but the first election. The only exceptions I can find to this are for SO elections. Outside SO on the network (especially science sites) it seems that most voters only really care who has the most rep and not other factors.

  24. Has no one proposed having a single site but a tag for "research-level"? It seems (technically) trivial to present a user with a that looks like a research level site.

    I don't see how you can get around the problem the Theoretical Physics SE had; too little activity; unless you use an existing user base.

  25. nWe have a research-level tag and a fair amount of questions tagged with it, there might still be more questiond that deserve it ...

    The thing is policies are horribly bad, David Z has just suspended me for disagreeing with certain things and certain actions of some people for 4 months Ron Maimon suspended again for a year, David Z locking questions he has unilaterally closed and the community tries to rmeopen, etc ...

    They have gone completely crazy ...

  26. That is too bad, as there are for exame very nice theoretical physics students on the site who are interested in physics and give a damn about rep.

    They would be all much better mods than any of these hungry for power rep hunters we have ... :-/

    BTW good to see you here ;-)

  27. If there are elections this year, I think you'll unfortunately miss it : (

    The last one took in November^ .

    Try making a temporary sockpuppet, and suggest 75 edits...

  28. Come on, Dimension10. Please don't propose similar borderline criminal and surely unconstructive things here, otherwise I will close the thread here.

    This is not a thread for anyone to plan how to hurt any physics forums, regardless of their objections about it.

  29. I'm sorry if that sounded criminal : (

    It was meant to be a joke. I didn't really intend to tell him to make a sockpuppet!

  30. I doubt some moderator overreach situation would be unsolvable or even long-lived. Just give it some time.

  31. Unfortunatelly moderators are exactly overreaching their powe and suppress the community of physicists since the last elections last year :-(

    I once liked David Z a lot, but all he cares now for is the so called SE model at the expense of the academic community of physicists today ...
    That is why he too often counteracts the community by looking questions, unilateral fast closures of high level interesting stuff etc...

  32. It is true that these current crop interfere without much regard to the larger community. There is no impropriety in any of the postings by you and so nothing upon which you should be suspended.

  33. I really don't know what David Z is doing. Maybe he is trying too much to help the site grow and then it becomes harmful; or something, because it's hard to believe that he'd want to do something bad to the site.

    Maybe you'll not be so angry with him a few days after your suspension ends; I too was extremely angry with dmckee for a day or so, when he had suspended me for 7 days, but was fine in a while : ) .
    P.S. After your suspension period ends, you may want to change your parent site to something else, on a site you aren't so active on, like Area 51, so that you'll still be able to ask for the susppension reason in chat, and maybe try to revoke it. In fact, check if you can still change your parent site when you're suspended.

  34. Do you know how I can change the parent site?

    David Z was a very nice guy as I joined the site more than two years ago. Hi nicely listend to the community, took the needs of the physicists serious, was good in mediating upcoming disagreements, etc and he did not shoot down all study material and reference questions ...

    This completely changed with the last elections, today he brutally suppresses the people interested in higher level stuff who have not yet left the site by unilateral actions, preventing community reopening of (in particular higher level) questions, dishing out suspensions just for disagreeing etc ...

    Maybe they want to refocus the site for a new lower level targetted audience, that would explain why Manishearth claimed that your pop-science proposal is a duplicate of Physics SE ...

    Shog9 seems not to be online at present... When I am back home, I will write a mail to the team with a cc to Shog9 and challenge the (length of) the suspension.

  35. On your Chat.SE profile.

  36. Hi Dimension10,

    You should now urgently rea h the 3000 rep such that you are able to countervote bad close votes, discourage bad lazy stuff, reopen wrongly closed good questions, etc...

    I observe that you do similar things to what I would be doing to improve the site again, which is much needed since some politicians and bureaucrats are reaching the 3000 too :/

  37. I tried using Wikia's forum feature (but used it as a Q & A site)%:

    As you can see, these "forums" look exactly like article, except that they are listedw on the ind4ex:

  38. I took a look at Maimon's activity in the days before they slapped another year on his sentence. There was nothing bad that he did. Just comments with clarifications. Unless there is something we don't know, someone is being a vindictive jerk. Likewise, the six months suspension for Dilaton is excessive.

    Would be nice if that one person responsible for these heavy-handed suspensions could be identified and thrown out on their ear. However, I'm afraid that a substantial segment of your physics community (i.e., physicists, not programmers or other amateurs) will always clamor for someone like Maimon to be burned at the stake. That's because (1) he's pushed what are in all likelihood crackpot theories too often (cold fusion) and (2) passive-aggressive types do not like to be told bluntly that they are wrong (as Maimon likes to do) and will always run to teacher to bawl about the meanie who hurt their feelings. If he could drop one of the two (I would prefer that he drop the first and keep the second) things would be manageable, but...

    Switch out the moderators and the same conflicts will reappear. The only way to change the outcome would be to put Maimon himself in charge (not a realistic scenario).

  39. The test question looks not bad, thanks for testing ;-)

    If I have news about setting up some kind of a test site I will report about it here too.

    BTW observing you at Physics SE somehow comforts me as at least someone is looking that not everything goes down the drain.

    The trolling pop-science question claiming that string theory is pseudo-science for example

    should have been closed and downvoted immediately!

    It quete picks me that I cant close- and downvote such things at present and not upvote good things, for example nice new answers Urs Schreiber writes, he does not get enough upvotes...

  40. Is there someone out there who can verify that Stack Exchange sites have
    monthly data dumps which include all questions, answers, and comments
    at the time of the dump?

  41. Really? That test question looks more like a wiki articlee than a forum or Q & A site.

    Also, there's no vote system, which makes it hard for people who don't know the subject to find out which answers are correct : (

    Though it seems that there used to be an older style for these forums which didn't look like a wiki. But I don't know if it can be customised into a Q & A. I could try asking, maybe... And about a vote system too...

  42. P.S. When I was suspended, I had bookmarked a horde of (around 240) posts and comments to vote on later. I stiill haven't acted on them. Maybe I'll check my booukmarks today.

  43. I took notes what I want to answer, upvote, downvote, flag, reopen, ask, etc too the last time. This time it is pointless because of the length.

    I saw your chat with M about books, insisting on the need of 5 people to edit 2 incoming questions per two week is simply ridiculous. And nobody else contradicts this .... :-/. A single person would be enough to do this ...!

    I rather suspect that M is nit really eager to implement the new policy, even though it was him who formulated it ...

  44. I think that this discussion is going really off-topic and is pretty disorganised. Let me make some poll questions.

  45. What should be the scope of this new site?

    Vote up for the one you support best and provide reasons by replying.

  46. What sort of book questions should be allowed?

  47. What about the same as the former Theoretical Physics SE

    but lower the bar a bit to include advanced enough grad student stuff and questions this time?

  48. They used an earlier Stack Exchange version, not sure if this would still be possible ...

  49. This is too vulnerable to power hungry non-physicist / non-expert politicians who like to negatively interfere with the community ...

  50. And I think experimental physics should be allowed too...

  51. Or what about advanced (good graduate +) fundamental physics (theoretical + experimental) as targetted by the Milner Fundamental Physics Prize?

  52. I am getting at this now ...

    I think to start with a decent base of questions, it would be better to use the latest TP.SE data dump than the current P.SE data dump which is diluted by too much low-level stuff ...

  53. Question2Answer.

    (The trial site looks better than OSQA, and it seems that many people are praising it on Meta SO. According to the description on the site, it's "dead easy". Probably an exaggeration, thoyugh.)

  54. I tried this at, and it isn't good at all.

  55. There haave been very few interesting questions as you can see here:

  56. Maybe the site could then be called Fundamental Physics or something ...

  57. Oh my God,

    I had a Meta Question with the title "Do we agree with Ron's suspension?" which was highly upvotet (more than 40) and had many answers, and now a moderator has obviously deleted it ...

    Highly upvoted answered closed questions do NOT get autodeleted ....

    Seems some people are trying again very hard to shrug any traces of bad, crazy, unjust happenings under the rug ... :-/

    But shrugging things under the rug and cover the tracks of bad things will not safe the site or make it any better ...

  58. Did you get suspended in the past too? I must have missed that. What on earth did you say?

  59. Darn, the drawback of the flood of very basic stuff started this year, is that such guys who joined Physics SE only this year and exclusively ask and answer very basic things

    will soon reach 3000 rep and therefore be able to closevote etc ... :-(

    To make things worse, David Z is now explicitely telling theoretical physics students who are not satisfied with the current state of the site to go away, instead of taking the concerns of people serious and doing something about it:

  60. Yup, when I searchm for it, it's gone. Terrible.

  61. Are you replying to me or Dilaton? Because while I was suspended before once, this suspension is of Dilaton, not me...

    Yes I was suspended for a week.

    Because I had posted "-1 this is plain wrong" on an obviously plain wrong trolling answer.

    However, since it occured just 2 hours after this meta post: (1)

    Which is completely irrelevant as I explain here:

    I am pretty sure that the "reasons" mentioned by SR in the meta post (1) were the real reasons for my suspension.

    For some reason, I am starting to feel less interested in Physics.SE, due to all the reasons mentioned in this discussion plus this recent obviously irrelevant answer by Manishearth:

    If putting two quotation marks (around the poll answers) makes a question seem "still open", I have nothing to say.

    And besides, as if that question is not open right now, given that Ron Maimon has been suspended for one year again.

    Furthermore, due to Manishearth's claims of "After it quieted down, it wasn't causing any problems.", I'm convinced that this is nothing better than a monarchy or toilatariaeinism (however you spell that).

  62. Yup, I guess Physics.SE is in a rather hopeless situation right now,.

    No new interesting questions, homework and pop-sci exponentiating; monarchy/toilatearioauenism (however you spell that) developing...

    I'm just editing tag wikis now. So that at least some nice overviews will be there.

  63. Yep, I strongly suspect the reason for your suspension was cry baby running to mam (or the mods respectively) because he could not stomach being told wrong, to squeal on you.

    For the same reason Ron got onto trouble in the first place, because some people could not stomach being told wrong, calling a spade a spade, etc ...

  64. I know what you mean and I feel the same ... :-/

    Recently I thought that we could together do some good at Physics SE after my suspension, in particular if you reach the 3000 rep too...

    But observing how things are still going from bad to worse, trying to improve the site rather looks like a pointless Sisyphus task, in particular as two mods even actively oppose it ...

    I am too getting the impression since the first eclat with Ron that the dominant people in power behave like any dictatorial totalititarian non-democratic regime in the real world (the former Soviet Unian, China, etc come to mind), And they are supported by political non-physicist kibitzers who hang around at meta and upvote wathever they do and say. Any critisicism of a moderator or his action, as well as the against the will of the physicists enforced rules, is not allowed, people who oppose the regime to much are banned, and traces of the bad and unjust things happening are covered.

    Maybe it is more constructive for me (tongue in cheek) to accept that Physics SE has been lost to the dark side, and concentrate all my power, efforts, and time I can afford into setting up a new site ...?

    ... and reading TRF :-)

  65. In your case, it's probably the moderators running towards themselves crying, at leasts that's what they (the moderators) *say* : )

  66. Yes, I was curious about your suspension - Dil's suspension is, of course, legendary! Seems incredibly innocuous to me - not worth suspending someone for that. Ah, the consequences of Maimongate continue to unfold..... :-)

  67. Duh,

    now I have obtained an astonishingly rather nice Mail from the SE Team, saying maybe something could be done about the lenght of my suspension:

    Hi Dilaton,

    Sorry about the delay in response here.

    is possible to alleviate some duration of your suspension, but that's
    not on my end to fulfill. Rather, you'll need to inquire with the
    moderators over in the moderator message exchange on Physics Stack
    Exchange. At the moment, you already have the last word which prevents
    you from being able to post a new response - if you'd like, I can
    initiate a reply in order to enable your response.

    exchange with me here has been a private exchange so I am not able to
    disclose its contents with the moderators directly. You will have to
    explain the situation to them - apologize for the behavior, note what
    behavior this is, and the measures you will take to avoid doing so in
    the future. Be clear on the lessons you learned from my email.
    Considering the source of your suspension is in itself not due to the
    nature of participating in policy discussions and the like, your offer
    to stay out of things may be unnecessary.

    If you have any further questions about this, let me know.

    Not sure if it is worth trying this, I somehow doubt that it would be successful anyway, have to sleep about it ...

  68. Under one of my identities, I have just posted last of what I have to say to Stack exchange until you are back. I assume it will not solve anything to point out that they are wrong, but it does assure I get to say I told you so .... When they fail.
    Of course, I have avoided answering many questions under same identity as I do not care to nor have time for such.

    Good luck. I think that until these current crop of moderators learn some physics and a little also about what is important in discussing, it is not going to be rational there.
    I hope you can create a site that allows discussion and values the personalities too. Otherwise I hope you will apologize if you must so that you can effectuate change by seeking office.

  69. From the comments on the "Stack Overflow clones" answer at Meta-SO, it seems like OSQA is really hard (even for those Stack Overflowing programming people!), and that Q2A was much simpler...

  70. @Dilaton Once you figure out the logistics, where you will host and so on, Post it on your page in Stack exchange. I would say, Landau's books, Suskind's lectures and beyond will be a good level for the site roughly.

  71. Also to get the site started and attract people, Send a link to various research institutes around the world, if that is possible. Perhaps the starting members can post a printed flyer in institutes they study in.

  72. How are we going to get our first users?

    Those who are active at, or at least regulary check Physics.SE can be pingedm in chat. Those who regularly check the TRF can be pinged here. But what about those who fall into neither categoryies ? E.g. Arnold Neuaimer, pho, etc.

  73. What are we doing with some possible brilliant ideas that can emerge and should be published? Who will be the authors? :D Would be nice to have something like "Bourbaki" for physicists... lol...

  74. If some really cool not yet published things are found by same users in the course of a discussion, maybe they could the publish a nice paper together ... :-)

    On MathOverflow they seem to have indeed some success stories, such that the research of people was inspired by great questions and answers on the site, nice discussions led to publications, etc ...

  75. To have a basis of questions and answers to start with, the easiest way to go would probably be to import the data dump of the closed Theoretical Physics SE into one of the clone SE site models, which are listed for example here:

    As far as I know, this procedure to start a new physics site seems to be allowed:

    To alarm the Physics SE people one could then probably write a meta post, as soon as the new site with the TP stock of questions and answers is ready for people to join in.

    Arnold Neumaier as a Professor probably has a homepage where his contact informations can be found, unfortunately I dont know who pho is in the real world.

    Spreading the word by means of social networks could be a good way to inform people too, even though I am not active in Facebook etc ... :-P

  76. Hi Pratyush ;-)

    thanks for these good ideas and suggestions.

    Good to see you here, I have seen the disturbing response you obtained to some of your recent meta posts on Physics SE... :-/

  77. @Dilaton how come it's taking so long for you to get the site started?

    As far as I know, the Q&A software is out there open source and freely available. You just need to set it up on a server for a small monthly fee.

  78. Hi John,

    well this is basically because I am absolutely not experienced in setting up such a site on my own, also I have heard that it is less straight forward than for example just creating a personal homepage ... :-/
    If I understand him right, even Lumo thinks that setting up such a Q&A site involves some work and could be not that straight forward as it seems, if one wants to do it right.

    In addition I first thought it would be better to do it not completely private but find for example the support of a university with a nice TP department via Physics SE users that are facultiy members ...

    The next thing I think is to decide what SE clone to use from the list

    If the provider allows this, it can probably be tested on a private Laptop before going seriously online.

    In my opinion, some important criteria to choose the clone are

    - if the software is still supported (and not abandonned by the provider)

    - if and how does LaTex / Mathjax work?

    - is it possible and allowed to costumize the softwere to allow for more specific needs of the community?

    So maybe you have a good overview about the advantages and drawbacks of these different SE clones and can give an advice on what should be used?
    Just from looking at the live site, QSQA looks quite compelling and similar enough to an SE Q&A site, but I am not (yet) sure if it fits the needs listed above for example and it might be abandonned by the developers...

    I then hope that importing the TP data dump into the choosen SE clone is as straight forward as it sounds, in the course of this step some nasty technical difficulties may lurk ...

    But I am working (maybe too slowly but steady) on it, and in the near future I will have the possibility to sit on it together with an informatic expert how is very knowledgeable and experienced in trouble shooting etc ...

    So stay tuned ;-)

  79. I think it would be a step in the right direction if you could set up a blog on the project, using Wordpress.

    This link has a good comparison of Q&A sites, with Qhub looking very powerful:

    If you spend too much time trying to get things perfect to start with, you won't get anything done.

  80. Ah, yes; Arnold Neumaimer revealse his email here:

  81. On the software to be used...

    1. OSQA

    Looks very much like stackexchange. However, even the ingenious stack overlords found it very difficult to use, as can be seen from the relevant Meta - S O post. They found Q2A "very super-dooper-easy", but the instructions look slightly scary to me; so I wonder how hard OSQA should be... MathJaX enablable. Opend source, but obviously, hosting is not free.

    2. Q2A

    Looks a lot like stackexchange too. Seems pretty good and customisable. Stack Overlords find it "very easy". The instructions are slightly scary to an idiot like me, though. MathJaX enablable. Opendd source, but obvviously, hosting is nnot free.

    3. Shapado

    (I made a free test .) Looks nothing like Stack Exchange. Bad interface. Impossible to customise (at least in the free version.). LaTeX not enabled.

    4. Wikia old forums

    Look nothing like Stack Exchange, but like a wikia page. c.f. my testing at . LaTeX enabled in the form of wiki html markup math (with the tags.)

    5. Wikia new forums

    Look nothing like stack exchange. Look like forums. See for example the Community central ( . LaTeX enabled.
    6. Pro Boards

    Look nothing like Stack Exchange, but like a forum. Look at my testing at . LaTeX not enabled.

    It looks like Q2A is the best option.

  82. You're not an "idiot" because you don't understand the instructions, you just have other things you're more interested in learning about. Leave stuff like this to webmasters ;)

  83. Hm... I see one advantage of John McVirgo's idea of setting up a blog on this. When we notify interested users about this to - be Q^&A site, we can invite them to follow the blog, so that they auto - matically get the update when the Q %^& A site is launched. (Can't find the "^&" on my keyboard properly...)

    However, ** would be better than Wordpress, because or else that would mean more hosting problems, and besides, it's only something temporary.

  84. Maybe ... :-)

    BTW David Z has become such a (%/%(*/%/* !!!

    The optics in curved spacetime question

    corresponds to the new book policy

    so he should NOT have closed that question.

    He obviosly really personally hates such questions and does not want anybody to obtain such information on Physics SE:
    Often, he claims that study material / reference questions are too broad, they obtain to many answer, etc etc ... And now this well defined question is too specific ?! WTF ?!

    I'll tell you, even if we find enough people to help, such that M is satisfied, David Z will never ever give up on shooting down such questions, and continuously come up with new objections against the new book policy itself, specific questions, etc :-( ...

    I am sorry, but he sometimes really drives me up the wall :-/ !!!

  85. That's what I meant - using the tools of wordpress to create a blog:

    There's also a WordPress stack exchange to help with its creation:

    Come on Dilaton, get a move on, eh? ;)

  86. Um... Wordpress.SE is for questions pertaining to WordPress, not And creating a blog is not hard at all; there's no need for an SE site.

  87. Yup; the question is neither too specific nor too broad. Opticks in curverd spacetime is something widely studied in many GR textbooks which focus exclusrively on light geodesics, and etc.

  88. I searched for "" and "" and here's what I see: I don't get why that company wanted that url. Their company doesn't seem to be about a physics q & a site...

  89. BPS Oveflow

    I like this one; reminds me of this:

  90. Fun idea, but maybe a bit too specific?

    BTW thanks for the two examples in your answer, I obviously cant give you a +1 at present ... :-/

  91. From the analogy of this name to MathOverflow, I like that it would be quite clear that the site is meant to be a higher level version of Physics SE.

  92. For QSQA, LaTex one can ask for support for example here:

    and importing a Stack Exchange data dump

    and LaTex

    seems to work somehow.

  93. @dimension ah, you're right. Anyone can put wordpress on their site since it's open source, and is just a hosting site that has wordpress already integrated, making setup far easier. So this is my suggestion for now:

    1. Setup a blog using, giving it a relevant name such as:

    2. If the adverts are a problem, then removal will only cost $30/year.

    3. Dilaton is responsible for the blog, since he's had good experience on the physics stack exchange from writing meta questions, getting answers, and replying via the comments. He's also temporarily banned, so he has time on his hands ;)

    4. After a few weeks/months blogging, decide if there's a realistic chance the site taking off long term.

  94. Wow, nice to see that this is getting somewhere :-).

    You should also consider the AskBot engine ( It is pretty nice, built on python+django, and shares some code with OSQA. There is a company behind it, and they offer hosting (although not cheap/free),

  95. @John ... LOL :-D

    I am thinking about calling it, but your suggestion seems not bad either ... ;-)

  96. Gosh, two mods are clearly trolling people interested in higher level physics and advanced topics at Physics SE :-( :

    Manishearth has closed this question which has a nice answer from Urs Schreiber

    and the OP is suspended for "low quality contributions". It is not clear how much the asker knows himself about advanced topics, but some of his questions are actually good and obtain nice answers, and he seems at least to be interested in modern fundamental physics.

  97. What about something like "university and research physics"? It would make clear that the site is not for high-scool level physics, or "popular physics". And on the other side, it's not for engineering or "applied" physics.

    It would include theoretical and experimental physics. So besides the scope of TP.SE, you could also ask stuff like:
    - "How do I increase the manganese nanostructure growth rate on my silicone substrate?" (I totally made that up).

    Or from my work (exp. particle physics):

    - "How do I calculate the systematic error on this background?"
    - "How do I determine wheter this SUSY parameter point is compatible with bounds from LHC searches/dark matter searches/ B physics/...?"

    - "The output variable of my multivariate analysis shows this wierd behavior; I have tried the following things with no avail; what am I doing wrong?"
    - "My data-driven estimation of the multijet background shows this-and-that specific discrepancy, what can I do?"

    I personally would also like to include "canonical" homework problems, but I can understand that that's controversial. I would allow only well-posed standard problems with nice detailed pedagogical write-ups as answers - or just answer sketches, but never just the solution. I would rigouroulsy (but politely) weed out "check my calculation". MathOverflow allows something similar IIRC, there are a bunch of questions that ask to proove some theorem. Some examples would be:
    - "Calculate the density of states of the nucleus"
    - "Proove that the gravity inside a hollow sphere is zero"
    - "Calculate the EOM for this special mechanical setup"

    I like this kind of question honestly because this is what I was spending my time on for most of the last decade (like all young physicists), and I can write nice answers for them. I also think they are more helpful for other visitors than "I'm stuck at this specific step"-questions (too localized).

  98. It's just like "Cross Validated", and stuff like that.

  99. The mathematical formulation question was good!

    I don't think the OP has a vast knowledge about physics, though, but neither do I think that he should be suspended (except that non-mainstream question about the 100:1 coupling ratio...)

    It seems to me that this "Guest" is actually neo......

  100. 2. Nahh... doesn't have many ads.

  101. Question 2 Answer also has a support site "/qa".

  102. We could always set the address to be "", with the name something different...

  103. Since we have now eliminated most of the possibilities,...

    OSQA or Q2A?

    1. OSQA
    - Advantages
    ... Looks a lot like SE.
    ... Has a support forum
    ... Can support MathJaX
    2. Q2A
    - Advantages
    ... Looks a lot like SE
    ... Has a support forum
    ... Can support MathJaX
    ... Was easy to the Stack Overlordxs, who find OSQA hard.

    I don't see any advantage of OSQA over Q2A.

  104. Name and url? From the votes on previous posts,...

    1. Physics Overflow (
    2. BPS Overflow (

    In other words, it's pretty much settled what the url should be (right?) but what should be the *name*?

  105. (2)

    I like this one. Fun title, and normal url.

  106. Oh, and by the way, it's not really that clear; since SO is more famous than MO amongst the world.

  107. Thanks for all these tests :-)

    I think another important issue to consider when choosing the software (+hosting) is how the community can organize itself.

    I am quite sure that most agree that we dont want by no means such a horrible political moderation which has takan over Physics SE ... ;-)

    But nevertheless we well probably have to keep trolls and spam out, discourage questions the community does not approve, etc ...

    So maybe it would be good if the software allows to flexibly (re)distribute administrator rights among several people in accordance with the needs of the community, etc ...

    I am now going to see that my blogs looks at least reasonable, and will in the course of time summarize the important technical and content, scope, etc issues in dedicated blog posts in the coarse of time.

    Aside: We will have the technical support of a just recently retired informatics Prof. :-)

  108. "Stack over flow" is a phrase that's relevant only to programming where a register called the stack pushes too much data into its memory space and so overflows:

    Rather than aping a name that 's relevant only to progamming, we need to think about one that's specific to physics. This is why we need a blog first to discuss these sort of things

  109. So do we all agree that the next step is to create the blog?

  110. Yep :-)

  111. Nice economic design, Dilaton! So far, the content is a bit empty, isn't it? LOL

    Concerning economic designs, try to recall how the normal TRF template looks and compare it with the 2nd edition of The Elegant Universe in my translation that is gonna be out soon:

    LOL, quite a contrast of designs, right?

  112. Ha ha yep :-)

    My design is just a stupid standard design, I am still figuring out how to configure stuff, organize things etc ... :-P

    And of course, things discussed here now have to be nicely summarized and continued in slighle more ordered way ...

    Anyway, the blog is just a temporary device to facilitate setting up the new site, so a minimalistic design is probably quite appropriate ... :-D


  113. The themes can be changed here:

  114. What does that stand for? If its this then it might be a bit narrow :-)

  115. Of course, pheno is important. Especially for me, as an experimentalist working on BSM physics, I get to read a lot of hep-ph papers and have a lot of questions :-)

    However, I already had the feeling that physics.SE is a bit HEP/QFT/String heavy. That's fine with me, since that's roughly my field. But I think it would be cool to get people from other fields of physics involved too, like condensed matter, chaos and NLD, astrophysics, .... (both theory and exp., but always at a high level)

  116. So you have a very cool job ;-)

    I think too that all the kinds of topics or fields you mention are very nice and that they should belong to the new site too.

    Looking forward to the new site and reading your future nice questions there comforts me when I am upset about the too many dilettantes on Physics SE ;-)

  117. I would take a look at existing examples that have been going for a while, and just copy their layout if you like it, including:

    My initial impression:

    1. Great iconic picture of the blackboard and equations on it.

    2. The domain name is fine, but I would change TPREVIVAL to something with more of a sound bite, analogous to "the reference frame" on this blog, "of particular significance" on Matt's site. Something like, all centered and minimizing Caps:

    The Resuscitation of Schrodinger's Cat

    Documenting the creation of a high quality Q&A theoretical physics site.

    3. The explanation in the About looks OK.

    I think your first blog posting should be on suggestions for the redesign of the blog if necessary.

  118. It's just like "Seasoned Advice", "Cross Validated", etc. BPS is pretty common and useful...

  119. I didn't know that...

    However, BPS Overflow is fine, because it's like BPS Saturation.

  120. Ha ha, "The Resuscitation of Schrodinger's Cat" is nice :-)

    A slightly adapted version of the title could be " The Revenge of Schrodinger's Cat", which would feel not inappropriate at least for me since I am still displeased that SE closed the Theoretical Physics site ...
    I mean with regard to its high quality, even though it was a small specialized community, they could have left it alone as a service to the international community of physicists. But they did not want to ... :-/

    So the revenge of Schrodinger's Cat now is to build a new and hopefully stronger site outside the network to free the good people who currently suffer under the bad political regime on Physics SE ... :-P

  121. A proposal for how the blog Dilaton has set up is to be used:

    1. To propose example questions.

    We don't have an Area 51 to do this, and our scope is not the same as TP.SE (also EP and PP), so we can't use their example questions.

    2. To declare the scope of this site.

    The word "TP" may be a bit scary to the EPs and the PPs, and we need to explain that the questions are to be on cutting - edge research.

    3. To let people follow the blog to find out when the proposed site is ready. allows a "follow" option to find out (through) email when each post is posted. This means they don't need to check this TRF post every day.

    4. To explain people why we should have this site.
    I.e. Why we can't be fine with Phys.SE. Which means:

    (a) Lower level questions; pop-sci and very basic stuff
    (b) Bad moderation and turning into a monarchy. Qmechanic is the only good moderator (the rest don't listen to the public), who still visits the site, that is, since mbq *was* a good moderator, it seems.
    (c) Ron Maimon et al have been killed there.

  122. I'd say yes, because it helps with a smaller scale meta (the real meta can't be flooded with "Where is the "Ask Question" box?" and "What if you post an answer after the question' is closed whereas you had started typing it when you're not?" and other such questionsp.

  123. I used to be one of RM's biggest defenders on physics.SE

    Now look what he's up to :(

    (It will be deleted soon, so make sure to click the link now if you want to see.)

    Either someone hijacked his account or he's turned into a mental defective. Sad but... in the words of Ordell in the movie Jackie Brown: "Your ass used to be beautiful man!"

  124. LOL, that's what I call a parsimonious explanation. ;-) Even if I were ready to believe that the U.S. government were behind this event, which is implausible for tons of reasons, every detail about the drills, drones, and switched dots on the radars make the theory even more contrived, reducing its probability from 10^{-10} to something like 10^{-20}. I can't believe that someone isn't capable of seeing it.

    If Bush Jr wanted to do such a thing, why wouldn't he simply hire a pilot - by paying his family lots of money after his scheduled death - for guiding the airplanes to the same targets as what was done by Osama? It would actually be much easier to do such a thing for Bush than for Osama if Bush really wanted. Why the drones, drills, confusing stories with radars, and all this immense bullshit?

    When he promotes these hardcore conspiracy theories and is convinced that they're the most likely explanation, it is no wonder that Ron is completely deaf towards all explanations why the cold fusion is an oxymoron. He's just obsessed with unlikely sounding - and actually very unlikely - explanations of any sort. He's fighting for them. The more unlikely a story is, the greater he feels when he defends it.

  125. Huh, is he really believing this ...?

    Wait, I'll ask him ...

  126. LOL, what a "parsimonious" theory. Even if one wanted to believe that Bush Jr were behind the attacks, couldn't he have simply done exactly what Osama did – hire a few hijackers, promise tons of money to their families, blackmail them that they comply or something bad will happen to their whole families etc. - and everything else would be just like we observed?

    Why all the junk about drills, drones (that no one has seen on that day), confusing methods to switch dots on radars, and all this stuff that reduces the probability of an implausible theory by additional many orders of magnitude? It's like a very bad, cheap D-class science-fiction movie. If he believes such things, it's no wonder he is deaf towards any explanation why the "cold fusion" is an oxymoron. He is clearly obsessed with defending weirdly sounding theories. The weird a conspiracy theory is, the greater Ron feels when he is defending it.

  127. Yes, the Revenge of Schrodinger's cat would be nice! Maybe you could also replace the default blackboard with one of the = 1/sqrt2 |dead> + 1/sqrt2 |alive> cartoons! .

    Something like this:

    P.S. I liked that tpstrikesback thing... Maybe you could add that in the blog descriptio-n.

  128. Hi Dimension10, thanks for giving Colin McFaul some contra here

    this guy is just horrible, he never stopped persecuting and attacking Ron Maimon, insulting everybody who liked his physics contributions, etc since the eclat last December. But be careful to not suddenly disappear too, you know things are not reasonable there :-/

    Any you are exaclty right with your assessment about what these privacy issues saying that moderators are not allowed to talk about the reasons a user is suspended means:

    On MSO the explicitely say that the lack of transparency, democracy, and justice is on purpose:

    At least on Physics SE, some moderators are clarly abusing this privacy policy, to let established no-nonsense contributing users who disagree with them or their policies or people who are a thorn in certain Colin McFaul, Larry Harrson, etc 's flesh, disappear. Not having to justify their reason for suspending established users in addition scares and suppresses the rest of the community who potentially disagrees with things, such that nobody dares to question the thing to much or even suggest certain moderators to be recalled because they are discontent with and no longer trust them

    I will most probably not be able to ask/answer any physics questions there, as still no mod has replayd to me in the moderator message box, and a discussion last night with Shog9 clarified why this is in the discussion below this post

    They obviously do not me to allow doing exclusively some physics on the main page, thats it.

    To do something more constructive, I will hopfully be able to find a working possibility how we can ask some example questions for the new higher level physics site on the blog today ;-)

  129. Q2A obviously has a test bed where one can test how it feels to be an admin:

    And here is a description how to install it on a laptop just to test implementing LaTex, loading the TP data, etc ...

    One would need to install Apache, MySQL, and PHP

    I and the the nice technical supporter in my family will test this together when I visit my family the next holiday (quite soon I guess) :-)

    Next week I will probably have to go to work a bit first (for a few weeks), after having been at home to recover from my surgery ...

  130. There are many nice knowledgable people (and from many of them I know
    that they disagree with the current situation on Physics SE too), that
    I'd like to see on the new site too :-). For example Drake is a nice,
    brave, and knowledgeable about theoretical physics guy too; so he has to
    be a bit careful too but I exacly agree with him

    Emilio Pisanty has obviously been "gollumized" too to some degree:
    as I thanked him for acknowledging Ron's contributions by a bounty

    in an off topic comment on maths (which I planned to delete very soon
    anyway), he immediately started to accuse me of being rude ... for
    thanking him ...?! which unfortunately draw me into a short
    unconstructive discussion (about Colin McFaul's comment there) :-/

    Concerning Qmechanic I am a bit cautious ... I still think that he is a very nice gentle person and a great physicist ( I really like and appreciate him), but he once surprised me with a very harsh update of one of his answers concerning the popular science tag:

    So it is probably better to leave him alone ...

  131. Here are two new posts about the scope of the new physics site:

    And one to ask example questions in the comments which can be voted on

  132. Concerning Qmechanic, that was just *1 such update*, and a mere quick opinion.

  133. I see ... ;-)

    BTW depending on the level we will finally have settled down on

    when it is time to seriously launch the site and go online, it might well be that I will just be a Silent_Lurker vigorously enjoying reading and upvoting nice stuff... In TP.SE I did exactly that, I had only one question (which obtained a nice answer from Lumo) but a Fanatic batch :-P, and Silent_Lurker was my user name :-D


  134. I just found that MathJaX on Q2A can be achieved in a very simple way, simple enough for even an idiot like me to understand : ) :

  135. I just looked at some of the sites with Q2A, and I observe that:

    1. They are badly moderated.
    2. Only mods and OPs can close. Reopening is only possible to be done by closer or a moderator.
    3. Editing is restricted to mods and OPs.
    4. Full of advertisements.
    5. Bad interface. The related questions are big banners that dwarf the answers, for examples.


    I suppose (1) is_because the moderators got fed up with the rest and abandoned the site.

    Maybe, for the sake of having a good site, we should use OSQA, despite the fact that even the overlords found it difficult. Better than a wasteland.

  136. Thanks for this valuable information, I upvoted your question ;-)

    Yeah, I think we should have some kind of a priviledge system too, with the appropriate flexibility such that the community can decide how much rep is needed to reopen/close, edit, retag, etc ...

    I will email your assessments of Q2A too and suggest that we test QSQA on a laptop too to my nice technical supporter. He is really good in installing even difficult things, resolving nasty technical problems, etc ...

  137. It seems you accidentally deleted the entire example question I had written : (

    I had told you to remove the first part only, because I had converted it into a separate question, as you had said, but I didn't do so for the other one, thinking it could just be there in that question itself.

  138. Whoops sorry :-/

    That I did not want to do..., I have restored it now.

  139. Duh, somebody should tell John here

    that there is absolutely nothing wrong with questions and answers containing cutting edge research-level stuff, on the contrary the site could see much more of it! So John should not hold back and let it come in his answer, if he can ...

    Bringing up the own mainstream research in an answer (or question) is not the same as promoting personal crackpot theories.

  140. Hm... I see that Moshe's real name is "Moshe Rozalli":

    Totally forgot about him.

    There were probably some great other users on TP.SE too, such as David Bar Moshe, Squark, etc.

    Maybe even Deepak Vaid, even though he's an LQGist.

  141. Yeah, it would be great if Moshe (he could be a mod again), Squark (I really loved his questions and the answers he got), Joe Fitzsimons (who proposed the TP site), Piotr Migdal (another mod), and other nice TP folks would decide to come to the new site ... :-)

  142. Ha ha, thanks for bumping my MSO post, that one is quite relevant at present due to the recent increase of bad events at Physics SE

    Maybe I should write an answer and accept it ... :-P

    The negative MSO atmosphere has definitely taken over our Meta too, as innocent nice knowledgable people, such as user10001 (it would be nice to see him on the new physics site too), get downvoted by the pack of sourpusses dominating there since the beginning of the year, upon asking their fist very legitimate meta question:

    This negativity and scornful atmosphere is just stunning, it will not contribute to retaining the good people like user10001, on the contrary :-/

  143. As an aside, I finally got a rather nice message from Manishearth in the moderator message box:

    sent 2 days ago

    First off, I apologize for the delay, there was a slight miscommunication between the mods.

    After discussion among the moderators, we are not going to reduce the
    length of your suspension. Suspension lengths are chosen with the
    assumption that the suspended user will come to understand what
    they did that was inappropriate and why it was inappropriate. If you
    have done so, that's good, but it doesn't justify a shortening of the

    I understand that you've always wanted what you think is best for the
    site, which is good. Most of our disagreements have arisen from
    differences on what we feel is best for the site (due to our different
    perspective), and it's saddening that these differences have led to
    these incidents. I'd like for you to keep that in mind, as your
    passionate and dedicated participation to Phys.SE and its meta site has
    certainly also improved the site in many ways (e.g. the coming book

    In a way, your suspension is already "reduced". The standard
    suspension length escalation would mean that this suspension would be
    for a year. While we have our disagreements, you still contribute
    positively to the site. We didn't wish to do something that would
    guarantee your departure from the site; to "cast you out" as it were. It
    seems that the shorter suspension has still led to this — I hope this
    message will clear up the confusion and avoid your departure.



    Physics Stack Exchange moderator

  144. Yup,

    Maybe I should quickly inform him about the new TPEPPP site too in case he is planning on leaving site too...

  145. It seems that he's only acting nice, as he clearly refuses to actually *do* any thing about the suspension : (

  146. I know, sometimes the words people say and their actions diverge exponentially ...

  147. Possible Names:

    Stack Brane
    BPS Overflow
    Physics Overflow
    Fundamental Physics

  148. Manishearth just deleted a posting of mine in which I petitioned for RM's rep to be restored (since they'll never let him back in). All that power that he has as a SE mod went to his head, I guess.

    Anyway. I'm washing my hands of this business. RM can be a real pain, but the way to deal with his bad postings is to downvote and to community-delete.

    Good luck with your plans for a new web site. If I may make a suggestion: Don't try to set up a parallel competitor to Stackexchange. It would take a million dollars, which you don't have.

    Instead, consider a commentary site, a place where users of various interactive physics-based sites (not only physics.SE) can congregate to speak freely, without fear of retribution. Sort of like Wikipedia Review (don't know if it still exists) in relation to Wikipedia.

  149. I dont believe it, those vandals have simply deleted your nice answer here

    Seems its those horrible scornful anti-academic-freedon zealots like Larry Harrson, Colin McFaul, etc who are now determining what is going on ... Nice reasonable and knowledgeable people can not be expected to be treated with the slightest respect and fairness any more once again.

    As the site was still young and it was important to make people stay to build up a community, people in power at least pretended to care for experts and knowledgeable people to stay, make them feel welcome, etc ...

    Today, as the site is larger they think they can afford treating people, their needs, and their contributions without the slightest respect, suppressing and annoying them at will, as enough new users are flowing in anyway to replace the lost ones...

  150. Yep, I have seen it :-/, our comments may have crossed ;-)

    Well, to me it seems that the needs of an alternative to Physics SE gets stronger and more and more urgent, the worse people in dominance behave there ...
    It seems that at least in principle, the technical issues of setting up a new Q&A site based on the TP questions can at least in principle be resolved (it needs more or less work), it is allowed, hosting can be found for a not so large amount of money or even for free, so we will keep this project going ;-)

  151. Dimension10, you should be careful, such sudden capricious threats should be taken absolutely seriously (I know what I am talking about :-/)

    Maybe some people are planning to find an excuse (but they dont need any in practice as we know ...) to suspend you too, because you are nicely making progress towards 3000 rep, which some people probably dont like ...

  152. From looking at this test bed for being an administrater of a Q2A site,

    it seems that permissions to do different things can be handled in quite a flexible way, such that registered users with an amount X rep can close questions for example, there can be more than one admins / mods, etc ...

    About how reopen works (if the settings for closing are simply taken over) I am not sure however ...

  153. The person who answered my question had said that the priviledges have to be indiviidually awarded...

    I don't know.....

  154. It's great that you're making steady, consistent progress in getting the blog up and running. Don't be too disheartened if things seem still quiet a few weeks from now, the main thing is to make steady progress long term.

  155. ... and the heavy censorship and suppression keeps raging on physics meta:

    A lot of material (posts and comments) has been (and they are probably still continuing) deleted just a few hours ago. Among them:

    - The new question with the title "Why has the post "Do we agree with Ron's suspension?" been deleted"?, including Emilion Pisanthy's nice answer wherein he announce to set a special bounty to one of Ron's answers as a testament of his good contributions ...

    - Magpies question asked in April this year with the Title "Why has Dilation been banned ?" Yes, he slightly misspelled my real name, but this did not make me feel overly insulted ;-)

    - Who knows what else the removed to shrug bad things under the rug and suppress any open discussion or oposition of the community against bad policies, unjust happenings, etc ...

    This starts to feel really creepy and surreal, as if I were sitting in a bad science fiction movie about a world where everything looks nice, shiny, and perfect, but in reality some creepy monsters are controlling everything, letting people who are at the verge of discovering (and announcing) that nothing is as nice and perfect as it seems, silently but brutally and consequently disappear without leaving any traces, etc ... until the Heros appear who are finally after some wild adventures able to free the world from the creepy tyrannic monsters.

    I am sure, that I have seen more than one bad movie revolving about this topic, but on Physics SE this has become blatant reality :-/.

    What do they think they will achieve by this? Have they learned nothing from the history of the real world, for example that by brutal methods a dictatorship can keep itself established during a certain amount of time, but not forever? I almost cant believe that the Stack Exchange company is sitting in the US (New York or what?), a country that claims to uphold values of democracy and freedom, and sometimes even quite agressively "defends" these elsewhere.

    High time to work on an alternative, such that the nice and good people will finally have another physics site to be, so here is another blog post:

  156. Darn, now Chris White, an Astrophysicist even starts attacking answers of Urs Schreiber

    questioning his right to link to his pedagogigal nLab site where he and some colleagues explain theoretical and mathematical physics, calling his nice answer mathematical nonsense, and so on.

    And Manishearth even tells Christ to flag Urs Schreiber's posts etc ...

    Are these dilettantes now up to agressively driving away theoretical physicists that have been active on Theoretical Physics to ...?!

    Somebody with acces to chat should tell them that Urs Schreiber is an in his community well known physicist, there is nothing wrong neither with the content of his answers nor with his links to the pedagogical homepage he and some other colleagures maintain.

    Physics SE should be glad that he has returned to answer questions after a longer voluntary break, instead of some people not knowledgeable about theoretical physics attacking him and his contributions !

  157. My meta post Here:

    "Why has the meta post "
    Do we agree with Ron's suspension?" been deleted?"

    has been deleted by Shog9, who says that it"it only serves to draw more focus on someone who has probably been publicly shamed more than enough by now.". Which means his intention all the while has been to embarass Ron Maimon?!

    Emilio Pisanty's prediction that "Fair enough, though only time will tell. I'll set a timer; I have a definite sense of calamity hanging over this one, to be honest." referring to the deletion of the meta post, has come true, it seems.

    3 of the The moderators and their (hopefully not sock)puppets are just proving that they are indeed "tolilataeriouaun monarchs", pretty explicitly, tooooo...

  158. Yep, the deletion has absolutely nothing to do with protecting Ron, they (like any good dictatorial regime) just dont want people to challenge and question this suspension (and many other things), because they know that they have done and are still doing is wrong and unjust.

    To keep the dictatorship up they have to suppress any discussion, suppress and scare people etc, or it would not work.

    BTW have you seen how Chris White is bullying Urs Schreiber in particular and string theory (and theorists) in chat, and the pack of hyaena are even upvoting (starring) his trolling comments ...?!

    Dilaton (not able to log in from work for some reason)

  159. By the way, I think you should add about the censor ship (probably just quote your comment above and mine below) in the first post of tpproposal.

  160. Manishearth has really no clue, the nLab site is a collaboration between many well know theoretical and mathematical phyicists. He should really not blindly believe every word Chris White says ... :-/

  161. Yup, I've seen CW calling Urs Schreiber a crackpot. I've still got to read that entire discussion first.

    Manish Earth goes on further and says "Flag it and lett DZ review it.".

  162. About the first paragraphm, I think there's nothing wrong with adding a post stating why we need another physics site , as to the fact that Physics.SE is no good, .

  163. Weirdly, Manish Earth has undeleted the post: and only locked it.....,,,

    However, all of the comments have been deleted, so it seems as if the meta post was wrong, and the moderators were right... : (

    I think it was actually del;eted initially (or locked now), because it was slowly being upvoted.

    From -10 or something, uit had risen to a -2, quoite steadily.

  164. Yes, I have seen it. Shog9 is really not that trustworthy, he has deleted much more than even manishearth would ...

    If it were not locked, the score would most probably become positive in the course of time.

    BTW, it often happend to me on meta since the last elections, that my post confirming and agreeing with what others said get downvoted, whereas the posts of the others saying exactly the same get upvoted.

    I explane this by the fact that a not negligible amount of people who hate me personally and non physics kibitzers and (network) politicians, who were attracted by the drama about Ron last December, are still lurking around and pestering our meta since then.

    In fact, since the last elections the exactly same negative, unconstructive, and scornful atmosphere (legitimate posts get downvoted by sourpusses for no reason etc) I observed first on MSO, is no dominating our meta too.

    Before the elections, the majority of the people always agreed with me, on meta too, and the atmosphere was much much nicer and welcoming.

    The presence of EnergyNumbers largely contributes to the poisonous atmosphere. For example as he is annoying the inoccent nice user10001 here

  165. Here I was having some fun with the trollking trolling on Matt Strassler's site (his article is quite good in this case):

    Larry Harrson's attack on me made me giggle, he obviously thought Matt Strassler's site is Stack Exchange where he can screem for help and crying for the moderators when percieving his big idol treated unfairly, LOL :-D

    I guess Matt Strassler's cool answer was not exactly what he expected, not sure if Larry Harrson even understood what Matt Strassler wanted to say by it ...

    BTW Larry Harrson's being a big fan of the Trollking is the reason why he hates me so much ... :-D

  166. Seems now even Qmechanic clearly favors lower-level basics stuff, as he denies people interested in string theory the right to have subtags to better specify and categorize their questions (cant you make an F-theory tag, I am sure there are at least 10 corresponding questions on the site...?!)

    Not good ... :-/ !

    BTW bringing older and therefore higher-level questions to the front-page makes it actually look better ...

  167. I don't agree that Qmechanic actually supports the lower-level questions. He stated that it's because there are more NM questions right now, and that it may be unsynonymised when or if there will be more questions on string theory.

    I can't make a separate tag for f-theory because

    (1) I had initially created it as a synonym for string-theory. Stupid of me.

    (2) Even if I were to notify the mods about 10 such questions, I actually think it better go as a synonym for type-ii-string-theory, since most questions regarding f-theory would also be regarding type-ii-string theory.

  168. About Qmechanic I am not 100% sure, even though I still highly appreciate him and think that he is a great physicist and a very nice person, he seems to be completely powerless when it comes to defending (research-level) theoretical physics on Physics SE ... :-/

    It is no longer important what tags there are to describe and categorize (research-level) advanced topic theoretical questions. From the bad attacks during the last few days even against well-known theoretical physicists (inclusing FFP winners!) by know-nothings and high rep users who should know better than trolling like this, II largly agree with Logan M who considers asking about such things to be no longer a good idea, because of the bullying and certain policies can be interpreted against it.

    But otherwise I would insist on my F-theory tag :-P ... ! Lumo has oven explained here, that M-theory (mother) and F-theory (father) are very distinct and not the same at all. Some weeks ago he posted (or updated) an article mentioning some cool F-theory phenomenology that could potentially be seen at the LHC. I once wanted to ask for more details about this Physics SE, but now I cant and it would not be a good idea anymore either :-/

  169. By the way, this recent edit by Qmechanic completely reinsitates my faith in him as an ideal moderator:

    The sarcastic "insert-name-here" and the "Well, if it was really inappropriate to explicitly mention the user then I guess it still is" .

  170. What do you mean by "RM can be a real pain..."?

  171. Even if Qmechanic is still a nice moderator (as it seems to be the case), he is not able to safe the site against the overreaching and brutal suppresion by the other mods, internal and external SE politicians, and other people (like EnergyNumbers, Colin McFaul, Larry Harrson, tpg2114, etc) who feel entitled to take their part in the game, on its own.

    And he can obviously do nothing to protect the community interested in and doing theoretical physics against serious attacks of people like Chris White for example. If such people really want to start closing or even deleting (research-level) technical theoretical contributions in the future, such as the ones of Urs Schreiber for example, I suspect not even Qmechanic can prevent it :-/

    I dont know why this is but as Qmechanic is a very nice, calm person who always behaves with integrity and discretion, I suspect that it might well be that dispite his immense expertise he often gets overruled by much louder, more dominant, and power hungry folks...

  172. Dear Abhi (if I may address you thusly), had you clicked on the link in my comment here when I posted it, you would have known what I meant. In any case, we all have different yardsticks for how much we are willing to tolerate from a person before we deem her or him (partly or wholly) insufferable, so please view my comment in that light.