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Guidelines for this forum, again

  1. Aug 30, 2005 #1

    matt grime

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    a while back i posted a new thread asking for a sticky about how students should really not ask for advice about course content and choice here for a variety of reasons. sadly, in my opinion, that thread was moved elsewhere "to gain a wider audience" though i believe it only therefore gained a narrower (in terms of interested parties) audience.

    so, in the light of the "calculus for physics" thread, where yet another reply is given pointing out that courses are non-standard and we can't gve full advice or even any necessarily relevant advice i am restating my appeal to have firm guidelines in this forum about what is and isn't suitable material.

    there are nationality concerns, lack of relevant information, and of course the possibility that people misinterpret the information given here in good faith *and with on accurate knowledge of the all details of the situation being asked about*. this is peculiar to the university environment, questions about standardized syllabi are for my moeny acceptable (eg about A-Level or SAT or GRE) but asking "should i take calc 2 if i want to do a physics minor" for example is not, in my opinion, admissable if that is all the information they give.

    at least in the latest thread that made me think about this the poster gave a list (albeit lacking information).

    and please, dont' move this thread to another forum, copy and link if possible, fine, but it is of most interest to those who post here, and perhaps only them.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2005 #2
    Wow,

    Why be so strict?.. Sometimes people just need urgent advice.. why enforce all these unnecessary rules? I think it makes the forum less user friendly..

    Just my two cents
     
  4. Aug 30, 2005 #3

    rho

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    I have been reading threads on this forum for a while now and have only just signed up and started posting. When reading posts I get confused about what qualifications people are taking and at what they involve. This is because i don't have any knowledge of the american education system, for example i have no idea what K-12 is, and i was wondering where to post certain homework questions because i don't want to annoy the moderators getting them to move threads.

    I think there should be a sticky containing details of major worldwide education systems, such as US, UK, European, Australian, etc.
     
  5. Aug 30, 2005 #4

    matt grime

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    Ok, Baggio, someone comes here asks should I take Calc 2 instead of Algebra 1, and gets an answer. They base their choice on this answer. In a years time they come to choose their major and minor at their US university and find they made the wrong, choice. Who gets the blame? The simple and universal answer to all these kinds of queries is "we dont' know, it's your university, even with as much information as you can give us we can never be able to give a correct answer to such a query. Talk to your course advisors."

    There's nothing wrong with asking what jobs require maths PhDs (quantitative analysts), or which subject is more useful in the future if you wanted to get funding for a PhD (ie what the fashionable subjects are, say quantum information theory, string theory etc), or whether or not Cambridge (in the UK) accepts US highschool students (they do) and does anyone have information about it (yes, the admissions website for cambridge). How important is the study of differential geometry to a physicist who thinks they want to go into solid state stuff? What are you experiences of working in different countries? All good subjects fit for informed debate from the people here.

    I'm not at all worried about people asking if NYU is better than GIT, or things like that; I can't see any potential problems there, since people have to make up their minds on those somehow and asking others for their opinion on these matters is how to do it.


    Go look in that thread i mentioned that has just been started, the replies ask the for the very information (again) that could be easily mentioned as bineg a prerequisite for discussion in a sticky: don't just say "i'm doing calc 2 and it's about vectors and things" cos that is meaningless in an international arena. It is arguably meaningless even if we just pretended we were in the US as many people posting do (which is not unreasonable since the majority of posts are about the US system, but no, I have no idea what K-12 means either, and a lot of "College Level" material is highschool elsewhere in the world, particulalry mainland Europe and the far East).

    Instead if you must ask about these things give a *full* details of the course, its contents and its aims before asking for advice. This isn't abo;ut rules it is about guidelines and making people post the information that they will have to post anyway at the beginning. It is also to some extent, writing as someone on the teaching side of things, a case of CYA since disgrunteld students to tend to blame other people rather than themselves if things go wrong. Personally I think a warning along the lines of:

    Advice you receive here , no matter how well intended or researched, is anecdotal and personal. IT is in no way authoritative and any consequences arising from any decision you make based upon the advice you receive here are entirely you responsibility.

    It shouldn't need saying, but then these are people's future education plans we are talking about, whcih sounds melodramatic to say the least, but course choices can only ever be authoritatively discussed with people who teach and adminster the course, we, the posters here, are not a replacement for them.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2005
  6. Aug 30, 2005 #5
    Well the last thing people want is a ridiculously strict forum as Baggio said, like the ones on physlink.com

    I got banned from their forums for asking a question in E&M on their homework forum, it was later deleted. I was totally outraged by this and besides, the admins on that forum are cowards. If you look at several posts, you may notice those who suddenly disappear. I'm sure the majority of forum users on there don't waste their time reading such guidelines anyway and the ones who do are the only ones posting like that Mercury guy.

    But I also agree with matt grime

    That is the fundamental statement. However, it should not be enforced but understood.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2005
  7. Aug 30, 2005 #6

    matt grime

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    I really couldn't care less what your personal history of posting in contravention of guidelines is, or what you ad hominem attacks on people who freely give thier time to moderate forums are. However, this isn't about bannig people or restricting their posting but about

    1. making sure that poeple understand that conventions of course naming are not universal

    2. to make them include information from the very beginning that they have to post later anyway

    3. to warn people that we, uniinfomred members of the general public are not in any position to answer very exacting questions on courses and that you shold ask your course coordinators and personal tutors for advice for certain things.


    this does nto apply to every post in this forum, indeed it only applies to a very small percentage of them, but it is something better mentioned than left to chance.


    If you'd prefer a different title then how about "advice for people posting on course unit options: what to include and what to expect"
     
  8. Aug 30, 2005 #7
    Relax. Most users on this forum are aware that PhysicsForums is known to have many users ask such questions and because of this, someone is most likely to ask a similiar question again in the future regarding course preperation, in a manner which you oppose, and it will still continue to remain a common discussion topic.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2005
  9. Aug 30, 2005 #8

    matt grime

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    common? apart from the two posts i started where are the others? and if it keeps beign asked and keeps being given the same answers why not forewarn people? or at least try to?
     
  10. Aug 30, 2005 #9
    Matt no offence but i read the first paragraph of your reply and got bored straight away thought I think I managed to grasp the jist of what you're saying. True people should provide as much information as possible in order to receive an informed response but at the end of the day whatever decision they make is up to them. If they make a bad career choice then I highly doubt they're going to e-mail you a year later and say you ruined their lives..

    At the end of the day this is the internet it's a source of information but it's up to you what you do with that information - This is just common sense and applies to any website on the net.

    though a simple thread about how to receive the best response from other members would be useful. I just think you're taking the idea a little too seriously.
     
  11. Aug 30, 2005 #10

    ZapperZ

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    Matt,

    I very much agree with what you are saying. However, how do you enforce it? I am way too busy moving homework postings from the Physics section to the Homework section EVEN when there's clearly a section called HOMEWORK at the very top of the list of Forums on here. Yet, for some ODD reason, people still miss it!

    You'd think these people would pay any attention to a guideline that they'd have to read when they miss the obvious thing that is staring at them right in their faces?

    Having said that, I will commend you for taking the time to initiate something like this. It reflects your continuing and long-standing CARE for PF and its members to make such an effort. One can never tell how something will turn out if one doesn't try.

    Zz.
     
  12. Aug 30, 2005 #11
    ...someone is most likely to ask a similiar question again in the future regarding course preperation, in a manner which you oppose, and it (these questions) will still continue to remain a common discussion topic.

    And of course, there is no need to make the effort in listing all the posts as there are plenty available to you.

    To put it bluntly, in ZapperZ's words, "I am way too busy moving homework postings from the Physics section to the Homework section EVEN when there's clearly a section called HOMEWORK at the very top of the list of Forums on here. Yet, for some ODD reason, people still miss it!

    You'd think these people would pay any attention to a guideline that they'd have to read when they miss the obvious thing that is staring at them right in their faces?"

    The reason being is not odd at all, this is the user-friendly factor Baggio spoke of. Just remember there are people online without patience and not all of them can be accommodated with ease.

    Close or delete the threads that violate such guidelines thus restricting their freedom to ask but at the same time bring them to the awareness as addressed in a certain disclaimer. In addition to that, you can hire more admins. If the student makes a bad career choice then they take full responsibility and are held accountable for their actions. As Baggio adequatly put it, "...the internet it's a source of information but it's up to you what you do with that information - This is just common sense and applies to any website on the net." There is no more efficient way of doing so when most users don't read the guidelines anyway, as I have aptly expressed.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2005
  13. Aug 30, 2005 #12

    shmoe

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    Having a disclaimer and suggested information to include when requesting course advice seems like a great idea to me and I don't see it as something that needs strict enforcement (like moving posts to the Homework sections). If we had a sticky I'm sure that it would encourage at least *one* person to provide sufficient details about a potential course before someone has to ask them for it. For everyone else, we can point at the sticky after they post if necessary and they can go from there in the same thread (no reason to close threads because of this).

    Maybe matt would even be willing to write the thing if admins agreed to put it up?
     
  14. Aug 30, 2005 #13
    Matt,

    I couldn't agree with you more. All your statements are dead on as far as I am concerned. A sticky thread might, in the end, make a few people give us all the information we need to give them a sliver of usefull advice. But there will still be a large percentage of them (and we see this now with the number of people who actually do a search first) who will not read anything or do any work searching, before they post their topic. In the end, I believe, as long as we continue to give them help, they will continue these posts. I really hope that we cannot be legally responsible for anyone who takes our advice too seriously. It is only advice and this is the internet. But maybe a statement of guidelines would good.
    Cheers,
    Ryan
     
  15. Aug 31, 2005 #14

    jtbell

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    If someone writes a sticky post that addresses this kind of situation, I'll be happy to copy and paste a link to it, in response to any such question that I catch here, unless of course someone has done it already.
     
  16. Aug 31, 2005 #15
    Although such efforts are useless, no one here is entitled to authorize any career options and no one is foolish enough to gamble their life from advice on a public forum. People only ask for advice on the basis of reassurance or an idea of prospective endeavors. For example, https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=86921 this student asks for advice giving no detailed information of course material. Yet, if you look very closely, the individual still receives numerous replies. Without making any academic reference to the content of the thread, would you say that people feel comfortable with providing insight? Or would they have posted at all if they did not care? As I recall, there have been people who blatantly ask for advice and end up seeking their academic advisors anyway. To not enforce the guidelines in a strict manner would just be more stupid hypocrisy, and again some people do not have the patience to read the guidelines anyway! Thus seeing how there are a significant number of users who ask for advice are newly registered, why restrict their freedom to ask? Remember, you have participated on this forum for quite sometime and afterall, this is 'just a forum'.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2005
  17. Aug 31, 2005 #16

    matt grime

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    Who. apart from you, Nusc, is talking about restricting people's posting? I didn't say anything abuot restricting their freedom. I haven't mentioned deleting threads or moving them, or banning people. That is something you apparently assume I want. I don't. I would like a publicly declared statement that we are not offering advice with authority. Heck that may even exist already but I'd rather know about it than not know about it. Guidelines are pieces of advice, helpful pieces, like a FAQ. I am not talking abuot rules, about what people must do but about what they should do, what would be helpful. Not everyone follows the rule of thumb to search on a topic before posting but t is still in the advice for the forum. Would you prefer it if we made it "advice" rather than guidelines? Would that stop you accusing me of wishing to restrict people's feredom? Look at the philosophy of Science and Mathematics thread. THere is a sticky there about what is and isn't appropriate, so there is a precedent.

    At the bottom of my sig, which some people may have chosen not to see, there is a "opinions are mine" disclaimer. That is not there just because I like the words, but because many of us are required by our employers to make it clear that even though we speak on subjects in which we have a professional interest we are doing so in a non-professional capacity.
     
  18. Aug 31, 2005 #17

    matt grime

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    How about this thenh:
    Nominal Title:

    Things to consider before asking for course advice

    1. If you want advice about course options and units then the best people to ask are those who organize the course: only they have all the relavant details to hand. Any advice offered here will be personal and anecdotal, and is not to be presumed to be offered with any authority (see point 2 for the reasons why). Remember, ultimately, only you are responsible for your decisions and no one here i accountable if you mistakenly took the wrong advice.


    2. If your query is more general, or you still want people's opinions (and that is all they are even if they may be teachers in schools or lecturers/professors at a university) then please give as many details as you can, and don't just rely on course titles. Course names and levels are not standard within a country (at university level), and the material is not standardized. This is even more noticable if you look without, since this is an international forum. What someone thinks calculus 1 is in the first year at university at Ohio State, is probably not what someone at Caltech would think it is, and is definitely not what someone at Cambridge or Ecole Superiere [spelling any one?] would consider it to be.


    See, no mention of banning, deleting posts or telling them what they can and can't post.
     
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