Is it just me or is PF dying?

  • Thread starter gravenewworld
  • Start date
In summary: We've lost wildly popular and famous posters over the years. Why is this happening?It's not just PF. This is a general trend across the internet. There are just less people posting and reading online.Is it just me or does there seem to be less and less traffic on PF?I don't know, but I've found this place often times becoming too abrasive and too toxic.This can be caused by a number of things. One is disagreements turning into flame wars. Another is people using the platform to push their own personal political agendas rather than discussing the content.Sure noobs will come here often asking stupid questions or things that will annoy some users, but why is
  • #71
WWGD said:
Do you think it would be worthwhile mining them?
Mining what and looking for what?
 
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  • #72
Greg Bernhardt said:
Mining what and looking for what?
Just doing some regressions to find proxies for good posts, e.g., patterns of traits that seem to correlate with highly -rated posts. Or maybe
logistic regression, which assigns a probability ( of a post being high -quality) from given traits? I am not 100 % , but AFAIK, this is done in many
corporate settings, maybe can be adapted here?
 
  • #73
WWGD said:
Just doing some regressions to find proxies for good posts, e.g., patterns of traits that seem to correlate with highly -rated posts. Or maybe
logistic regression, which assigns a probability ( of a post being high -quality) from given traits? I am not 100 % , but AFAIK, this is done in many
corporate settings, maybe can be adapted here?

I don't think we have that much data...
 
  • #74
micromass said:
I don't think we have that much data...
I don't mean to be pushy, but is it possible to somehow set aside posts that are good in order to be analyzed? I know mentors are already overworked,
so maybe this can be done gradually until a relatively large amount of data is available?
 
  • #75
WWGD said:
I don't mean to be pushy, but is it possible to somehow set aside posts that are good in order to be analyzed? I know mentors are already overworked,
so maybe this can be done gradually until a relatively large amount of data is available?
Feedback and suggesting are good. How would you analyze/evaluate a post?
 
  • #76
Greg Bernhardt said:
Feedback and suggesting are good. How would you analyze/evaluate a post?
Maybe a combination of numbers: one of them is a measure of satisfaction with answer by OP, others are measures by mentors of : originality, quality, opening up new avenues, good example. Say from 0-5. Then we can average the measures given by all mentors and select those with, say, score from 4-5 as the good ones and those in 0-1 as the worse ones and look for patterns, for qualities . Maybe we can also link to these from the main page to illustrate what we consider to be quality posts. These types of analyses are done at corporate level under the general term " metrics" with, e.g., measures of product satisfaction.
 
  • #77
WWGD said:
Maybe a combination of numbers: one of them is a measure of satisfaction with answer by OP, others are measures by mentors of : originality, quality, opening up new avenues, good example. Say from 0-5. Then we can average the measures given by all mentors and select those with, say, score from 4-5 as the good ones and those in 0-1 as the worse ones and look for patterns, for qualities . Maybe we can also link to these from the main page to illustrate what we consider to be quality posts. These types of analyses are done at corporate level under the general term " metrics" with, e.g., measures of product satisfaction.
Identifying good posts is not hard, what is hard is developing an automatic system. Companies spend millions to develop such technology and I think it's likely beyond our capabilities. Furthermore I'm starting to get lost on the purpose of this. Is it to teach people to write good posts or to list good posts for people to read? And are we talking about good posts or good threads. We already have the featured thread area. I don't think linking random good posts from various points in different threads would be cohesive.
 
  • #78
Also one of the best and easiest ways to measure a post's worth is by "Liking" it.
 
  • #79
I would say the idea , or at least an idea is to get people to write better posts and to allow mentors, others, if possible,to steer low-quality posts up into better ones by having a better idea of the traits to identify as being conducive to better quality. This way creating a positive feedback loop of motivation and quality posts. And, yes, another measure of quality would be the "liking" . Other measures could be, e.g., : enlightening/motivating, clear explanation, etc. If we could find commonalities to these high-quality posts, could this be used to try to steer "lower-numbered" posts into being better ?
 
  • #80
WWGD said:
I would say the idea , or at least an idea is to get people to write better posts and to allow mentors, others, if possible,to steer low-quality posts up into better ones by having a better idea of the traits to identify as being conducive to better quality. This way creating a positive feedback loop of motivation and quality posts. And, yes, another measure of quality would be the "liking" .
We do have measures to inform members if we think their post is low quality. Unfortunately given human nature and the flighty nature of online communities it's very difficult to actually make big gains in post quality. The best way is to simply find a way to attract those who just already have it. Those low post members aren't going to be very receptive and suddenly turn into journal quality writers.
 
  • #81
Greg Bernhardt said:
We do have measures to inform members if we think their post is low quality. Unfortunately given human nature and the flighty nature of online communities it's very difficult to actually make big gains in post quality. The best way is to simply find a way to attract those who just already have it. Those low post members aren't going to be very receptive and suddenly turn into journal quality writers.

Yes, I guess 20-80 law: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle
 
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  • #82
The idea of assigning some objective quantity of "goodness" to posts raises some alarm bells in my head.

Seems to me, the spirit of scientific inquiry is a democratic and merit-based one. By merit, I mean 'any good post' as opposed to 'someone who has a high goodness score'.

An inquisitive mind should read as much as possible before drawing a conclusion as to what the most helpful or wise answer is. A goodness rating - especially an automated one - interrupts that, and inches us down the slippery slope of the "appeal to popularity" and "appeal to authority" fallacies.

I think it will damage PF.
 
  • #83
DaveC426913 said:
The idea of assigning some objective quantity of "goodness" to posts raises some alarm bells in my head.

Seems to me, the spirit of scientific inquiry is a democratic and merit-based one. An inquistive mind should read as much as possible before drawing a conclusion as to what the most helpful or wise answer is. A goodness rating - especially an automated one - interrupts that, and inches us down the slippery slope of the "appeal to popularity" and "appeal to authority" fallacies.

I think it will damage PF.
These are supposed to be used more as rules of thumb than as deterministic rules. To help guide, but can always be overruled if the context suggests the rule does not apply.
 
  • #84
WWGD said:
These are supposed to be used more as rules of thumb than as deterministic rules. To help guide, but can always be overruled if the context suggests the rule does not apply.
I'm afraid I don't see how that alters my point at all. Popularity is a snowball effect. A nobody writing a good post isn't enough anymore, now they also need a 'reputation' to be heard over the 'high goodness score' people.

We already have Insights and FAQs, if people are looking for succinct, approved posts.
 
  • #85
DaveC426913 said:
I'm afraid I don't see how that alters my point at all. Popularity is a snowball effect. A nobody writing a good post isn't enough anymore, now they also need a 'reputation' to be heard over the 'high goodness score' people.

But the measure is intended to be a weighted average that will not give full weight to popularity alone, other factors will also be considered.
 
  • #86
DaveC426913 said:
The idea of assigning some objective quantity of "goodness" to posts raises some alarm bells in my head.

Seems to me, the spirit of scientific inquiry is a democratic and merit-based one. By merit, I mean 'any good post' as opposed to 'someone who has a high goodness score'.

An inquisitive mind should read as much as possible before drawing a conclusion as to what the most helpful or wise answer is. A goodness rating - especially an automated one - interrupts that, and inches us down the slippery slope of the "appeal to popularity" and "appeal to authority" fallacies.

I think it will damage PF.

We are always on this slippery slope (for example, we already have mentors and science advisors), but I do agree with the spirit of your post.
 
  • #87
atyy said:
We are always on this slippery slope (for example, we already have mentors and science advisors), but I do agree with the spirit of your post.
But again, this is intended to serve as an aide, not as a substitute for judgement.
 
  • #88
DaveC426913 said:
PF is trying to "compete" with Redditt??
Reddit is the most common website visited immediately prior hitting PF (aside from google).
 
  • #89
I don't know the timescale they use for the analysis. That number could be a bit biased from the nearly 400,000 hits this article got from being on the reddit front page recently.
 
  • #90
mfb said:
I don't know the timescale they use for the analysis. That number could be a bit biased from the nearly 400,000 hits this article got from being on the reddit front page recently.
And alexa data is near useless because it relies on people using their toolbar, which is about exactly no one.
 
  • #91
WWGD said:
But again, this is intended to serve as an aide, not as a substitute for judgement.
At the risk of sounding trite, the road to heck is paved with good intentions.
What it is 'intended' to do is meaningless. The issue is how will it be used. And PF has little control over that.

PF can't prevent posters from saying 'Your best answer is over here. Listen to this guy instead'.
PF can't prevent people from simply stopping with discussions, and preferring what they think is The One True Answer.
PF can't prevent low-rep posters from feeling intimidated into not posting.
 
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  • #92
DaveC426913 said:
At the risk of sounding trite, the road to heck is paved with good intentions.
What it is 'intended' to do is meaningless. The issue is how will it be used. And PF has little control over that.

PF can't prevent posters from saying 'Your best answer is over here. Listen to this guy instead'.
PF can't prevent people from simply stopping with discussions, and preferring what they think is The One True Answer.
PF can't prevent low-rep posters from feeling intimidated into not posting.
I don't intend to force, nor pressure anyone to accept this, but you can design a measure that takes these issues into account.
 
  • #93
WWGD said:
...you can design a measure that takes these issues into account.
Well, that's the question that's on the table, isn't it: Can you design a system that helps rather than hinders? Help what? Hinder what? You wouldn't know if you had until you saw it working.

I think the first hurdle, which is one of the things that triggers my alarms, is:

What exactly is the intent here? Define what it is intended to accomplish, specifically with reference to what PF is about (a place for answers, yes, but also for discussion).

Let me set up a situation. Let's set aside the 'how', let's say it is magic. As a user with a question, I press the Big Red Button, and what happens? I am taken to The Answer?What if this became so successful that we managed to post a definitive answer for every question asked to-date? Would PF become simply a physics-Wiki with post-traffic dropping precipitously? Is that a successful outcome?
 
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  • #94
DaveC426913 said:
Well, that's the question that's on the table, isn't it: Can you design a system that helps rather than hinders? Help what? Hinder what? You wouldn't know if you had until you saw it working.

I think the first hurdle, which is one of the things that triggers my alarms, is:

What exactly is the intent here? Define what it is intended to accomplish, specifically with reference to what PF is about (a place for answers, yes, but also for discussion).

Let me set up a situation. Let's set aside the 'how', let's say it is magic. As a user with a question, I press the Big Red Button, and what happens? I am taken to The Answer?What if this became so successful that we managed to post a definitive answer for every question asked to-date? Would PF become simply a physics-Wiki with post-traffic dropping precipitously? Is that a successful outcome?
I will try to come up with something more concrete to illustrate my idea.

Still, at the end of the day, you can test-drive any new idea and drop it if you think it is not helpful
 
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  • #95
I remember browsing the general discussion and it had new and interesting posts/threads every day. Nowadays, it seems to be the same person creating new threads, perhaps in order to keep it alive?

Even though my account is new, I've been with PF for some years. The change of forum-software was an absolute god-send and a fantastic move. The forum is much much better. I'm not sure what causes the decline in activity (obviously), but it probably comes down to fewer people being interested in physics and forums.

I recently browsed a bitcoin's forum (bitcointalk.org) and was amazed at how many people used that forum. The software is bad (SMF) and much of the activity is spam/trash but one can argue that forums are not, by itself, a dead media.

Perhaps with the recent physics related movies/news PF will gain some much needed users.
 
  • #99
DaveC426913 said:
Well, that's the question that's on the table, isn't it: Can you design a system that helps rather than hinders? Help what? Hinder what? You wouldn't know if you had until you saw it working.

I think the first hurdle, which is one of the things that triggers my alarms, is:

What exactly is the intent here? Define what it is intended to accomplish, specifically with reference to what PF is about (a place for answers, yes, but also for discussion).

Let me set up a situation. Let's set aside the 'how', let's say it is magic. As a user with a question, I press the Big Red Button, and what happens? I am taken to The Answer?What if this became so successful that we managed to post a definitive answer for every question asked to-date? Would PF become simply a physics-Wiki with post-traffic dropping precipitously? Is that a successful outcome?
You have a very interesting forum, Joe/Jane we (a nobody) has no easy access to ask questions of Science (unless we are in some sort of school) and you guys have experts that answer those questions. And reading through them every one has a different way to state the same fact, (Helps a lot). Some guys use simple words and very direct, others could come from top to bottom a bit more complex for my taste. At the end you guys helped someone.

All the way from kids to students, also kids that are homeschool ( I am a home-school sort of person) can reach one of your people and get a good answer or help. A Wikiphysics will not do that, or could not and we had to go trhough pages and pages and pages until get some concrete answer, or not even get the answer to the question because the article tend to go more complex and it never got my answer, what I need to know, but a bogus idea. And some times those articles could be more complex than what the questioner was interested to know. I understand that some questions does not have simple answers, and having several experts in the same filed can come up with different ways to explain, than an simple book answer, that might not really answer the question. Sorry if I am redundant.

I would say your experts love their area so much to come here and share with anyone that is willing to know about their subject. You do a great favor to society in many ways. I think it will be great that your forum should be known in libraries and also for the people that home school their kids, you certainly are a big helping hand (if that was the initial intention)

But to get the bran off the grain, which for the very best or important might be Ok, but has render not so nutritionally benefits as the whole grain.

Or in different terms we absolutely wants the positive but we do not want the negative, but for effects of having the greatness of electricity we need both!

Anyhow, I enjoy your forum over a good cup of coffe, Just like I enjoy solving math problems after breakfast.
Cheers! :biggrin:
 
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  • #100
Greg Bernhardt said:
I've learned not to doubt the minds at Google. Who searches for bread anyway :D
When mfb said,
he wasn't considering this. :oldbiggrin:
... Science Colloquium, students explored the chemistry, microbiology and physics involved in transforming seed into bread ...
 
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  • #101
gravenewworld said:
Go ahead and look at my profile, I've been around here for over 10+ years. Increasingly I find myself checking PF less and less. We've lost wildly popular and famous posters over the years. Why is this happening? Is it just me or does there seem to be less and less traffic on PF? I remember when the general forum (and many other subforums) used to have almost all new threads on the first page within a day or two, now there are still threads from Aug. on the 1st page and almost as many locked threads as ones still open.

I dunno, but personally I've found this place often times becoming too abrasive and too toxic. [..] why is there the need to close threads and give a verbal smack down?
[..] if a thread or discussion annoys or bothers you, why not just ignore it instead of locking it? As a long time member, lurker, and poster here, I just feel like rule with the iron fist is backfiring (and this is where I expect the deluge of posts from the PF upper echelon members to start giving responses tantamount to something like 'rules are rules, if you don't like it you can leave or be banned'). [..] if I got some of the responses to some of my posts then as what I see posted now, I would definitely be rubbed the wrong way and would never return to this place ever again or would be discouraged from even making a new account if I were a lurker. What can be done to improve traffic, thread creation, and discussion volume and for more people to check this place more often? I don't want to sound like a hate or anything, but I mean come on, it only takes 2 seconds to check what the webtraffic and the global website ranking history has been over the years and it has steadily declined. My $.02.
You are referring, I think, to what is visible for the public; however in addition to that, such things also happen invisibly for the public. My participation is slowly reducing and just now I am (again) considering to abandon PF entirely, simply because the mentoring process is flawed. It's too optimistic to assume that mentors will participate in discussions without abusing their powers. In reality, discussions are often(?) misleading as they are invisibly manipulated (edited) to express the views of participating mentors by means of deletions of inconvenient posts (even statements of facts!) and/or thread locking at a convenient point. In view of another fresh disappointment along these lines, I now think that it may be better to stop supporting this forum, regretfully. I know of several high quality participants who experienced the same but who were more assertive than I am, so they got simply kicked out. The end result is the same: less high quality participants.
My $.01...
 
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  • #102
I'm afraid this thread is now in danger of being used as a platform for disgruntled members who receive warnings. That is not the purpose of this thread.

PF is flat out not dying, but there are natural ebbs and flows. PF staff and advisors are always working hard to improve our community. Which quite frankly is still the best Physics and Science community on the web by light years. This is due to our dedicated staff and excellent member base who all work together in forming our community. Communication is key so please continue reaching out to us with any thoughts and feedback you have by starting a new thread or PMing a staff member. Thanks!
 
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