PF Review

How would you rate PF?

  1. Great

    54 vote(s)
    72.0%
  2. Good

    19 vote(s)
    25.3%
  3. Average

    2 vote(s)
    2.7%
  4. Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Very Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Greg Bernhardt

    Staff: Admin

    It's been a long time since I asked for a collective opinion, but since we are preparing to upgrade this would be a good time. The PF staff and I work extremely hard to make PF a special place, day in and day out. We try to create a balance of quality and productive discussion, but within a light-hearted and positive atmosphere. For the few members that do let us know of suggestions and opinions you have about PF we appreciate it. The rest of you I hope will participate in this thread because every voice is important. I think we can all agree PF has come along way, but on the other hand I feel PF is just scratching the surface and we want to know how you think we can move forward. So some topics of discussion could be the features of PF, how we handle speculative posts, overall enviroment, quality of posts, staff responsiveness, balance of forum topics, new features you want, PF guidelines, ads, and in general what can we improve on.

    This is also a good time to remind members to tell everyone you know about PF. Word of mouth is very important. If you're back in school tell your teachers and professors. If you're a teacher or professor tell your students. In fact if anyone gets their professor or teacher to sign up I'll give you premium membership
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. I think you all do a great job here. I have told a few friends, and others who seemed like they would be interested, about pf, not sure if any have actually checked pf out though.
     
  4. Moonbear

    Moonbear 12,265
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I think it's great here! I can't think of anything off-hand other than the few new smilies we've requested. :biggrin: Otherwise, it seems we just need to see how some of the new forums and policies settle out as they get used more and adjust as we go. For example, it'll probably still be a bit of time before we shake all the bugs out of dealing with the new IR forum guidelines, but despite a slow start, we have at least gotten a good start now that sweetser has set the bar for the quality of posts we expect there.

    The important thing is continuing to grow and adjust with the needs of the membership. The new history forum is a great example. I think there were requests for something like that in the past, but at the time, there was limited interest (or at least nobody really spoke up to support the suggestion when it was posted), so the time wasn't right, but as new members have come along and interest has gathered, and suggestions came in for ways to make a forum that combines multiple topics of interest to members, voila! A new forum is born!
     
  5. robphy

    robphy 4,424
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    First, i want to say that I have a good time on these forums... maybe spending too much time. I enjoy thinking about problems that students are stuck on and try to address misconceptions. It's great when my attempts and those of others help the student see it for him/herself. (I'll make a mental note of it and keep it in my bag-o-tricks.) It's also nice to see someone contribute a clever solution. A great learning experience all around.

    I personally would have liked LaTeX support in the journals. In that way, one can keep notes for one's own use... or as a reference for others. It might also be a private place to store (i.e., "postpone for continued editing later") a post that is being written [as is available in the blog].

    Another improvement may be away to characterize threads for easy searching later. Maybe some relevant keywords could be given by a mentor, advisor, or HW-helper. Such keywords may carry more weight in a search query. Maybe thread-titles can be modified by them to avoid vague titles like "Please help me answer this question".

    Personally, I think "Special & General Relativity" is a Physics topic, not an Astronomy and Cosmology topic.

    (I was actually planning to tell my students about PF... but stuff happened. Maybe next semester.)
     
  6. Loving it! I've told my tutor and she signed up. Unfortunately she won't tell me her user name... and... and... some of this post may deviate from the truth slightly. That aside, can I get free premium membership?

    Seriously love the site, but don't exploit the features enough to give much of a critique. The people are sound on the whole, and the forums are exhaustive and intuitive. Gold star... premium membership... top notch... prem-
     
  7. Moonbear

    Moonbear 12,265
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Adding keywords sounds like a good idea; whether it's possible to implement is a whole different issue of course. I'm not so sure about modifying the title...a student may have trouble finding their own thread if that was done. It would be nice if anyone replying could add keywords so the mentors wouldn't have to do that for every post if the person posting it didn't add it (just do this in Homework Help...in the other forums, there is usually enough information in the post for a search to pull it up). Even if it was something simple like "kinematics" or "inclined plane" to categorize questions as they answer them. If that was done, then we could encourage students to search by keywords for similar problems they could use for further study/practice if they need it.

    OT: Have you found a new place to call home and continue your studies for the time being?
     
  8. robphy

    robphy 4,424
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I was think of something like this:
    OLD TITLE: "Please help me answer this question"
    NEW TITLE: "Please help me answer this question [atwood machine]"

    Yes. I've returned to Syracuse. Thanks for asking.
     
  9. JamesU

    JamesU 745
    Gold Member

    I wonder who rated this forums as 'average'
     
  10. Greg Bernhardt

    Staff: Admin

    I'm sure that request can be taken care of :biggrin:

    I'll talk to warren to see if this can be accomplished elegantly.

    I agree, but this is really dependant of the members and unfortunately I feel most really don't care enough to take the time to think of a solid title.

    I hope this person voices their opinion since they obviously think we can improve and must have some ideas.
     
  11. I voted "great" because the quality of PF has shown to be "great" overall. That so many scholars and highly-esteemed people all gather here is something that a lot of communities lack, and is PF's signature feature. I believe the quality is high also because of the comfort and familiarity of our members. The daily operations of PF will always include homework assistance, but as an aside, we managed to create a very warm and friendly environment with each other. The emotional attachment aspect is something to be very proud of as I'm sure others feel the exact same way.

    Keep it up. :)
     
  12. Its still the best science/physics forum on the web! Everyone does a outstanding job.
     
  13. ZapperZ

    ZapperZ 30,305
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    It's just "average" as a philosophy forum, Greg. So don't sweat it!

    <ZapperZ runs and hides>

    :)

    Zz.
     
  14. honestrosewater

    honestrosewater 2,329
    Gold Member

    I think PF is great. :smile: I don't have any suggestions for the people or policies, but I can think of some features...
    It would be nice to be able to select which forums are included in the New Posts search. Maybe it could be added to the options to exclude News Reporter and Usenet posts?

    How about a 'best of PF / hall of fame / FAQ-in-progress' section where we can collect those threads containing especially good explanations, discussions, answers to FAQs, etc. that are currently getting buried? Something like the Links section and GD's Classics thread. I imagine the benefits are pretty obvious. For quality control, perhaps members could nominate threads to be included in the section, but a staff member would have to approve them before being added. It could be a list of linked (possibly amended) thread titles organized just like the forums. ??
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2005
  15. Greg Bernhardt

    Staff: Admin

    I like this idea
     
  16. Lisa!

    Lisa! 991
    Gold Member

    I think this forum is great, I visited some other science forums and didn't like them alot. But you know since it's a very busy forum, I have some problem to check all the threads and find my favorites. And I have to admit that I dislike the HW part, although it's very useful. :shy: Anyway I think homework helpers and the mentor of that part are doing a great job and are really patient. :smile:
    And I think social sciences forum is too quiet, but it's not starnge since here is a physics forum.
     
  17. DaveC426913

    DaveC426913 16,366
    Gold Member

    For starters, it's a great board - even if you don't change a thing!


    Some nice-to-haves:

    unsub from whole fora. Would make browsing New Posts easier, if I didn't have to wade through the politics and world affairs or whatever threads.

    ability to view threads I've been participating in. Currently, I've got to use search to look for all posts with me as a participant. And/or it'd be nice to have an address-line URL for this, since I do that a lot.

    a more intuitive place for latex summary. I use it a lot, but really, just the basics is fine for me, not the whole PDF. Currently, I have to search the FAQ, which spits out a URL - not even a live link, just dead text, which I must then copy and paste into the address field.

    Some slightly easier quizzes maybe? They are all way over my head.
     
  18. Tom Mattson

    Tom Mattson 5,538
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    We've got that, and in fact you can easily find posts made by anyone. Click on any username you are interested in (on any of that user's posts, or in the "Currently Active User's" list). You'll be directed to that user's Public Profile page, and on the left you'll see "Find all posts by (username)" and "Find all threads by (username)". You'll get the most recent 500 of each.
     
  19. honestrosewater

    honestrosewater 2,329
    Gold Member

    Dave,
    You can also use the Subscribed Threads link in the Quick Links menu at the top of each page. You can bookmark the page too - I do. You can manage your thread subscriptions in the User Control Panel (I think by default you are automatically subscribed to a thread in which you post, but you can change this in Edit Options); And if you're reading a thread that you want to subscribe to, just pull down the Thread Tools menu at the top of the thread and click Subscribe to this thread.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2005
  20. vanesch

    vanesch 6,236
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    There's one thing not (yet ?) present on PF, and that is "online courses". I had some experience with that on superstringtheory.com: one was a course I followed (Peskin and Schroeder) and one was I organized myself (Sakurai). We tried another course on Zee. There was also a course on superstrings in which I didn't participate, but they followed Polschinsky.
    I thought that the basic idea was outstanding: a group of people willing to study a subject take up a book (known to be "a reference") on it and study it chapter by chapter, doing the problems, and discussing the contents (their problems with the material etc...) under the "leadership" of someone who has more experience with the material (but who doesn't need to know everything about it either).
    However, on superstringtheory.com, there were quite some technical problems (server problems, database that got bungled up, etc...) and not enough features that we have here on PF (like attachments of pdf and so on) ; the other problem is that such a course often dies out, once the material starts to be a bit more difficult. Also, for ONE discussion leader, it is a LOT of work !
    Of course, in the appropriate forums you can ask occasional questions about difficulties you have with a passage in a book, or a problem or so ; but it is difficult to get a thread going on about reading a book together.
    In fact, several people here on PF did participate in one or several of those courses (even a mentor :-) ; I think most of them had some interesting return from it even though they all died a premature death (the courses, not the people!) There are some remnants of some of those courses on a few web pages I set up for the occasion.
    I remember Patricia Schwarz (webmaster of superstringtheory.com) doing a lot of work to get it up and running, but she had several technical and other problems, and a million things to handle, and she was probably a bit too ambitious from the start. I think she dropped finally the idea of online courses (haven't heard from her since a long time).

    So I was wondering if in the long run, such a thing could be considered. Just an idea.
     
  21. I voted good. This place is a great learning tool with lots of knowledgeable people from different fields but I would like to see a more vicious crackdown on crackpottery esp. in the physics section. Perfectly legit threads often get cluttered with arguments about well estabilished physics. For reference see the SR and QM forums. Not that I want to oppress the rights of some people to be wrong but as I and I believe most of the users are here for educational purposes that can easily lead into people getting very wrong ideas about physics.
     
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