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What do you think of my site idea?

  1. Nov 5, 2014 #1
    Hello, Physics Forums. I've been working on a sort of open textbook website since the beginning of this year and am almost finished. I have certainly enjoyed building it, but it has come to the point where I would like to hear a little bit about what other people think. So, as science-minded people, what do you think of my site? I would greatly appreciate some constructive criticism, suggestions, etc. Useful? Not useful? Redundant?

    Through the course of my undergraduate career, I became somewhat annoyed at the high textbook costs. This could often be circumvented by buying old editions but attempts were often thwarted by rearranged homework problems and Mastering Chemistry. I admire open source projects quite a bit and, thus, decided to begin my own project revolving around public content creation.

    • Users create pages marked up by XML. Pages are given a category (e.g. Physics), subcategory (Electromagnetism), and topic (Electrostatics) and can be rated by other users.
    • Site revolves around revenue sharing. Authors can choose to input their AdSense ID so that they will receive revenue from the 1-2 ads displayed on their pages. Authors can also input their Flattr ID to receive donations or turn off ads entirely on their pages.
    • Pages can be compiled into books organized into chapters. Only authors can edit pages, but any public pages can be compiled into a book.
    • Once everything is working and functional, I'd like to add lots of textbook-esque features (text highlighting, a glossary, etc.).
    • Authors retain all copyrights to their work.
    So what do you think? Something you might use? If not, something you could see other people using? Posted in the wrong forum or in violation of ToC?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2014 #2


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    Seems like it could be a good thing, but I suspect you'll find that VERY few people will post in it. People love to USE such sites but as far as actually contributing? Fugedaboudit.
  4. Nov 5, 2014 #3
    Indeed, although Wikipedia certainly defies that (of course, I'm not certain what their user-to-author ratio is). Even so, if I ended up being the only contributor but managed to contribute a few pages that a lot of people ended up using, I'd consider the effort worthwhile.
  5. Nov 5, 2014 #4
    I think it is being done here:


    I agree that textbook prices are just a cash grab, but sometimes the professors are in on it so they won't agree to use something better.
  6. Nov 5, 2014 #5


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    I think it's a pretty good idea. Creative. Yet I see a couple of issues that would need to be considered: quality control (authors, contents, editing, error correction). Eventually, it's unlikely you will be able to handle this yourself. Advanced sites covering a large number of topics are AFAIK very seldom run and controlled by a single person. I.e. will there a be any form of more sophisticated feedback (users/readers commenting or mailing corrections, suggestions), and if so, how will that feedback be administered?

    Even though this is a forum, consider how Physics Forums is administered, there are a number of administrators and moderators (mentors) here, and guidelines.

    And even though I don't suggest such a site should be run like Wikipedia, consider how Wikipedia is run , e.g. A Primer (it is based on massive free contribution & editing).

    In short: how do you make sure the contents has good quality?

    (EDIT: just saw two new replies had been done above mine)
  7. Nov 5, 2014 #6
    True, that's why I'm going for a different model and hoping to cater to the "I would like to be paid for my work" crowd. Additionally, Wikipedia is pretty static and I would like to eventually go for a more dynamic approach (highlighting, notes, glossaries, offline access, perhaps dynamically created practice problems). It seems to me like most serves take either a Microsoft/Apple approach (you pay us for our services), a Google/Pandora approach (you don't pay us but we still profit), or a Linux/Wikipedia approach (you don't pay us and we don't profit), and the Google approach doesn't seem to be very active at the moment in the textbook market.

    First off, thank you very much for your feedback.

    If I could grow a site to the point where I was unable to manage it single-handedly, I would be more pleased than worried. For the time being, things will be handled by a rating system which will be factored into the search system with some manual quality control done by myself. Ratings can be supplemented by comments (authors will be notified, similar to ratings and feedback on Amazon) and corrections/feedback can also be sent to authors by message (I will certainly need to work on some spam preventive measure before allowing public messaging, of course). Additionally, revenue sharing will most likely be prohibited for low-quality pages and authors.
  8. Nov 5, 2014 #7


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    There is another physics site I was thinking of mentioning, but I can't remember the name at the moment, aargh! If I remember correctly it is a moderated/administered wiki.

    EDIT: Now I remember what site I was thinking about: Scholarpedia (and it's not just physics, and I haven't been there very much)
    Wikilink: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholarpedia
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
  9. Nov 6, 2014 #8
    Interesting. I've been envisioning a sort of open-source-type academic journal.
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