# Theoretical Physics is closing

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Note: This is a post from the Meta of TP.SE. Nothing has happened to PhysicsOverflow.

As mentioned in the recent blog post, I must reluctantly announce that we'll be shutting this site down on Friday, May 4th, 2012. While a fine topic, progress here has been slow for some time now, and it simply does not appear that theoretical physics has a strong enough following on our network to support the site long-term:

But when a site struggles to maintain any semblance of steady progress — when it's struggling to garner an audience, a healthy core of experts, and a steady stream of questions — it becomes increasingly unlikely that the site will find a core audience to sustain it.

So rather than stringing you along with hope of eventual graduation, I'd like to thank you all for the time and effort you've put in here, and encourage you to continue pursuing your interest in the subject - either elsewhere on Stack Exchange, or elsewhere on The Internet.

I hasten to add, this is not the end of theoretical physics as a topic of interest on Stack Exchange: if you see a question here that would make a good addition to the Physics site, please flag it for moderator attention in the next few days and suggest that it be migrated.

Just a few hours left... I'd like to thank you all again for your efforts in the migrations and final cleanup. The current plan is to mass-migrate all open questions to Physics, so if you know of posts that would be better off somewhere else (or simply closed), then flag those now. A full list of migrated questions will be posted on Physics later today.

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recategorized Jun 5, 2014
Is there a reason why you don't migrate all of them?

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@CodeInChaos: as I am not an expert on the subject, I can't say whether or not all questions here would be appropriate or welcomed on [physics.se] - it's a matter of courtesy. There's no reason why we *couldn't* do that, but this should be discussed between the two sites first.

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Dear Shog9, this theoretical physics site has had a lower traffic because it was meant to be more specialized, more expert-oriented cousin of Physics SE. So when it comes to the quality and relevance of pretty much everything here is enough for Physics SE. Whose confirmation do you want to hear to believe me that the full migration would be welcome on SE?

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@LubošMotl just raise the topic on [Physics's meta](http://meta.physics.stackexchange.com/) so they have a chance to respond. If there are no objections there, I have none. Again, courtesy.

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That's exactly what I did a few minutes before your comment. ;-) http://meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/1193/full-migration-of-theoretical-physics-se-questions-to-physics-se

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Excellent, thanks @Luboš!

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@Shog9 Any ways to maintain the links? E.g. there are many links from arXiv (see http://meta.theoreticalphysics.stackexchange.com/questions/227/arxiv-trackbacks-working); and if they are going to become dead, then it is not good for anyone.

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Dear @Shog9, my post on meta.physics was actually just 1 minute before your comment. ;-) If you look at the meta.physics URL above, you may see that there's a pretty clear agreement among moderators such as David Zas. that the conditions to be a part of Physics SE should be automatically satisfied for Theor. Physics SE posts. People worry about some technicalities such as the merger of tags etc. - for example, Dilaton kindly proposed that I should retag 413 questions, nice. ;-) Piotr: please, let's not invent exceptions. Let this website die and force everyone to change the URLs if necessary.

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Is it possible to have [some tags migrated to cstheory.SE](http://meta.theoreticalphysics.stackexchange.com/q/246/57)?

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You guys can be as granular as you like on this, @Artem. Assuming the questions are on-topic for their destination (or can be made so), you can migrate them wherever you like. I suggested Physics as the most likely candidate, but it's *possible* to migrate questions anywhere.

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@Piotr perhaps the SE team would be willing to preserve the TP domain as a redirect to physics.SE, if the site is migrated wholesale.

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I started a discussion what was the problem with TP.SE - http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/130361/why-did-theoretical-physics-fail (too learn a bit from it).

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I don't have an MSO account, but someone commented for me, it seems. I will restate here, TP.SE seems to have very similar age and stats to [ling.SE](http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/6673/linguistics). The only difference I see, is that the stats suggest TP.SE has harder questions (which is to be expected since the site is about __research__ level questions) and a slightly smaller community (which is to expected since there are fewer _research level theoretical physicists_ in the world than people interested in linguistics).

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It was mentioned in [an answer](http://meta.stackoverflow.com/a/130377) to @PiotrMigdal's question that part of the reason for closing was because of topic similarity between physics.SE and TP. What is the similarity? TP is for research-level questions, and from browsing the [highest voted questions on physics.SE](http://physics.stackexchange.com/questions?sort=votes) it seems that the site is for popular-physics. I had the impression that the whole reason TP was formed was to give researchers in physics a site with a better signal-to-noise ratio?

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@Artem: actually, you pretty much nailed it there - as I understand it, TP was created as sort of a way to split off a part of Physics to allow for a more focused site without all the noise and quackery. Which is great, if you can capture that without losing your audience. One of our goals for the re-designed site creation process is to give ideas like that a chance to test the waters without the same pressures and overhead.

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@ArtemKaznatcheev: Physics.SE is for _all_ physics questions. The popular physics questions are the ones that get the most votes (because the most people can understand them), but they're not a proper indicator of the top level of the site.

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@Shog9, as someone who by choice tries to limit my answers to questions asked by people who are interested and willing to learn, but not deeply familiar with physics or mathematics, I am tremendously saddened by the closure of your Theoretical Physics site. I have already quoted TP.SE as an example of how the social media can impact even the ways in which top physicists interact. I think the _who_ of your site is far more important that the automated plus-up stats. I would even go so far as to ask you to please reconsider your decision and continue with this unique gem.

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@Terry, I appreciate your comment and hasten to state again that this isn't a knock against the fine folk who've contributed and maintained this site. We're simply not set up to keep a site this size running long-term, and it appears this *is* the long-term size even in a best-case scenario. I sincerely hope that the members of this site can find a hope on [physics.se] after Friday.

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@Shog9, would it be possible to keep the site up for a few months longer if the TP.SE community decides to expand the scope of the site horizontally and vertically? (i.e. allowing questions at the level of senior undergrads and questions from other topics in physics) That can be an interesting experiment to see if things would improve.

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@Kaveh: that just seems like prolonging the pain at this point. Let's do our best to make the best of this and move forward.

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@Shog9, considering similar proposals with smaller scopes on area51 (like [QIF](http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/36039/quantum-information-and-foundations)) I thought that this might have a better chance of succeeding without leading to the same problem. Anyway, thanks for the reply. :)

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@Kaveh, Shog9, thanks. Sad, but I appreciate that the world is more complex than just the good points. Might I suggest an idea: Some of the thought leaders of the current TP.SE could exchange emails and form a closed, low-overhead, invitation-only group dedicated to continuing the tradition of very open exchange of oddball leading-edge physics questions. Add folks by referral and voting, to help keep cohesion and lower costs. There aren't enough forums for asking such questions, and a well-formed leading-edge question can engage, inspire, and link thoughts in ways that publishing only cannot.

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@Shog9, we have started the process of moving on and seeking alternatives, see http://meta.theoreticalphysics.stackexchange.com/questions/252/where-do-we-go-from-here#question. Keeping the site open for a few extra days might make a big difference for such plans.

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I have only just noticed the deletion announcement at TP.SE, and want to say that this is definitely a loss. There were quite a few world-class researchers contributing to TP.SE, and they will clearly not hang around on a site like Physics.SE.

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answered Apr 29, 2012 by (1,850 points)
Moshe suggests in another thread the possibility of essentially migrating to a different platform to remove the dependence on SE or other private enterprises. I'd be willing to pay for hosting etc. if people would be interested in this, and put in some time to develop the site. But it only makes sense to do this if there is community interest.

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There will be a chat session in the Physics room to discuss merging of the sites tomorrow at 9 PM UTC, and it would be great to have people representing the Theoretical Physics SE community there if anyone can make it!

One of the things we will be discussing is whether there is anything that can/should be done to make Physics SE more attractive to researchers.

(Maybe I should have posted this as a comment, or a separate question... someone let me know if that's the case)

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answered Apr 29, 2012 by (0 points)
I can't make it for that time I'm afraid, but I think a big part of the issue is "noise". Imagine your white board time with colleagues getting mixed up with office hours and a problem class. I know that it's is possible to use tags to filter, but it can still be off-putting. Also, the atmosphere there can be less... genial.

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@Mark: Thanks, too bad you can't make it... we'll keep that in mind. Feel free to offer comments in our chat or on a relevant meta post at any time.

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+ 2 like - 0 dislike

(It is not an actual answer, just aggregation of links directly related to dealing with the demise.)

The questions on meta.SO (containing further links, so I am not repeating them):

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answered Apr 26, 2012 by (1,260 points)

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