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Over at the TeX SE site, there's been a fair amount of meta discussion about whether the site should be closer to the StackOverflow or MathOverflow model for discussions. The linked post has a good summary of the differences, and I'll also link to Andrew Stacey's link off his home page.

I suspect that we will need to grapple with this question as well: do we want the 'advanced grad student' lower bound that MO effectively maintains, or something lower ? StackOverflow does handle what I'll consider undergraduate-level theoryCS questions. I'll post my own thoughts in an answer below.

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My personal inclination is to move this site a little closer to the MO 'advanced grad student and above' model. For me, the most compelling argument (that the SE overlords have mentioned as well) is that a site for experts will attract non-experts, but not vice-versa. And from a more selfish perspective, I'll find more value in a site where I can both ask and answer questions.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't see any problem with MO's model. I think this site could be a TCS equivalent of MO, keeping the same lower bounds on questions. $\endgroup$ Aug 17 '10 at 4:27
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I would prefer a site that is aimed at experts, probably at least graduate student or advanced undergraduate, and assuming a reasonable background in theoretical computer science, or a bit of care in phrasing by someone who is not an expert.

Anything below this level seems neither attractive for domain experts to contribute to, nor sufficiently different from Wikipedia or Google Scholar to be valuable.

The TeX site is great because it focuses on information that is not easy to find in an FAQ. It is full of the kind of questions one would ask of the local TeX guru, and the answers are typically those that the most knowledgeable gurus would provide. It is becoming the sort of place where the discussion about a particular question will be the first hit when one asks a related question of a search engine.

It would be good if this site could be the place where we get to ask our theory neighbours (whether across the hall, or on the other side of the world), about niggling folklore questions, tangents that came up while reading a paper, clarifications about new results, or cool new insights that maybe don't quite work. I would also like to see a place where such questions are answered with pointers to non-obvious papers, snippets told by colleagues, historical background that isn't published, and insights that may be common in some parts of the community but which are not universally known.

In other words: I am adept at using a search engine. But I have no access to the corridor gossip at another institution, and almost certainly haven't noticed how the JACM paper you just read is directly relevant to an arXiv paper that appeared yesterday.

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    $\begingroup$ Strongly agree with Andras. There is no reason for me to visit this site if I can get the same experience from Google. And after all, Google replies to my queries much more quickly. :) $\endgroup$ Aug 19 '10 at 4:52
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I asked StackOverflow admins to remove my account there because I became frustrated by the high-level of noise. I much prefer a website where I am forced to think hard before posting. (Which I don't always do.)

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