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Is the complexity of the material that people are posting on the main cstheory site aimed at people just starting CS degrees, final year degree students, masters or PHD students? I'm at #2 of that chain right now and when I scan the questions, get scared and leave the site (maybe that is intentional to remove the chuff)

I'm just curious who everyone is, whether it's meant to mirror mathoverflow or be more general purpose

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I'm not sure how a post-grad is different from an MS or Ph.D student, but I'd say that the questions being discussed here have a lower bound at advanced undergraduate/beginning grad student, and extend all the way up into active researchers at all levels. Many of the "big-list" questions are at the lower end of this range.

While MO is definitely a strong influence on how we use the site, I think that we are likely to entertain certain kinds of broader questions, especially in the realm of applications. However, from a level point of view, we're probably similar.

I would hope that you wouldn't get scared away ! While the questions might seem out of reach, they do span a wide breadth of topics, on which few of us are experts, and so it's not surprising that many of the topics might appear inaccessible. There might be some crustiness towards ill-posed, unmotivated questions, but clear questions that aren't answerable by Google (see this thread on how to ask questions) will (hopefully) get a fair shake, even if they might seem basic.

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  • $\begingroup$ I had my terminology confused, by post grads I meant people with a CS degree but not continuing down an academic path. $\endgroup$ – Chris S Sep 15 '10 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ Can we get the description of the site in the main FAQ cstheory.stackexchange.com/faq updated to make an explicit mention that questions should be at or close to research level? Currently there's no easy way for the unsuspecting asker to know that policy. $\endgroup$ – Warren Schudy Nov 5 '10 at 22:47
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The material posted on this site is aimed at anyone interested in theoretical computer science, from students to profs -- undergrads, however, would probably have a harder time keeping up, but at worst it's a good learning experience.

Lots of people are using their real names and have links to their websites in their profiles, so that's not a bad way of seeing who is using this site.

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    $\begingroup$ my feeling, based on trolling the user list, is that a good fraction of the people here are ph.d students or recent postdocs. Another group represented is CS folk who have an amateur (as in, not their day job) interest in theoretical computer science. A smaller group (and I hope it gets bigger) is more senior researchers. The middle group might have the most difficulty with the content to begin with (because they haven't dived down the rabbit hole like the full-time researchers have), but as Lev says, it's a good learning experience. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Sep 15 '10 at 16:24
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I would really like to see a place on the webs were people can get TCS teaching (supplement). To my knowledge there is no such place. The problem is that as a student you do often not have the resources (time, journal access, starting points) to do an extensive literature search while CS lectures are oftentimes very vague on the theoretical details. For example, I remember attending a lecture on pattern recognition that had many holes regarding stochastics. If you were really interested, you would have loads of questions outside of this lecture's scope.

So I think it would be great to have a website where people could just ask their questions and get them answered. Yes, there will be the same questions over and over again. But think of the advantages:

  • People get help for TCS which reduces potential of intimidation
  • Who can provide better help? (asides from local staff, but many students do not like to ask professors directly)
  • We might be able to get people interested in TCS
  • We attach people to our community young (youth work)

I can agree that we should keep research level and teaching level separately although the distinction might not always be clear. So why don't we create another site on stackexchange, say tcsnovice.stackexchange.com, with this other scope and encourage people to move in between both communities?

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    $\begingroup$ Math.stackexchange already allows basic TCS questions. $\endgroup$ – Robin Kothari Oct 8 '10 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ This is wierd. As long as this site here did not exist, it maybe made sense, but now it feels like a misassociation. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Oct 9 '10 at 13:28

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