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We should decide whether to allow questions such as this one:

Complexity Theory conferences?

My feeling is that they should be on-topic as community wiki, because they provide a means for the community to list out their favorite events (in the supplied example).

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  • $\begingroup$ I think it is a boundary case but sufficiently on-topic. I didn't upvote it, but I wouldn't downvote or close it, either. The ranking of the answers might be interesting. $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Aug 22 '10 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ Incidentally, I like what Shane did by linking to this meta discussion when the close votes started appearing. I think this process should be part of good practices when voting to close, and should be added to the FAQ. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Aug 22 '10 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ One reason that I posted the question is that StackExchange may give us funds to sponsor a conference or two (I know since I'm a moderator on the statistics SE site), so it is good to have the community sort them. I also think that it's useful to identify things like this within the subfields for those in other areas. But we do run the risk of too many "list" CW questions. $\endgroup$ – Shane Aug 22 '10 at 20:05
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I'm on the fence about this. On the one hand, this question in and of itself is not a bad one: if we think of the site as a useful resource for information, then answers to such a question provide the relevant information.

However, there's a slippery slope effect here (what are the best books on X? what are the best lecture notes on X?) that worries me. As it is, my personal feeling is that there are more CW questions being posted right now than I'm comfortable with, and the way the SE systems works these questions constantly get promoted to the top of the queue because they tend to generate lots of activity (even if no rep points are earned in doing so)

so while I wouldn't vote to close, I'm unlikely to upvote, and might even downvote.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for too many CW questions. $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Aug 22 '10 at 19:27
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I don't feel very comfortable with it. The question basically asks: "What are the best theory conferences?" This is subjective and argumentative. A similar question would be: "What are the best graduate schools to do theory at?"

These questions indirectly involve a value judgement on individual research.

I think we should focus on technical discussion and concrete questions.

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    $\begingroup$ it is subjective for sure. But argumentative ? there's definitely a community sense of what are perceived as the top places. This is true in any field, and it's actually useful to know what the perception is when you start publishing. This is not to say that the community is 100% correct. So the question was actually worded carefully, to talk about 'significant' rather than 'best'. Which makes it less argumentative in my mind. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Aug 23 '10 at 6:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Suresh echoed my thoughts. I didn't ask for a favorite. I agree that certain questions like this are very subjective, but generally there is conference in each subfield every year that everyone agrees is the most widely attended, etc. As such, I didn't consider it argumentative. $\endgroup$ – Shane Aug 23 '10 at 13:03
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    $\begingroup$ I disagree. It's argumentative, because there is no unique "community sense". I have many European colleagues who think LICS+ICALP are the most significant theory conferences. In the US everyone would say STOC+FOCS. Either side will argue about it, but I don't see the point doing it on this site. $\endgroup$ – Moritz Aug 23 '10 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ But the union of this set is a reasonable list. And from a grad student's point of view, it's actually helpful to understand your point. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Aug 23 '10 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ My feeling, on further reflection, is that I don't know what the community preference is going to be. And the public beta is one place where we can get more folks involved and have more opinions. So I'd vote to let things stay as they are, reopen Shane's question, and let things evolve a bit more. We can see then if we're being overrun by argumentative questions. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Aug 23 '10 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with Moritz. I think the goal should be to talk about the science, not sociology. My fear is that if many non-technical questions are allowed, the site might go the same way as some of the TCS blogs seem to have been going recently: filled with nasty, personal, uninteresting comments by anonymouses. $\endgroup$ – arnab Aug 23 '10 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ @arnab: IMO, moderators on the site can manage that and set the tone. $\endgroup$ – Shane Aug 23 '10 at 18:28
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I had another idea about how to handle this: we could use meta. Conferences, journals, books, etc. are about the field. If we want to keep only subject matter discussions on the main site, we could consider questions about the field itself as good material for meta.

Once a moderator is selected, he/she can migrate these questions immediately.

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    $\begingroup$ See also meta.cstheory.stackexchange.com/questions/62/… $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Aug 23 '10 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ I think this is an excellent idea. $\endgroup$ – Charles Stewart Aug 23 '10 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ The only downside is that we will be mixing questions about the field with questions about the site. But it might be the best solution given the current dilemma. $\endgroup$ – Shane Aug 23 '10 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Jukka: Ha! Suppose I should pay more attention. $\endgroup$ – Shane Aug 23 '10 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ You can't just "use meta" to create another site with questions not suitable for the main site. Meta is for the administration of the main site. Use meta to answers these questions instead. I'm selecting your moderators in about a week with zero input from this community. Ditto on a lot of the other issues from that link. $\endgroup$ – Robert Cartaino Aug 23 '10 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Robert: Ok, I'll try to post some more of those questions. We can't use meta for whatever we want (beyond administration)? Why not? $\endgroup$ – Shane Aug 23 '10 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ Because it is off-topic against the purpose of the site. There's already a wide-spread belief that if something is off topic, you just make it community wiki. You don't need to add another layer to that. $\endgroup$ – Robert Cartaino Aug 23 '10 at 18:44
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So the question got closed, but it comes up as the first result when you search the site for "conferences". Should we merge the old question with the new question:

List of TCS conferences and workshops

So that it is not confusing?

My bad for making the quesiton and answer, but I wasn't sure if this needed a new metathread.

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  • $\begingroup$ merged. Merging also moves the comments to the new question, so I deleted the comments coming from the old one. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Aug 25 '11 at 10:32

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