Let's have a "Papers" category.
Currently, we have two categories, Q&A and Meta. Those seem to be working well.
New topic type available
A category can now be created where there is a single post per topic, with only comments allowed on that post. The Meta site uses this for their Blog category, and the Cooking site for their Recipes category.
I propose that we add such a category here, called "Papers". This would be meant for telling the world about something you've discovered, a new technique you've developed, result of research you've done, etc.
The name "Papers" is a good first pass description, and is meant to set the tone that we're looking for good quality, well thought out, and well written material. Of course there will be a short intro at the top, and a help page detailing all the categories.
If such a thing is doable, upvotes should be worth 2-3 times what they are worth on answers. Papers are intended to take some care and effort to write. The larger bump from upvotes re-enforces that point, and gives some reward for that larger effort.
Downvotes can likewise be worth more. Again, we only want papers that are well thought out, well written, and relevant to the community. You should know what you're doing before attempting to post a paper. A paper is not meant to be something you bang out in a spare half hour.
Categories should be added sparingly
I have been thinking about this for a while, but wanted to let the site settle a little before proposing this. I am also worried that one such proposal begets more. I don't envision any additional categories for this site.
Too many categories are bad. Take a look at the Photography site as an example. It feels like too much hassle to go thru and find everything, and the empty categories make the site look even more dead than it already is.
I have several ideas for papers, so there will be some within a week or two (the day job gets in the way sometimes) of the category being available.
Response to @Lundin
I wasn't aware of SO's documentation "category", so that's good info. However, it's not clear what your overall point is. Are you saying we shouldn't try because it is doomed to fail, or that we should proceed but keep in mind the issues you raised?
It seems your main point is that it may end up with low quality. I can think of some tactics we can use to mitigate that problem:
- The expectations will be clearly documented. Calling it "Papers" is the first step in setting the tone.
- It will be seeded with some good papers. I suggested something like this on SE, but was ignored. I have several topics ready to write about, some of them original research I've done.
- As you say, we're sortof getting papers in the Q&A section now, because there is no other place for them. Self-answered questions is really a hack to use Q&A to write a paper.
- Voting. The standards will be high. People will be encouraged to upvote good papers, but also to downvote bad, lazy, or sloppy ones. There will be a considerable guidance in Help about voting on papers.
- Maybe we can even have votes to delete? I don't know if such a thing is available. Maybe a paper can be automatically deleted if it fails to get a positive score after 1 month or so? I don't expect a large number of papers, at least initially. Perhaps the mods can clean house occasionally, based on some well-published and previously agreed-to criteria.
So, what exactly are you proposing we do or don't do? Just list of issues isn't really actionable.
I think we should probably rather be looking for a FAQ system where we can post a list of canonical posts, similar to the example I gave from SO's C FAQ
What you describe doesn't sound like a FAQ, but rather an index to useful questions. We don't have a lot of people asking questions. It will be a long time before we can determine which ones are asked frequently. All too often "FAQ" is just a poor name for documention written in question/answer format. Most of the time, that is the wrong format for the information, and is somewhat annoying to read.
While a real index (not one pretending to be a FAQ), might be of some use, it is a completely different thing from a papers category. It would also take a lot of volunteer time to curate, there will be arguments about what should and should not be in it, and will be difficult to organize in a way for users to find the information they are looking for.
I did look at the FAQ on C you linked to, and it doesn't present very well. It gives a very short introduction to C, but then becomes a set of topics in no apparent order. It feels overwhelming and disorganized. If I had a question, I can see how I'd give up after 10 seconds and just ask my question.
This FAQ also doesn't address the purpose of the Papers category at all. You've just discovered a neat trick for solving a problem that others might run into, you've done some research and have new knowledge to report, you've worked out something that might be patentable, but want to put it "out there" to establish prior art and let the world use it for free. A FAQ doesn't help with any of those.
It's been 12 days now. This proposal is at +4,-0. One answer basically agreed and is at +3,-0, and one answer said we should have a FAQ instead and is at +1,-1. I think that's sufficient to declare a consensus and have a Papers category.
Admin: Please create a Papers category. Once it's there, I'll add some help pages explaining it and catagories in general.
Here is my first pass attempt at the short description for the top of the papers category:
Scholarly articles on original research, new ideas, tips and tricks for common problems, and the like. See HERE for details.
That's an excellent idea. But I think there is no need in punishing bad posts here, because there will be very few posts here anyway, I'm sure. You have only to remove those infrequent "bad papers", and this is more than enough. For example, I think I have very good things to say about pulse generation, but I'm not a professional, and maybe this will not be of the expected level. On the other hand, you may be satisfied with that. There is only one way to know: you have to see. But if I'm afraid to be punished, I will not even try to invest efforts here.
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I've created the category and enabled the Article post type (only). It uses the same tag set as Q&A. If you want me to change either of those, let me know.
Please let me know what you'd like the text in the short description at the top to say and I'll add that. When you create a help page about the category, we can also add a link to that there.
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We can now support changing the reputation values for papers, if this is what the EE community would like.
Here's how it would work. We can't currently vary properties of post types per category, like saying that Article posts in Papers grant higher rep but that Article posts in a hypothetical blog category grant normal rep. But we can create a new post type and use it in the Papers category.
If you decide to do this, we would convert the existing posts. Otherwise the category would have to support both post types, and that would be confusing for people when posting. This would mean that people who've gained (or lost) reputation through papers would see their reps change. (Based on a quick scan of current papers, everyone's rep will go up.)
If the community would like a Paper post type, let us know and we can create it for you. You can specify the rep values for upvotes and downvotes.
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My biggest concern is that it will get too random and low quality.
The worst that can happen is something similar to SO's failed "Documentation project" a couple of years ago, where users were to write documentation and examples of misc programming-related topics. These ended up in a separate place at the site - a category if you will. There was no clear structure for how to organize these articles - anyone could write one, edit one etc. You could provide feedback to specific articles. What happened was this:
- It was rather unclear and subjective what problem "Documentation" was supposed to solve in the first place. (Wikipedia 2?)
- Documentation pages ended up all over the place, broad and arbitrary. It was impossible to search through it looking for a specific topic.
- Everyone and their mother felt the urge to write these posts, meaning that the overall quality ended up very low. The domain experts who wrote good articles had them drown in floods of crap.
- Duplicates and overlapping topics happened frequently, with no easy way to resolve them.
And then there was actually a peer review system in place + you could leave comments etc, but it wasn't nearly enough. The whole project collapsed under the weight of crappy, chaotic articles.
Something similar to SO Documentation must be avoided. Then the question is - how do you do that, on an open Q&A site where everyone is (and should be) allowed to post, regardless of knowledge level. And how do you provide structure and guidelines for what the papers must look like, how they are categorized and so on.
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