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Setting up a new physics site from a technical point of view


Here I want for those interested to give an overview about how we plan to proceed from a technical point of view to set up the new physics Q&A site.

  1. To have a base of  already  existing questions to start with, we plan to take the data dump of the former Theoretical Physics SE site (maybe complemented by some Physics SE questions), and import it into the
  2. Q&A software (SE clone) that fits the foreseeable needs of the future community best. BTW this procedure is allowed.
    Important criteria to choose an appropriate solution are for example that

    • The TP data dump can be imported without loosing any data and the questions, answers, etc can be made browseable again, as it has been possible on the now closed site. To achieve this one can for example find out how to import / export XML files to determine what data base format the software uses, and then convert the TP data accordingly if needed.
    • It would be good, if the moderation tools similar to what a Stack Exchange site has, even though the moderation itself will by no means be the same as for example on Physics SE …  ;-), were available.  With Q2A it is for example possible to set privileges in a quite flexible way, there can be several administrators and mods, etc. The administrator tools of a Q2A site can be tested  here .
    • Does the design look reasonably nice, if possible similar to Stack Exchange?
    • Is the software customizable to the needs of the community?
    • Does there exist a good helpful support to get updates, resolve technical issues, etc ? Some providers  maintain   even a Q&A site for support questions.
  3. Test the most promising options (from discussion here it looks like this will boil down to Q2A or QSQA up to now) offline on a laptop to see what works best, looks nicest, remove the worst technical stumbling blocks, etc …
  4. If we know what software to use, some (free?) hosting  should be found. Thereby it is important that the host supports the language of the Q&A software and MySQL for example.
  5. Go online and invite nice people to join 🙂

This is just a coarse grained overview, more microscopic details of what has already been done or what still needs to be discussed from a technical point of view will be provided in future posts.



  1. By the way, Q2A doesn’t have the concept of *suggesting* edits.

    I don’t know if OSQA does. I’ve asked them but it’s still awaiting moderation : ( .

  2. I suggest you use some popular open source forum software which provides a lots of plugins. Simple Machines Forum software is rather nice in many ways. It supports with plugins pretty much anything you can imagine and it’s highly customizable. After you have chosen your forum platform you have to make a conversion from old database to the new one. There might be some proper open source tools available to that task.

  3. I find one strong reason to choose Q2A over OSQA now…

    Despite the fact that OSQA looks more like SE, as compared to Q2A, which looks nothing like it, Q2A has a very dynamic support site; obviously “/qa”.

    On Q2A/qa, my question immediately (within 1 hour) got an answer, and the answerer also very helpfully responded to my (and your) comments too, quite quickly.

    On meta.OSQA, however, my (Very simple to anyone who would have used OSQA before, which means very very very simple to a moderator (diamond) or adminstrator (double diamond)) question took 5 days to get moderated, and 4 days later, still no news : ( …

    And OSQA for some reason has heavily vandalised “sites” in it’s gallery.

  4. I just noticed that Q2A doesn’t have a revision history (!)…

  5. One more site was added to the meta-so post:

    I don’t know how good it is yet, thougjh. It has an open – source version.

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