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Questions and answers in operations research?

Yiorgos Adamoploulos (@hakmem on twitter) pointed out StackExchange as a software system/social network system for questions on specialized topics.  He wondered if we need one in operations research. It seems to me that the “web 0.1” version of this (Usenet groups) are pretty well dead:  the spam has completely taken over comp.constraints and is pretty high on sci.op-research (no, we don’t need your stinking solution manuals, thanks).  So where to go?  I get some questions as comments on my blog posts:  I try to respond to them before I delete them but that only gives one person’s views.

Let’s find out if there is an interest.  Have questions (or want to give answers) in operations research?  Check out the OR Exchange! No guarantees on how long this will be up:  if there is no interest, down it goes.  But let’s see!

I’ll probably be fiddling with the format of the system over the next few days (I need better graphics!), but that shouldn’t affect the questions and answers.

{ 10 } Comments

  1. davidc | November 12, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    You could also use an news aggregator like reddit http://www.reddit.com/r/sysor/

    In any oth these things you need a moderator you trust to stop the place getting overrun with homework questions and spam.

  2. Michael Trick | November 12, 2009 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I hadn’t realized you had an OR reddit! That’s great! I’m playing around with putting a widget on my page for it, if that’s OK with you.

  3. Larry (IEOR Tools) | November 12, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    That reddit aggregator is great. I will try to add it on my blog too.

  4. Michael Lugo | November 12, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    For more mathematical questions, you might try Math Overflow. However, moderators there have been fairly aggressive in only allowing questions that would be of interest to mathematicians.

  5. Michael Trick | November 12, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I should have mentioned that OR-Exchange is the same system as Math Overflow: @hakmem’s pointer to it is what got me interested in the system.

  6. Paul Rubin | November 19, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Consider this a vote for OR-Exchange, particularly if non-OR people with OR questions can find their way to it. In its heyday, sci.op-research occasionally got “is this an OR problem?” sorts of questions. It still gets a few — Google searches sometimes lead there — but I think we need a visible portal where the general public can find out how to ask for help with their (non-homework) problems.

  7. Vik Ingle | November 23, 2009 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    As a reader brought over by davidc from reddit, I recommend the sysor subreddit!

  8. Tallys Yunes | November 24, 2009 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Even if everyone who submits questions to sci.op-research switches to OR-Exchange (and I hope they do), the other valuable function I see in sci.op-research is being an outlet for announcements such as conference deadlines, workshops, and job/research positions. Do you think it would be appropriate for OR-Exchange to have a section for those kinds of things? If so, one could install an auto-reply on sci.op-research to say “please submit your message to OR-Exchange”, and that would redirect the traffic. Such a section could start receiving spam messages in place of legitimate announcements. To deal with that we could try some sort of circular moderation system: users with >= X points can be asked to moderate a submission to this announcement section and the system cycles through all such users so that the work is evenly spread.

  9. Michael Trick | November 24, 2009 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    I need to think some abut this. It may not be a unanimous view that sci.op-research no longer works (though it is my view). But perhaps having a way to make announcements on or-exchange is a good idea (I would not autoreply on sci.op-research: I’d leave it to the market to see where people want to post). But or-exchange (BTW: you can go to http://www.or-exchange.com directly) could certainly modify its instructions to allow announcements instead of just questions. I am currently in Europe in transit: I’ll think about it and make an announcement in a few days about this.

  10. Michael Trick | November 24, 2009 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    UPDATE: I have updated or-exchange and asked the audience whether this is a good direction: http://www.or-exchange.com/questions/49/should-we-allow-announcements