Recently on OR-Exchange…

OR-Exchange is a question and answer site on operations research (and analytics).   The concept couldn’t be simpler.  People ask questions about operations research;  people answer questions about operations research.  Kinda like the usenet group sci.op-research without the spam.

I put together the site a couple of years ago when stack-exchange made it easy to put such sites on their server.  The idea was to mimic the popular mathoverflow site, but to specialize on operations research issues.  I had no idea of how well this would work, but it started off pretty active and continued to grow.

About a year ago, stackexchange decided on a different path, and they no longer wanted to host or support other groups.  Instead, groups of people could go through a process to become a true stackexchange site.  A number of groups have done that, and have done well with that path.  Unfortunately, our site was a little small for that direction.  Even now, with 381 “official users”, it would be the smallest of any stackexchange site (the current smallest is Jewish Life and Learning with 401 users).  The requirements to be a stackexchange site seemed insurmountable, so we needed another solution.

At this point, INFORMS stepped in and offered to sponsor the site.  After receiving confirmation that “sponsorship” did not mean “ownership” and that we could continue acting the way we were, we (i.e. me, along with a few of the very active participants) decided to move the site to INFORMS.  A big question was the software to use, since stackexchange software was no longer available.  Fortunately, there was an open source replacement from, so it was just a matter of installing that….   Famous last words!  Installing the software and getting the current questions and answers from stackexchange was no easy feat.  Fortunately, David and Herman from INFORMS were up to the task, and were able to do the herculean task of getting things up and running smoothly.  The conversion happened on April 8, while I was sitting in a faculty meeting, doing the few minor things I needed to do, like pointing from stackexchange to INFORMS (Here is some advice:when sitting in a faculty meeting, do not try to guess URLs;  godaddy and bigdaddy lead to radically different sorts of sites).  And things have worked great since then!

As I said, there are 381 registered users for the site, with about 40 being reasonably active.  But you don’t have to register to read the questions and answers, and there are about 300 unique visitors per day who do so, often due to hits at google.  This 300 is more than the background hits on this blog (when I post, hits spike up, but I run about 275 hits per day between posts).  There have been 316 questions asked, generating 1152 answers, along with at least that many comments.  At this point, there are eight moderators, though the moderation touch is extremely light.

Recently people have asked about

and much more!  It is a friendly group (except when it comes to answering homework problems!) so if you have a question in the area of operations research, broadly defined, don’t hesitate to check it out!  And thanks to INFORMS, and particularly Terry, David, and Herman, for the sponsorship and the outstanding technical support.

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