How should the Asterisk evolve?

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RJN
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How should the Asterisk evolve?

Post by RJN » Fri Oct 15, 2010 4:07 pm

It is coming up on a year since the last major change for the Asterisk. I do not think the Asterisk's shape should remain forever constant. I welcome suggestions for improvements. First, should any forums be closed or moved underneath other forums? Here are some changes that might be considered:

The Asterisk Cafe and Open Space seem to have a lot of overlap, should they be combined?

The Science Labs seems to get few comments. Should it be moved under "Learning and Resources"?

The whole "Learning and Resources" section receives relatively few comments. Should comments on them be closed and people who want to comment directed to The Library of the Discussion Forum?

Should a new Learning and Resources classroom titled (something like) "Classroom: Cool Lectures from Anywhere" be added, where, for example, YouTube lectures from Feynman and Hawking could be linked?


In general, I would like to make the Asterisk more appealing to newbies with sincere astronomy questions, on one end, and professional astronomers on the other end. How should we do this? I worry that many newbies are intimidated, while many pros are likely lost to Evaporative Cooling. Still, here are two suggestions to get more pros to post:

Editorial Forum: Here prominent astronomers, astrophotographers, astro-bloggers, and veteran Asterisk board members (500+ posts or so) would be invited by this forum's moderator (volunteers?) to have their say about something astronomy or APOD or Asterisk related. It would be sort of a perpetual guest blog column, with a new column posted once a week or so for browsing and comments. I think a number of prominent sky enthusiasts would provide an editorial for this forum if asked.

Obituary Forum: Unfortunately, my official thesis adviser, Robert H. Koch, died this past week. There were emails circulating about him among many of his former students and colleagues as well as some comments on Facebook, but no real place for people to contribute memories of him. And I think several people would have wanted to share memories of him. I suspect the same was true for John Huchra, who died last week, but even his Wikipedia page leaves no place for people to leave their memories. Perhaps the Asterisk could take up this role. I would bet it would be slow going at first, and the Asterisk should not want to compete with a site set up by family or friends (in that case we would just place a link), and we would not want negative memories either.

Thoughts?

- RJN

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bystander
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Re: How should the Asterisk evolve?

Post by bystander » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:09 pm

RJN wrote:The Asterisk Cafe and Open Space seem to have a lot of overlap, should they be combined?
Personally, I think the Cafe has more in common with the Library, at least in concept. Open Space is for anything, the Library and the Cafe are astronomy related.
The Science Labs seems to get few comments. Should it be moved under "Learning and Resources"?
Probably a good idea.
The whole "Learning and Resources" section receives relatively few comments. Should comments on them be closed and people who want to comment directed to The Library of the Discussion Forum?
I don't like this. With the default alpha sort, so that order doesn't get mixed, I think discussion of a topic within the original thread is best. I would go as far as to merge the Introductory Astronomy discussions into their appropriate lectures, unlock the lectures, and do away with the discussion sub-forum. Separating the discussion into different forum in another section makes it too far removed IMO.
Should a new Learning and Resources classroom titled (something like) "Classroom: Cool Lectures from Anywhere" be added, where, for example, YouTube lectures from Feynman and Hawking could be linked?
I like this, but it may require special rules, guidelines, and enforcement to keep out the irrelevant posts.
Editorial Forum: Here prominent astronomers, astrophotographers, astro-bloggers, and veteran Asterisk board members (500+ posts or so) would be invited by this forum's moderator (volunteers?) to have their say about something astronomy or APOD or Asterisk related. It would be sort of a perpetual guest blog column, with a new column posted once a week or so for browsing and comments. I think a number of prominent sky enthusiasts would provide an editorial for this forum if asked.
This is a great idea, if we can make it happen.
Obituary Forum: Unfortunately, my official thesis adviser, Robert H. Koch, died this past week. There were emails circulating about him among many of his former students and colleagues as well as some comments on Facebook, but no real place for people to contribute memories of him. And I think several people would have wanted to share memories of him. I suspect the same was true for John Huchra, who died last week, but even his Wikipedia page leaves no place for people to leave their memories. Perhaps the Asterisk could take up this role. I would bet it would be slow going at first, and the Asterisk should not want to compete with a site set up by family or friends (in that case we would just place a link), and we would not want negative memories either.

Seems a little morbid, but we've already had several posts of this nature, providing a dedicated memorial forum might be a good idea.

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rstevenson
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Re: How should the Asterisk evolve?

Post by rstevenson » Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:41 pm

I particularly like the Editorial Forum idea. Since these would be invited postings, I think it would be appropriate to lock them while providing (automatically) a discussion thread elsewhere for any issues they raise.

I have no opinion on the various worries or suggestions revolving around forums not very active, or threads in different areas, simply because I view the entire Asterisk all at once, by going to the Board Index then clicking on "view active topics". So I'm rarely aware which sub-forum I'm actually in most of the time.

Rob

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bystander
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Re: How should the Asterisk evolve?

Post by bystander » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:06 pm

rstevenson wrote:I particularly like the Editorial Forum idea. Since these would be invited postings, I think it would be appropriate to lock them while providing (automatically) a discussion thread elsewhere for any issues they raise.
IMO, disassociating the discussion from the OP is a bad idea. What's the point in it?
I have no opinion on the various worries or suggestions revolving around forums not very active, or threads in different areas, simply because I view the entire Asterisk all at once, by going to the Board Index then clicking on "view active topics". So I'm rarely aware which sub-forum I'm actually in most of the time.
I'm much the same, except for me it's 'view new posts'.

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rstevenson
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Re: How should the Asterisk evolve?

Post by rstevenson » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:50 pm

bystander wrote:
rstevenson wrote:I particularly like the Editorial Forum idea. Since these would be invited postings, I think it would be appropriate to lock them while providing (automatically) a discussion thread elsewhere for any issues they raise.
IMO, disassociating the discussion from the OP is a bad idea. What's the point in it?
I was thinking the original posts might be a kind of introductory resource for Astrophysics which can be browsed by anyone coming to town, where any subsequent discussion might be distracting. But I can see it either way.

Rob

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Re: How should the Asterisk evolve?

Post by JeanTate » Sun Oct 17, 2010 2:28 pm

I think both the Editorial and Obituary (though perhaps not called that) ideas are well worth implementing.

Sadly, I missed the news that John Huchra has passed the second Chandrasekhar limit. :(

Maybe an astronomy-related fun 'n games/puzzles section too? Something a bit light-hearted, even limericks! Such sections/threads are quite popular on other astronomy-related sites.

Also, what about 'discuss this book'? Amazon book reviews are too partisan; as far as I can tell, they rarely post any that are negative, even slightly negative, so it's really hard to tell whether it's worth shelling out some hard cash for what looks like it might be good. And there's essentially no other place for good inputs.

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Re: How should the Asterisk evolve?

Post by neufer » Sun Oct 17, 2010 2:44 pm

JeanTate wrote:
Maybe an astronomy-related fun 'n games/puzzles section too?
Something a bit light-hearted, even limericks!
Such sections/threads are quite popular on other astronomy-related sites.
I suppose a bit of levity might be permitted from time to time.
Art Neuendorffer