From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
PhysicsOverflow Logo.svg
Type of site
Question and answer
Open peer review
OwnerRoger Cattin[1]
Created byAbhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir, Rahel Knoepfel and Roger Cattin Edit this at Wikidata
LaunchedApril 2014; 8 years ago (2014-04)[2]
Content license
User contributions under CC BY-SA 3.0[2]

PhysicsOverflow is a physics website that serves as a post-publication open peer review[2] platform for research papers in physics, as well as a collaborative blog and online community of physicists. It allows users to ask, answer and comment on graduate-level physics questions, post and review manuscripts from ArXiv (which lists PhysicsOverflow discussion pages among its trackbacks[3]) and other sources, and vote on both forms of content.

In addition to the two primary forms of content, the PhysicsOverflow community also welcomes discussions on unsolved problems, and hosts a chat section for discussions on topics generally of interest to physicists and students of physics, such as those related to recent events in physics, physics academia, and the publishing process.[2]


PhysicsOverflow was started in April 2014 as a physics-equivalent of MathOverflow by Rahel Knöpfel, a physics PhD at the University of Rostock, high-school student Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir, and Roger Cattin, a retired professor of computer science at the University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland.[2] The site was initially a mere question-and-answer forum, as it was started by users dissatisfied by the policies of the Physics Stack Exchange, but it was eventually expanded to include a Reviews section in October 2014.[4]

Moderation practices[edit]

PhysicsOverflow is well-known for its liberal moderation policy and hesitation to block contributors except for spam, as reflected in the website's bill of "user rights".[5][6] The content is largely community-moderated, much like MathOverflow, although exceptions have been recorded.[7][8]

Although the site's moderation policy is publicly available as part of the moderator manual, the site has been criticised for the excessive dispersion of policy-related material, such as the FAQ, the Bill of Rights, the moderator list and the Community Moderation threads, leading to reduced transparency.[9][10] In response, the site's administrators posted a bulletin of all moderation-related content on the site on the homepage.

Technical details[edit]

The PhysicsOverflow discus as it appears in the PhysicsOverflow logo.

PhysicsOverflow runs Question2Answer, an open-source Q&A software, with a custom theme and several plugins and patches.[2] Some of its plugins have been used by other Question2Answer websites, such as the Open Science Q&A and the Physics Problems Q&A.[11][12]


Quantcast records around 3000 monthly visitors and between 20,000 and 50,000 global page views to PhysicsOverflow every month, over half of whom are located in four countries: the United States (26.8%), India (9.2%), the United Kingdom (8.5%), and Germany (6.4%).[13] However, according to PhysicsOverflow's own data, only around 1500 users actually contribute content to the site, and 440 are active at a given point in time.[14]


The creation of PhysicsOverflow was well-received by the MathOverflow community.[15] PhysicsOverflow was also featured at the 5th Offtopicarium[16] and World Scientific's Asia-Pacific Physics News Letter.[17]

  • John Baez suggested the website as a platform for discussing research-level physics questions.[18]
  • Greg Bernhardt, the founder of PhysicsForums, acknowledged the site as a "very interesting development for the physics discussion communities".[19]
  • Arnold Neumaier, a professor at the University of Vienna, employs PhysicsOverflow as the platform for discussion about his Theoretical Physics FAQ.[20]
  • String theorist Lubos Motl referred to the website as a "very promising competition [to Physics Stack Exchange]".[21]
  • The University of Stavanger's cosmology department commented that PhysicsOverflow "seems to implement some interesting ideas", and that "it makes some sense the [sic] review the reviewing process".[22]
  • Urs Schreiber publicised the site, claiming it could act as a catalyst to make physics academia more open like mathematics.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "FAQ - PhysicsOverflow".
  2. ^ dimension10 (23 April 2015). "We have ArXiV trackbacks!". PhysicsOverflow.
  3. ^ dimension10; Maimon, Ron (5 October 2014). "The reviews section is out of beta!". PhysicsOverflow.
  4. ^ "What is Physics Overflow and how is it linked to Physics.SE?". Physics Meta Stack Exchange.
  5. ^ "User Rights - PhysicsOverflow".
  6. ^ drake; Dilaton; dimension10 (10 June 2015). "Violation of policy to close questions?". PhysicsOverflow.
  7. ^ "Moderate | PhysicsOverflow".
  8. ^ "What is Physics Overflow and how is it linked to Physics.SE?". Physics Meta Stack Exchange.
  9. ^ SaddlePoint; Dilaton; Maimon, Ron (14 August 2014). "Who are the Physics Overflow moderators, and what is their exact role and powers?". PhysicsOverflow.
  10. ^ "How do I regain access to my imported account? - Ask Open Science".
  11. ^ "Christopher Schwarzkopf – Wikimedia Deutschland Blog".
  12. ^ "Login".
  13. ^ "PhysicsOverflow".
  14. ^ "PhysicsOverflow just went live". MathOverflow Meta.
  15. ^ Dilaton (24 August 2014). "We have a talk at the Offtopicarium !". PhysicsOverflow.
  16. ^ Pallavi Sudhir, Abhimanyu; Knöpfel, Rahel (23 October 2015). "PhysicsOverflow: A postgraduate-level physics Q&A site and open peer review system". Asia Pacific Physics Newsletter. 04 (1): 53–55. doi:10.1142/S2251158X15000193.
  17. ^ "books".
  18. ^ Motl, Luboš (14 August 2013). "The Reference Frame: Discussion about old and new theoretical physics forums".
  19. ^ "A theoretical physics FAQ".
  20. ^ "Physics Overflow is live".
  21. ^ "UiS Cosmology".
  22. ^ "New PhysicsOverflow forum for research-level physics discussion A new site..." 2 February 2019. Archived from the original on 2019-02-02.