Online quantum community in the works

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

IQC students are launching a new Stack Exchange website about quantum information science, where researchers in the field can share ideas and expertise.

Screenshot of the "staging area" of the quantum information Stack Exchange site Science is the business of asking questions and finding answers — and then questioning those answers.

With that in mind, a group of IQC students are launching a Stack Exchange site about quantum information — an online community where users can debate topics in the field, with the best answers rising to the top.

Here's how it works: users from around the world can post questions to the site, and other users can provide answers. What makes the site unique is the ability to vote on the quality of answers, meaning that the best answers gain prominence and the most helpful contributors earn clout for their expertise.

"If you reliably provide good answers, your reputation grows," explains Christopher Granade, one of the students who launched the site. "If you consistently give bad answers, your visibility on the site diminishes."

The Quantum Information and Foundations Stack Exchange site is currently in the "commitment" stage — still amassing the required number of registered users before it can be fully launched. Roughly 50 users have signed on so far, with a minimum of 200 required before the site becomes active.

The site is open to anyone in the world, though graduate-level education in quantum information science is likely required in order make valuable contributions.

While the focus will be on scientific questions, the Stack Exchange site will also be a gateway to some informal discussions and social events, in close collaboration with IQC's new Graduate Students' Association.

"If you need insight or input from someone else in the field, this will be a great tool," says IQC PhD student Chris Ferrie.

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