Is the Cognitive Science proposal for research level questions or general questions? Will it follow the likes of cstheory in attracting active researchers and discouraging non-graduate level questions?

If it is for research level, then is anybody promoting it at CogSci2011 (which is happening right now in Boston!)?

Related questions on the two level distinction:

Two level model (MO/Math.SE) vs one level model (SO)

What problems does the two-level split solve?

Proposal: Cognitive Science


1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I think Cog Sci is meant to be an academic site, thus incorporating research questions, but also helping novices with questions about scientific topics (e.g. 'how does ACT-R deal with individual differences in cognition?').

I understand the appeal of a strictly research oriented site, but I think there are some better reasons for why the site should encompass a wider range of experience in its users.

  1. Tags allow easy searching for research questions - research questions within cog sci will generally use much more technical tags (e.g. semantic-dementia, V1, aphasia), and following these tags should allow for you to get research questions and not noobie inquiries. Note that this isn't always the case, such as in math, where things like 'graph' and 'algebra' mean very different things to researchers and novices.
  2. Novices still sometimes provide insights into research questions/Researches provide insights into novice questions - research tends to breed tunnel vision, and so sometimes a novice's perspective can be invaluable.Conversely, in many cases it takes an expert to fully answer a novice's question. Say someone asks about the role of the ventral stream in vision; there is a broadly accurate answer of wikipedia, but then there is the nuanced answer of the expert.
  3. The University Model - Rather than going through all of the reasons for mixing research and teaching together, I'll simply point to academia. Though one point bears reiterating: by providing a place to both teach and research, you increase the pool of resources you can draw from.

That said, if the 'psychology' questions that you see in popular science magazines start popping up everywhere (I can imagine everything tagged 'consciousness' turning to crap quickly), then I'd be for a split. But I think we've should stick together until proven otherwise.

I've been trying to convince some researchers at my university to consider committing to the Cognitive Science proposal, but they have all turned it down for fears of it being like Biology.SE, Physics.SE, Economics.SE, or Linguistics.SE that get swarmed with questions that are not interesting to researchers. How else could I advertise the site to experts when they raise such concerns? –  Artem Kaznatcheev Jan 10 '12 at 1:09
The two main points you can focus are: 1) the site's fate isn't predetermined -- Many SE sites are still very useful for experts despite still catering to some nooby questions (SO is the most obvious example here). 2) If the experts become dissatisfied, then splitting into 2 sites like the math SEs is still an option. –  zergylord Jan 10 '12 at 2:09

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