NOTE: the migration is complete so this is now old news.

If you're reading this, you've probably heard that the Theoretical Physics and Astronomy sites, among others, will be shutting down this week. Since these two sites have a large overlap in scope with Physics, we are going to be "adopting" the entire content of both TP and Astro. Over the past week, the details of the migration have been discussed on meta and in chat. I'm creating this post to address the important questions that the people involved should know about in the last few days before the migration:

  • How will the migration happen?
  • What if a question doesn't belong on Physics?
  • As a member of one of the sites to be migrated, what do I need to do?
  • As a moderator of one of the sites to be migrated, what do I need to do?
  • How can I deal with "noise" drowning out the questions I'm interested in?
  • How will Physics Stack Exchange change after the merger?
  • What needs to be done after questions are merged?
  • What will happen to the Theoretical Physics and Astronomy domains?
Geez.. this scared the heck out of got to stop reading these things at 5am... –  user29350 Dec 3 '13 at 19:03
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1 Answer

How will the migration happen?

On Friday (barring any unexpected delays), the Stack Exchange team will take the Theoretical Physics and Astronomy sites offline, and will transfer all remaining questions except for closed questions on them to Physics. The transfer will be done in a similar manner to a regular migration of a single question from one site to another, except that it will be handled by the developers using a special mechanism, so the migrated questions won't all show up on the front page. No involvement from the moderators or members of these sites will be necessary to migrate questions to Physics.

What if a question doesn't belong on Physics?

There are two classes of questions which, while they may not be entirely off topic on Physics, would probably be better handled elsewhere, in the judgment of their respective communities.

  • From Theoretical Physics, questions about quantum computing are appropriate for Theoretical Computer Science. This includes most or all of the quantum-information and quantum-computing tags on TP. These questions will be manually migrated to TCS prior to the merge on Friday.
  • From Astronomy, questions about astrophotography are appropriate for Photography. This includes some/most of the astrophotography tag. These questions will be manually migrated to Photography prior to the merge.

As a member of one of the sites to be migrated, what do I need to do?

If you're a member of Theoretical Physics or Astronomy community, you don't need to do anything. Any questions or answers you've posted will be automatically transferred, unless they get manually migrated to another site beforehand.

However, if you don't have an account on this site, your profile and reputation on these sites will not be transferred. So there is one thing that we recommend you do: sign up for an account on Physics! And make sure that account is associated with your existing one on either TP or Astro. When your posts are migrated over, they will not be linked to your profile any longer unless you make this association.

Note that bounties are reset (since the revision history is not migrated over)

Note that many badges will be lost. You will keep vote-received-related badges (barring issues caused by the non-migrated closed posts). This will include the (nice|good|great)(question|answer) badges. You will also get vote chronology badges (like the Mortarboad series), but will probably lose vote-given badges like Electorate.

Tag badges can be recovered if your posts get similarly retagged.

Badges like Yearling and Fanatic will go down the drain. (Source for badge stuff--also contains "what is migrated")

As mentioned above, the revision history is not migrated (only the current version with credit to the OP), so edit-related badges disappear as well.

Besides, since Physics will be expanding its scope to include all questions that were previously on topic for either Theoretical Physics or Astronomy, if you enjoyed contributing to either of those sites, you may want to continue contributing to Physics. And we would certainly love your help making this site great!

It will also help the process go more smoothly if you search your site for any questions that need to be sent anywhere other than Physics and flag them for moderator attention. In particular, take a look at any questions you have asked and think about whether they should be sent somewhere else.

As a moderator of one of the sites to be migrated, what do I need to do?

The main thing that moderators of TP and Astro need to do is to identify any questions that don't belong on Physics and migrate them to the site they do belong on.

How can I deal with "noise" drowning out the questions I'm interested in?

This is mainly a concern for the Theoretical Physics community: the research-level questions coming from that site will be swamped by the larger number of lower-level questions that Physics gets on a daily basis. It's still an open question what we will be doing about this, but there is a proposal to use a tag (probably ) to identify the sort of questions that are of interest to research physicists. If you have any comments or even just opinions about that proposal, your input would be very much appreciated!

Unless we get more input on that question that changes the status quo, we will be going ahead with the implementation of this tag starting in the next couple of days.

How will Physics Stack Exchange change after the merger?

The scope of Physics will be expanding to include everything that is currently on topic on Astronomy. This includes observational astronomy questions (about using telescopes etc.), which may not normally be considered part of physics. This means that we will shortly be changing the FAQ to reflect these new topics.

There is also a proposal to change the name/logo of the site to reflect this change in scope. For now, if you have any comments or opinions on this, please contribute to the linked question! We will not be making a final decision on this until after the merger is complete.

What needs to be done after questions are merged?

The questions coming from Theoretical Physics and Astronomy will be imported using a different tagging scheme from what we are used to on this site. Accordingly, we will probably need to adjust the tags on many of these questions. There will be a list posted here on our meta of the questions that have been migrated and need to be examined for retagging.

What will happen to the Theoretical Physics and Astronomy domains?

The domains will be preserved for at least 6 months so that links which currently point to those sites will continue to work. However, after that time, usage of the domains may be discontinued (which means the links will break) if they are not getting enough activity to justify keeping them around.

What is the reason that the reputation is not transferred with the migration? At least reputation on TheoreticalPhysics was much harder to earn as on Physics. Thus any reputation gained there is at least as much worth on Physics. If migrating contributors will mean that they lose all their reputation, many might not want to migrate but simply quit. –  Arnold Neumaier May 2 '12 at 21:26
@Arnold: simply put, if you do not have an account, then you cannot have reputation. The thing about reputation not transferring only applies if you don't have an account here. For those contributors who do have an account on Physics at the time of the merge, their reputation will effectively transfer over. (To be precise: rep will be recalculated after the questions and answers have been migrated, so the authors of those posts will receive the appropriate amounts of rep for them.) –  David Z May 2 '12 at 21:40
@David will voting history/revision history/bounties get transferred? –  Manishearth May 3 '12 at 3:47
@Manishearth I'm not sure, but if it works like normal migrations, I believe they will not. You'd have to wait for a definitive answer from one of the SE people. –  David Z May 3 '12 at 4:13
It's nice to see TP merged here, the research tag is the best idea, and one that many people (including myself) suggested when TP was being discussed (not to say I/we told you so, or anything ;P)) –  Jonathan. May 6 '12 at 21:15
@DavidZaslavsky - I did have an account at TP, and my reputation didn't transfer over, even though my question did. Is there some recourse for this? –  Jen May 16 '12 at 14:29
@Jen Your reputation should have been recalculated after your question was transferred over. Are you sure your reputation didn't change at the time of the merge? If so, I'd suggest making a new meta post linking to the question that was transferred and describing your evidence that your reputation didn't change accordingly. Tag it bug, and we'll get someone from the team to look at it. –  David Z May 16 '12 at 17:42
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