Forums for experts?
July 19, 2006 12:16 AM   Subscribe

Are there any forums on the internet in which only people accomplished in their field can contribute but they are open for reading to the general public? Or where the public can contribute but the expert members are clearly identified?

For example, this might be a collection of scientists or lawyers or sociologists or entrepreneurs or economists or even sportspeople who have been verified as experts asnd are discussing issues related to their fields. It might even just be a bunch of PhD students for example.

What about forums in which anyone can participate but the acknowledged or accredited experts are clearly identifiable to anyone else?

In case you are wondering why I am asking this, I find it frustrating trying to try and sort out the informed opinions on topics on forums from the speculative or uninformed opinions.

(Oh and feel free to contribute an answer to this question even if you are not an expert on the subject! )
posted by zaebiz to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Regarding linguistics, I've found Language Log to be quite informative and entertaining. A scan of the list of contributors shows that many (most?) of them are distinguished professors of linguistics at notable universities (e.g.: U. Penn, Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, Stanford, etc...).
posted by mhum at 12:55 AM on July 19, 2006

Some of usenet.

comp.lang.c++.moderated sees posts from a number of recognizable names on the Standards Committee (Stroustrup, Koenig, Clamage, Sutter, etc. all show up). Even the not as famous posters there tend to really know their stuff, largely because inaccurate posts are consistently corrected or flamed. comp.lang.c.moderated is only slightly less, um, rigorous; and I believe I've seen posts from both K and R there. But utter newbs can still ask questions in these groups if the questions are narrowly targeted and concern only Standard C++ or Standard C, respectively.

comp.std.c++ is pretty much expert only (and despite the name, moderated); it's all about what the Standard is, and what it should be. Not light reading at all, but a very careful non-expert can ask questions. I think, but am less sure, that comp.std.c is similar.

On the other hand,*, every time I've checked that hierarchy, has been a morass.

IIRC (it's been a while, and may have changed), the sci.* hierarchy could either be pretty solidly expert, or pretty solidly crackpot, or an even split between the two.
posted by orthogonality at 2:03 AM on July 19, 2006

Google Answers can be searched and browsed by anyone. You might be interested in what one Google Answers researcher had to say about the project.

In the IT area, I've had mixed results, sometimes very good, sometimes worthless, using Experts Exchange. Generally, EE is like the Platte River - a mile wide, and an inch deep. The site is widely used by people supporting low end operating systems like Windows, but the amount and utility of information on larger systems tails off rapidly compared to what is posted there regarding Windows. Thus, this is not the place to look if you are doing IBM iSeries troubleshooting, or researching arcane aspects of journaling file systems. But there are millions of posts there to search if your problem is Windows related, and many people that post there are highly qualified. TechRepublic's IT forums can be broadly useful, although they lack the strict categorization of "experts" you seem to be seeking.

Many IT vendors also sponsor user groups and most still offer access to online forums with searchable archives, as a support activity. These are generally the most productive forums for product support and troubleshooting issues, because they are usually vetted by support people who truly are experts with the products or issues in question.
posted by paulsc at 3:51 AM on July 19, 2006

Anything but
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:25 AM on July 19, 2006

One of my favorites is Sportsshooter, for sports photographers. Most of the members work for newspapers or SI, and you have to submit professional quality work to become a member. All real names too.
posted by smackfu at 6:37 AM on July 19, 2006

Would newspapers count? I am thinking of the sort of arrangement that the Guardian has whereby journalists blog and anybody can comment on their postings. Both the original posting and the comments themselves may go through an editorial process.
posted by rongorongo at 7:42 AM on July 19, 2006

Edge features regular discussions between intellectuals and relevant luminaries on scientific, technological, and philosophical issues, though I’m not sure whether it’s a “forum” in the sense you meant.
posted by mpt at 8:07 AM on July 19, 2006

The Cinematography Mailing List (CML) is inhabited by some of the top DPs working in the movies today, including Oscar winner Haskell Wexler and many others, who mostly lurk but occasionally jump in. It is rigorously monitored and real names are required.

The main reference area has the answers to hundreds of technical questions and the edited discussions are even available as books.
posted by unSane at 8:22 AM on July 19, 2006

Eng-Tips membership is restricted to engineers though anyone can read the forums.
posted by Mitheral at 8:23 AM on July 19, 2006

The Volokh Conspiracy has a relatively distinguished group of legal academics as qualified topic posters, led by UCLA Professor Eugene Volokh, but anyone can post comments.

It used to be that VS commenters were a relatively self-selected group of smart lawyers and academics, in their own right, and dialoged directly with the main-page qualified members, but the quality of comment(ers) there has greatly deterioriated of late.
posted by MattD at 10:19 AM on July 19, 2006 (a really slow redirect to is pretty fun and fits your criteria.
posted by wheat at 10:54 AM on July 19, 2006

Mad Scientists
posted by eurasian at 1:03 PM on July 19, 2006

Crooked Timber is good.
posted by trey at 5:03 PM on July 19, 2006

For the humanities and social sciences, there's H-NET. It's basically a collection of mailing lists; for example, H-DIPLO is a mailing list for diplomatic historians (i.e. historians of foreign policy).
posted by russilwvong at 11:10 PM on July 20, 2006

If you're interested in global warming, there's RealClimate.
posted by russilwvong at 11:12 PM on July 20, 2006

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