Inspired by this innocent question, I bring to the notice of the community the following issue:

The official "subtitle" of the economics.se site is

"For professional and academic economists and analysts"

Well, is it? Based on the questions we receive, even excluding those that are closed, it seems to me that this is not an accurate description of what happens in the main site (and it has been happening for two years now).

We have had similar discussions in the past, but then we were discussing intended scope. But now we have a two-year reality on our back, and maybe it is time to acknowledge that this site functions much more as a place to clarify "the misunderstandings of the common man" as well as some tricky aspects of economic thinking and technique tormenting undergraduate and graduate students of economics, rather than engaging in professional/academic discourse.

So how about contemplating changing our "subtitle"?

I will write my proposal as an answer, so that upvoting/downvoting this question should be translated as "yes/no" to changing the subtitle in the first place, while answers can compete for the actual new subtitle.

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    $\begingroup$ There is an interesting dynamic dimension to this. Suppose we want to redouble our efforts around targeting professional and academic economists; what is the optimal strategy to transition from the current state to that new one? Is it even possible. $\endgroup$
    – Ubiquitous
    Nov 19, 2016 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Ubiquitous What I have in mind is an all-inclusive subtitle, which I have proposed in an answer here. This, at a symbolic level, would allow us to contemplate such adventures as the one you ponder! -but still let us live with internal consistency with what we currently are. $\endgroup$ Nov 19, 2016 at 20:18
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    $\begingroup$ Re targeting professional and academic economists, we might want to try to get people like Andy Skrzypacz and Ben Golub on here. They answer economics questions on Quora (see this and this). If they're on here asking and answering questions, others might follow suit. $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2016 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ Also, this quote might be informative as to why it's tough getting academic economists to use this SE: 'I tried. It's hopeless. Part of the problem is that Stackexchange norms dictate that if you post an answer, you have to answer the question. You cannot ask for clarification, and you cannot guide them to the answer; you have to directly answer. If you want to ask for clarification, you can post a comment, but you need to have enough "reputation" before you can post a comment.' $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2016 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ @TheoreticalEconomist I read the whole EJMR thread apart from the comment above. I will disagree with the argument that the "SE norms" do not let it happen - and I speak from experience, being an active contributor in two SE sites (here and over at CV-statistics). To my eyes it is rather of a "chicken-or-egg" problem. To answer specialized research-level questions you need enough research-level participants already so that statistically a kindred soul will be found for your specialized issue. But for them to already be participants someone else must have answered their question... CONTD $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2016 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ CONTD @TheoreticalEconomist On the other hand study-level questions are abundant and more easily answered by higher-level study persons. This is why my initial thoughts was that the realistic aim here should be graduate-level with PhD instances to spice it up. $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2016 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ @TheoreticalEconomist Re: the Quora-related comment. That's seems a very good idea. They are already doing it which increases the chances to do it also here. $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2016 at 18:28
  • $\begingroup$ @AlecosPapadopoulos yes, it is a chicken-or-egg problem, but it does seem like one reason why we can't get the chickens (academic economists in this analogy) to show up is that the cost of entry for them is too high -- see, for instance, their being deterred by needing to build up reputation before they can post comments. Regardless of whether said norms exist, the perception that they are there is probably enough to make it as if they did exist. $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2016 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ @TheoreticalEconomist I understand you have in mind the passer-by who could eventually get hooked and contribute with answers and questions, if only he could post an easy comment or two here and there in his initial excursions..., indeed this sounds a plausible scenario to lure people in -but again, the reputation threshold for comments did not deter other SE sites to attract expert contributors... $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2016 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ @AlecosPapadopoulos Sure, but the other SEs also don't seem struggle with only attracting people who by and large aren't academics/professionals/experts. I haven't been around for much, but my impression is that attempting to replicate the success of other SEs here isn't going to work -- an EconomicsSE is just qualitatively different from the others. $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2016 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ @AlecosPapadopoulos Though, perhaps one other reason why this place doesn't attract economists is that there are just no interesting questions to answer. I certainly have a few other questions I can put up that might interest people doing research... $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2016 at 20:31

1 Answer 1


Three years ago, September 18 2013 I posted a question in Area 51 exploring whether a 2nd attempt to launch an economics.se seemed to have a chance to succeed. It wasn't a site proposal proper, just an inquiry. A little later, Jason Nichols boldly created the actual proposal, and here we are today.

In that post, after presenting my approach as regards the scope that the site should have (discussing the possible reasons why the 1st attempt had failed), I ended up with a subtitle, which, a bit enhanced, appears to me to be much more accurate for the site we are actually have in our hands now, while leaving all options open, and so I put it forward as my proposal:

"For those who study, teach, research and apply economics and econometrics."

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    $\begingroup$ A fine point of grammar perhaps - should it be 'and' or 'or'? $\endgroup$ Nov 19, 2016 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ @AdamBailey Thanks for pointing that out. I will gratefully leave that to native English speakers. I suspect that "and" here means only "both" so it should be "or" as you suggest? Feel free to edit. $\endgroup$ Nov 19, 2016 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ In this context, "and" is sufficient, and completely unambiguous (writing as a native speaker of British English) $\endgroup$
    – 410 gone
    Nov 25, 2016 at 11:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Ubiquitous I petition :) our moderators to consider implementing my proposal here. In its 13 days of life this thread has received more than 100 views (which is big for our meta), the question has received 6/0 upvotes/downvotes and the proposal 9/0 upvotes/downvotes. $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2016 at 18:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Ubiquitous Good evening. Any feedback on this proposal? $\endgroup$ Jan 17, 2017 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ I will move my comment over and remove this one $\endgroup$
    – Kitsune Cavalry Mod
    Aug 17, 2017 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ Seems like an accurate way of describing this site. $\endgroup$
    – EconJohn Mod
    Aug 17, 2017 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ @EconJohn I believe the comment should be better posted in the new-moderator-thread, not here. $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2017 at 11:07

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