We've had a few meta questions where discussions focus on attracting (and presumably keeping) experts on this site.

I'd be interested to know what other experts and professionals hope to gain by being involved in this site? What are your motivations for being here, and what do you like/dislike about the site so far?

I will not be so bold as to try define expert - if you consider your self a professional or expert submit an answer below.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ +1. Nice question. Once it is populated with replies; a sister question of What do enthusiasts and the wider public expect to get out of this SE site? could be useful to flesh out the whole gamut. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ @LateralFractal why not write that now? $\endgroup$
    – Corvus
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 21:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hmm. If they saw my name on it, some academics I've rather annoyed this week might dismiss it out of hand. So I'm hoping someone else will, since the question has value to touch upon both commitment camps. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 21:46

5 Answers 5


About me: junior academic faculty; microeconomist.

As an asker of questions, I envisage the following being useful (in decreasing order of usefulness):

  • Help on specific technical points. E.g. "I have this model, can anyone see a way to show that payoffs are quasi-concave?" or "Why does the equilibrium in this specific model not behave in the way one would expect/can anyone see a problem with the solution?"
  • "Professional recommendations". e.g. Recommendations for graduate level books or research papers on specific topics or suggestions regarding specific issues in/approaches to teaching economics.
  • Somewhat easier questions outside of my direct expertise. e.g As a professional economist, I would like to know more about macroeconomics and econometrics, but cannot ask questions on these topics with the same level of sophistication (alas, my human capital in these areas has depreciated too far).

As an answerer, I'll have a go at anything I think I can contribute to, but I would like to see more questions along the lines of the first point above as they provide a good exercise.

  • $\begingroup$ Strongly agree on all points, as well as ordering. $\endgroup$
    – CompEcon
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 20:44

I am an Assistant Professor of Economics in a department that is somewhat distant from the centres of economics research. I hope that this site will deliver the same value as tea-time in a good research department. To elaborate

  • I want to be able to discuss the background assumptions, motivations and vision behind technical questions in economics. I would specially like to be able to get answers from more senior experts who may understand things in ways that have been lost from the current literature.
  • I want to know what ideas are in the air in the research fields I am interested in. There is a considerable time lag an idea becoming hot among researchers at the forefront of a subject and its appearance in print. I hope that this site will make such ideas more accessible to me.
  • I want my thinking to be stimulated by questions from my peers which are small enough to think over an afternoon but not entirely obvious.
  • I want to calibrate my own level of understanding by seeing what my peers think of my answers.
  • I want to reach out to more students and beginners who are genuinely interested in economics and are thinking hard about it.

I am a graduate student nearing the end of my dissertation. I strongly agree with @Ubiquitous' points. In addition, I'm hoping to see (and ask/answer) the following types of questions, organized by whom I would talk with "in real life:"

  • The types of questions that I might ask my adviser about research topics: "is X a good idea, why or why not -- what are key points of literature in this area -- what are some of the important technical considerations of this idea -- what are potential empirical strategies to bolster a methodology or theory implementing this point -- what are some theoretical papers to read if I am trying to prove X."

  • The types of questions I might ask other researchers/students like myself -- specific aspects of their research about which I am unfamiliar, or simply bouncing ideas for research off another researcher.

  • The types of questions I ask friends who are in the private sector or otherwise "working in the real world:" what are some specific features of a particular type of problem, so I might try to frame out a theoretical model I could bring to bear on that problem (which may or may not actually be useful for actual practice).

I'd even be interested in having more broad "practical strategies of research"-type questions. That is, boring things like how to solve the "annotate a pdf comfortably/naturally on a tablet" problem, or "practical computers for coding in every spare moment." :)

Essentially, I'm hoping to find something like the wonderful "grad cafe" environment of the lunchtable at my most enjoyable PhD internship: other advanced researchers with whom I can "spitball," bounce ideas off of, and dig into technical questions (analytical issues for proofs, computational issues for simulations, statistical/data issues for empirical estimation).

  • $\begingroup$ +1 for that last paragraph! $\endgroup$
    – han-tyumi
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 0:31

As an industry professional, I'm looking to quickly find those technical bits of knowledge about the real world that don't make it to the text books. I'm probably less interested in discussing economic theories and models in a broad sense than the academics probably are - simply because I will have already spent plenty of time discussing them in flesh and blood.

On the other hand, when reading analyzing economic data releases there are frequently tiny nuances that can make a difference to your interpretation of the data.

Perfect example questions for me so far are probably these:

How do reserves move between the 12 federal reserve banks? (asked by me)

How come the CBO reported the Federal Deficit for FY2014 was \$483 Billion when debt went up by \$1.1 trillion? (answered by me, but could well be the sort of thing I'd ask)

Obviously on the flip side, I am happy to share any technical knowledge I have to help the numbers add up for someone else.

That said, I am already enjoying reading some of the more broad and theoretical questions, and so I very much hope to learn a lot by hanging around.


I am not an expert, no you dont have to point me to my reputation here to prove that, I know for a fact that I am not, the reason I am answering is because this could be useful to attract experts as reasons that others here may not have thought of. But again, as an outsider (to the "experts" group) there is always a chance that I could be wrong.

First reason (Selfish to the expert) - There are many people using stackoverflow (referred as SO) site as a proof of their expertise, authors, consultants all kinds of people (Example:https://stackoverflow.com/users/1144035/gordon-linoff). academic expertise is one thing, ability to apply to practical questions is another, and so as a practical online resume this is helpful to some experts

Second reason (Wont work until the community grows) is that people who are at the top of the Maslow's pyramid may actually look at this as a social service, when this SE grows (which SO has achieved) people can see this platform as a place of choice to help people

Third reason (wont happen until this becomes very large) - this platform, if and when it reaches a size where most experts in this field would deem it necessary to participate here for one reason or the other your reputation would become your identity. Someone with 100000 reputation in SO is an expert, but someone with 400000 is at least seemingly better and hence becoming part of this community at the earliest gives them the edge

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think either of these points are too important. 1) With economics, a lot of people can half dangerous semi-knowledge and post and vote according to that. Having high reputation here is nothing I'd want to put on my cv, simply because it only signals that I "waste" time unproductively but not my expertise. $\endgroup$
    – FooBar
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ 3) I don't think this will be relevant, same argument as in 1. Having many votes doesn't make an answer necessarily correct, peer reviewing is a better solution (despite having its own problems). $\endgroup$
    – FooBar
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ 2) People who are on the top of the pyramid have many possibilities of doing "social service", and already have it as part of their job description. $\endgroup$
    – FooBar
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 19:29

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