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I've been thinking about the possibility of integrating a little more closely with University-level curricula. In the same way that many StackOverflow users are learning to code for the first time, this site could market itself as a resource for biology students.

This site could do more to encourage those doing biology-based courses, not just to ask questions, but also to try answering at their own level. I'm a student doing a biology-based degree, yet most, if not all of the questions we have are too advanced for me to answer. For that reason, we miss out on lots of visitors who want answers to simpler questions.

It is my view that we should attempt to make the most of potential visitors who have these simpler questions, as while it may be seen as clogging up the system, having Q&A of a university/college-level study-group style would lead to a brilliant resource for people at every level, just like StackOverflow is for coders.

The idea I have may or may not be possible, but I'm quite interested in the idea of highlighting (probably using tags) when a question relates to a specific curriculum.

The idea being, that if I have a question relating to my BIOL1008 course, which is unique to the University of Southampton, then my course mates would be well-placed to answer it, though not exclusively. So, in addition to the normal tags, I could add a hyper-specific course tag, of something like uk-soton-biol1008 (so, in this example, it's just country-institution-course). This doesn't have to show, or be used anywhere else, but other students (and potentially academics) on the course can quickly and easily see all the questions that have been marked as relating to the course content, and potentially embed a list on a VLE like Blackboard.

I appreciate this doesn't exactly follow exactly what would usually go on on a site like this, but, whether you like it or not, students will arrive here with questions that are related to things they have studied. I guess the question is whether this should be used as a way to encourage a new wealth of questions and answers, albeit, of a slightly lower level of expertise than other questions.

Personally, I like the concept, so thought I would share it, but I'm well aware that it is out of step with the direction the site has taken thus far, so I'm prepared for lots of down votes within minutes!

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  • $\begingroup$ I have two primary comments: (1) the use of a location/course specific tag flirts very close to being a meta-tag on the main site, which SE has historically been very unhappy with; (2) I like the idea of bringing in more undergrad and university askers/answer-ers, but attempts by SE to draw that audience in have been mixed. I can say with some authority that Stack Exchange finds a high retention rate from word-of-mouth and consistent Google referrals. $\endgroup$ – Aarthi Apr 9 '13 at 20:07
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Just to quickly quote from the FAQ as it stands:

Biology - Stack Exchange is for people studying biology at any level. Questions are from students, academics and active researchers in biology and closely related fields, including:

Questions and answers from undergrads are certainly welcome (at least I hope so for my sake!) ), however to create a tag for Uni Southampton specific questions would be undesirable as it constitutes a meta tag (it describes the question itself rather than the content/biology within it).

I have had a think through your ideas and at present there isn't an easy way for you to achieve them. You could perhaps have an institution specific account to post questions centrally but that doesn't seem ideal. There's no way to have hidden tags, although you could look into the possibility of having a central list of southampton related questions held off site if you think it would be helpful.

Blackboard is the bane of my life as a user (I'm sure you have similar gripes) but you might want to have a look at Stack Apps and ask in Chat if anyone there has any ideas.

I'd be very happy to see questions at undergrad level and it would be absolutely fantastic if you could get some of your colleagues on board. Just remember that a question needs to be helpful to a reasonable audience to avoid being closed as too localised.

As I've said I can't think of a way to achieve everything you would like to, although perhaps a Facebook group for Southampton related questions could be created to share to? There's a share button on each question.

It'd be very well received if you could do some promotion though, I hope the site is useful to your studies so far!

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  • $\begingroup$ Fair point, and I do agree about the use of tags. It would suit a different set of properties, but I know nothing exists. Just to clarify though, the suggestion was not meant to be "group everything Southampton related" but more "group everything related to a course". The University name was only introduced because (at least in the UK), every institution has its own modules. You could equally have one for a certain specification "UK 'A' Level", which is not specific to one school, but has the same content everywhere. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Higgins Apr 9 '13 at 18:52

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