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Proposal: Economics

Suppose I have a question like

What is an intuitive way to explain the difference between Hicksian and Marshallian demand to intermediate undergraduates?

or

What are the advantages to starting with producer theory vs. starting with consumer choice when teaching a first-year graduate micro theory sequence?

or even

What would be a good core textbook for teaching industrial organisation to advanced undergraduates?

Are questions of this type on-topic for the economics stack exchange?

  • Are you presuming that the question, What's the difference between Hicksian and Marshellian demand?, has already been asked (albeit in some sort of non-intuitive way)? ... [As an aside, it seems really unlikely that a college professor would turn to this site for textbook recommendations as opposed to, say, 1. their colleagues 2. textbook reviews in journals 3. personal experience (after all, they're teaching the class), etc.] – Steve S Nov 9 '14 at 10:21
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They should be. Pedagogical questions encourages precisely the kind of members you'd want in a beta - those that love teaching. Additionally, it could boost the beta with interesting topics that visitors or enthusiasts may not know to ask; but be inspired by.

Generally, reference or list questions are problematic given the way Stack Exchange ranks information; but I think as long as reference or list questions have answers that explain why a given reference is good, these types of questions might pass muster.

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I support these kinds of questions. As someone who has been employed primarily in the private sector analytical side, this is exactly the kind of horizon-broadening I'd like to get from a community.

I might balk at "What would be a good core textbook" since it's a little too opinion-based in my opinion, but I'd downvote it and comment as opposed to voting to close it if I really disagreed with it.

Which is kind of the attitude I'm hoping to foster... at least in the early days of the beta.

I might ask questions that might seem fringe to you, if I were to ask

For a web-based data visualization on unemployment, is there a better method for calculating and communicating periodicity than building a custom implementation of a Fast Fourier Transform in JavaScript?

It's not strictly related to economics, but if the context of the question is sufficiently tangential, I think in the beginning we really need to encourage it.

Once we, as a community have really defined ourselves, and grown to be self-sustaining, than we can start determining what does and doesn't belong.

  • 1
    I would be a bit more sympathetic to the textbook question (perhaps with a change of wording) for two reasons. Firstly, this is a very typical question for academics (who I guess we want to attract) teaching a new course for the first time. Secondly, I have seen similar questions generate very useful answers elsewhere in the SE network (e.g., tex.stackexchange.com/questions/339/latex-editors-ides). However, I can understand why you might have reservations; I deliberately picked a question that would be borderline to help us figure out the boundaries. – Ubiquitous Nov 2 '14 at 10:42
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I will also support questions about teaching economics. Considering embarrassments like this one, we should certainly aim to contribute good ideas of improving the educational function. And by the way, do post your example questions when the beta opens!

  • Ouch! Perhaps a question about opportunity cost is also in order... – Ubiquitous Nov 4 '14 at 7:54
  • @Ubiquitous Certainly -and for other fundamental concepts also. I see it done in many SE sites and I think it is worthwhile -posting "artificial" questions about some fundamental issue in order to provide a "benchmark" answer -or many of them. The difference from general resources like, say, wikipedia, is that in an Economics site, one is more free to write an answer suited for a dedicated audience and not for the general public. – Alecos Papadopoulos Nov 4 '14 at 11:57

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