The Mission: Share Aha! Moments [Read first]


#1

Welcome to aha.betterexplained.com, a forum to share the Aha! moments that get ideas to click. Here’s how it works:

##1. Discuss a Topic That Needs Insight

Find (or create) a topic that needs intuitive analogies, such as the LaPlace Transform or Linear Algebra. This post becomes a central home for discussing the concept.

  • Let’s stick to math/science/programming topics for now
  • Use a general Wikipedia-style title to start, such as Laplace Transform. If a topic gets huge, we can create a subtopic like Laplace Transform: Geometric Intuition.
  • Share any resources that helped: links/videos that worked, analogies, or conceptual questions. (i.e., “I can’t figure out how to think about problem XYZ”, not “Help me solve this homework problem.”)

##2. Highlight Aha! Moments

As the discussion evolves, we’ll notice the insights, analogies and other conceptual building blocks that help. (For example, “Think of a matrix as a mini-spreadsheet”).

These key insights can be summarized at the top of the post. Ideally they are “tweet-able” and short.

##3. Contribute an Article

After a discussion gets a critical mass of Aha! moments, it can be spun into a lesson.

  • I (Kalid) will write new posts on BetterExplained.com based on the discussions
  • Anyone can create new articles (on this forum in the Article category, or on your blog), and these will be linked from the main discussions as well

The forum content is under a Creative Commons license (CC-BY-SA 3.0, same as Wikipedia), and belongs to everyone: re-use and re-mix as much as you like.


Q: How is this different from Wikipedia?

A few ways:

  • The goal is discovering helpful insights, not creating an end-to-end reference.
  • Wikis grow endlessly, and have an intimidating amount of detail (look up a math concept on Wikipedia sometime). Here, the goal is an intuitive summary of a concept.
  • Everyone keeps their own voice. Wikis merge contributions into a generic voice, but here we link to fleshed-out articles from authors.

This forum is a farmer’s market where everyone brings their favorite ingredients. Individual chefs can take their favorites and create a meal they like.

More isn’t better: what’s the smallest set of insights that leads to a deep understanding?

Q: How do I write posts?

This forum uses Markdown, a form of text with formatting shortcuts (tutorial).

  • Adding images: click this icon in the toolbar: . Add images from the web, your computer (drag & drop), or even copy-paste into the editor.

  • Diagrams are very helpful for conveying understanding. I like PowerPoint on the desktop, and drawing online with SketchPad (see the diagram article at the top).

  • Write equations with LaTeX between two dollar signs, so $$a^2 + b^2 = c^2$$ becomes

$$ a^2 + b^2 = c^2$$

  • Inline equations are possible with a single dollar sign, as long as there are spaces on each side. For example: $x^2$ will become $x^2$ but $3.14 + $2.97 won’t trigger because there is a 2 right next to the last dollar sign.

  • MathJax quick reference

Q: I have a suggestion for this forum, where should I put it?

Great! The forum is new and ideas are welcome in the meta area. Click here for the earlier version of aha.betterexplained.com.


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Where's the LaTeX/MathJAX?
#4

Hello again, Kalid! I’m visiting Aha! after a long time, and I was pleased to see the move to Discourse.

That said, there doesn’t seem to be much activity here (I seem to be the first outside poster here); and that’s a shame because I really did like going through huge amount of content that used to be generated here.


I’d actually come here looking for some old discussions I had with you; but almost left the site before I saw the discreet link to the archives, so maybe you could make it more prominent:


To spur engagement back up, why don’t you migrate some stuff back to this site? As a visitor, I’d be more likely to contribute if I saw that the forum was thriving.

I realize that hand-migration would probably be a huge waste of your time, and you might as well write more articles than format and filter the raw insights; but automated-migration might make the sight messy again.

I’m leaning towards the latter: content is more important than presentation right now. Maybe you could add a migrated tag that would be removed when the community integrates the posts into the new website like StackExchange did while moving from MSO to MSE.


All that said, I do hope you’re not giving up on the site; and I’ll probably be back again soon. Also, please tag this post as meta; it’s offending my OCD.

As a last thought, maybe an email to all your subscribers after the migration reminding them about the site would help?

(BTW, I was almost going to sign off with “Regards, Yatharth” like I would in a well-thought e-mail instead of a quickly-written comment. This Discourse format sure is more conducive to these kind of discussions…)


#5

Awesome, thanks for the feedback Yatharth!

  1. Yep, this site is currently in testing mode, and it’s not quite fit for public consumption yet. I’ve been experimenting with content structuring and definitely want to import the old discussions.

  2. Moved to meta :smile:

  3. Also, I’d like to use this as the collection for point for all discussions (including comments on the articles) because it’s so much easier to contribute (and edit replies, use LaTeX, embed videos and links, etc.).

Really appreciate the feedback so far, I’m going to be doing a formal announcement once I get the pieces in place.


#7

Oh yeah, I had almost forgotten the comments! That\s something else I’ve talked to you about before, but Discourse can just blow all of those concerns out of the water.

I’m thinking something like what CodingHorror has done? Namely: a link to automatically-created discussion around articles at the bottom of articles, followed by some read-only hand-picked or top-rated comments.

Do you have a time-frame? Also, I don’t have school any more; so I’d love to help, if you need some.


#8

Exactly! CodingHorror is my inspiration for how to setup the blog article + comment discussion. Regular WordPress comments are just painful now.

I’m hoping to get this integration up and running within the next few weeks, and help is gladly appreciated (I’ll be reaching out for beta testers, moderators, etc.).


#12