By James Dacey
Love it, or love to hate it, one thing that social media has undoubtedly achieved is to break down some of the barriers between professional journalists and their readers. Gone are the days when we had to rely almost exclusively on guesswork and intuition when it came to picking the issues that matter the most to our readers. Of course, we have always received “proper” letters in the days and weeks following the publication of Physics World to inform us when readers were pleased (or slightly less approving!) of the words they had read. But these days, the feedback starts pouring in almost as soon as our online articles are published, courtesy of our 170,000 Facebook fans and 50,000 Twitter followers. If our readers’ hackles are raised by certain articles and issues, then believe me – we know about it very quickly.
One way we have actively sought reader opinions on physics issues is through poll questions, asked each week on our Facebook page for the past couple of years. The tone of the questions has ranged from serious to silly and the topics covered everything from politics and philosophy, via film, literature and sport (but always with a physics link). Ultimately the exercise was meant as a bit of fun, but I believe we have managed to get some useful insights into what Physics World readers think. We are currently taking a break from the polls, but they are highly likely to return in the near future, either on Facebook or on this blog. In the meantime, we have put together an infographic to share with you some of the more interesting outcomes of our poll questions.