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    • CommentAuthorHarry Gindi
    • CommentTimeAug 17th 2012 edited

    François suggested that I start a new thread concerning the fate of the current meta.MO.

    This meta will not suddenly vanish when we roll out MO2.0. We will keep it as a reference and we could keep using it for a some other things. What to use it for and how to link it to the main site are very good questions. Do you want to start a new thread where you and others can pitch ideas?

    I proposed that the current meta.MO be renamed discussion.MO and that it be linked at the top of the page as Discussion, right next to the meta, FAQ, chat, and "How To Ask" links.

    I strongly feel that the current meta.MO should get "Department tea" as a new discussion category.

    The sticky thread, Where to keep track of MathOverflow success stories, should be maintained in some form into the future.


    @Joseph: that's one thread which — since it's mostly not a discussion — would work just as well in either format.


    @Mark: But is there an equivalent of the "sticky" notion in SE2? If this "success stories" thread is just a largely inactive question in SE meta, it would remain, but remain largely out of sight.


    @Joseph: That's a good point, which I hadn't considered (and I don't know the answer to your question). The other sticky questions on the current meta.MO could also lose their usefulness in practice if they don't stay sticky.


    Indeed, we do need a Success Stories space with high visibility. The current sticky post solution kind of works. A standard Q&A meta post would be worse. It feels like the best solution is probably something completely different... Any thoughts?

    It's probably best to start from scratch on that one since it's its own concept. What properties should this space have? How should they work?

    It should be highly visible. On the main site? On the meta site? Elsewhere?

    It should be editable. By anyone? Only moderators? Only high rep users? How should people submit new stories? Should there be guidelines or is every kind of story acceptable?

    Since some other SE sites may benefit from such a feature, it's fine to be creative here. (Though we should focus on a solution that works for us, not a solution for the entire universe.)


    Good questions, François! The only question on which I have a firm opinion is that it should not be editable only by moderators. If you look at the current list, it is just random users who care about this aspect. In order to capture as many success stories as possible, and in a timely manner, I suggest we allow as wide a user-editing base as is feasible.


    There are several options:

    1. We can add this to the FAQ (namely the thread will be on the meta with the tag [faq], and there will be a link in both FAQ pages -- main and meta).
    2. We can make use of the SE blog, which the moderators may update from time to time, where there will be a link to the meta thread and users can add things to the meta page, where the moderators can see it and add to the blog.
    3. We can ask the SE team to place an ad-like on the main, something which is a bit less favorable since some people use ad-blockers which might block this -- although on MSE I still see the ads which appeared in the community ads thread.
    4. We can request this to be added to the header of the page, between the "meta" and "how to ask" pages, a link for "success stories" on the meta (or again, mod-only editable page which draws its sources from a meta thread).

    Asaf, why should we only look at success stories? Why can't we just put a link to this meta (renamed to discussion) and leave things the same? I feel like this thread has already strayed from the original purpose, which is what to do about the whole meta, rather than one specific thread.



    I'm not sure whether or not you have been following this thread, but the past three-four posts are only about the success stories post. You may want to start by asking this question the posters of those messages as well. I merely respond to them.


    @Harry: This is part of the much larger meta.MO question... This is just the current 'hot trend' in this thread, nothing to panic about!

    @Asaf: Those are good options, but is any one really best? One of the important reasons to move to MO 2.0 is that we don't have to stay within the confines of a fixed product anymore... Let's be creative! What would be the best way to publicize our success stories?


    Well, if we really want to be creative, we can start our own journal and publish notices/abstracts/papers altogether...


    Sure! Why not? Feasibility and relevance issues will come up, but there is no point in not pitching wild ideas... that's how excellent ideas are made!

    • CommentAuthorgrp
    • CommentTimeAug 18th 2012
    The best way depends on the audience. One could maintain a separate weblog for such, for the interested academic. If the audience is largely nonmathematical (say, other scientists), it might be good to have a news or public relations tab where the goal of the message is to show how MathOverflow aids collaboration and here are some recent examples.

    Other notions of best might call for occasional news releases about productivity gains, solving many open exposition problems (cf. Timothy Chow), reorganizing some of the content to allow quicker access to some subjects (e.g. by producing articles that make the motivation for using the machinery clear before justifying that the machinery might do what is wanted), and perhaps allowing people to try various alternatives toward understanding subject X, perhaps in a tutorial style or video demonstration. These ideas are aimed at involving more of the public who are willing and able to increase their mathematical literacy. I can see MathOverflow influencing if not creating many such endeavours.

    Gerhard "The Sky Isn't The Limit" Paseman, 2012.08.18
    • CommentAuthorJDH
    • CommentTimeAug 18th 2012 edited

    Regarding the issue of promoting MO success stories, let me mention that in addition to the sticky post on meta, there is the following post on the main site.

    Mathematical research inspired in fundamental part by mathoverflow

    I think having a question like this on the main site for the purpose of promoting substantial MO success stories could really work well, and I would like to encourage everyone to make better use of it. I fear that the meta sticky has very low visibility, and furthermore does not organize the information as well as a question would.

    • CommentAuthorKaveh
    • CommentTimeAug 19th 2012 edited

    These might be relevant to the discussion and give an example of how things can be done in SE2.0:

    cstheory blog

    You can also create pages on your blog like this: TCS conferences page.

    Note: the blog editors do not need to be moderators, the blog uses WordPress allowing different types of users with different privileges.

    Meta post can be used to keep track of things like original proofs generated on cstheory

    There is also a dedicated chat room for each site for more causal discussions (though we haven't used it much on cstheory).


    @Kaveh: The "original proofs generated on cstheory" is indeed a good model. I had forgotten about that; thanks! It still has the flaw of being invisible when questions are sorted by newest or by active. It was upvoted enough so that it is visible by votes. But the sticky aspect is missing.

    • CommentAuthorKaveh
    • CommentTimeAug 19th 2012 edited

    @Joseph O'Rourke,

    There are a few tags on meta that might be helpful for this purpose: "faq" and "featured".

    These are special tags and can be added only by moderators. I think the "featured" tag is close to what you have in mind, e.g. featured questions show up in a box on the main site named "Community Bulletin". The box is small and I don't think it can hold more than 3 items at a time, but I don't think there will be many permanently featured questions. On cstheory we mainly use the "featured" tag by adding it to questions when we want to bring an important issue to the attention of users on the main site who don't visit meta regularly, so most of the time we don't have any featured questions. I think using this tag can be one way of keeping a meta-post like "MO success stories" in the sight.


    Thanks for that detailed explanation, Kaveh.


    Let's summarize some of the ideas we have for Success Stories and their respective features and issues.

    • The current sticky post is easy to edit, marginally visible, and lacks organization. Meta users are sure to see the post, but this is arguably not the right place for a showcase like this and, though it will survive, it will be even more marginal once we switch to MO 2.0 and have an SE style meta. The organization is strictly chronological and there is no possibility for sorting. The fact that anyone can add their stories is a bonus. To summarize: editing is great, visibility is marginal, organization is marginal.

    • The blog page option suggested by Asaf and Kaveh is nice. Although not editable by everyone, the blog editors can be anyone we choose (not necessarily a moderator or a high rep user). Comments are disabled on the TCS conferences page but that would be a good way for general users to suggest new entries. Having designated page editors is a nice way to keep things organized. Since this is a blog page (not a regular blog post) the visibility very good once you are on the blog. However, the blog itself is not very visible. The only link from the main site is in a list at the bottom of the page and it is not even emphasized in that list. To summarize: editing is good (with comments enabled), visibility is marginal, organization is great.

    • Using a (main or meta) question can work well as illustrated by this example that Kaveh pointed out but not always as illustrated by this example pointed out by JDH. Editing and organization are both good, just like any other big-list question, they are both community driven rather than managed by some designated editors. Visibility is the main issue with this. Such a question shouldn't be too active, so it wouldn't pop up too often in the active page listing. Enough votes could make it fairly visible in the votes view but that is not completely reliable. Such a question is likely to rank higher in votes on meta than on main but meta is much less visible than main. To summarize: editing is great, visibility is questionable, organization is good.

    • A faq section or a faq-like page, as suggested by Asaf, also has issues. The faq and related pages are not designed for frequent editing. Only moderators can modify them and there is a lot of red tape involved. Visibility is excellent. (Though we all know that the faq is only visible every other blue moon and on the second Thursday of each week.) Moderators would have to take care of organization, which is probably not that difficult a task, though it would be better not to add too many more tasks for the moderators. To summarize: editing is bad, visibility is great, organization is questionable.

    Note that, in any case, we would add a link from the faq to increase visibility. We already use some of the space designed for ads on MO 1.0 to link to our tips page and other pieces of info. I don't know how we will use the ad space on MO 2.0, but that would be a good use of that space. (To answer Asaf's concerns about ad space, I think ad blockers typically block content originating from third parties.)

    To summarize differently:

    • For editing purposes, the options that allow users to directly submit their own stories (sticky post, main/meta question) are the best. Options with attached comment threads (blog page) are good. Associated (main or meta) questions for submitting stories are also good, with some pros & cons.

    • For visibility, anything with a preeminent link on the front page (faq-like) is best. Side links using ad space (or a featured post box as explained by Kaveh) are also very good, but these should permanent. (A link from the faq is a must.)

    • For organization, I think having designated editors (blog page) is the best option though community driven sorting (main/meta question) also works pretty well. It is best if editing powers are not directly tied to moderation powers (faq-like) or directly associated to reputation (meta/main question).

    I don't think the best options for all three are compatible, but I would love to be proven wrong!


    I want to remind that SE 2.0 has a community ads support, so we can make sure that there is a reasonable exposure. Although not best.

    Suddenly, by the way, it seems that a journal is not a bad idea after all. Maybe people will be reluctant to publish new and original papers in it (since it wouldn't have much of a reputation for starters) but it could be used for announcing results which were derived from the site (or even publish if someone likes to do that); as well it can be used to publish expository notes which explain open problems, proofs or so on.

    I'm sure that at least for the grad crowd this could be quite fun and useful.


    A journal is not a bad idea at all, though not necessarily a good place to list MO success stories per se. Incidentally, I know that some people, including me, have been bouncing ideas for similar projects (not directly tied with MO), though everything is very much in epsilon stage at this time.