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    On this link: I read a discussion where it is suggested that math.overflow might merge with stackexchange 2.0. I am coming to this site to ask you if this is a sure decision, if perhaps you might reconsider.

    This is the first stackexchange type site that I visited. I have not participated very much, mostly because I am not a mathematician. I learn mathematics incidentally, if it is relevant to physics, or to biology, or if I feel I just need to know it to be a cultural human being, as I honestly feel that you folks are busy producing the most important stuff in our culture. You work hard, and I think you deserve to control your own fate.

    If you move to stackexchange, you will no longer control your own fate. The stackexchange sites are subject to a uniform code of rules, enforced by a uniform moderation policy, and this policy is not decided by mathematicians, nor by scientists. It is decided by people who play political games on the internet. These games are similar to the political games in real life, so you end up with governance that is like the former Soviet Union: it looks nice on paper, and seems to work well on the surface for a casual visitor, but it is very dark for those inside.

    The stackexchange system gives elected moderators unlimited power to block users from contributing. These moderators are elected in elections where one is not allowed to recommend who to vote for, or speak against any of them, they are sham elections. The moderators are drawn from a pool of political people network wide, the voters are causal visitors to the site, and the result is not at all representative of the wishes of those who actually use the forum. The moderators you will have will not give a damn about technical accuracy, or basic mathematical or scientific honesty. Their only goal will be winning a ridiculous game of childish internet politics. This means that they don't care if _any given proof is right or wrong_, they don't care if any given attribution is right or wrong. The only care what the other moderators _think about_ whether it is right or wrong, and whether the person saying it's wrong is acting in a way perceived by someone as disruptive. if you find a mistake in a proof, it cannot help but be perceived as disruptive. If you give an alternate proof, this is automatically disruptive too. Paul Cohen was very disruptive.

    Making yourself part of stackexchange will remove your administrative independence. You will allow yourself to be run by non-mathematicians, who will make the ultimate call about what gets said and what does not get said. This can easily make it impossible to get accurate straight answers here. The problem of mathematics might be more immune to this sort of thing, because there is a more or less objective standard of proof, and math.stackexchange has fared better than most, because of this objective standard, but it is not a guarantee.

    Don't fix it if it ain't broke, and although I know it is time consuming to the wonderful people who run the site, please don't give up your independence. You are a beacon of light to other disciplines right now. The politics on stackexchange are permanently broken, in the same way politics on wikipedia are broken, in the same way human politics is generally broken at all times. Non-physicists are busy moderating physics.stackexchange, and I do not want to see it come to pass that non-mathematicians end up moderating math overflow.
    • CommentAuthorMariano
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2012

    I am a moderator at and I can say with certitude that some of what you say is simply false.

    I agree it has so far been false on math.stackexchange, and I sincerely hope it stays that way forever, but I feel obliged to warn you that what I say is true on physics, and there is no sure guarantee for math. Math might have an easier time, because it has objective standards of proof in most case, but I would feel remiss if I didn't tell you the kind of stuff going on elsewhere, so that you can make an informed decision. I don't have any say in any of this.
    • CommentAuthorHJRW
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2012

    For reference, the migration has already been discussed at great length---see here and the links therein.

    But I really don't think those discussions know what a pit of vipers they are stepping into. The stackexchange people want to control all Q/A, they are deadly serious about getting everything under their umbrella, they stopped licensing their software, and they will do anything to get and keep all the important Q/A sites under their wing. Their politics has stopped working with phase-transition suddenness on physics.stackexchange, as a flood of outsiders came to muck up the last election, to install a non-physicist moderator for the first time, and that phase transition came with little warning.

    Once that phase transition comes, your site is busted, you will have big name mathematicians leaving, and lesser known ones, and students, entirely banned from speaking. Please, don't trade in your freedom and independence for a few extra perks. I was hoping to spin off an independent physics site, but I am now frightened of doing so. You guys did it when it was safe, don't lose your independence. Please, talk, reconsider. Your moderation system is excellent, and it will likely be gone one year, two years, maybe 3, down the line, once you allow the Soviet-style stackexchange elections to select your mods. It is a false promise, they are leading you down a ruinous path, and I am telling you even though I suspect it will not be good for my health, at least certainly not for my psychological health.
    • CommentAuthorHJRW
    • CommentTimeDec 8th 2012

    Ron - frankly, you're sounding a little hysterical. But let's assume for the sake of argument that you're correct. If you read the discussions that I linked to above, you'll see that many people share your worries, and as a result an 'escape mechanism' will (I believe) be an important part of the migration agreement.

    Ron, if there really would be some cabal controlling all moderators at mathstackexchange, the cabal is doing a pretty bad job. And the problem is certanly not that they are trying to please other moderators too much. I don't know what problems you had at the physics and sceptics site that got you suspended, but without specifics, you will not b able to make a convincing case..
    • CommentAuthorLios
    • CommentTimeDec 8th 2012

    "My policy is to ignore policies until I am banned, that's my test of whether I should be a member of your community." - Ron Maimon

    It's also worth quoting Ron's self-description from : "I have no PhD, I am almost entirely self taught. I like physics, but I think the professionals are, for the most part, completely incompetent. I have a lot of my own personal theories about physics which I like to spread online. I am a low paid hourly wage laborer, but despite this I consider myself to be the next Isaac Newton."

    I think this tells us all we need to know about how seriously we should take his concerns.
    I recommend that a moderator close this thread.

    I agree with Joel.

    Some of the people here know me personally, others know me from incidental contributions from a year ago, so I don't think they will buy that I have gone crazy, but I suppose this is a good example of the kind of thing I am talking about--- the mob censorship on public websites. Please look at the three comments above mine:

    Joel Rayes Noche: I recommend that a moderator close this thread.

    DavidRoberts: I agree with Joel.

    Andres Caicedo: Thirded.

    This is the type of thing I am warning you about--- it is human politics, and you need to get rid of it for a functioning forum.

    On stackexchange there will be no "exit agreement", you are dreaming. Stackexchange is a private entity making millions of dollars exploiting your credibility. You need an immune system to protect you, like Richard Stallman's GPL. Without an immune system, ignorant entrepreneurs who have contributed nothing to science and less than nothing to society, close off and harvest your knowledge for their own personal profit.

    The stackexchange site, like Wikipedia, is dominated by bad politics, non-mathematician politics, and the three comments above mine are the typical thing you will get on the site--- censorship of hard-hitting criticism, and lack of open conversation. This is why you need an open independent site which is _not_ a democracy. My comment here would have been deleted on stackexchange immediately, with no vote and no review, you would never see it. The reason would be given as "incivility". You tell me whether you think my comment is uncivil, or whether this should be deleted.

    My self-description and constant needling of authorities are purposeful tests of the community's politics. They are very personally costly, and so I am pretty much the only one who does this test. But it must be done, as knowledgable people should not participate in any internet community that bans people for being annoying and contrarian. I don't violate any rules, but I am always extremely grating, because I know that tolerating me == apolitical site.

    Physics suddenly fails this test, when it didn't a few weeks ago, although the politics were getting worse. This is not just a problem for me personally, once you have capricious game-playing politics, you are done, you are cooked.
    Ron, if you have friends or just people who support your views, they really need to speak up on your behalf and in support of your views. As HJRW has already pointed out, many of us are already at least somewhat aware of the issues you're raising. Others have also strongly expressed the desire to stay on the current platform for exactly the reasons you give. The decision, so far, has been to move ahead anyway. You've made your point by now more than once. You're not going to make any progress by posting even more comments.

    I personally don't like ceding control to a private corporate entity. However, as far as I can tell, in many other similar situations, the alternatives have turned out to be even worse, mostly in terms of ongoing support and upgrades.
    So I also vote to have this thread closed. We're not trying to censor Ron. The thread won't be deleted. Ron has already made his point and his followups are not adding any new to the discussion.
    I see, ok, you guys are already aware. Sorry. I'll shut up now.
    • CommentAuthorRon Maimon
    • CommentTimeDec 10th 2012
    I have an idea. This will be my last comment, as it seems the previous are duplications of things people have already said.

    I understand people feel the "community" here has decided to go ahead with the merger by some sort of consensus. I think you should ignore this false consensus, and do whatever the hell you want.

    I believe the consensus is simply a political trick of stackexchange. You have a lot of gullible students/young-people who are participating. People involved in business are usually much more socially savvy than mathematicians, and they can manipulate people into migrating. They do the following:

    1. introducing purposeful bugs and slowdowns into their licensed software, and delaying to fix it.
    2. making pie in the sky promises regarding migration that they have no intention of keeping.
    3. Having a few shills who are politically good, handshaking and schmoozing among you, to produce consensus, by irritating those who oppose leaving.
    4. skewing the apparent consensus using these shills to make it seem that there are more who favor than who oppose migration.

    People are generally not willing to buck a consensus, and people are not generally motivated to do nothing, to keep a status quo. On internet politics, it is trivial to create a false consensus. People will just go along with what they think is more popular. One suggestion is that you hold a popular vote among all high-rep members, voting mandatory or you can't log in to the site, to ask whether you should migrate. I'd put the cutoff at at least 1000 rep, so that it's mathematically skilled people who are voting, this is enough to get rid of any non-mathematical people.

    Then, whatever the results of the vote (and I think it will be 60/40 against migration), whoever is sitting on the mathoverflow server is perfectly justified in saying this:

    "Ok, you voted. We'll tell you the results--- it was 54% merge, 46% stay as is. We respect your decision, but, sorry, _hell, no, we won't go_! You are welcome to copy all the text here, it's creative commons, and fork a mirror site on stackexchange, but we will stay independent come hell or high water, and no amount of democracy or debate will ever change our mind. If stackexchange refuses to license the software, we will migrate to OSQA, and if we need to modify OSQA, we will set aside a few thousand dollars for programming from our research budgets, or institute a small tax on high rep academic members to pay to maintain the site, or just ask for donations. But we aren't closing until we are broke or the site is broken, so give up and go do something else."

    I think this will be a welcome relief to all involved in the site, despite the superficial consensus. I am throwing this out there, you can do whatever you want, of course.
    This is getting ridiculous. Can a mod please close the thread befoer Ron decides to make his, really, really last comment?

    BTW: Can someone tell me how I can get my money from Stack Exchange?

    Finally closed...