We have mathoverflow.com with 144000 questions and answers, and we have math.stackexchange.com with 522000 questions and answers. Isn't there a redundancy? Shouldn't both sites be merged? I propose a merge into stackexchange, because it's larger and it's the main domain of tens of other subdomains.

The downvotes show that you disagree, and David explained the difference between the two sites. But that difference isn't obvious from names like "mathoverflow" and "math.stackexchange", as my asking shows. Shouldn't the difference in target audience be made more clear then?


2 Answers 2


I disagree completely. It is not about how many questions and answers each site has. The two websites have different purposes. Math Overflow is for research level math questions, the sort of thing two colleagues in a department would talk about. Stack Exchange seems to be for people trying to learn lower level math, and even allows homework problems. That's anathema to the culture of Math Overflow. If we were to merge the two websites many of the best people on Math Overflow would leave, because they want to help colleagues not do people's homework for them. If anything, I think we need to distance these websites. We've been closing tons and tons of low level questions on MO and I worry that we'll start to lose members who are sick of the fact that the front page looks like SE rather than what MO used to be.

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    $\begingroup$ I see. But should this difference show more in the sites names? $\endgroup$
    – amadeus
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, well that's a different question. I guess the difficulty is one of brand name. Most of our serious members could follow a name change and it wouldn't affect them much. But MO has been cited in published papers, so we'd have to keep those links up and forward them to the new site. If we changed name, though, there might be legal ramifications and we might also run up against the Stack software that we're built on. Maybe someone who knows more than me can comment on this or start a new thread if this idea is feasible. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 14:52

This is just on the follow-up question on the names.

Now, it is likely true that it is not obvious from the names/URLs what the difference is but perhaps this is also a bit much to ask. Also, there was and in some sense is some discussion how to make the distinction more visible and some things might be done here.

That being said it is really not difficult to find out about the difference with some minimal effort:

It says prominently at various places that MO is a site for professional mathematicians.
By contrast it says that math.SE is a site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields.

This seems fairly clear. So, this site is for professional mathematicians only (not strictly in practice, but this is what is communicated), but some people that are not professional mathemarticians might still have some math questions, so there is a need for a site for those too, whence math.SE (and this is also how things actually happened historically).

And what kind of questions can one ask here, it says: research level math question So if you have any other type of math questions you cannot ask it here, or at least should not. Then on the other site you'd find a more welcoming description.

These two pieces of information are placed at various places on the site. I agree it should be still more visible, but it is also not hidden or only implicit.

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    $\begingroup$ "I agree it should be still more visible..." Hear, hear. This I think has been a problem recently. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 15:28

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