When we switched from the old format to the MSE 2.0 format, almost all the information about what MO is about, and what is expected from a good question was been stripped from the site. I mean, one really has to go out of your way to notice that MO is for research mathematics.

If one hits the "help" button one gets generic Stack Exchange format help topics.

If one hits "ask a question", there's only a very small box on the right side of the screen that asks "Is your question bout research level mathematics?"

Can we fix this?

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    $\begingroup$ Related: meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/70/how-to-ask-page $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 24 '13 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ It is possible to change the content of said box. I asked Manishearth (a moderator on a site that changed it) regarding the process, 'we' only would need to agree on what to put in there instead and then ask the SE team to change it. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Oct 24 '13 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ Here is a somewhat related question: meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/519/… $\endgroup$ – Ricardo Andrade Oct 24 '13 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ It seems there are many ideas and suggestions below, and that to move forward will require moderator help. I hope that some moderator will take the initiative in implementing some of these. $\endgroup$ – j.c. Oct 27 '13 at 11:27

There are multiple places where the nature of MO could be made more explicit:

  • In the SE footer the site is listed as "MathOverflow". This could be changed to "MathOverflow (research mathematics)" or maybe even just "Research Mathematics" without the actual site name.

  • There is an option to enable a click-through message shown to users when they post their first question. I'd recommend using a short message with that, or users will just skip it without reading.

  • You can change the "How to ask" box on the "Ask Question" page

  • Change the "About" text that is shown to users that visit the site for the first time. That text is shown prominently on the top of the site (visit MO in incognito mode to see how it looks for a new user).

  • $\begingroup$ The info on the click-through message is very interesting! In my opinion it should defintely be activated (there is little down-side to it and it might help a bit). $\endgroup$ – user9072 Oct 26 '13 at 10:53
  • $\begingroup$ I think all these options are definitely worth exploring. To be honest, I was unaware of a lot of what you describe. Thank you very much, @Mad Scientist. $\endgroup$ – Ricardo Andrade Oct 26 '13 at 13:47

The page on-topic unfortunately contains a large section detailing what is not on-topic, and one cannot link directly to this section, as I wanted to do recently. Would it be possible to reinstate the anchors to specific sections of this page as we had on MO1.0? Since this page used to be the main 'help' page (then, 'FAQ'), it would go some of the way to answering this question, if we could link to specific items from a more prominent location.

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    $\begingroup$ The/An issue here is that the new Help Center has a dedicated "what not" section now; indeed, it is in some sense the very first entry namely "What types of questions should I avoid asking?" so even somewhat more visible than "on-topic." Rather than to expose the link to the part of 'on-topic' that is about 'off-topic' it would seems better to me to costumize 'what not' as done for 'on-topic' more or less via moving that part of 'on-topic' there. I proposed it long ago. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Oct 25 '13 at 10:09
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    $\begingroup$ @quid - any reason it hasn't been done yet? We surely don't need to plan out all of how the help centre should be before asking out SE overlords to change it? $\endgroup$ – David Roberts Oct 26 '13 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure if the said page is one moderators can edit by default (as it is for on-topic), but in any case it was said somewhere here on meta that if the need arises then MO can edit also pages where this is not possible by default. The main reason seems to be that moderators did not yet find the time to do it and perhaps also that nobody made an explicit suggestion for a text (I suggested it only in general terms). $\endgroup$ – user9072 Oct 26 '13 at 0:20

Here is where the information about what MO is about is stated. When someone comes to MO for the first time they are shown a box on top stating

MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians. It's 100% free, no registration required.
Tell me more

This part can be edited by SE. It links to the about page where the top section is editable by MO moderators and contains a brief explanation of the scope. Moderators can add a link to on-topic or other important help pages or meta posts so they are easier to find.

  • $\begingroup$ Here is what we have right now on the about page for cstheory: cstheory.stackexchange.com/about $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 25 '13 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for mentioning the text on cstheory! Maybe we finally can overcome the resistance to mentioning math.SE in such places invoking "you" mentioning CS as precedent. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Oct 25 '13 at 10:13
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    $\begingroup$ The "Tell me more" link goes to the "About" page. A user that reads the entire "About" page receives an "Informed" badge. At the moment a little under 700 users have recieved the "Informed" badge, yet we have tens of thousands of users. I think the "About" page does more to explain the Stack Exchange format than the specifics of what this site is about. Given that so few people read it, it seems not so useful. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Budney Oct 25 '13 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ @RyanBudney if we were to edit the start of 'about' and add links under research math and professional mathematician to sources (possibly to be created) that explain the term more precisely this seems rather alright to me, possibly with links to math.SE or alternative sites in addition (like on cstheory). If we also edit the box in a about the same way it is a bit unclerar to me what else should be done. (It now even says reserch math in the box for the title of the question when it is empty.) If somebody does not notice (or rather ignores this), I don't know if they can be stoped at all. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Oct 25 '13 at 12:49
  • $\begingroup$ Well, one of the problems is the about page is only available when one first logs in. That's easy to miss. It should also be made fairly prominently available when one goes to ask a question. Moreover, we should try to ensure it looks more about the site than just about the generic SE format. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Budney Oct 25 '13 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ @RyanBudney the page is not only available when on first login (or rather before login). One gets there if in the help center one clicks at the start on the (large) "take the tour." It is true it is not directly available from "ask" but this would be easy enough to change, though there is a link to "help center." But as said it would be easy enough to have a direct link. Something that I think should be changed is mathoverflow.net/questions/how-to-ask , also linked in the box but at the moment still generic. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Oct 25 '13 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Ryan, I agree it would be nice to have more emphasis on the scope. However I am not sure we have utilized what is available right now. I don't think most of current users read the tour page so informed being under 700 is not strange. The about page is to help users use the site so it is naturally going to contain some generic information. The top part is about the scope and can be edited by moderators. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 25 '13 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ [cont.] it would be nice if "research level mathematics" in the How to Ask box linked to help center. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Oct 25 '13 at 16:39

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