Should the meta-MathOverflow have the Q&A format? I don't see any rationale for this. After all, meta is just an auxiliary sub-forum which should help running the main forum. Collecting the reputation points on meta seems to me simply silly. On occasions a vote can be taken to decide some issues in a democratic way. But that's not a reason for having a reputation game. For instance, if some people should be voted for some positions on MO, it should be done based on the overview of their activities on MO (possibly even in the mathematical world outside MO too, why not?) but not on reputation.

When meta follows the format of the main MO forum then instead of fixing certain MO's shortcomings it only amplifies them.

EDIT:   @Emil J. has pointed to me that there are no reputation points at meta. Indeed! (Now I'll sleep better :-). Nevertheless, there is still annoying to me similarity of MO main and meta: the votes on political and philosophical issues. Here I am answering @JoonasIlmavirta's question. My answer is implied by my question https://meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/1989/mathoverflow-shape-today-and-tomorrow. I am for separating non-mathematical questions from the main MO Q&A list. One of the reasons is that voting (for and against) political & philosophical issues, and in general--voting on opinions, introduces to MO repressive censorship. It also introduces low standards, which are aliens to MO in the case of research mathematics. Indeed, a number of soft questions get a very high score, which in my opinion spoils the research character of MO reputation--instead, it becomes a popularity contest, and similar.

By the way, I love numbers, statistics and trivia like reputation points, but let ranking be objective (as much as possible) or else it is a waste.

PS. Since I have overlooked the absence of reputation on meta I am willing to remove this my Question (here go down the drain my hard-earned reputation points :-). Let me know, please.

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    $\begingroup$ You don’t collect reputation points on meta. The number shown is just your reputation from the main site. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 13:15
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    $\begingroup$ Could you please elaborate on what you would like to see improved or changed? Your question seems too abstract to answer. (It seems to me that concrete questions work best at MO.meta, whereas abstract ones fit MO main.) At the moment the meta is a Q&A site with badges but without reputation points. The reputation shown is the main reputation, and I think it is a useful hint about how much expertise the poster has about MO. Do you want to change the reward system or the Q&A structure or something else? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ I’m not sure whether you are aware that the old non-Q&A meta is still (at least in principle) in operation as tea.mathoverflow.net . One reason for keeping it was indeed that many people were concerned that Q&A is not a suitable format for meta discussion. However, what happened in practice is that after the migration, the old meta was quickly abandoned, which I guess means that the Q&A meta was found to work satisfactorily enough. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Emil and Todd, thank you for the information about tea.mathoverflow.net. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 17:51

1 Answer 1


As you may know, our old system before the merger with stackexchange had a meta discussion board which is now called 'tea', and it still exists: http://mathoverflow.tqft.net/. There is a brief and easy ritual for registration.

A lot of people (including me) don't like the 'points' aspect of meta (even though, as Emil notes, they don't actually add or subtract reputation). I personally find them a distraction, and they have secondary effects. Moreover, I find the question and answer format somewhat clunky on occasion, especially in cases where one doesn't have a question or an official answer per se, but would just like to raise points for discussion (a frequent result is that discussions get carried out in comment boxes with their 600 character limit, which itself can be an annoyance).

You might try posting a 'question' here, and when you feel that any of these aspects are too bothersome, announce that you want to continue the discussion in tea. A trouble is that probably not many will follow you there. (Or you could even just post there without an announcement, but likely just hear the crickets chirp.) My own reaction, for what it's worth, has been to simply make my peace with the new meta set-up.

We are probably the only SE site with two discussion boards. My understanding was that keeping the old one was part of the deal with the merger.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't know if it's possible to have the same light on the dashboard light up if there is a new post on either meta or tea, but I'll ask around. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 15:32
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    $\begingroup$ I assume the light mentioned in the comment is the (blue) notification about meta posts that only moderators receive. I imagine it will be quite tricky to link tea with the notification system. (For the general and personalized red one's even more.) However, we could just have question here on this meta and new threads on tea are added there to signal there presence. (Individuals also could use other means for being notified, like rss feeds or perhaps email notification.) $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Nov 23, 2014 at 16:34

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