It happened several times - I've found a very interesting (for me) relatively old answer or question which would most likely lead to some new research. I ask about any possible recent references in a comment but there is no answer, probably because participants are not active here anymore. Here are most recent examples of a question and an answer which are quite "hot" for my current investigations and most likely somebody did something more but I cannot find out.

So I thought - would not it be useful to accompany questions/answers with more recent information about their future life outside MO? In particular I know a couple of cases when MO activity did certainly lead to new research, I did read it somewhere here and I was very glad about it, but now I don't even remember where did I see it, and, if I am not mistaken, this information was not reflected at the page of the question/answer itself. I find it quite appropriate to have it there.

In what form though - this I don't know. I think it does not belong neither in comments nor in answers or addenda to questions. Probably some additional area on the page where anybody could add updates about related "outside world" developments, maybe with possibility to up/downwote each contribution, I don't know.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Occasionally someone will make a note of developments here: meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/617/best-of-mathoverflow $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 19:49
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ If a question or an answer at MO leads to new research, I think it's ok to add a short note about it. The note does provide useful context information about the question or answer, even though it did not exist at the time the post was originally written. Such notes would hardly produce a flood of disturbing meta information on the site. The meta post linked to by Todd is also a good place, but people reading a post at main are unlikely to go look at the meta post to see if it lead to published results. You could perhaps give a more detailed account at meta and provide a link to it. $\endgroup$ Commented May 23, 2015 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble Yes I've probably seen that thing there. Still I think it is not an entirely convenient way to do it - one must scroll the entire page to look for something that most likely is not there. Also, why one of many meta-questions? It is a separate topic... $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2015 at 7:38
  • $\begingroup$ @JoonasIlmavirta Yes something like this. But, the same - one among many meta questions does not seem to be an appropriate place for that. And where to place a link? In a comment? Or in a separate answer? $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2015 at 7:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @მამუკაჯიბლაძე, I think it is best to edit the original question or answer to add the link, not to post a new comment or answer. I think the most natural place for such bits of information is within the relevant post itself. I have nothing against short added notes like this: "Note added later: This question/answer lead to an article by Tim and Jim (arXiv or journal reference). See this meta question for more details." $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2015 at 10:28
  • $\begingroup$ @JoonasIlmavirta Yes I agree - at least it would suffice for an interested reader. On the other hand, this is not frequently done, is it? And maybe it would happen more often if there would be a separate slot on the page for such kind of information. $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2015 at 11:02
  • $\begingroup$ @მამუკაჯიბლაძე, no, it's not frequently done, but I would like to see more of it. I doubt there will be a separate slot for it, so the best course of action I can think of is to start doing so and initiate a culture of sharing follow-up content outside MO. I don't think there is enough to gain by making a separate slot as opposed to adding notes to existing posts to make SE willing to implement a new feature, but I could be wrong. $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2015 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ Whether a user is still active or not typically can be seen on their user page, as it has a "seen." When this says "3 hours ago" chances are they will come back soon, when it says "March 12th, 2012" then chances are slim. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 13:45

2 Answers 2


In my experience the idea that posts get updated and maintained on MO works very rarely. There are a handful of users that curate on thing or another but by and large threads get "formed" when they appear and then turn "static" pretty quickly.

If you want some update, indeed, one option is to leave a comment as you did (hoping the user is still active, which you could check on their user page).

If this does not work, I would say just ask a new question, and reference the old one. Do not only make it about the old question, but just ask what you want to know. Like:

There is Issue X. In year Y the situation seemed like 'this' (referencing old question and possibly other sources). I now want to do 'that' and am wondering if there was any progress since year Y.

Put differently treat MO question more or less like any other source from which you got some information on which you want an update. (Needless to say doing this every three month with the same subject will annoy others, but doing it after years with a clear motivation seems fine to me)


Certainly in building up a body of information on a subject, it is good to provide links or references so that others who are interested can follow up those references, especially those that may be up-to-date .

There are cases where it can get out of hand. One of my earliest questions I used as a place to update with additional answers as I saw fit. However, it got very long and hard to read. I considered putting a large number of comments with references. Eventually I decided that it would be best to update information off MathOverflow, and edit the original question occasionally when there was some news that belonged near the question. At this point I have placed a header pointing to an Arxiv article, which article will be updated when there is more substance. I may also place a link to an external site. ( Erik Westzynthius's cool upper bound argument: update? , if you want to see the clutter. ) Even if you decide to update just using comments, you can still produce clutter there quickly, making the update less likely to be read.

If you do decide to update, I recommend making a personal webpage containing the information you wish to share, and updating that regularly. Then provide a link to that webpage in the MathOverflow question. This forestalls the potential clutter issue on the forum, and pushes it off onto the remote page. If you make yourself custodian of the page, then you can provide whatever services you see fit, such as adding updates others make, or having a wiki for area-specific discussion. If/when MathOverflow gets archived, they may decide to include some related appendices: do a good job, and your page may be one of them.

Gerhard "I'll Go Work On Mine" Paseman, 2015.05.23

  • $\begingroup$ I once suggested a format for including social networking data in one's MathOverflow user page, to improve web searches on this public user data. It strikes me as reasonable to put links there as well, and if you are actively researching something directly related to a question, you could place a link in a comment to that question to your MathOverflow user page. If all active MathOverflow users made their "Interested and Researching" (not just "favorite") questions public this way, I think that would be a most valuable feature. Gerhard "More Where That Came From" Paseman, 2015.05.23 $\endgroup$ Commented May 23, 2015 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ Well not everybody has access to free or even cheap web space without tons of ads. Also, it does not seem right to me that everybody who wants to supply update information about a question/answer should create a separate webpage for that purpose. $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2015 at 7:44
  • $\begingroup$ Just recently several users seemed in horror about the idea of "social networking data" being present on user pages. Incidentally, I had the impression you were among them; but perhaps I misunderstood that. I wondered already about this at that time, as I recalled your initiative related to this, but thought you had changed you mind (as quite some time had passed). Could you clarify your stance on this? $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ @quid, I'm afraid I missed the recent horror story. My 3206 page has the data I want to be public. Everyone who wants to not make their interests public/easily accessible may refrain; I think those confident enough to share their interests get more reward than ruin for doing so. If you were interested in the distribution of totatives, I'd be willing to share some questions with you that I think are not quite ready for MathOverflow primetime. I see other benefits from amateur/professional collaborations. Gerhard "Will Socialize At A Distance" Paseman, 2015.05.25 $\endgroup$ Commented May 25, 2015 at 22:41
  • $\begingroup$ To be clear, I think people who expose themselves personally online run a risk of being taken advantage. It is possible the same risk holds for academics who reveal details on their professional interests. However, I am not an academic, and I don't mind letting people know some more detail on my mathematical activity. I also think having MathOverflow members share more of their professional interests will benefit science as well as them. The only downside I see is it may interfere with some people's tenure track plans. Gerhard "Just Guessing About The Downside" Paseman, 2015.05.25 $\endgroup$ Commented May 25, 2015 at 22:47
  • $\begingroup$ So I take it you are also looking forward to MO getting new user pages with slightly more space for sharing such information. That'd be great. I thought you did not like them. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 22:50
  • $\begingroup$ @მამუკაჯიბლაძე (hey , that worked! Hooray cut and paste!) There are many possibilities for putting up scientific web pages with few or no ads. You can take the route I have, and use the MathOverflow user page and ArXiv to present such information in an ad-free environment. If you have academic resources, some of them will host web pages, and some nice academics will host them for you, assuming minimal administrative overhead. Gerhard "Let's Be In This Together" Paseman, 2015.05.25 $\endgroup$ Commented May 25, 2015 at 22:53
  • $\begingroup$ @quid: ah, THAT horror. More user space good. "People reached", not so much. I have mixed feelings about the suggested user page change, but not so mixed as my original feelings about the 2.0 migration. If they make the user style opt - in and allow the old style, I don't mind it as much. Gerhard "Really, 'Views Logged' Much Better" Paseman, 2015.05.25 $\endgroup$ Commented May 25, 2015 at 22:56
  • $\begingroup$ Okay. Let us not continue that quibble then :) (BTW originally it was even "people helped" or something like that.) If you want to chat about math: I hang out in various of the chat rooms. (Not right now as I should do something but in general; well actually I am there but do not intend to talk.) $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 23:04

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .