It happens for me in the face to face meetings or emails that my friends ask me about some mathematical questions that I don't know their answer. In such cases I sometimes ask their questions on MathOverflow and reply them with the answers received from MathOverflow users, but I don't know if this is morally correct or not?

Is it good to ask somebody else's question on MathOverflow?

Is it good to reply one's question with answers provided from MathOverflow users without informing them about using their answers?

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    $\begingroup$ You should ask them before posting, and should ask them if they want to be credited. I ask somebody some question, possibly I don't want the question to be publicly attributed to me. $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Sep 19, 2015 at 10:14
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    $\begingroup$ This should be on meta. $\endgroup$ Sep 19, 2015 at 10:21
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    $\begingroup$ You say that you "sometimes ask their questions on MathOverflow" -- but it doesn't seem you have asked any question on MathOverflow so far(?) $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Sep 19, 2015 at 10:27
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    $\begingroup$ I'd say you should always mention where you got an answer if not from your own brain, but you don't need to inform anyone that you're using their answer, just as you don't inform the author of a book or article that you'll be using information picked up from there. Their answer is part of the commonwealth, is how I'd put it. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Sep 19, 2015 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ As others have mentioned, attribution (both question and answer) is important, not only for the community but also for background. If you want to build a cooperative community, I would modify Todd's comment and say that there are cases where informing a person of a result can be good, especially if you know they are looking for applications. Of course, we don't want to deluge (say) Terry Tao or Sergei Konyagin about applications involving recent prime gap machinery, but it just takes asking someone if they would like an update. Gerhard "They May Return The Favor" Paseman, 2015.09.19 $\endgroup$ Sep 19, 2015 at 18:09

1 Answer 1


Get permission from the asker. Tell us the source when you ask. Otherwise, go ahead.

Here is an example of mine. Prof. Sokal was glad for the answers, and we have continued to correspond about it.


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