What points should I tell to someone whom I'm encouraging to join MathOverflow for a better contribution to this site and avoiding problems of any type as much as possible?

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    $\begingroup$ For a start mathoverflow.net/help/on-topic $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 10:30
  • $\begingroup$ Why didn't you post this question from the same account as the previous one? (I assume Chandra and Chandra Gupta Putrajaya are the same person(?)) $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 13:03
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    $\begingroup$ A point in favor of registration: Then you can automatically return to the same user profile every time you enter! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ see also meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/882 including some very nice advice from MO 1.0 which is unfortunately not as easily accessible as it ought to be $\endgroup$
    – j.c.
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 12:00

1 Answer 1


As quid comments, reading the manual/FAQ/help documentation covers most things. Let me highlight some things from a certain perspective.

MathOverflow is a repository AND a community. The idea is not just to get help, but to build a corpus of good questions and answers, so that readers of the future can find useful information more quickly. Further, if online collaborations over small (in terms of writing) questions work well, they may result in larger collaborations on projects not suitable for a forum like MathOverflow where discussion takes a back seat to clarification and direct relevance. With this in mind, I recommend the following:

a) Pretend you are at an informal and otherwise professional seminar. If you don't understand because (say) something is poorly worded or constructed, respectfully ask the speaker, but if you don't understand because you are new to the subject, ask someone outside the seminar where to start. Think about what contribution your question or answer may make before submitting. Oh, and wear pants and talk nice. (Don't be a jerk at a seminar.)

b) Realize your contributions can be edited by others. The basic intent of all edits should be to improve clarity and quality, and if everyone plays nice, people only improve on your stuff.

c) If someone tells you that you are making a mistake, consider their point and whether they may be right. Acknowledgment may not be necessary, but ignoring is done at one's peril of losing the privilege to be a community member, especially if a moderator is recommending a change.

d) Ask for help, and do it the right way. Usually help on math questions is for MathOverflow, and help for how to behave on/use MathOverflow or meta.mathoverflow is for meta.mathoverflow.net. If you are confused, say so, and start on meta. People here are often willing to help those who have read and are attempting to follow the rules.

e) I did mention reading the guidelines before you post anything, right?

Gerhard "Come And Play With Us!" Paseman, 2015.09.19

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    $\begingroup$ It's a good thing that you're Gerhard "Come And Play With Us!" Paseman, and not Undead "Come And Play With Us!" Twin Girls With Pigtails Speaking In Unison. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 23:42
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    $\begingroup$ On the internet, no one knows you're a zombie. (They just suspect it.) Gerhard "Movie References Lost On Me" Paseman, 2015.09.21 $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 23:50
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    $\begingroup$ (Kubrick's The Shining. Although I might be slightly misremembering the details. I think it's close enough. Asaf "On the Internet No One Knows You're Tired" Karagila, 22/09/2015.) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 23:57

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