The question "Who is L. A. Balashov?" shows the following curious behavior: Only a few minutes after posting, it became a Google top-hit for the search terms "mathematician balashov":


This makes me curious to ask:

Which MO questions appear on the Google frontpage?

Obviously, this question is ill-posed as you could copy a large-enough fraction of the question and paste it into Google to get back the question as top hit. I am more interested in cases where one searches for some reasonable and small collection of words and gets an MO question that asks a question which is suited to help somebody who searched for these words.

An example of a good answer would be

topology open set

(no quotes), however, the respective MO answer is currently on place three…

An even better example is

trace interpretation

resulting in a great MO thread as top hit.

As commented by Tobias Kildetoft, Google personalizes the search. You can omit personal results with this button enter image description here and you can use the "private browsing" feature to turn off personalization (apart from personalization by country/IP/"whatever Google tracks and is not blocked by private mode").

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    $\begingroup$ I have a feeling many of these results will be skewed if checked by users of MO, since Google customizes results to the individual. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ Good point, but actually, for me the first results do not change for the examples given in the question. $\endgroup$
    – Dirk
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ It's not just about private mode. It's also about geolocation. Searching for "cambridge" in the US and in the UK will yield different results. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Sure, you may include from where you searched in your answer. It could be quite interesting to see differences in the ranks depending on the location… $\endgroup$
    – Dirk
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ I have taken the liberty to replace the lmgtfy.com link with a real Google one. I don't think this is the right place to use lmgtfy; apart from looking a bit too passive-aggressive for my taste, it adds an unjustified delay before one can see the results of the search. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 1:13
  • $\begingroup$ @FedericoPoloni That's ok with me. I thought of this as a fun question and hence, didn't mind the lmgtfy-link (especially since it ended up at the right page). I did not mean to appear or assume either passive, aggressive or passive-aggressive behavior… $\endgroup$
    – Dirk
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 12:51

3 Answers 3

  • laid off math faculty (1st and 2nd place)

  • urban legends math (1st place)

  • math jokes (7th place)

  • good math videos (2nd place)

For something more serious

  • Hodge conjecture (4th place)

Some more things

  • teaching Riemann integral (1st place)

  • Thompson group amenable (1st place)

  • higher category theory (4th place)

  • Yoneda lemma (3rd place)

  • model category (4th place)

  • abc conjecture (5th place)

  • good examples math (4th and 5th place) [Note: I wanted to make this surface but instead the "jokes" question came up again.]

  • memorable title (3rd place)

  • wrong result math (7th place) Also of note 1st to 4th goes to SO, and 5th and 6th to math.se. It seems the SE network totally dominates the market for wrong math. ;-)

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    $\begingroup$ Excellent! It a pleasure to see that the urban legends from MO are on first place. The math jokes make place five for me (customized) but do not hit the front page when googling non-personalized. $\endgroup$
    – Dirk
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ For me even just "good chalk" without quotes gives 4th place. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ Looks like the query terms themselves are personalized. Looks like fun. Gerhard "Maybe I'll Post Some Too" Paseman, 2015.11.09 $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 18:27

The search minimal hausdorff gives a top hit.


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