Just curious: What might have caused the spike in visits & views on that Sunday? A spike in the pulse of mathematics.



      Screenshot from site analytics.


up vote 25 down vote accepted

Per Andrew T.'s suggestion I am expanding my comment to an answer.

The date you mention was rather close to the time when Michael Atiyah announced presentation of his attempted proof of Riemann hypothesis. There were some related questions on the main. This one is now deleted: Sir Michael Atiyah's conference on the Riemann Hypothesis. Another question related to this topic is: What is the definition of the function T used in Atiyah's attempted proof of the Riemann Hypothesis? Each of those questions has over 10000 views. (For the deleted one the number of views can be checked by users with sufficient reputation who can see deleted questions. But also mere mortals can check that this question had at least 10000 views since it got a famous question badge: https://mathoverflow.net/help/badges/37/famous-question?userid=1593 - well assuming that we remember who was the asker. From SEDE we can see that the question had score 52 when it was deleted which also suggests that it was rather popular - however Data Explorer does not store number of views for deleted posts.)

There is also a discussion on meta related to these events: Is there a way to discuss the correctness of the proof of the RH by Atiyah in MO?


It is not surprising that this story caught attention of media and spread over internet. I assume that some websites also linked to the posts on MathOverflow related to this. You can find some sources linking to here simply by using Google.

Regular users probably cannot find out more about sources of the traffic for specific question or for specific date. (Not even users with access to site analytics.) Perhaps diamond-bearing users would be able to provide more detailed data about this, as they did here: Traffic from the list of hot network questions.

You can also see that the deleted question have been mentioned several times in various chatrooms on Stack Exchange network. (And a bit less also the other question.) One of those question was in the HNQ list (as some of you might remember), the other one wasn't.1 But I would expect most of the traffic related to this question to come from outside Stack Exchange network.

1There is no record of questions which appear in the hot network questions list collected by Stack Exchange. However, some time ago Glorfindel started collecting data on the HNQ questions by getting the list from the Stack Exchange site in regular intervals. He confirmed in chat that based on this data, the question 311280 was in the HNQ list and the question 311062 wasn't.

  • How did you find the comment link to Andrew T.'s comment: meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/3944/… ? That's quite useful. – Joseph O'Rourke Oct 27 at 20:38
  • I was a bit hesitant whether to post an answer for two reasons: 1. Users with higher privileges are able to say more. (At least 10k+ users can see number of views on the deleted question, And mods and devs can perhaps say a bit more about sources of the traffic from the access to Google Analysics.) 2.The previous discussion suggests that most of the users here on MO prefer not to talk about this. (So I will just say that if the majority opinion is that this whole topic should be deleted, I have no problem if my answer disappears too. I understand that this topic is a bit sensitive.) – Martin Sleziak Oct 27 at 20:40
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    No, I was asking a tangential technical question. How does one find a URL that will link to a specific comment? Incidentally, your post is informative and should not be deleted! – Joseph O'Rourke Oct 27 at 20:42
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    @JosephO'Rourke Simply click on the timestamp in the comment. Mathematics Meta: How to link to a comment? Meta Stack Exchange: Direct Link to a Comment – Martin Sleziak Oct 27 at 20:42
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    Indeed the Atiyah question on Meta was by far the most-viewed question on Meta at all -- see meta.mathoverflow.net/help/badges/28/famous-question . – Stefan Kohl Oct 28 at 10:53

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