It looks like the Stack Exchange network is trying to monetize the various stack sites as much as possible, to the dismay of users across the board.

Will this affect MO?

If I recall correctly we have some kind of special license with the Stack Exchange network which may save us from capitalism-motivated decisions like this, and we handle more of our coding in-house which invalidates their argument about an increased userbase demanding greater monetization for upkeep.

Further, what products do mathematicians really need? Pens? Paper? Whiteboards I guess? It seems like any product that popped up here would be nothing more than an intrusion, distracting productive thought processes and converting them into some digital change in the Stack Exchange networks pocket. Any information is appreciated.

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    $\begingroup$ Whiteboards are the reason mathematical progress is not twice as faster. Blackboards forever!!! $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 10:00
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila I will give my life in this holy war; whiteboards, just as god intended! $\endgroup$
    – Alec Rhea
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 10:06
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    $\begingroup$ That's a false god. And everyone who knows anything should also know that. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 10:11
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    $\begingroup$ Not according to my book, you'll see when we all die and get to check in with eachother down below. wait $\endgroup$
    – Alec Rhea
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 10:17
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    $\begingroup$ I don't have a strong opinion about blackboards vs whiteboards, but chalk is unquestionably superior to markers. Since chalk doesn't write well on whiteboards, I can only conclude that blackboards are the way to go, and users of whiteboards are heretics. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps ads for sites selling fancy Japanese chalk would do well... $\endgroup$
    – dorebell
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 5:37
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    $\begingroup$ Blackboards, whiteboards, who can decide! When I need a break from tough questions like that, I like to relax with a nice, hot donut of coffee, and a maple glazed coffee mug, from Mathin' Donuts, visit today! For a limited time only, buy one, get one free, with code Banach-Tarski. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 7:12
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    $\begingroup$ @dorebell came here to say that. Advertisements that use geolocation to tell me the closest store to buy Hagoromo at the drop of the hat are totally welcome. $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 12:32
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila On a slightly more serious note, chalk has potential adverse health risks (aaqr.org/files/article/569/9_AAQR-15-04-OA-0216_2596-2608.pdf) In particular, the linked study found that chalk use leads to "irritation to the eyes, skin, respiratory tract, mucous membranes, and digestive tract", and that for chronic users like mathematicians "the potential chronic health concerns are lung and liver damage resulting from exposure to calcium sulfate and calcium carbonate particles, respectively." I still use it, but view it like smoking (a guilty pleasure, not in classrooms, etc.). $\endgroup$
    – Alec Rhea
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ Whiteboard markers also have potential risks, but chemicals like xylene and methyl isobutyl ketone evaporate over very short time spans and distances from the board and are only really dangerous if you sniff the marker (or leave your face right up against the board as you write, like me). $\endgroup$
    – Alec Rhea
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 18:03

1 Answer 1


You linked this post on Meta Stack Exchange: We're testing advertisements across the network (current revision).

Notice that the post explicitly says:

Due to an already existing agreement, MathOverflow will not be getting ads and is not a part of this experiment.

This was also confirmed by a community manager when I asked about this in the MathOverflow chatroom: https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/9369?m=50753164#50753164 https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/9369/2019/6/20

The agreement between MO and SE can be found in this answer by François G. Dorais♦. The relevant part seems to be:

It is understood that MathOverflow shall consider in the future the placement of certain announcement serices like job listing in the future. Stack Exchange shall not run advertisements, including internal advertisements, on MathOverflow 2.0 (or any subsequent version thereof), without specific and advance written consent of the MathOverflow.

I suppose moderators might have more information about this. But collecting the publicly available information and posting it as an answer seemed reasonable.

This reminds me also of a separate question - independent from the issue of ads added by Stack Exchange network - whether Community Ads might be useful on MO. This means ads added by the MathOverflow community to promote content/tools/websites they consider useful. For more on this, see an older post on this meta: Will MO have Community Promotion Ads?

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    $\begingroup$ Much appreciated Martin, I'll read more carefully next time before flying to our meta for reassurance :^). $\endgroup$
    – Alec Rhea
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 10:55
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    $\begingroup$ @AlecRhea I don't think that there is any problem with the question. Many MO users read only the local meta, so it might be useful to have post about this also here. (And maybe we learn also something new from the mods.) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 10:57
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    $\begingroup$ what would you say about this ad: mathoverflow.net/users/142909 $\endgroup$
    – user142908
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 15:30
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    $\begingroup$ @qotaqzheme That's not an ad - it's a user's profile page. There were some related discussions on this meta: Companies accounts allowed? and Flagging spam user. That's a separate problem from what is discussed here - still I'll mention that I liked this proposal as a possible solution. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 16:37
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    $\begingroup$ I'm glad that the implications of this question so far are not "MO will absolutely never have ads". Internet ads are (rightfully) demonized quite a lot, but they can be quite valuable if they are used responsibly and with moderation. I'm also glad that if they come to MO they will be moderated by MO rather than SE. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 17:16

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