Oftentimes, I read something and start to ponder questions of the form "Does the formula on pg. 87 have a typo?" or "Isn't this a gap in the proof?" or "Why does the definition have this extra assumption?", etc. Learning questions which I would generally consider a bit too specific or trivial to post on MathOverflow but I wished did have an answer out there. And I suspect others reading the same thing may have also wondered about it.

If there was a subforum dedicated specifically to book X or paper Y, then I wouldn't hesitate to ask. It would be nice for people studying the same thing to have a central place to exchange ideas about it. And MathOverflow seems like an ideal venue for this kind of thing.

Would such an idea be feasible with the current engine? Allowing people to create subforums in the site dedicated to fielding specific books and papers, that is.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Chat rooms could be used for that, but of course you need an audience of more than one. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking of something more permanent. So that future readers of the same thing might actually find it useful as a resource. $\endgroup$
    – Kim
    Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ Have you considered, Kim, posting to math.stackexchange.com? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 22:04
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I don't necessarily think math.stackexchange is the right place to be posting random questions about a paper on motivic cohomology, for example. $\endgroup$
    – Kim
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 3:39
  • $\begingroup$ Since you've mentioned motivic cohomology as an example, I'll just check whether you are aware of Homotopy theory chatroom. (Some other specialized chat rooms have been suggested, but this one is the only one which is relatively active. There are also some chatrooms associated with the Mathematics site.) $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 4:36
  • $\begingroup$ These question on main are somewhat related: Are there any good websites for hosting discussions of mathematical papers? and Errata database?. (Since many of the answers are quite old, I'd expect that some of the links given there might be already outdated.) $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 4:38
  • $\begingroup$ There are also some post on this meta which are (to some extent) related to discussions about specific papers/books: Area 51 Mathematics Open Community Reviews and area 51 proposal - Math review. The latter was discussed a bit more on Mathematics Meta: Math Review - Proposal on area 51. Some of the questions linked there might be of interest, too. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 4:42
  • $\begingroup$ In the past there were some suggestions to create tag for some specific book. (This would make easy to display only posts on MO related to this book.) However, if you look at outcome of those discussions, this does not seem as a reasonable way to go. On this meta: Tag referring to a book/ specific collection of problems. On Mathematics Meta: Is it OK to create a tag about exercises from one particular book? and Is using subtags to identify book source... $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 4:56
  • $\begingroup$ "I don't necessarily think math.stackexchange is the right place to be posting random questions about a paper on motivic cohomology, for example." Well, you might be surprised. There are some very learned users at math.stackexchange. Also, it probably is the right place to post questions, random or otherwise, about a Calculus textbook. As there was nothing in your post to indicate whether what you had in mind was closer to beginner Calculus or to motivic cohomology, you might have wanted to dial down the snark a little bit. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 10:04
  • $\begingroup$ Gerry, you misunderstood my point. The key phrase was not "motivic cohomology" (although it seems to have clarified the context). The key word is "paper". The goal is not for me to find help about one particular passage or formula, but rather to find or set up a centralized system so that all current and future readers of a particular piece of literature can refer to it, work out issues together, and not have to reproduce the mishaps of earlier generations of readers. I hope you understand why math.stackexchange or mathoverflow in its current form are not really suitable for this. $\endgroup$
    – Kim
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 14:47
  • $\begingroup$ Let me add that I suggest this because I think the community would benefit from it. I am not familiar with the limits of the mathoverflow engine, but I hope that people more experienced might inform me about whether this is feasible, or point out another platform where it might work better. $\endgroup$
    – Kim
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 14:49

1 Answer 1


Although this sounds like a question for Martin Sleziak (who is better acquainted with the details than I am), I will respond.

My view is that there is no subforum of any Stack Exchange forum. A Stack exchange forum has to have an area of common interest large enough to support a community, and in turn that community has to maintain that forum. (There are other considerations, a primary one being that the forum follows the Q&A model.) Large enough here probably means over a hundred active participants, with a minimum amount of traffic of ten or so questions daily. I suspect a group studying most texts will be much smaller, and even if it were technically feasible, it might not be economically feasible, and consume more resources than the benefit it might give.

On the other hand, individual chat rooms on this platform can be created and maintained by a small group, and a (non-threaded) discussion type format is available, which can be useful on some questions. If you want something with more organization, you might consider setting up a wiki or a plain vanilla type forum hosted on a different platform.

Gerhard "Then There's Face To Face" Paseman, 2019.09.24.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .