Moderators have started incorporating the old faq material in the new help system. It wasn't a perfect fit, a lot of stuff is no longer relevant, redundant, missing or broken. You can help by going through the help center and post anything that needs fixing here.

In case substantial editing is needed it would help to add a proposal; we may not use it verbatim but it will nevertheless save a lot of effort on our end.

Note that this is not the right place for policy discussion. If you think we should be wearing shirts instead of wearing pants, start a new question with your proposal...

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the changes! (And, sorry, if I should come across a bit impatient sometimes. Perhaps I can blame it on the enthusiasm for the site :-)) $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ @quid: It wouldn't have happened without your reminder. There's still a lot of broken stuff and I won't have much time over the next two weeks. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 19:17

7 Answers 7


Some quick observations on in https://mathoverflow.net/help/on-topic

  1. The part Where's the rule that says I have to wear pants? seems not good there anymore it should be merged into https://mathoverflow.net/help/behavior (or just ommitted but there are some things in it that some care about a lot namely "real names" so it should likely be merged). Also, you might or might not want to change 'bahavior' (to be clear, I do not need or even want a change, but since some where so concerned about not having greetings and related you might want to remove mention that they are not allowed)

  2. The part What kind of questions should I not ask here? likely should replace or rather augment (some things seem good some not fitting but could perhaps be modified) https://mathoverflow.net/help/dont-ask

  3. The info on accounts seems deleteable it is under My account in the help center.

  4. The point-privileges list seems deleteable, it is both outdated and redundant with other things.

  5. Community Wiki. It is now wrong one can make a question CW as a user. The documenetatio still says so. There is also a broken link to the old meta. I would suggest to remove this link rather then to update it. This discussion is ancient. But I could imagine to have a general discussion on CW could be good before finalizing the description. But this is not for this thread.

  6. There is a broken link to the old meta in 'MO is not a discussion forum' Again I think the link is better removed than updated.

  7. Description of "bounty" is wrong. Can be deleted as explained elsewhere.

  8. Open problems also contains a broken link. But there is a suggestion for a complete rewrite (without this link) in another answer.

Added: TriG mentioned broken links in 'How can I become an MO ninja' the tips and tricks one seems still broken. The copy is in this new meta thread where is the Tips and Tricks list from MO 1.0? but also I started an attempt to redo/augment it (many of the old tips are outdated and it felt better to start over than to edit this one answer) see What are Tips and Tricks to use MO more effectively? This stalled a bit lately, but not completely and I intend at least to get more or less everything from the old list in the new one over time. So one might use this instead though it is not quite there yet. (But certainly I am also happy if somebody else does this.)

  • $\begingroup$ I lost track, has everything on your list except 8 been fixed? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ I updated the answer to reflect what is done. Regarding 'fixing' there is still one broken link in mentioned, and one I had not mentioned but TRiG noticed it I included this with some commentary in the answer. Also 1 and 2 are not yet adress, but this is not really a fix but something larger and I think could well wait a while. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ OK. I fixed 6. Thanks! (I'll get around to doing more soonish...) $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 21:38

I suggest that the topics in the 'Asking' menu should be reordered as follows. Roughly speaking, stuff that all new posters should read comes at the top, and stuff that only becomes relevant when there is a problem goes further down.

  • What topics can I ask about here?
  • How do I ask a good question?
  • What types of questions should I avoid asking?
  • What are tags, and how should I use them?
  • What should I do when someone answers my question?
  • What should I do if no one answers my question?
  • What does it mean if a question is "closed" or "on hold"?
  • Why are some questions marked as duplicate?
  • What if I disagree with the closure of a question? How can I reopen it?
  • Why do I see a message that my question does not meet quality standards?
  • Why and how are some questions deleted?
  • Why are questions no longer being accepted from my account?

Below a suggestion for the 'What about open problems' part of What topics can I ask about here, ie presently the old FAQs. It is based on various contributions and input for details see What should be the policy on "open problems" on MO? Main goals were to sharpen what is meant with 'open problem' also the descirption of the usage of the open-problem tag was modified with the dual goal of simplfying it and making it closer to the usage that happens in practise.

What about open problems?

It depends on what is meant by an open problem: here, we mean a problem which is well-known to be unsolved and very hard. Questions for which you simply do not know the answer are not the issue, as those are the norm on MathOverflow.

On the one hand, a question which simply states a famous open problem will often not be well received. If you mainly want to record some open problem, this site is not the appropriate place: you may do so at the Open Problem Garden, for example.

On the other hand, questions that touch upon a well-known open problem are certainly welcome, as long as they follow the general guidelines for asking on MathOverflow [[comment: perhaps place a link here to the guidelines, or a 'see above' or whatever seems practical in the actual final layout]]. Nevertheless, when asking about an open problem, you should mention that it is known to be unsolved. In this case, please use the tag, in addition to other appropriate tags.

Most importantly, please remember that MathOverflow is a question and answer site: the prototypical question is posed under the assumption that some other user will be able to answer it. This principle also applies to questions about open problems. For example, the community will usually welcome inquiries on partial progress, results in special cases, etc.

What if my question turns out to be a well-known open problem?

If you ask a question which is widely known to be unsolved, someone will typically point that out and provide references to the relevant literature. In most such cases, this is the best answer one can expect. At this time, you can add the tag to your question. If you then have more detailed follow-up questions, feel free to ask them in new posts.


Two small things I noticed on "on-topic": The link How to ask a good MathOverflow question seems to be broken. Also, in the subtopic "MathOverflow is not a discussion forum" the word discussion is mis-spelled:...Stack Exchange software is bad for disscusions ...

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Both issues finally fixed, thanks! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 28, 2013 at 2:36

Under On Topic:

If you're just really interested in how the underlying Stack Exchange software works, consider visiting meta.stackoverflow or meta.stackexchange.

This may change in ahem six to eight weeks, but for now MSE merely redirects to MSO, so listing the two separately seems wrong.

How do I get/use an OpenID?

If you already have a Google or Yahoo account, then you already have an OpenID. Just click the login link at the top of the page and click the Google (resp. Yahoo) button. You'll be asked for your Google (resp. Yahoo) username and password (this information is never sent to MathOverflow) then you'll be returned to MathOverflow.

If you don't have a Google or Yahoo account (or don't want to use it), you can sign up for an OpenID with myOpenID. After you sign up, you can enter your OpenID at the login screen (your OpenID will look something like http://username.myopenid.com)

Three problems with this:

  1. I've never before seen this use of resp., and am not sure what it means. Respective?
  2. This is out-of-date, as it doesn't mention that you can now sign in with Stack Exchange directly, not using a third-party login.
  3. This information is duplicated on the Create Account page.

10Make community wiki posts 15Vote up 15Flag offensive (What are spam/offensive flags?) 15Post more than one link 15Post images 50Leave comments 100Vote down (costs 1 rep) 100Edit community wiki posts 100Post more than one question per 20 minutes 100Post more than one answer per 2 minutes 100Add a bounty to one of your questions 200Reduced advertising (by a factor of 2) 250Vote to close or reopen your questions 250Create new tags 500Retag questions 2000Edit other people's posts 3000Vote to close or reopen any questions 10000Delete closed questions 10000Access to moderation tools

This formatting is completely broken. Also, I'm pretty sure this information is duplicated elsewhere.

When you make a post, you have the option of making it "community wiki" by checking a box at the bottom right of the input field.

Do you? I thought that existed only for answers these days.

Slice off a bit of your own hard-earned reputation -- anywhere from 50 to 500 -- and attach it to the question as a bounty.

Other places in the help centre use dashes. Here, you use double hyphens instead.

MathOverflow LaTeX support is , a method of including mathematics in web pages using javascript.

What's that comma doing there? Get rid of it. Also, the MathJax example following looks a bit broken to my eyes, but I could be wrong.

Just be really awesome at asking and answering math questions. Supposing you've done that, you can have a look at the Tips and Tricks page.

This line contains two broken links.

MathOverflow runs on Stack Exchange, the hosted service that provides the same software as the popular programming Q&A site Stack Overflow.

Is the term hosted service still accurate?

Under Behaviour

If a large percentage of your posts include a mention of your product or website, you're probably here for the wrong reasons. Our advertising rates are quite reasonable; contact our ad sales team for details. We also offer free community promotion ads for open source projects and non-profit organizations.

I thought MO had special agreements about advertising, which might mean this boilerplate text should be modified.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the useful additions! It might be still more useful would you not also reproduced those things already mentioned (in my answer, for example). Or at least indicated it, where you are more detailed. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, @quid, for duplicating things you'd already said. I wasn't really paying enough attention, probably. $\endgroup$
    – TRiG
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 15:32

List of moderators on help/on-topic page needs to be updated. It might be better to remove the list from there and replace it with a link to https://mathoverflow.net/users?tab=moderators

  • $\begingroup$ Part removed since there are better places for that. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 2:26

I don't know what things you can or can't edit, but ideally there should be a couple of lines about the scope of the site and the relationship with MSE right near the top of https://mathoverflow.net/help. I suggest:

This site is for questions about research level mathematics, of the kind that you might encounter when writing or reading a PhD thesis, research paper or graduate level book. For other kinds of questions about mathematics, please use math.stackexchange.com instead.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I would prefer it to be "advanced graduate level book", since otherwise people might think asking about the exercises of any graduate level course would be on topic (and there are certainly graduate level courses whose exercises are way below the usual level of MO). $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 8:11

You must log in to answer this question.

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