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Sometimes I click on the users accounts on both MSE and Math Overflow sites. I noticed there are many users on MSE, prefer to be anonymous unless on the other site. and noticed there are many mathematician on the Math Overflow. also I realized there are some experts who are avoiding to put their full name on MSE but the same user have full name on the Math Overflow site.

Although I am far from being a a mathematician , I wonder what is the importance of having full name on Math Overflow?

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Professional mathematics is a small community, all things considered, and your name is your brand.

MathOverflow is considered to be (mostly) a helpful tool, and it is a place where you can show that you have good questions and that you're able to provide good answers. Attaching your real name to those is invaluable, since it "promotes your brand" (for the lack of the a better word).

It is also part of the camaraderie and the connection that we share, being mathematicians.


On the other hand, MSE is perceived by some to be a site for homework, and some people prefer to be... less-associated with it. It is also a bigger scale site, involving more outsiders to the community, and sometimes people don't want to put a name that is so immediate and easy to find.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much for answering my question. But I have one more question: what happens if a person choose a fake brand? I mean using a fake name. is there any way for moderators to detect that? $\endgroup$ – Soheil Mar 19 at 1:52
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    $\begingroup$ Impersonation is taken very seriously. Especially on sites like MO (but also on MSE). $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mar 19 at 1:55
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    $\begingroup$ Many people here also know each other in real life, or through other means. If someone starts using the name of a mathematician, they most likely could not imitate their knowledge or writing style, and colleagues of that mathematician can verify privately with them what is going on. $\endgroup$ – theHigherGeometer Mar 19 at 3:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Scheil Particularly if someone were to use the name of another mathematician and then intentionally post wrong / rude / offensive things to make them look bad as part of some kind of vendetta, it would not be too hard to discover. And I can't think of many other reasons you would want to mimic someone else. $\endgroup$ – Will Sawin Mar 23 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ @theHigherGeometer: I see you chose to move backwards on the full name issue? :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mar 23 at 20:19
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    $\begingroup$ @WillSawin I think we have also had a few cases where someone chose the name of one of their mathematical heroes as a pseudonym, meaning it as a tribute, and not thinking through that this was a living human being who might read MO. $\endgroup$ – David E Speyer Mar 25 at 2:19
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidESpeyer "This is not the greatest mathematician in the world, no. This is just a tribute!" $\endgroup$ – Will Sawin Mar 25 at 2:56
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    $\begingroup$ It's not clear to me that good questions or answers necessarily promote one's brand... Rather, so many of the questions on MO have very large backstories, so the credibility of just telling a tiny part of a story depends who the story-teller is, and what the rest of the community knows about them already, possibly outside MO... $\endgroup$ – paul garrett Mar 27 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ Using the name of a real, living mathematician would be impersonation and Very Bad (tm). Using a made-up but real-sounding name would just be a pseudonym and not get noticed or bother many people. Using a historical name like Isaac Newton would be a bit pretentious but if your posts were of high quality people might let it slide. I went for years without an account at all but finally made one in order to be able to post comments. $\endgroup$ – none Mar 27 at 19:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Soheil "are there moderators to detect that?": all the participants here (well, with at least 15 reputation, so basically all registered participants) can flag to moderation. So any name perceived as problematic can be mentioned to moderation. Moderators then decide whether it requires any action. $\endgroup$ – YCor Mar 30 at 6:09
  • $\begingroup$ @YCor Ok, thanks for pointing that out! $\endgroup$ – Soheil Mar 30 at 6:14
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila I'm waiting the (hitherto unknown to me) 30-day cool-down period to switch back. I thought I'd try a pseudonym for a change. $\endgroup$ – theHigherGeometer Mar 31 at 23:21
  • $\begingroup$ @theHigherGeometer: You can always ask the mods to change it back for you. :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mar 31 at 23:33
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila I'm not in a hurry, I can wait. $\endgroup$ – theHigherGeometer Mar 31 at 23:39

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