When a user asks their very first question on a Stack Exchange site, they are shown a modal window with some introductory advice. As explained in the March 2020 announcement of this feature, there is a standard Stack Exchange boilerplate wording for this advice, but the wording can be customized on a per-site basis.
On MathOverflow, we haven't yet gotten around to customizing this modal window, as Martin Sleziak gently reminded us in a meta post a few months ago. Martin's question is thorougly-researched and contains a wealth of information on the matter, including screenshots illustrating what we're talking about, and I refer there, as well as an accompanying discussion in the MathOverflow chatroom for further background. In the discussion on Martin's question, a consensus was quickly reached that that we certainly should customize this modal window. The intention of the current question is to close the loop and settle on the precise wording and formatting of the modal window. Once we have done so, the next step is simply for the mods to tag this question status-review, sending it down the Stack Exchange pipeline.
In an answer to his question, Martin also provided a concrete proposal for what this wording and formatting should be, taking into account the wording of similar modal windows on other sites, the specifics of MathOverflow, and numerous suggestions from the comments. Martin's proposal reads as follows:
To improve the chances of your question getting an answer make sure that it:
- Is about mathematics at graduate or higher level. (Use other sites for general mathematical questions.)
- Includes the necessary background and has an informative title. (See also: How to write a good MathOverflow question?)
- Is properly formatted - use MathJax (TeX-like syntax) for writing mathematics.
Before you post, search the site to make sure your question hasn’t been answered
- Summarize the problem
- Provide details and any research
- When appropriate, describe what you’ve tried
Note 1: As discussed in Martin's answer, the wording in the last 3 bullet points comes from SE and cannot be changed (although the third one can be omitted if needed).
Note 2: There is no hard limit to the length of the modal window, but by its nature it should of course not be too long. Certainly it should be no longer than the one on English Language and Usage, which looks like this, and probably closer to the length of the modal window for Math.SE, which looks like this. For comparison, the current MO boilerplate looks like this.
Question: What should be the wording of the modal window for first-time question askers? Should it be exactly as Martin Sleziak has proposed? Should it be a slight variant of his proposal? Should it be something else altogether?
Some possibilities of changes might include reordering some of the list items, tinkering with key words such as "graduate-level" (which was already changed from "research-level" so as not to clash with the later use of "research" in the non-customizable portion of the text), etc. Suggestions from the comments on Martin's question which didn't make it into his proposal due to controversy or to length limitations include some kind of admonishment against simultaneous cross-posting or some kind of link to Math.SE.