Just saw the PROSUS acquisition news of StackOverflow. Does it have any effect on MathOverflow? In what way would it help or not help MO? Thanks beforehand.

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    $\begingroup$ I would expect any effect to be a higher order effect, the first order effects being for the paid offerings of StackOverflow, which MO is not. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 4, 2021 at 21:25
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    $\begingroup$ There's a similar question over at meta.SE which probably has better informed answers by former SE employees than anything we can give here. Of course it may effect MO in different ways than the rest of the network, but given our lack of knowledge there's not much we can say that's MO specific (and very little we can say at any level of generality). $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 5, 2021 at 0:25
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    $\begingroup$ I guess the question is: will the arrangement be SE and MO remain unchanged? Are there any unwritten conventions for how MO works as a "special member" of the SE network that might be overridden as a side-effect of the new owners making big decisions around eg monetising content/process/user data, or adding a sign-up to read or post answers? $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Commented Jun 5, 2021 at 0:54
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRoberts: The agreement maintains its legal significance. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 5, 2021 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand. They bought SO, not the whole SE network? Or what? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 5, 2021 at 20:09
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    $\begingroup$ @მამუკაჯიბლაძე The company as a whole is called StackOverflow, even though it should properly refer to SE, not just the one sub-site. It's to do with brand recognition, since that's the original and most popular site. $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Commented Jun 5, 2021 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @FrançoisG.Dorais sure, but I don't think that covers every eventuality. $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Commented Jun 5, 2021 at 21:46
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRoberts I'm pretty sure nothing covers "every eventuality" but is there one eventuality you are concerned about? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 5:06
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    $\begingroup$ I think doing something like free but mandatory sign-up to see more than a limited number of questions is super annoying, and I don't think out of the realm of possibility. Sites like Quora, Pinterest do this, and for instance Reddit on mobile wants people to even install the app and then sign up. Some newspapers for instance want you to make a free account to read them. This seems like the kind of move that is a) site-wide and b) not against the terms of the MO-Stackexchange agreement and c) from what I've seen of mathematicians here, wouldn't be well-received among our users/potential users. $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 5:43
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRoberts Based on what I read here, it seems that adding share=1 to the URL should be enough to see a post on Quora without the need of an account. (I have tried a bit in incognito mode, it seems to be working.) In any case, this is just tangential here - but since Quora was mentioned, I thought this was worth pointing out. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 4:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Martin this is the sort of secret hack that only lessens the friction an epsilon. I had never heard of this trick before, and just stopped relying on Quora. $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 8:40

1 Answer 1


Here is what Joel Spolsky had to say about the effects on Stack Overflow:

Today we’re pleased to announce that Stack Overflow is joining Prosus. Prosus is an investment and holding company, which means that the most important part of this announcement is that Stack Overflow will continue to operate independently, with the exact same team in place that has been operating it, according to the exact same plan and the exact same business practices. Don’t expect to see major changes or awkward “synergies”. The business of Stack Overflow will continue to focus on Reach and Relevance, and Stack Overflow for Teams. The entire company is staying in place: we just have different owners now.

The moderation team and board have discussed the issue. We are on the lookout for any issues that may arise, but haven't spotted any at the moment.

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    $\begingroup$ Of course if there were bad news coming they would not simply announce them. So we should better take this announcement with a grain of salt. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 5, 2021 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ Taking it with a grain of salt seems exactly to be the spirit of "We are on the lookout for any issues that may arise, but haven't spotted any at the mo[me]nt." $\endgroup$
    – LSpice
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ @LSpice I think that first comment was written before I added that part. $\endgroup$
    – Ben Webster Mod
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 16:41

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