Until a few years ago MathOverflow front page had a short section at the top describing what the site is for. I am not sure when it disappeared or why but I would like to see it restored. Currently new users have no idea what kind of questions are appropriate here. One has to dig through Help center to find this info. This is not user friendly and most people would not know to look there. Adding a short "About MathOverflow" section to the front page should cut down on off-topic questions (calculus homework etc).

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    $\begingroup$ I will just mention that any new user is shown a customized window with some advice before asking the first question on MO - the customization was done in June 2021: What should the modal window for first-time askers say? (Of course that's a bit different from your suggestion.) I will also add that maybe (new-users) could be a suitable tag here. (It seems that the intention of this suggestion is partly to inform new users about the site.) $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ thank you for the comment. I didn't know about the the modal window. This does help but I still think an "About MathOverflow" section would be helpful as it would quickly let people know if they are in the right place without starting an actual submission. I also added the new-users tag as you suggested. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ Checking how the site looked in the past, I have trouble determining what exactly is the thing which existed in the past and doesn't exist now. Of course, it is possible that the reason is that from the Wayback Machine only shows me what the site looks like for an unregistered users. I checked some older snapshots: 2010, 2011, 2012 and ... $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 3:31
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    $\begingroup$ ... and 2013 - I see a banner on the right saying: "Welcome to MathOverflow - A place for mathematicians to ask and answer questions." The same one which is shown in this answer: Why is “MathOverflow” spelled without a space when “Stack Overflow” is spelled with a space? Then in 2013 MO joined the SE network. So it looks a bit different in 2013 or ... $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 3:34
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    $\begingroup$ ... in 2017. For unregistered users it says: "MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians." (I think that's the same as now.) There were some design changes in 2018, so the site looked a bit differently after that: 2019, 2020. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 3:39
  • $\begingroup$ If you mean the content which was available under mathoverflow.net/about, that is now called Tour. (Sorry for several comments - the fact that I wanted to include the links to Wayback Machine made this text a bit longer and it did not fit one or two comments.) $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 3:43
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    $\begingroup$ I will confess I don't remember what exactly it said but there was something. Regardless, my main point is that there absolutely should be such a section telling new visitors what the site is about. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 4:07
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps this post from 2015 is also worth mentioning: Why is "what is the difference between mathoverflow and math.stackexchange?" not prominently displayed? (It is not exactly the same as this suggestion, but definitely related.) $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ I have posted this suggestion: Might featuring some FAQ posts on meta be useful? I don't expect a lot of response there - but maybe it might direct a bit more attention to your post. I have mentioned some sites which have customized information in the banner in the sidebar here: Which elements of the frontpage can be customized per site? (If you consider that useful, feel free to include examples of such sites into your feature request.) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 9:07

2 Answers 2


To add an alternative suggestion to Tim Campion's answer: Maybe it would be good to have a banner in the sidebar - similar as on Law Stack Exchange or Medical Sciences Stack Exchange. (And also on some other sites - see here: Which elements of the frontpage can be customized per site?)

The fact that some sites have such banners suggests that this is technically possible. (Probably the moderators would have to check with some of the community moderators or some other Stack Exchange staff whether this would be a feasible option also here.)

And, of course, there is a separate question: what would be a suitable wording for MathOverflow. But deciding the wording would probably be better as a separate discussion (a separate question here on meta) - let us consider this mainly as a "poll" whether going in this direction would be viewed as a good option by the MathOverflow community.

To clarify a bit better what I mean, I will include a screenshot from Law Stack Exchange:

screenshot with the banner

And also from Medical Sciences:

screenshot shown the banner in the sidebar

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. This certainly shows that something like this is possible technically. And I agree, the exact wording is a separate issue. Something like what shows in the banner that unregistered users see would be fine. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 22:27
  • $\begingroup$ @VitaliKapovitch As far as the wording goes, my guess is that some [modified and shortened version of the wording from the modal window](What should the modal window for first-time askers say?) could be reasonable. But that's an issue which only becomes relevant if MathOverflow decides to use this option. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 10:46
  • $\begingroup$ @VitaliKapovitch I have now posted this for a separate discussion here: Should there be a banner on with some basic info about MO in the right sidebar? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 24 at 12:23

When I log on in private browsing, here's what I see (after I've accepted cookies):

MO Front Page

Is the suggestion to try customizing the black banner at the top?

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    $\begingroup$ I think that this is only displayed to unregistered users - so I am not sure whether this would be that useful. (Even if this is customized, there would be no additional information for users who have an account on MO.) I have asked also on Meta Stack Exchange - we'll see whether we got some kind of confirmation that only the unregistered users see this: Is there a "top banner" also for new users or low-rep users? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2022 at 5:32
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak yes, as a registered user I never see such banners on any Stack Exchange sites. I've landed on quite a few where it was far from clear what the site is about. So this is an issue across Stack Exchange overall but I am primarily concerned with MathOverflow. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ @VitaliKapovitch Thanks to the post linked in the previous comment, I have learned about these posts: Why was the welcome banner removed? and Can we continue to show the "Take a tour" banner after a user has created an account? The latter is a feature request suggesting to show this banner to (some) registered users (on all sites). It was posted in 2014, so it seems unlikely that it gets implemented. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 30, 2022 at 17:01

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