I read in Terence Tao's blog about the 2022 ICM satellite coordination group. As the ICM is now online,

the IMU encourages grassroots efforts to supplement the core program with additional satellite activities, both “traditional” and “non-traditional”.

Questions: I was wondering if MathOverflow would be an interesting “non-traditional” location to foster math exchange during the conference week?

I imagine, one could organize an event with certain time slots, during which people are encouraged to write their research questions on MathOverflow and respectively try to answer other people's questions. Maybe in conjunction with a chat/discussion platform for side questions and a video introducing how MathOverflow works. The underlying idea is that those discussions will remain online after the event and it is not yet-another-conference-wiki.

Since I am not an active member here, I wanted to ask you for feedback on the idea.


One could perhaps propose this idea at https://meta.mathoverflow.net/ to gauge feedback from the user community there. My guess though is that the mathoverflow format is best optimized for question/answer posts where there is a single well defined question that can be answered definitively by a single answer, with only a limited amount of back-and-forth conversation. The unofficial ICM Discord server that is already set up at https://discord.gg/T72dTkfSzF might be able to host this sort of discussion more effectively, however.

  • Even though I don't post much on MathOverflow myself, I know friends who often find great help here and it seems that getting more mathematicians on board would be a desirable goal for the platform. As such, a well-organized satellite event could be a great advertisement.
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    $\begingroup$ I guess a key question is what could an event do to make asking / answering questions on MO at that particular time more appealing than doing so at a usual time, and also more appealing than asking / answering questions on the unofficial ICM discord server? $\endgroup$
    – Will Sawin
    Mar 19, 2022 at 13:48
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    $\begingroup$ Spelling note: despite "Terry", Tao's first name is "Terence", not "Terrence". I have edited accordingly. $\endgroup$
    – LSpice
    Mar 19, 2022 at 15:46
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    $\begingroup$ One point which occurs to me is that in some sense anything taking place on MO would have a "more public record" than anything taking place on Discord -- I don't think Discord servers are generally indexed by search engines? $\endgroup$
    – Tim Campion Mod
    Mar 20, 2022 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ I will note that we are in the process of trying to set up a virtual ICM satellite event for short communications: terrytao.wordpress.com/2022/03/20/… . Right now we were envisioning hosting this on a yet-another-conference-wiki and did not see an obvious synergy with MathOverflow, but perhaps there is a creative way to involve MO in some way; am definitely open to hearing suggestions. $\endgroup$
    – Terry Tao
    Mar 20, 2022 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ @TimCampion There has been some tentative plans to migrate the Discord discussion after the ICM to another platform which has some public search facility (probably after giving participants of that discussion ample opportunity to remove any comments that they do not want in the public record), and possibly even to continue the section-specific chats. Though this is all premature as we don't really know how active the section-specific Discord channels will be. $\endgroup$
    – Terry Tao
    Mar 20, 2022 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ Independent of any ICM activities, I've been told by some MathOverflow-shy colleagues that a public time-localized event focused on MO would encourage them to participate. Such an idea answers two semi-rational fears: (a) their question would appear trivial to experts and scoffed at, (b) nobody will notice it, leaving it forever unanswered in the MO archives. A call to people to both ask and answer questions in a specific time period would (a) mask a (potentially) lower quality post among many new ones and (b) increase the chance for the right expert see it at the right time. $\endgroup$ Mar 29, 2022 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ Personally, I don't agree that such fears are fully rational. But, from my interactions with colleagues, they certainly exist and are subjectively real in people's minds. $\endgroup$ Mar 29, 2022 at 19:07


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