We had an old thread about this at tea.mathoverflow.net but this is not the most obvious place for that. Where should we keep track of cool success stories like this recent gold nugget?

Update: The Best of MathOverflow is now active!

  • $\begingroup$ How about an SE blog? See for example this page:cstheory.blogoverflow.com/… $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Jul 28, 2013 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: How is the page maintained? $\endgroup$ Jul 28, 2013 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ I deleted some comments that are obsolete as I posted an answer in the end. The blogs are I think maintained by some people that maintain it (okay this is a bit a void formulation what I mean is, it is not necessarily moderators only so everybody who wants to could volunteer). $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Jul 28, 2013 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ The original question is on the main site. This is a wordpress blog page, I think it can be edited only by blog editors (or at least requires their approval). It is updated from time to time based on the original question. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Jul 28, 2013 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @Kaveh. How far do you think this kind of strategy can scale? (The reporting rate for success stories is currently very very low, we're hoping that will improve with a better solution.) $\endgroup$ Jul 28, 2013 at 18:00
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    $\begingroup$ What is the intended purpose of such 'success stories' list? -- Is it mainly for our own bookkeeping, should it make MO more attractive for its visitors and potential future users, or should it help with fundraising for the site -- or what combination of these or what else? $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Jul 28, 2013 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl: Does it have to be limited to specific things? $\endgroup$ Jul 28, 2013 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ @FrançoisG.Dorais: I'd say this is not the right question. -- I just think that if one plans something which may well be nonnegligible work, it is usually good first to think about what purpose(s) the outcome should mainly serve. $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Jul 28, 2013 at 22:44
  • $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl: It's for all of these things. $\endgroup$ Jul 29, 2013 at 1:10
  • $\begingroup$ Related: mathoverflow.net/questions/88563/… (it should probably be migrated to meta now that we are on 2.0). $\endgroup$ Jul 29, 2013 at 2:43
  • $\begingroup$ @JoelDavidHamkins, there is a time limit for migration and we can't migrate this one anymore. $\endgroup$ Jul 29, 2013 at 6:20
  • $\begingroup$ Parhaps we could then finally close that question mentioned by @JoelDavidHamkins as even he seems to agree now it should not be on main anymore. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Jul 29, 2013 at 7:50
  • $\begingroup$ @JoelDavidHamkins: I put a historical lock on your old question. Ideally, the two answers should be migrated by their authors so we will leave it like that for a bit. $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2013 at 15:37
  • $\begingroup$ @FrançoisG.Dorais, it is fine with me if you just delete that old question (I was merely an editor, not the original OP), since it wasn't ever fully used in the intended manner. Let's try to do it right this time. Is your preferred idea to have just one question? I suppose that could work... $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2013 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ @JoelDavidHamkins: I will delete it after the two answers have been moved to meta. Regarding the two questions, I think there are more options for MO in the news so I'm waiting to see how this one works out before starting the other one. $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2013 at 15:47

2 Answers 2


It seems that there are different kinds of success stories, with different audiences; and we might want to keep them separated. On the one hand, for example, we have mentions of MO in the news or mass media; on the other hand, we have instances of MO-inspired research publications, meaning publications or research achievements that arise principally from an exchange on MO.

These seem to be success stories that are different in character and have different audiences. For example, the mentions of MO in the mass media are generally quite accessible to a wide audience, and could be interesting even for non-mathematicians who are trying to understand what MathOverflow is all about. Accounts of the MO-inspired publications, in contrast, would typically be about a specific piece of mathematics, with a more technical nature.

One way to do it, which seems to be fairly low-maintenance, would simply be to have two questions on meta:

  1. MathOverflow in the news.

  2. MathOverflow-inspired research publications and achievements.

People could post one instance of each type of announcement per entry, and the question would periodically pop to the top of meta, when a new mention was made. A broad interpretation of these two categories would catch most of the announcements we might want to make, and I think it would work well.

  • $\begingroup$ What do we do about the info from the old site? Leave it there or move it over? $\endgroup$ Jul 29, 2013 at 3:23
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    $\begingroup$ I suppose it is easy enough simply to regenerate the instances from the old lists that we want to keep. It seems best to keep the information all in one place (well, two places, as I propose in my answer), and seeding these two questions with answers from the old lists will have the side benefit of loweering people's inhibitions about contributing new entries. $\endgroup$ Jul 29, 2013 at 3:25
  • $\begingroup$ A problem with this approach was (and likely will be though it might be better) that people tend to submit almost "naked links" instead of a meaningful short post. Sure, we can continue like we did, and likely will have to, if noone is willing to do something related to this, but I understood the question as asking for a better way than a meta-thread; oh, now it's two meta threads ;-) $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Jul 29, 2013 at 8:24
  • $\begingroup$ I would view a meta post as being rather different from what we had before on meta, since that meta list contained a lot of discussion mixed in, and we now have the comment system, etc. I think we will be able to set the style and expectations with the first few seeding posts, and the voting mechanism will encourage people to do a good job. $\endgroup$ Jul 29, 2013 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ As usual you are a lot more optimistic than me. Well, we might see. Let us hope you are right. But, frankly, I doubt it. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Jul 29, 2013 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ I just started Best of MathOverflow. (Still needs to be seeded with stories from tea.) I'm waiting to see what happens before starting the other one. $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2013 at 15:10

Where we should keep track of the stories also depends a bit on whether anybody is willing to invest some time in maintaining this.

What are the possibilities in principle:

  1. On meta. The issue with meta, and I think most agree here and in anycase François G. Dorais recently said so himself, is that first it is not very visible and second if this is not only for internal book-keeping but also for showing to somebody possibly external to MO than meta is perhaps not the best place to direct them (with all its debates and so on). The advantage is it essentiall maintains itself. (This goes both for old and new meta.)

  2. On main. This was tried once or twice, there is however some opposition against this as it is somehow off-topic and with the new meta, most arguments (tex, less discursive,...) in favor of having it on main over meta seem obsolete.

  3. On the blog attached to the site. MO could have a blog hosted by SE (like some sites have) and there this could be "reported" possibly also other things. This might be an alright option if someone or a couple of people volunteer to do this. (As far as I understand, essentially everybody can get writing rights, but one does not have them automatically.) It might not be very visible though, and the format is a bit limited.

  4. Elsewhere. If none of the above, then likely one will need a dedicated site for it, since to host it just one some page might seem a bit confusing. Since MathOverflow exists as an entity it might be reasonable (even independent of this) that it has its own webpage; of course the main (only?) activity of MO is a webpage, still there might be some things to present or to say, which do not fit completely on mathoverflow.net (how is mO organized, its history, its successes and everything else that comes to mind). Of course, there would need to be somebody to maintain this site.

So, in my opinion, the first question to ask is if anybody is willing to invest time in this. If not, the only option is anyway to continue in a self-maintaining way on meta.


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