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A recent discussion about customizing the "Draft your question" panel reminded me of an older one here: Feature request: add short "about MathOverflow" section to the front page. In an answer to that question, I mentioned that it is possible to have a short banner about the site in the right sidebar.

At least we can definitely say for sure that this was customized on several sites, a few are listed here: Which elements of the frontpage can be customized per site?. So this is something which is technically possible.

As an illustration, I will include the screenshots from Law Stack Exchange or Medical Sciences Stack Exchange. You can also find the discussions which led to adding the banner on Mi Yodeya and on Christianity Stack Exchange.

So I wanted to ask:

  • Do you think that it could be useful to a have similar banner on this site - with a brief explanation what MathOverflow is and that it isn't a site for all mathematical questions?
  • If you think something like this should be added, what wording would you suggest for this banner?

I am aware that probably will not help too much, things like this are easy to ignore. After all, new users are already shown various recommendations before asking the first question.

But since Thomas Kojar brought somewhat related suggestion not too long ago about including some text next to the edit window, perhaps discussing this at the same time is reasonable - after all, the purpose of both suggestions is similar, to some extent.


Here is a screenshot from Law Stack Exchange:

screenshot with the banner

And also from Medical Sciences:

screenshot shown the banner in the sidebar

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Here is one possible suggestion what the text in the banner could look like - it is based on the first bullet point from the text displayed to the first-time askers.

MathOverflow is a site for questions about research-level mathematics. Use other sites for general mathematical questions.

We should probably keep the text relatively short - it takes space in the right sidebar, other things are displayed there too. Moreover, the other bullet points from the modal window are relevant only for somebody who is actually posting a question here - this short text could at least provide a link to the part of the help center explaining what is on topic here.

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    $\begingroup$ I would even add "... about research-level mathematics for professional mathematicians." (Even if it is not strictly the case, we should still add it to discourage poor quality questions.) $\endgroup$
    – PatrickR
    Jan 28 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ @PatrickR A risk with adding such a note is that it could discourage PhD students from asking questions (and those are often good!). It could also discourage amateur mathematicians. $\endgroup$ Jan 29 at 3:46

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