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    Every now and then an MO-user stumbles over a piece of mathematics which (s)he finds great and wants to communicate to the MO-community. What is the right way to do this?

    Eventually by cleverly "constructing" a clever question around it?

    Or should one accept the stance that MO is not a place to multiplicate "nice" pieces of mathematics?
    • CommentAuthorYemon Choi
    • CommentTimeMar 15th 2013

    Or should one accept the stance that MO is not a place to multiplicate "nice" pieces of mathematics?

    In my view, EMPHATICALLY yes. Write a blog post, and see what happens. This is not a group blog.

    But no other mathematical forum attracts so many visitors. So "write a blog post" is an advice like "dig a hole".

    Maybe you should take this question more serious (as it is asked): There is probably a stronger tendency to post such a "question" at MO - because there's a lot of audience - than to "dig" it in a blog post.

    Specific advices how to make such a "piece of mathematics" either a) a good MO-question or b) a profitable blog post would be really welcome!

    I don't think MO should be a pure "advertisement space". The reason why MO gets people reading its pages is because people are asking questions they really want to know the answer to. Dilute that and less people will bother with the forum.

    If you have an actual question that you want to know the answer to, and you've done due diligence to ensure there isn't an easy answer available, by all means cook up a good question. Many of Joseph O'Rourke's questions strike me as being kind of like this -- he's interested in what people think about certain famiilies of ideas. He cooks up some juicy examples (usually with excellent graphics) to get people hooked on the problems as well.


    <blockquote> But no other mathematical forum attracts so many visitors. </blockquote>

    Not true at all, I'd guess. I bet more mathematicians glance at the Annals of Mathematics than at MathOverflow. Does it follow that your posting should be pulished in the Annals of Mathematics?


    Not true at all, I'd guess. I bet more mathematicians glance at the Annals of Mathematics than at MathOverflow. Does it follow that your posting should be pulished in the Annals of Mathematics?

    That would be something, l0l.

    It would be great to have a single forum (rather than a huge list of individual blogs) where people can post really neat mathematics that they've stumbled across. (This presupposes that the forum is so well moderated that we can count on "really neat".) But MO is not and, in my opinion, should not be that forum.
    Is this, essentially, twitter/G+/facebook's only mathematical use?
    @Andreas: This wouldn't work.

    To keep the number of posts down to a manageable level (so that you can count on almost everything there being "really neat" rather than having to look for the one post in twenty that you have time to read), the forum would have to be about as selective as Inventiones.

    At that point - well, there already is Inventiones, and mathematicians these days are much better at writing good introductions (because they get much more encouragement to) than they were 30 years ago.
    What I meant by "they've stumbled across" was not that they've discovered themselves but that they found in some obscure paper, or heard about through the grapevine, or something like that --- the sort of thing that you would tell people in the hallway ("Hey, did you know about this ...?"), not that you'd write up for Inventiones.
    Other se forums allow sharing knowledge in q&a form.
    What are the arguments to forbid it here?

    How about a pointer to an example in another SE forum "sharing knowledge"?

    It is written somewhere in there FAQ or like that. If you insist I ll search.
    Ryun, "dilute and less people will bother the forum ".
    How can you know it? There are several hundreds active MO users and many of them have opposite opinions what they want from MO.
    I am not against "dilution".
    • CommentAuthorHenry Cohn
    • CommentTimeMar 17th 2013

    The stackexchange network explicitly allows asking and answering your own question to document an answer you knew before posting the question (see However, I'd be opposed to doing it on MO except in fairly unusual circumstances. In particular, MO should not be for advertising your own results (asking "Can one prove X?" and then answering it "Why, yes, it follows from my latest theorem.") or even for advertising wonderful folklore or results from other people's papers. I agree with Ryan is that the whole reason MO works the way it does is because it involves questions people genuinely want answered. Communicating things you think other people would or should like to know is also important, but very different and suitable for another site.

    I strongly agree with Henry Cohn. I do not want such questions on MO, and in most cases I would vote to close them (and, depending on the circumstances, possibly flag them as spam).
    I understand and sympathise with Alexander Chervov's point of view, but I agree with Henry Cohn.

    In other words, I think such questions would devalue MO for me, and I would vote to close them. I further agree with Andreas Blass- a well-moderated, well-indexed forum of "cool mathematics people have stumbled across" would be wonderful, and a platform similar to Stackexchange, with voting and comments but not discussion, would probably be optimal for it. Parallel with MO, but properly separated from MO- not questions, just lovely fun tidbits.
    I remember the discussion on this feauture on MSE. The consensus was that it is okay to do in cases like: You've answered the tenth question by citing and repeating the same hard to find results. So you write a generic question and answer, so you can link to it in the future. This might be apppropriate on MO, but I'm not sure this situation comes up as often here.

    For the general point: If I go to the theater, I could use the occasion with so many people present to loudly proclaim my political views. But since I do not know the theater audience is interested in them, I don't.
    Agreed with everyone else that this isn't on topic here. Besides Michael Greinecker's example, the other situation where I would say it is OK to promote your own results here is the following: You want to know something, you post a question here on MO, no one answers, you figure it out yourself and write a paper. In that case, I think it you should come back and post a link to the paper as an answer to your question.

    I suppose this could be abused by someone posting every problem they are about to work on and then answering it a year later, but I find that scenario hard to imagine.
    David Speyer's post reminded me that I actually did what he described here :

    I felt a little weird at the time, so I marked the answer community wiki so that I wouldn't get reputation for it. In retrospect, I'm not sure this was necessary.

    Good mathematics begets good questions. If you have a piece of nice mathematics you want to share, then identify a good question which stems from it, and write a MathOverflow post asking that question.