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    • CommentAuthorAndrea
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2010

    I have recently (yesterday) launched a new mathematical site called MathOnline. Here one can collect lecture notes, survey articles, books and so on. All the material can be organized and searched by author, topic, language, level and so on.

    Registered users can add new books, add tags, write reviews, vote, keep a list of the favorite books and see other people's profiles. The level is usually from university mathematics on, even if it is possible to add elementary resources.

    The site is just born, and every contribution is appreciated. You can simply use it to to find material, or better you can register and contribute, or advertise it with your colleagues and interested people. More features will be added on the way, and every advice is welcome!

    My question here is the following: is there an opportunity to advertise it (if you like the idea and the realization) in some way on MO or here in meta? Of course, as with every site with user-generated content, the more public exposure it gets, the more opportunity it has to become a repository of useful material.


    Looks great! I just put up a post about you at the Secret Blogging Seminar.

    • CommentAuthorAndrea
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2010

    Thank you very much for the advertising, but I should tell you that Andrea is actually a male name here in Italy! :-)


    Fixed, sorry!


    Too bad, we lost another female user! (Seriously, I just looked at the first 5 pages and could not find any female name. At some point the MO community may have to address this staggering imbalance).

    Andrea: this looks great (this morning I saw it briefly). I am trying to open it now, but seems the server is down, may be because of David's advertisement?

    • CommentAuthorAndrea
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2010

    I don't know, it is working for me.


    By the way, may I suggest you rephrase the part of the FAQ where it says "Can I link material protected by copyright?" Almost everything you are linking to is protected by copyright in the sense that the authors retain the copyright, and it would be illegal to republish it or incorporate wholesale into another work. This is simply material that the copyright holders have chosen to distribute freely to interested readers. I think you mean "Can I link to material which has been distributed without the copyright holders permission?"

    I like the idea very much! It is really surprising, how many great lecture notes or expository paper there are, and how little-known and hard to find they are. Hopefully this will change soon!
    I have two small remarks: This might be due to my browser (Opera), or due to the small size of my screen, but the font you use for "Latest additions", "Most popular", etc. is a little bit hard to read because it's so thin. And it would be very nice if I would not have to select a date of birth in the user profile.
    • CommentAuthorAndrea
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2010

    @David: Your suggestion is good, I will change the FAQ. I will only able to make modifications to the site on next week, though.

    @Jonas: What operating system are using? I use a different font in Windows, since there are known problems with the cleartype technology and the rendering of fonts in many browsers. As for the users profile: yes, this is one of the things I plan to change, but again, I will be able to work on the site only on next week.

    Thank you very much for your suggestions!

    I am using Windows XP, and the font is much better now. Thanks!
    Now it's time to add some stuff.
    • CommentAuthorRegenbogen
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2010

    The site is great. I had been thinking of a similar idea(but not this one) for over an year. Great work.

    As of now, it is a subdomain of ... Would it be possible to have a full domain for itself?

    • CommentAuthorKevin Lin
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2010

    Unfortunately the domain names and and are taken...

    • CommentAuthorRegenbogen
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2010

    Yes, but some other one? Some italian word, perhaps?

    Awesome site!
    How about browse by author? Rating for them too, as there are for books?
    Also, you might want the front page to already show latest additions. It's cooler and puts the user right into things (like mathoverflow or even amazon).
    Show rating of book even before you click to see details, and if there are reviews maybe write "2 reviews".
    Maybe it's just me, but the V sign for "more details" seems odd. In fact, I would make the book title clickable and link to the details.
    "Your profile" might be better off near the "logout". I mean, they should be near each other, maybe move logout underneath "your profile".
    Need a way to edit, I just added lecture notes by Milne, but used "J.S. Milne" instead of "James S. Milne", so the site doesn't group it with other books.
    Can it have a suggestive thing, where if I write "J.S. Milne" it recognizes "Milne" and asks me if I mean "James S. Milne"?

    Looking forward to finding everything math I need on this site from now. Will tell friends. Thanks!

    How hard would it be to add openid support? I imagine it's far from trivial, or meta.MO would have it for sure. But having seen how well it works on MO, I am beginning to miss it everywhere.


    Hey, I added some lecture notes, but I forgot to add topics. Is there any way you could give us the ability to edit entries once they've been made? If not, the two sets of lecture notes I put up by Mel Hochster need to be labeled "Commutative Algebra". I have no way of fixing this, unfortunately.

    • CommentAuthorRegenbogen
    • CommentTimeApr 16th 2010 edited

    It would be hard to program everything from the scratch and include openid. Perhaps some content management system like Drupal or Joomla might have built-in support for openid and if so that would be the simpler way.

    Edit: I just checked and found that both joomla and drupal have openid support. So for sites designed using these, everything should be easy enough.

    I just wanted to pass along my approval and enthusiasm for this new site: it will definitely be useful.

    I see that someone has linked my notes on commutative algebra. This is good motivation for me to start working on them again: they are as yet riddled with incompleteness, so to speak.
    • CommentAuthorAndrea
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2010

    Well, a lot of question, so let me answer in order.

    @domain: I stupidly thought about the name and designed the logo before I checked for available domains. I'd need a new name and logo to change. If anyone is willing to provide suggestions for a name, I may try to change the logo (but any help with that would be appreciated too).

    @editing books: I'm all for that, but what is a good way to prevent vandalism? Maybe I should just relax and do it the wikipedia way. I was thinking about a button to contact moderators to suggest problems with the book (wrong info, outdated link, irrelevant material, spam and so on) but maybe this will not be feasible if the site grows larger. Even more considering that for now I'm the only moderator (but I'm more than happy to give moderation powers to interested users with high MO reputation, as soon as I design easier tools for editing books).

    @openid: I don't know if that is easy or difficult, I will investigate. In any case, the site is programmed from scratch in CakePHP and Jamal/Jquery, and I'm not willing to port it to a CMS; that would be far more work than adding the openid.

    @the v sign is bad: I already received a similar suggestion, so it will probably change into a lens. And yes, I may let the title be clickable too.

    @autosuggestion: It already is there. If you just start typing "miln" you will be prompted with the full name. I @better interface: I agree that I may show the rating and the number of reviews on the front page. I was also thinking at a voting system on reviews, much like on MO, in order to show the highest rated review on top. I am less convinced about moving the logout button away from the top. If other users have some opinion on this, please tell me.

    I hope I will be able to implement all this stuff next week. I knew there where a lot of things to fix, but I thought it would be better to launch the site and hear people suggestions rather than making it perfect for me before actually having any content.


    Oh, by the way, I can't add reviews at the moment.

    • CommentAuthorAndrea
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2010 edited

    What do you mean exactly? Do you get to the page where you can write and the review does not get added, or you are not able to get to the review page at all?

    EDIT: I tried to add a review and it worked for me, but I get redirected to the wrong page (so I guess it works just because I'm admin). This is strange, as everything is working well in my local install. I'm really sorry that such a bug made it to the final version, and I'm fixing it as soon as possible.

    EDIT2: I'm now starting to understand. It seems the people at my hosting service made a mess with the filesystem and did not recover everything correctly. I'm not even able to access the relevant files via FTP! I have to reinstall it to fix this, and I'm doing it as soon as possible, probably monday.


    The error that I got was the same error that you get for trying to add a book without being registered, by the way.


    I don't know the difference between cakePHP and ordinary PHP, but there are PHP libraries for openid support: which may be of some use (if you do take a look at them, please let me know how easy it is to do - I'd like to get openid working for the nForum (which would then work here as well)).

    • CommentAuthorAndrea
    • CommentTimeApr 17th 2010 edited

    I will check for openid support, I don't think it is really difficult. I may use a more specific liibrary for CakePHP, though. anyway, I can try to help you for the nForum.


    Oh, by the way, why do you have a bunch of pictures of books that we're not allowed to post on the front page? Shouldn't it instead be 100-page stacks of pages with a large number of staples going down the left side creating a faux-spine?

    • CommentAuthorAndrea
    • CommentTimeApr 18th 2010

    If you have any better image, please send it to me. I'm not really happy with the front page image, but I had no idea how to do one which would better convey the idea of the site. Yours seems nice

    • CommentAuthorHarry Gindi
    • CommentTimeApr 18th 2010 edited

    MathOnline - "Because nobody will know if you abuse your department's printer." =)

    I don't have a camera either, which is unfortunate because I have probably two thousand printed pages from books and notes that I may one day read =D.


    Re: openid --- I'd love to have openid here at meta too. Andrea and Andrew: keep me posted if anything happens, or if I can help in any way.

    • CommentAuthorAndrea
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2010

    I have implemented most of the changes requested (not openid yet) but I have some trouble uploading them because of some problems with my hosting service (something happened to the filesystem and the permission went all wrong). I think I will wait to have openid and try to upload all together.

    • CommentAuthorAndrea
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2010

    I'm implementing OpenId, but I need some feedback. In theory OpenId is able to give some information, like a nickname or an email (and other which I don't need). In practice, though, most providers do not send this information.

    Now, if I want to merge the existing user system with OpenId, I need a username and an email. The email may be set to a default and changed later, but at least users need a username to be identified. Moreover one cannot modify the username, since it is THE identifier for the standard login system, as opposed to the OpenId account. Note that MO does not have these problems because it uses ONLY OpenId.

    My solution would be to ask for these details on the first login with OpenId, but is this really more convenient than registering a new user altogether? What is your opinion on how should I implement this?

    • CommentAuthorHarry Gindi
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2010 edited

    Oh, by the way, is there any chance you could enable commenting on submissions, flagging for duplicates, and a vote count next to the rating that is currently there?


    Re OpenId. My idea was that openid would be used solely for logging in to an existing account. That seemed the simplest to code and it didn't seem too much extra hassle for users. So the workflow would go like this:

    1. New user creates a standard account.
    2. User associates that account with an OpenID (Program tries to authenticate that OpenID, if authentication is successful, association is made).
    3. User can repeat step 2 for as many OpenIDs as they like.
    4. User can now log in either with username/password or via OpenID.

    So I wouldn't rely on OpenID for supplying any information in the account creation process. I figure that a user who wants to use the site would be prepared to fill in basic information like that.


    Are the page and "next" buttons not working for anyone else when looking at specific subjects?

    Also, my confirmation e-mail was caught by my spam filter. If it can happen to me it can happen to others so maybe the confirmation e-mail should be modified to help prevent this.

    • CommentAuthorUnknown G.
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2010
    @Qiaochu Yuan: This happened to me too! Now I finally know where did the confirmation e-mail go... Oh, and I'm using gmail, so wouldn't that mean that anyone with gmail will have this problem?
    • CommentAuthorAndrea
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2010

    Thank you all for your comments. I have fixed some things and implemented some new features, but I have problems uploading them online, since I need some information which I have on my laptop, which in turn is... well, a volcanic cloud away from me :-)

    As for the mail resulting as spam, this is very unfortunate. I did not have this problem, and I have a Gmail account, but I will investigate. I do not know how to persuade the Gmail people that what I'm sending is not spam, though. :-(


    It might be because it's from a .it address coming to the US?

    • CommentAuthorMariano
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2010

    @Andrea: be sure to have your messages have the evil bit turned off, of course! :)


    Oh, by the way, voting 5 stars now automatically sends 4 for some reason, and voting 1 does nothing.

    • CommentAuthorAndrea
    • CommentTimeApr 24th 2010 edited

    I have made an upgrade, following some of the suggestion given here and in other places. There is still a lot of work to do, but I have improved some things. In particular you can now login through OpenId. Among the things I did not implement yet is the star rating on the front page and probably something else suggested here.

    I also added a button to report issues with a book (incorrect data, broken links and so on), and these reports go to moderators, which can then edit the book.

    For now I am the only moderator, but I'd be willing to give moderation powers to other users. In particular to any high reputation (>= me) user of MathOverflow, so please contact me if you are interested. Otherwise I think I will just browse the list of subscribed users and look for known names :-)

    Ah, and please let me know if any of the bugs mentioned is still present.

    • CommentAuthorAndrea
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2010

    Ah, I almost forgot. @Andrew Stacey: If you want, I can try to help with OpenId for the nForum. I actually used a library specific for CakePHP, but I can share the few things I know. Turns out the major problem was not implementing OpenId per se, but integrating that with the existing user system (and I'm not sure I got it right, I may change something later).

    Why is there discussion here instead of on the actual forum?

    (I don't know the answer to Gerald's question, but I certainly don't mind it happening here.)


    @geraldedgar: It's not really a question, so it doesn't fit the MO framework very well, but I take your point that it's worth posting in front of more eyeballs. I've added as an answer to the question about math resources on the web.

    See also this answer by Andrea.

    Let me rephrase my question. Why is there discussion (in addition to a simple announcement) of MathOnLine here instead of on MathOnLine itself?

    Mathonline doesn't have a message board, and everyone who visits there is from here. I mean, one might argue that this is meta.MO, but this topic isn't hurting anyone, so I can't see why we shouldn't just discuss it here.

    • CommentAuthorAndrea
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010

    I thought a single thread here wouldn't hurt. I have long thought whether to write a message board for MathOnline, but I guess there would be not enough activity. If people here think I'm wrong and that would be useful, I could add one.

    • CommentAuthorMariano
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010

    I would love to have only one message board to check....


    As the host (i.e., it runs on my server) of, let me formally invite mathonline to carry on whatever conversations they please at If at some point this becomes a problem, we can talk about rearranging things, but for now if it's the most convenient I don't think we're going to harm mathoverflow by a little extra traffic on the meta site.

    • CommentAuthorAndrea
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010

    Thank you very much :-)


    Hi Andrea,

    I'm having trouble with your OpenID implementation. (This is likely because I use OpenID delegation.) My OpenID is (The header of that page redirects OpenID agents to When I type, I get redirected to a my google apps login page (not appropriate, not even sure how it ends up there). When I type, I get to a blank page, still at your domain. Any ideas? Yesterday I managed to login using