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    Since Mathoverflow seems to work well, what about a separate, student oriented, student run site. I suppose one of the already existing student oriented sites might host it. Maybe the reputation software and real name approach will work there as well.
    • CommentAuthorKevin Lin
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2010

    What do you mean by "student"? Undergraduate student? High school student? Any student?

    A general mathematics StackExchange site has already been proposed:


    See these two Area 51 proposals:

    Perhaps it is worth noting that Math Overflow is already designed for intermediate to advanced PhD students. (It is also designed for post-PhD research mathematicians, but when it comes to asking specific, technical questions, the line between "advanced graduate student" and "post-PhD research mathematician" can be quite blurry.)

    It's a nice idea, and I think that everyone here would be happy to see the Mathematics and Calculus proposals for new Stack Exchange sites succeed. The thing that worries me is drawing an expert audience --- it's unclear whether an echo chamber of confused undergraduates would be very helpful to anyone.

    I'd also note that the 'real name approach' you see on MathOverflow is no accident, or inevitable with the available software. The moderators worked at this pretty hard in the early days, emailing new users as they arrived explaining why using real names was a good idea.

    @Scott: your image of an "echo chamber of confused undergraduates" is evocative but not entirely fair. I don't think the expertise will be a problem: there is at least an order of magnitude more people who are qualified to answer standard undergraduate level questions than those who can answer research level math questions. Certainly when I was an undergraduate, I was well qualified to answer standard undergraduate level math questions (admittedly, I got paid to do this for several hours a week, but I suppose it is still true that I get paid to answer people's math questions and that doesn't stop me from posting here) but would have been out of my depth on a site like this...

    @Pete, you're absolutely right, that there are plenty of people with the required expertise. What I'm not seeing, however, is what would motivate them to participate. When I was an undergraduate, I worked as both a TA and a grader for other undergraduate courses, and I think I did a fine job at this. But that's the point --- it was a job, someone was paying me to do it, and otherwise I would have been at the beach.

    On a slightly different point, it seems harder to find the "superusers", e.g. Anton, who are willing to put a lot of time into managing the site, at a higher level than dealing with individual questions. Of course, the whole point of Stack Exchange is that this role isn't actually meant to be too much work, but I'm still dubious.

    • CommentAuthoralex_o
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2010
    I, for one, would love to visit an undergraduate level mathoverflow.

    For example, I may need the solution to a counting exercise which involves some standard tricks with generating functions. My combinatorics is rusty, however,
    and it would take me several hours of looking through the standard textbooks to find the right trick. I would not ask for help with something like this on mathoverflow,
    since the solution is likely to be trivial, but I would post it on a site dedicated to undergraduate-level questions.

    A site like that already exists: it's called!

    • CommentAuthorDougy
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2010
    How many commitments does a proposal need? According to Area51, a commitment requires you to ask 3 questions in the early stages, there's 118 committed at the moment but the proposal is only 31% completed. Sooo... when the commitment phase is finished, that's going to be a lot of questions!!

    Sooo... when the commitment phase is finished, that's going to be a lot of questions!!

    I don't think they really expect everybody who commits to ask 3 questions. Remember that they're being extra cautious with the first round of SE 2.0 sites; they really want to make sure that they're going to be successful. I haven't been following the commitment numbers, but I'd bet that Mathematics won't be among the first new sites. Once a few sites have been running smoothly for a while (a month?), I expect they'll loosen up the requirements. After all, a promising site never seeing the light of day is a worse outcome than a decent-looking site going to beta and then flopping.

    • CommentAuthorjbl
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2010
    Let me just second Qiaochu's observation that is a great place for asking questions to which you know there is a "sub-research level" answer; also, Scott, you could check out the calculus forum there -- lots of people are willing to spend time answering computational calculus exercises.
    • CommentAuthorJeremy
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2010
    There are a bunch of similar sites like this that exist, and in the past have existed. But a problem with most of them is really the lack of experts and the lack of quality control (this partly comes with no experts, students / non-experts running things are less likely to care if someone posts blatant homework problems or nonsense, e.g.). And any non-textbook question tends to get unanswered in places like this, or get bad answers. I remember in high school asking a few questions I'd had about understanding some real analysis I was reading and did not get very sensible responses. Although it's been years since I've looked at any of them, so, it's possible they've gotten better since?

    The quality of answers on AoPS depends on which subforum you ask in, since the subforums are somewhat age-segregated. By and large, you get good answers in the Olympiad/College forums to difficult but elementary questions; it's where people like current and former IMO champions hang out.