21 June 2010

New MathOverflow-type sites?

As some of you may have noticed, I spend lots of time at MathOverflow these days. This explains my lack of posting.

Actually, my lack of posting is also in part because of taking a break after finishing my PhD. But I am now trying to prepare for the Next Step. The Next Step is an academic job, in fact, so if you've been holding your breath and wondering if I got one, you can breathe again. Details will follow, but the job is technically not official yet, so I don't want to say where it is here. My productive efforts are going towards preparing for courses I'll be teaching, factoring my dissertation (warning: large PDF) into papers, and moving my worldly possessions.

I'm posting in order to mention two potential sites hosted on the StackExchange platform that might be of interest to my readers (and also to MO users); these are one for statistical analysis and one for mathematics. The mathematics site will differ from MathOverflow in being somewhat lower-level, which I think is valuable; one of the things that's plagued MathOverflow from the beginning is that there are frequently questions which are clearly below the level of the site but we have nowhere good to send these questions! Similarly, MathOverflow gets a lot of statistics questions that the MO readership isn't equipped to handle. (People try on the questions that are really about probability, but some are about the more "practical" side of statistics and we don't have too many experts in that.)

If you click on those links, you can "commit" to participating in one or both of these sites. The idea is that once enough commitments are made, the site will be launched. This is StackExchange's new model; their old model was that people paid to have a site hosted with the software. This is the model on which MathOverflow works -- using money from Ravi Vakil's research funds -- but they don't do this any more, because there were ghost sites. See a fuller explanation.


Sue VanHattum said...

If I were to commit, what kind of time commitment is it? How much would I expect to do?

Michael Lugo said...

Sue, that's a good question! The answer doesn't seem to be particularly well-defined, though. Looking through the FAQ (http://area51.stackexchange.com/faq), it seems that committing to the site indicates that you intend to be an active user of it.

Chris said...

Folks who like MathOverflow might be interested in supporting (ie committing to) LaTexOverflow to help it get off the ground: http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/2148/tex-latex-and-friends

Jeffrey Wiens said...

There is also a proposal for Numerical Modeling and Simulation (http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/1907/numerical-modeling-and-simulation/). It currently is in the definition stage, but I think it fill a void between stackoverflow and mathoverflow.