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Over at Mathoverflow, we put a lot of time and thought into the FAQ. While a lot of it is not applicable to math.SE, there are a number of ideas there that could be very useful to this site.

I suggest that you take a look and discuss what might be useful and what might not be.

We also crafted a page about how to ask questions, which encourages good question-asking practices (do your homework, be precise, break it down, provide background or motivation, good formatting, choosing a good title, etc.). A lot of work was put into this as well (mainly by Anton), and we at meta.MO are pretty proud of how it came out.

I ask that you actually read the documents before posting. Knee-jerk responses do nothing but lower the signal-to-noise ratio.

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    $\begingroup$ How to ask questions is going to be a must. (Harry, you have been caught not calling this site MU !) $\endgroup$ – Tom Stephens Jul 22 '10 at 1:09
  • $\begingroup$ Shhh.. I was trying to be diplomatic. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Jul 22 '10 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ Possibly related: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/107/… $\endgroup$ – Justin L. Jul 22 '10 at 1:30
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I believe that much of the FAQ at MO is relevant to this site. After all, much of it is adapted from the FAQ of established Trilogy sites (not a discussion forum, redirection to meta, rep, bounties, moderations, etc.)

Tutorials for whatever TeX-based math system we will be using would needed to be listed somewhere, right?

Of course, the scope of the sites are different, so we should adjust "what kind of questions". What exactly should go there is beyond the scope of this topic, of course; but it is to be noted that that section is (understandably) irrelevant.

The clauses of civility/honesty are important, to make sure that clashes of ideas (as will be inevitable) end up with civil resolution and not name-calling or personal attacks.

In conclusion, I do believe that it is mostly clear what is relevant for this site and what is not. In the end, though, I think a (possible) general philosophy should be one that strays away from creating duplicates of the multitude of sites influencing us (Stack Exchange, Math Overflow, etc.) and instead blend the parts that create the most cohesive and efficient answering (and asking) machine.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm not saying that MU should be a clone. I'm saying that the MO faq and "how to ask" documents serve as a better starting point for MU than the SO faq. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Jul 22 '10 at 1:52
  • $\begingroup$ I never made any assumptions about what you said; I'm sorry if my phrasing suggested it. I'll modify my answer. $\endgroup$ – Justin L. Jul 22 '10 at 1:59
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I think math.SE should be somewhat less strict when it comes to making people search nLab/arXiv -- questions that are Wikipedia-requests should be discouraged, but reading research papers will be difficult for non-mathematicians. (It's difficult enough for mathematicians.) In addition, it's likely that, since this is less specialized a site, many questions will have been answered before on the web. That's OK.

Using real names would be nice, but math.SE is not intended as a professional forum in the same sense as MO. I do not think it should be as big a concern. Nevertheless, the usual remarks about politeness apply.

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The How to write a good MathOverflow question page is itself very good and could be used as a model for a similar page here. It would be best, I think, if our howtoask page also said a bit about how to tag.

For the rest of the FAQ, I don't think the MO FAQ is a good model, even if it might be good to borrow from it. The minimal model of the 7 Essential Questions probably provides better starting point, after that, I think we have to figure it out ourselves.

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I think this one is quite relevant

MathOverflow doesn't have formal rules about every possible thing that could come up. Roughly, you should think of this site as a large seminar. Be nice. Treat others with the same respect you'd want them to treat you. We're all here to learn together. Be honest. If you see misinformation, vote it down. Insert comments indicating what, specifically, is wrong. Even better—edit and improve the information! Provide stronger, faster, superior answers of your own! Be professional. Doing math with your collegues is supposed to be fun; that's why you became a mathematician. But just like in a seminar, a certain minimum level of professionalism is expected. If you're unsure about whether something is appropriate, ask yourself, "would I do this in a seminar?"

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think it's reasonable to expect that the general population here will have any idea what a mathematics seminar looks like. $\endgroup$ – Scott Morrison Jul 27 '10 at 20:16

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