I really like M.SE and its community members, and I've found great answers to many questions here. But I see that questions that don't admit a definite answer or open too much room for discussion are considered (in general) off-topic. So I wanted to know if there is a good forum that welcomes both strictly mathematical and "discussion-type" threads.

I already know https://www.physicsforums.com, but do you have other recommendations?

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    $\begingroup$ Reddit and quora come to mind. $\endgroup$ Dec 2, 2014 at 14:42
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe Quora (discussed here). I'll also add links to some older discussions on meta: Are there other sites similar to MSE and MO?, What online communities apart from M.SE and MO are worth frequenting?. $\endgroup$ Dec 2, 2014 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ And also this post on main: Useful mathematical fora. Neither of the links I have given directly answers your question, but at least there are some lists of mathematical fora which are available online. $\endgroup$ Dec 2, 2014 at 14:46
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    $\begingroup$ And the Mathematics chat room in combination with the main site could be a good enough replacement for a discussion forum, of course depending on your needs. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel R
    Dec 2, 2014 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielR I think if somebody wanted to have a longer discussion about some question in SE chat, it would probably be better to make a separate chatroom. In the main chatroom, it would be easily lost among other things. (Often several unrelated discussions are going on at the same time in this room.) $\endgroup$ Dec 2, 2014 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ Chat is a great place, but it is limited in the sense that the population is somewhat low, so you will have a hard time finding conversation on topics of sufficient obscurity. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander Gruber Mod
    Dec 3, 2014 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexanderGruber You can always invite people to chat? $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2014 at 17:25

1 Answer 1


IMHO MSE should allow to post a discussion type question, such that the discussion would continue in a specific chat room. The question should not be closed and a link of the chat room should be given in the question. The question can be tagged with a new tag, discussion.

After the discussion gets finished, the important points(results) of the discussion should be posted as the answer to the question. This way the main site will not become a discussion forum and many new things will be available for future users to know.

This way one would get enough attention of the many users which could be difficult in the main chatroom as Mr. Alexander Gruber points out in his comment. And some new important mathematical stuff will be available on the main site in Q/A format.

As an example one can see my recent question about rational numbers. I do not claim that its an excellent question, but it gets my point across. I had a discussion with a user and finally we got a convincing argument. I'm thinking to put the main results of our discussion in the question now(or answer?).

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    $\begingroup$ This is the opposite of every design goal of stackexchange. $\endgroup$ Dec 3, 2014 at 8:28
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    $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi It is unfortunate that some of the SE's goals act as a barrier in the distribution of knowledge. $\endgroup$
    – user103816
    Dec 3, 2014 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand how this is a "barrier": nobody prevents you from creating a forum for math discussions, the people at SE don't want to do it themselves, that's it. $\endgroup$ Dec 3, 2014 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi Other forms ain't got so many knowledgable people as many there are. $\endgroup$
    – user103816
    Dec 3, 2014 at 9:16
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    $\begingroup$ ...and what do you think might be the reason for this? Perhaps: that such people like just that design which you want to change (and have experiences with other forms, like me)... $\endgroup$ Dec 3, 2014 at 10:04
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    $\begingroup$ The fundamental problem of most discussion based unmoderated site of math is they easily get infected by the disease of trolls (for a horrible example, look at what happens to the sci.math newsgroup). For some unknown reason, the design/format of SE sites have better resistant to this sort of problem. I prefer math.SE to have a barrier in distribution of knowledge instead of the alternative, a slow and painful death. $\endgroup$ Dec 3, 2014 at 10:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Gottfried: I've a good deal of experience with other venues, and I dislike much of the SE philosophy. What make MSE tolerable (and often even enjoyable) are the mathematical interface -- I've written way more than enough mathematical ASCII over the years -- and the fact that MSE has to some extent gone its own way within the SE family. $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2014 at 5:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Brian: While I agree with what you're saying (despite not spending many years writing ASCII math), I still think there is quite the huge gap between that and allowing free discussions on the main site. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Dec 4, 2014 at 8:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf: I'm of two minds about that. I'd definitely want to keep it segregated from the main site, though. (And you're lucky not to have had much experience with ASCII math, believe me!) $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2014 at 9:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Brian: Then you're really just saying there should be a forum integrated to the platform, in a similar way to the chat. Which allows a less-chat and more forum-y experience. (I'm not that lucky, by the way, I've been on the internet since 1996, so I've been through plenty interfaceless experiences.) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Dec 4, 2014 at 9:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf: I was actually mostly objecting to Gottfried's explanation of what brings and keeps people here, not taking any particular position on the main issue. However, I don't think that I'd be opposed to that idea. I have to admit that I've not given it a great deal of thought, though, simply because I don't see it happening. $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2014 at 9:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Brian: I don't see Hilbert rising up from his grave and coauthoring a paper with me. It doesn't mean that I won't spend time thinking about what we could write in that paper! :-) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Dec 4, 2014 at 9:23
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    $\begingroup$ This is an awesome idea. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jan 4, 2016 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ If it wasn't for the crappy philosophy of SE, many more people would use it...since it is the best designed site. Quora has a community 1000x more receptive and happy to help...but the space to ask questions (and the formatting options) are so limited that I can't ditch SE. But, it is a place of last resort...and as long as I completely avoid .NET (last refuge of US-based SE natzis on SE) and ask only high level questions in Math (last refuge of foreign-based SE natzis outside the US), it's cool. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jan 4, 2016 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ If SE has a problem with "discussion" questions, "debugging" questions, "detail questions", and "repetitive questions", then it should just create subsidiary sections for the answering of such questions (and streamline the process of moving questions to new areas--suspending downvote privileges until the question is placed in the proper section). That way, new members would have a place to go to garner rep anyway...and the 15 year veterans with 1million rep from 2000 up-votes on questions like, "how to print to a file in C#" wouldn't be the only voices in the community. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jan 4, 2016 at 15:16

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