I guess many of this site have been participating in the sci.math newsgroup. This question/discussion specifically addresses those people which had experience with sci.math. I did not do any statistics but I could imagine that the number of users (articles per day) in sci.math is decreasing while this site obviously attracts more and more people.

  • What kind of features of SE made you change to this site (perhaps after having used sci.math for years)?

  • Is there something which was better in sci.math and which you are missing here?

  • Are you still participating in sci.math?

I am interested in your answers and remarks...

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    $\begingroup$ The signal to noise ratio is increadibly higher here than in sci.math, where it has been approaching $0$ asymptotically for a while. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Apr 6 '11 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ I am not really sure this question is appropriate, even for meta. $\endgroup$ – Qiaochu Yuan Apr 6 '11 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Qiaochu Yuan: if you (and others) think that this question is inappropriate. Feel free to close it. I won't be offended. I just looks like the audience of this site has a large overlap with the audience on sci.math and I'm curious what led people to change to this place... $\endgroup$ – Fabian Apr 7 '11 at 3:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Qiaochu Yuan I'd also appreciate a clarification on why you feel this question is off-topic. As long as the responses don't veer towards outright derogation, I'm not seeing what's wrong with delineating the aspects of this site that make it more successful than a more freewheeling newsgroup. Perhaps management might even take notice and improve on those aspects for other future StackExchanges on technical topics. $\endgroup$ – Uticensis Apr 7 '11 at 4:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Billare: this is not really a question about the workings of the site. But meta is generally lax so I don't have a strong opinion about whether this question stays or goes. $\endgroup$ – Qiaochu Yuan Apr 7 '11 at 5:02
  • $\begingroup$ I think one of the founding principles of the entire SE area was to create a better alternative to newsgroups like usenet. I'm sure this kind of question is something Jeff Atwood would like to know about, even if they are purely anecdotal. $\endgroup$ – Mitch Apr 7 '11 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ @mitch sure, we did intend this as a sort of next-generation high signal to noise version of usenet that runs in your browser. "Our new system was inspired by the way that new Usenet newsgroups were set up in the 1980s" blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/04/changes-to-stack-exchange $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Apr 9 '11 at 3:20

Things I like about sci.math (or usenet)

  • tree view, easy quick navigation (web apps never seem to be able to get this done well)
  • asking followup questions and elaboration is easier to do

Things I like about math.SE (or SE)

  • practically no noise (even the hw problems are resurrectable)
  • for a web app, a lot of nice features (but not all so easy on a smartphone)
  • I actually learn a lot from others' questions

I haven't bothered with sci.math (or usenet) for years (That I'm mostly Windows based now is the actual pragmatic reason).

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    $\begingroup$ What's hard about asking follow-up questions on math.SE? All you have to do is ask a new question and link to the old one. $\endgroup$ – Qiaochu Yuan Apr 7 '11 at 20:30
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    $\begingroup$ I've seen the suggestion "all you have to do"...it's very easy to compose a followup question as further in the thread in a newsreader (you just type), but in a web app a second followup post takes extra effort to cut and paste and format a link, make sure you're responding in a way that preserves a line of thought, but still is a 'new' question (as opposed to one closable as a duplicate). Does this sound like complaining about switching windows back and forth and clicking a few measly extra times? I suppose yes, but that's the comparison which can be a big difference in ease of use. $\endgroup$ – Mitch Apr 8 '11 at 0:41
  • $\begingroup$ but this could be a request for a new feature. At the time when you write a question, you can click on one of your old question to mark the new one as a follow up question... $\endgroup$ – Fabian Apr 8 '11 at 5:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Fabian: looked around, seems to have been suggested before: asking related questions. I think I'll be noncommittal (feature=useful vs feature=bloat) $\endgroup$ – Mitch Apr 8 '11 at 14:05

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