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A recent answer to an elementary question on group theory reminded me of a proposal that I thought I had seen somewhere on MSE (#), but maybe it was just a passing comment in chat...

Would the site benefit from a community-created resource of basic results from (in this case) Abstract Algebra, with the bulk of the material being contained in (or even copy-pasted from) MSE answers?

If implemented, users would see links on the sidebar to these resources/tutorials when browsing the main page and/or specific answers.

These resources/tutorials could be something like a poetry collection in that the bulk of the text is verbatim from specific users, with editorial/pedagogical commentary in transitions.

In particular, Abstract Algebra would be a good topic for a FAQ/tutorial, as many other online resources (Khan Academy, YouTube teachers, etc.) stop at Linear Algebra/Differential Equations.

  • Another possibility would be to simply create a chain of answers by linking to the "next" answer in the comments, maybe with appropriate commentary. Where the initial link (to, e.g., basic definitions and early results) would go is TBD!

I'd love to hear some input on this!


(#) I vaguely recall a rumor that Arturo Magidin is working on presenting the bulk of his MSE contribution in an alternate format, and maybe this (possibly nonexistent!) project would fit the bill here. My proposal is not for AM to do this or that.

In no way do I want to add any work or pressure to his life. This proposal would be undertaken by the MSE community, and would truly be Community Wiki

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  • $\begingroup$ Whether you saw Arturo saying that or not I cannot say, but I do recall leaving comments on his answers saying he should write a book or something (and I doubt I'm the only one who wrote that). $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Apr 12 '12 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf: That is a likely explanation. $\endgroup$ – The Chaz 2.0 Apr 12 '12 at 20:20
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    $\begingroup$ I have to admit that "I'd love to hear some input on this!" is somewhat incompatible with the "three answers poll" format that you have chosen here. If you are trying to toss an idea and get responses then you should first let this thread stew for a week or so, try and get people to debate and discuss it in the comments and maybe write an answer or two with suggestions and insights. Then, if there has been some response from the community and you think that the idea is pretty much done, then you should start a separate "poll" thread. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Apr 12 '12 at 21:46
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    $\begingroup$ If that's a rumor, it's the first I've heard of it. I seem to recall someone commenting after I directed a question to a previous answer of mine (Asaf?) that he had wondered why I didn't have my stuff written up in formats like Pete Clark's class notes, but that he thought perhaps this site was beginning to function as such a repository. But I can't find the comment right now. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Apr 12 '12 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ I support this proposal and am willing to play an active part in creating resources for Abstract Algebra if it ever goes through. As for the format of resources, I might write an answer in a few days. $\endgroup$ – user21436 Apr 13 '12 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf: In my enthusiasm, perhaps I have created something incompatible. Regardless, if enough people are as passionate about using MSE for teaching (in this way!) as I am, it will survive an overly excited OP. $\endgroup$ – The Chaz 2.0 Apr 13 '12 at 1:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Arturo: That must be the comment that both Asaf and I had in mind. While we're on the subject, are there worked HW solutions for a first semester Algebra course of yours available online somewhere? I have been reading through the currently available solutions, but they (well, some) are a bit above my pay grade! $\endgroup$ – The Chaz 2.0 Apr 13 '12 at 1:18
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    $\begingroup$ @TheChaz: They exist in my computer, (as do solution sets for all courses I've taught); but I take them down once the semester is over. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Apr 13 '12 at 2:03
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    $\begingroup$ Whoever downvoted the disagreement answer should probably undo that vote. The whole point of a poll is that you only vote up the answer you support. (The Chaz, you might want to address that in the answers) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Apr 13 '12 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila This may be a little overdue, but was it the comments to this answer you were thinking about? $\endgroup$ – E.O. May 5 '12 at 9:36
  • $\begingroup$ Stack Overflow now has Documentation. Maybe something similar could be started for math.SE? (This of course would need to be created by the site operators.) $\endgroup$ – celtschk Jan 21 '17 at 9:52
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I generally support this proposal, and feel that any such resources should be

contained in one page/file.

(rather than in the "chain format")

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I generally support this proposal, and feel that any such resources should be

contained in the comments of select answers, with a "chain" of links.

(rather than contained in one page/file)

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  • I disagree with this proposal, or
  • This proposal is not a good fit for the Q&A format of the SE network, or
  • This proposal is beyond repair, or
  • Miscellaneous
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Certainly more organization of posts seems appealing, and the idea is cool. But it's not clear to me that such a resource would ultimately be particularly useful. There are already many resources available on introductory topics, and users of the site can even find them relatively easily through reference requests. I'm not sure what systematic advantage a math.SE resource would have over existing texts and course notes.

On the other hand, there may be no such external resources on the topics covered by soft questions. And in my experience, even very good answers to soft questions are still a bit unsatisfying - one feels as though there should be more substance/more organization/a better conceptual framework for the ideas in the answer than can be provided in a single post. So I personally could see a lot of value in making greater efforts to curate/organize/link to similar soft questions.

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    $\begingroup$ Is it clear that this question is over three years old? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 1 '15 at 18:49
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Yes. Not sure why that matters though. $\endgroup$ – logert May 1 '15 at 18:56

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