There is currently a dispute on Math Stack Exchange regarding an advertisement for the site, and I'd like to solicit input from other members of the community.

I have posted the following advertisement for this site on Math Stack Exchange Meta:

The new site http://matheducators.stackexchange.com is now up and running! This site is for questions about course-design, exam-writing, teaching methods, intuition and examples, etc.

Check out our top questions list:


Please consider contributing! This site is still in its infancy, and would benefit greatly from your help.

(This is a copy of Brian Rushton's similar post on Math Overflow Meta.)

Another user has objected to the given description of the site as follows:

Please consider editing the "this site is about...." to avoid representing the site as something totally different from the purpose advertised on meta.MSE (and other places): a site for mathematics learning and education. The hopefully temporary site title and subtitle ("elevator pitch" as SE calls it) already hijacked that, and drawing in new users based on further and further departures from the stated intent would worsen that. Note that your first three examples out of 4 of what the site is about, appear to presuppose an institutional/administrative context for learning and teaching.

This led to a discussion in the comments that clarified, but did not resolve, the issue. So my question is:

Do you think that the description of the site given in the advertisement should be changed?

  • $\begingroup$ Per the comments on my answer below, I suggest just incorporating "mathematics learning and education" in your statement somehow. I don't see why much else would need to change. $\endgroup$ Mar 25, 2014 at 4:06
  • $\begingroup$ @brendansullivan07 I will do so. Thanks for the help! $\endgroup$
    – Jim Belk
    Mar 25, 2014 at 4:33
  • $\begingroup$ I thought that we had got rid of "learning" in the description, since the site is meant for teachers of mathematics rather than learners of mathematics. If "learning" is still present in various descriptions of the site, that would seem to be a more serious issue than this particular ad. $\endgroup$
    – JDH
    Mar 25, 2014 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ @JoelDavidHamkins I agree, but user zyx seems to want to revisit the issue. $\endgroup$
    – Jim Belk
    Mar 25, 2014 at 14:41
  • $\begingroup$ I was not revisiting "learning vs teaching". The issue was that the examples listed were predominantly of institutional/administrative activities, or things where such activities are prominent, rather than things purely related to explanation of mathematics, and the more such imbalance is present in solicitation of new users, the more it will become baked-in to the new site. @JoelDavidHamkins $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Mar 25, 2014 at 19:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Also, regarding the assumption that this site is "meant for teachers" : I do not think a site should be defined by Who (is supposed to be the target audience), but by What (subject matter it is about). That there is an audience that would find it convenient to push things in the Who direction, using a SE site for its own set of professional goals, is quite possibly the case here, but that was a mistake for Mathoverflow and I would expect it to be a mistake for most discussion sites that do not go the subject matter route. @JoelDavidHamkins $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Mar 25, 2014 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ @zyx "Revisit the issue" was not meant to be dismissive, merely descriptive, though I see how you could find the phrase objectionable. In any case, if you'd like to have a broader discussion of these issues, I would encourage you to start your own meta thread. $\endgroup$
    – Jim Belk
    Mar 25, 2014 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ The main issue being raised here and in the quoted comment thread on meta.MSE has not, in fact, been previously discussed in the Area 51 or meta threads for the new site, so it is not clear what is alleged to be repetitive ("zyx wants to revisit the issue"). To be absolutely clear, I don't care about the learner vs teacher issue or how that is resolved. I am quite concerned about the neutrality of the site with respect to professional academia and institutional education, versus mathematics as a universal human activity. $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Mar 26, 2014 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ @zyx Thanks. That sounds like a good idea. $\endgroup$
    – Jim Belk
    Mar 27, 2014 at 1:14

1 Answer 1


How about this?

"The new site http://matheducators.stackexchange.com is now up and running! This site is for questions about mathematics learning and education, but is not a homework help site. Rather, we welcome questions about course design, exam-writing, teaching methods, etc."

  • $\begingroup$ You propose to remove the one element of the description that is purely about "mathematics learning and teaching" and keep the things that explicitly or by intent are about institutional/administrative contexts (adding one more of them, about homework). I do not see that as a step forward nor faithful to the advertising done on several sites on and off Stackexchange. $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Mar 25, 2014 at 3:36
  • $\begingroup$ @zyx: How in the world are course design and teaching methods not about "mathematics learning and teaching"? $\endgroup$ Mar 25, 2014 at 3:37
  • $\begingroup$ Our comments crossed. See the edit. $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Mar 25, 2014 at 3:40
  • $\begingroup$ My question stands. What's wrong with "course design", for instance? Does this not affect teachers? Is this not an important part of education? Does it not seek to help students learn mathematics? $\endgroup$ Mar 25, 2014 at 3:48
  • $\begingroup$ What's wrong is that the one item not involving institutions, administration, policing and control (e.g., your recent question about preventing "academic dishonesty" when software assistants are available) has been excluded. The dominant proportion of bureaucratic stuff in the current advert is also a problem, since gathering relatively more users who are relatively more interested in those aspects, especially at initial stages of site growth, will bake that into the ultimate nature of the site. $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Mar 25, 2014 at 3:57
  • $\begingroup$ Fine, put that one back in. Is there anything wrong with this? "The new site matheducators.stackexchange.com is now up and running! This site is for questions about mathematics learning and education, including course-design, exam-writing, teaching methods, intuition and examples, etc." $\endgroup$ Mar 25, 2014 at 3:59
  • $\begingroup$ If you replace the current answer with that I would certainly consider upvoting. $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Mar 25, 2014 at 4:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This seems like an awful lot of effort just to add the phrase "[...] mathematics learning and education, including [...]" to Jim Belk's original post. $\endgroup$ Mar 25, 2014 at 4:05
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't say I endorse your (potential) new version or that it is a good thing for the future of this site. Only that it has fewer negative features and more positive ones than the status quo, which might be a reason to upvote it (perhaps to get some improvement accomplished, or if no other answers come along, or if I think that my not-yet-posted proposals would not get as much traction at this time, or for any number of other reasons). Please do not represent my comments as an effort to do this or that. $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Mar 25, 2014 at 4:12

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