A Sidebar On My Willing Exile From Math Overflow
Crap, took WAY too long between posts again. And this is going to have to be a short one because of the lateness of the hour.
Need to do something about that. But between chronic insomnia and a sinus infection, it’s been all I can do to think.
To the main point of this post:The guys at Math Overflow have finally had it with my shenanigans.
After my 5th suspension from the board for…well, to be honest, I’m still not completely sure. According to moderator Ben Webster ( formerly MIT C.L.E. Moore Instructor, now at the University of Oregon-you may also recognize him from his days blogging at The Secret Blogging Seminar ) , the reason was as follows:
Andrew- No one has ever been suspended on MO for the contents of mathematical statements, even if we disagree with them. The issue is your rude comments on other answers; I would call it "bad sportmanship," but MO is not a game. For example "I can't believe this guy puts down a high school slogan and gets 13 points for it and I got downvoted for "Probability is real analysis with the concept of an expectation." " on Michael Lugo's answer.
As far as I'm concerned, this is equivalent to jumping up after a seminar and shouting "You guys are clapping for that? That was a terrible talk!" which I think we can all agree would not be socially acceptable behavior.
Note to the audience: generally the moderators have adopted a policy of not arguing with Andrew on meta, since it just seems to create more drama. In this case I thought it was important to point out that the issue was not Andrew's mathematical statements (which as I said before, we would not suspend people over), but rather his behavior in comments.
Uh, ok, Ben.
My “behavior” ,as he so puts it, was simply being myself. For those who know me, that seems to be more then enough. Despite my best efforts to tone it down for the board, things just deteriorated further and further. At one point, I was emailed and messaged by several of the members telling me-politely but in no uncertain terms-that my antics were making a bad impression on the mathematical community in general and that I was thus endangering my future career and job prospects.
I really don’t like being threatened.
And make no mistake, as nicely as it was delivered, that’s what it was. A threat.
There was a time I’d have told the whole bunch of them to go fuck themselves for openers and go on for several HTML pages about them and their mothers and wives.
But if I had-well, I would have deserved what I got.
Firstly, when you’re dealing with people like Webster, Andy Putnam at Rice University and Pete L.Clark at the University of Georgia-and this drama is all going on in front of frequent posters Terence Tao, Tom Gowers and Richard Stanley (!) - well, it’s pretty obvious you’re not going to win this one.
And it’s more then that. This isn’t MY site, it’s THIERS.
This wasn’t really about right and wrong, it was about me trying to make their site something it’s not because I wanted to be able to say these things in front of professional mathematicians and get their feedback.
But that’s not what MO is for. It’s for research level and academic questions regarding the mathematical community. They set it up, they police it, they make the rules. I was just a guest.
And they decided I was messing up their furniture and would rather I left. That’s entirely within their rights to do.
And contrary to what some people may think, I don’t enjoy offending people. I wasn’t following the rules and I was dead wrong here. No matter how morally indignant I might want to look.
So after this last incident, I left my pride on the floor and reopened shop here, where I can have no rules but my own.
In closing regarding this incident, I wanted to let everyone over at Math Overflow I never intended any offense. I’m a passionate, opinionated guy. I was the proverbial bull in a china shop.
Not that that’s anything new for me. Once again, I want to apologize to everyone there and hope one day I can return.
More importantly,I hope to be posting here at a regular basis as I prepare for my oral qualifying exams in algebra and topology-hopefully,to be taken around Christmas, no later. I want to let everyone there know they are more then welcome to respond here. They are also free to say WHATEVER THEY WANT ABOUT THE POSTS OR ME. The first amendment is very much alive here.
(For as long as the government allows it after Tuesday,of course. More on that later in the week.)
Well,it’s nearly 3 am now, so the planned posted reading list for graduate algebra courses-sadly-is going to have to wait.
But hopefully-not very long at all!
EDIT 11/6/2010: As Terry Tao and another poster commented after the first draft if this post went online, I wasn't fair in my blanket description of those aforementioned comments as all threats. In fact, many were by well intentioned posters who didn't want me blow my career by shooting off my stupid mouth. For those posters, I should and will apologize. They meant well and I shouldn't be lumping them in with the idiots-"trolls" they call them on MO-who emailed me and warned me "they'd fix my career when I apply for jobs." THAT was a threat.But those brave enough to countermand me were very well intentioned.As such,I apologize once again.
See,I'm not above admitting an error. Rare as it is........