General question about the scope of Math Images
I'm sending this to Abram, who has been doing splendid work, revising what the site holds regarding what's desirable for pages and how to effectively write them. In particular, he's revising a page on "pages that need more work," http://mathforum.org/mathimages/index.php/Listing_Pages_By_Quality_and_Completeness which touches on some of the issues I'm addressing here.
I'm sending this to Maria, since she's had more experience with students and trying to design the site than anybody.
I'm sending this to Ann and Steve Weimar since they're likely to have important insights.
Anybody else who should be included?
We got some nice news from a colleague at DIMACS, the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science. They have an extensive NSF "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" program and see an advantage to having many of the students, at least those whose projects involve images, submit their projects to Math Images: Just thought you should know I have recommended to two students from last year's REU program that they submit their projects to the Math Images Project website. They both had good projects that should fit right into the theme. I also met with the two graduate student coordinators for the summer program today. We discussed the program requirements which now includeds submitting projects to the Math Images page as part of their final report.
Good for us, for sure, and also for them to publish on such an attractive public site.
A couple of our partners on the new NSF project are going to have students in classes prepare pages, under fairly controlled circumstances, I imagine. Maybe Steve Maurer, as well.
All this brings up
THE BIG QUESTION: Why can't anybody, Wikipedia-like, submit a Math Image page at any time?
For which I have
the little answer: They can even do it now, and we desperately need some machinery and traditions that will foster Wikipedia-like improvement of all pages. The traditions have to grow (and need us to develop an appropriate context), but perhaps we can strengthen the machinery at least, since Abram's current work points to its need.
So, 1) do we want simply to develop Our Standards, which Abram and I are in the process of expressing, and just take any pages that don't comply and put them in Math Images Purgatory until they're properly improved?
Or, 2) do we want to simply allow anything to be accepted as Math Images pages, with perhaps little tags which can somehow be put on imperfect pages to indicate where further work is needed? (I imagine really bad pages would be taken down and put in Math Images Hell or something.)
Or, 3) do we complicatedly want to land somewhere between 1) and 2), and if so, where and how?
Each of the possibilities would involve anyones evaluating a page (and I hope other folks as well) write comments on the page's Discussion Page (how to encourage this?)
There are some pretty obvious subissues:
1) requires someone(s) to evaluate submitted pages, put them in Purgatory and inform the submitters. Then when somebody (maybe not the original submitters) makes revisions (and informs us!) to re-evaluate the pages.
2) requires nothin' except maybe tagging when needed (lotsa evaluations).
3) What we really need is some mechanism that is relatively easy to apply and encourages interactions with the site. For Wikipedia this occurs pretty naturally whenever there's any controversy, but how to develop a coterie of Math Images users who will be involved and respond to the page development? This, I believe, is a key ingredient if Math Images is to become a viable entity. And is seriously in need of addressing NOW!
Perhaps in either of the first two options, it would help to have Math Images staff write a submitter "Dear George, we see some problems with your image page, please see the Discussion Page. When you've responded to our comments please let us know and we'll re-place [or re-tag] the page. If you can't figure out how to handle an issue, please ask the world for help on the page itself, and we still may be able to re-place [re-tag] it. You are very much encouraged to help other folks out with their pages either by changing and improving, or by commenting."
Please submit your sage solutions to us all, say within the week. Even partial solutions and vicious comments would be most welcome.
Thank you very much, Gene