This is the page first-time posters see:

First time ask page

On the right it says,

Is your question about Mathematica?

Can we change this to the following?

Is your question about Wolfram Mathematica?

Or maybe

Is your question about the software Wolfram Mathematica?

(Including emphasis on Wolfram Mathematica to highlight it as the software's name.)

My hope is that this small change will reduce the number of off topic questions which are really about math. Currently we have several such questions every day. Many of them are of low enough quality that they don't even get migrated over to https://math.stackexchange.com/

Will this change have any effect? I don't know, but I think it doesn't hurt and even a little improvement would be useful. It is clear that many new posters completely ignore much of the information given in the first-time asking screen I showed above, so it probably won't have a large effect. But every little bit helps.

The idea was brought up by Chris K in chat.

As a side note, there was a Meta.SE post about the great need to guide new users better: https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/285903/164803 Hopefully that project will bring better results.

  • 3
    The motivation was that "Mathematica" could be interpreted as "Mathematics" in some languages. Maybe a followup note saying "For questions about mathematics, use math.stackexchange.com instead" ?
    – Chris K
    Oct 31, 2016 at 13:21
  • @ChrisK The reason why I chose the short phrasing was that I doubt that SE admins would approve such a long text. But maybe I'm wrong. I was hoping that this phrasing would improve things without having to spell out that "Mathematica is not mathematics"
    – Szabolcs
    Oct 31, 2016 at 13:32
  • 3
    I'll try to get this change made as soon as possible. It is apparently not something I can do myself.
    – Mr.Wizard
    Nov 1, 2016 at 15:34
  • 1
    How about phrasing it "Mathematica software question?". Adding Wolfram is too heavy, I feel.
    – Nicholas G
    Nov 8, 2016 at 14:17

4 Answers 4


I think this is a very good idea. To add to this, a new user will also see the following banner above the list of questions.

enter image description here

Here, "users of Mathematica" can also be changed to "users of Wolfram Mathematica". This banner is another example of where new users only see the word Mathematica, without further explanation or failsafes against thinking Mathematica == mathematics, so that even if we do not change this (that might be overdoing it), it is an argument in favor of Szabolcs's suggestion.

On the rest of the site, I think we do a good job of making this distinction clear. The tour and the page /help/on-topic do a good job of making the distinction. The page /help mainly points to the tour and /help/on-topic, so that is good as well.


Reading the commentary here, it kinda sounds like this might be a good idea across the board - that is, to change "Mathematica" to "Wolfram Mathematica" everywhere the site topic is used. This includes the sidebar, the prompt (grey text that appears in the title entry before a title is entered), and various other places (default close reasons, the help center).

...Which then suggests we may want to adjust the "audience" string as well. That's the term for the folks who this site is aimed at: it appears in a few places here, but more importantly it also appears on other sites when references to this one are made:

audience string on stackexchange.com "users of Mathematica"

audience string in migration banner on Math

So I guess what I'm asking is... Are y'all trying this as a simple experiment to see if using the full name on the /ask page helps with off-topic questions, or is this something you'd actually prefer to see everywhere?

Related: Change site description to include Wolfram Language

  • 4
    Personally I think that it would be good to change it everywhere, as you suggested.
    – Szabolcs
    Nov 8, 2016 at 9:02
  • 7
    But (again my opinion) I most definitely don't want to change the site name. Let's keep that as Mathematica.SE. People can upvote these comments or write their own.
    – Szabolcs
    Nov 8, 2016 at 9:03
  • This proposal appears to have near universal support. Is it going to be implemented soon?
    – Mr.Wizard
    Dec 1, 2016 at 20:40
  • 2
    Ok, done @Mr.Wizard.
    – Shog9
    Dec 12, 2016 at 23:31

This is my first meta post here, and it seems I'm a bit late, but there is something I'd like to add.

I think this is a very good idea, but I would recommend that we explicitly include the word "software" instead of "Wolfram". The reason is that, to us regular users of Mathematica, the word "Wolfram" has a clear meaning, but not quite so to someone that has never used Mathematica. Therefore, adding the word "Wolfram" might mean nothing to someone who's not familiar with Mathematica.

Or put it another way: imagine that there was a graphical design software called "Platinum Biologica", and you are a student of biology that wants to ask something about mitochondrias. If you found an online forum called "Platinum Biologica", you might want to try to ask it there, and the word Platinum won't be enough to warn you that you are in the wrong place. But if the forum was about the software Biologica, then it should become much more clear that it's not about biology, and you should try somewhere else.

In the end, the word Wolfram means a lot to us, but it means nothing to someone that isn't familiar with the software. But the word Software has a clear meaning for everyone. Therefore, I think this is the word that should be included, while "Wolfram" is unnecessary for our purposes.

  • 4
    I like this idea. Adding "software" seems more relevant. It is also the common emphasis used by the community to indicate what this site is about, when someone makes a post not relevant to M.SE. Either "the software Mathematica", or "the software Wolfram Mathematica" would be good. The latter is longer, but has the advantage of giving the exact name of the software.
    – user31159
    Nov 13, 2016 at 1:12

I think this is a good idea, but even this late in the game it's worth bringing up one of the Jeff Atwood classics that's maybe less seen nowadays, Treating User Myopia. This is how the Ask A Question page looks to a designer:

but this is what it looks like to a new user:

Just sayin' :-).

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