MathHelp Policy
This page documents an MathHelp policy, a widely accepted standard that all editors should normally follow. Changes made to it should reflect consensus.

Policy policyEdit

Main article: Policy policy

This is a wiki, so it's open for editing by everyone. That's a good thing, until people disagree. When that happens, we look to the policies to decide what to do. If there's no policy, then we refer to the Policy policy to figure out how to make a policy that covers the situation.


The style of this site is conversational and helpful. It's OK to express surprise, joy, and other emotions in the descriptions of mathematical objects. Go ahead and draw analogies, even if they don't fit perfectly.

MathHelp is not painstakingly rigorousEdit

While it's good to be correct, don't be "overly" correct to the point of obscuring the usefulness of the information behind a whole lot of jargon. If an "edit war" breaks out, in which one party wants to keep it simple, and the other wants to make it comprehensive, then MathHelp policy says we should create two pages: one simple, and the other comprehensive. If both pages claim the same title, then a disambiguation page will get that title, with enough information to help a user decide which page to read.

MathHelp does not contain irrelevant contentEdit

It is possible that, over time, content will find its way into MathHelp that an editor might find inappropriate. The test that must be satisfied is whether the content is relevant to math students in the pursuit of their math interests. If this test, or another policy covers the situation, then the policy should be used to settle the question, and all editors must abide by the policy. But if the test fails and there's no applicable policy, then a policy change is needed according to the policy policy.

MathHelp does not stick to third personEdit

Main article: MathHelp voice

The "voice" of MathHelp is that of the intrepid mathematician who is uncovering the wonderful hidden truths of mathematics. That's me! I'm saying that! What do you think of that? If you want to copyedit a page that seems a bit dry, go right ahead and put some I's and you's into it.

MathHelp does not shun bad languageEdit

In other words, we're not "stuffy". If it makes a page better to drop the F-bomb on it, then fine. But if the word "heck" works as well, use that instead.

MathHelp does not shun sarcasmEdit

Sarcastic comments are fine, as long as they're not mean-spirited. Watch out, though, because on a printed page, what was intended as sarcasm can easily come across as nonsense.

MathHelp does not make personal attacksEdit

This is basically the Wikipedia:WP:NPA policy, which MathHelp endorces.

MathHelp is not obscureEdit

Does it seem to you that mathematicians delight in being obscure? Example: upon being asked, "does the series converge?" math genius replies, "is it Cauchy?" Don't do that.

MathHelp formatting isn't perfectEdit

Main article: LaTeX style guide

If you are a student, and you want to ask a question, just create it as a page! If you don't know LaTeX, just type in your question any old way, and someone will fix it for you later. It's better to have the page, warts and all, than not to have it.

MathHelp is never completeEdit

Since students pose questions by creating new pages, many pages won't be complete. Our goal is to improve the wiki by making as many pages as possible as complete as possible, but it's OK if we never get there.

Titles use sentence capitalizationEdit

Like Wikipedia, titles of articles and section headings use sentence capitalization. That is, the first word is capitalized, and other words are not.

Special charactersEdit

Special characters include such things as the superscript 2 (²) and the "m" dash (—), etc. [improvement needed: make list of special characters] Some editors like to use the characters themselves, for example, ². Others prefer using ² instead. This is nothing to fight over. Either one is acceptable in MathHelp.


While Graeme McRae is a founder of this wiki, he doesn't own it. Wikia requires that the pages be freely distributable according to some kind of open license which basically says no one owns them. On the other hand, no one is free to replace the pages with their own favorite content, such as the ups and downs of elevator design. That's because the policies, such as this page, dictate the style, content, and organization of MathHelp, and every editor -- that means you! -- is responsible for following the policies. I know what you're thinking: I can still fill this wiki up with pages about Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories just by changing the policies to allow such things. But, no, you can't do that, because doing that would violate the policy policy. Good try.


MathHelp contains a mixture of homework problems, competition problems, puzzles and the like. Many of them came from students who asked for help with the questions, and then either came back and supplied the answer later (thanks!) or else Graeme or someone else edited the page to provide the answer.

MathHelp is not WikipediaEdit

Would you like to write an article that contains original research? Go for it! Don't violate any copyrights, but on the other hand, don't bother to credit sources.

MathHelp is not bullshitEdit

Do you believe that pi is rational? Do you think you've got a simple proof of Beale's conjecture? Then you're a crackpot, and what you say is bullshit. Please feel free to start your own Wikia site with its own set of policies that allow pages like that.

MathHelp doesn't piss off WikiaEdit

This is a free site, supported by advertising. Everyone is free to ignore the ads, but we don't write pages that interfere with Wikia's money making efforts.

Organization: MathHelp is not unorganizedEdit

Being a wiki, MathHelp uses all the wiki tools it can to organize itself. In particular, wikilinks and Categories organize content. The "search" facility helps find pages, too. The subsections here describe how we're allowed to organize the pages in this wiki.

Categories: MathHelp does not reinvent the wheelEdit

The wiki comes out of the box with a tree of categories starting with "Browse". Browse has two subcategories, "Content" and "Organization". All of the MathHelp pages fall into categories under "Content", so the main page shows the category tree under . A wiki doesn't enforce a "tree" structure of categories, which is a good thing, because, for example, "Puzzle" might be appropriate for pages in the "Geometry", "Algebra", and "Topology" categories. I'm just saying.

Rules for CategoriesEdit

Main article: MathHelp categories

Go ahead and create new categories, if you like. But please follow these rules.

  • Categories are subcategories of other categories. Look at the existing category tree on the main page, and see where your category fits in. To hook it into the tree, add the parent category as a category of your new category. Clear?
  • Categories describe the articles themselves, not how you feel about them. In other words, "Ken's favorite pages" is no good.

MathHelp does not overlinkEdit

If the totient function is mentioned 50 times on a page, there's no need to wikify all 50 references to it. One will do. If it hasn't been mentioned in a while, then you can link one more reference to it, but that's it!

redlink policyEdit

I know how it is. You're on a roll, and you use a term that should be an article, so go ahead and link to it, even though you know the article you're linking to doesn't exist yet. Periodically, come back to the site, and fill in some of the redlinks with articles or stubs.

MathHelp does not avoid links to redirectsEdit

Redirects are necessary so that articles can be found under canonical or colloquial names, misspellings, etc. Go ahead and refer to FLT and flt in articles you write. If you see a link to a redirect, please don't "fix" it. However, if you see a double-redirect (which might have been the result of renaming an article) then please turn it into a single redirect.

Disambiguation pagesEdit

Main article: Disambiguation pages

If a term can mean two different things, then they need to be disambiguated. For a thorough discussion of disambiguation, see Wikipedia:WP:DAB, because MathHelp follows many of these guidelines. Our policy is simpler: don't link to a disambiguation page unless you really intend to do so. Signal your intention to link to a disambiguation page by linking as [[fubar (disambiguation)|]], creating a redirect as needed.