Help for "mom"

In exploring this "mom" system for computational mathematics you may find the following information helpful.   This site consists of Main Pages, Leaf Pages, Category Displays, and Request Pages.

Included in the system is an arcane Rating System that one can qualify to participate in simply by posting a comment or an answer to a question. If you would like to pretty up text fields in your descriptions, see Using HTML in Text Fields, and if you would like to change what you have contributed, see Changing Contributions.   Privacy/legal issues are addressed here.   If you have an interest in "mom" perhaps for some other application look here.

Except for the first four categories listed below (which the code assumes are present), a "mom" system can consist of whatever categories one desires. (The same is of course also true for main pages and leaf pages.) Except for personal information, all contributed data is stored in category tables.

The tables here use the following categories.   The format is:

Category name[abbreviation if offered at bottom of pages]: The description.

Anyone is free to add to categories at any time.   All such postings can be anonymous, but users of the system will be able to E-Mail anonymous posters without sacrificing their anonymity.   Note that when you are adding something you will get the best visibility for it by adding is on a leaf table rather than a main table in most cases.   This is because when you add something, everyone who has requested that new data be sent to them for the leaf you post it on and any above that leaf in the hierarchy will be informed.   Thus if you add something at a higher level in the hierarchy than it belongs, some that might like to know of it will miss it.

Main Pages

Main pages contain links to other pages, and at the bottom allow users to view contributions made by others in various categories, or to add a contribution of their own.   The "View" only contains a link (as opposed to text) if some contribution for that category has actually been made.   If the first contribution to a category has been made recently the view link will only appear if you refresh/reload the page.

"People Stuff" Can be used either to update your personal data, including registering, or to search for other people known to the system.   Note that personal information that can be viewed is restricted by what people who have registered choose to make visible.

"Add Oneself to List" provides a means to request that you be sent E-mail when additions are made to things at this level of the hierarchy, and at any lower levels.   You can choose for the information to be given immediately, or collected together and given daily or weekly.   Different actions can be selected for different categories.   Note that when a comment or question is posted connected with something you have posted, you will always be given the details immediately.

We plan to add a general indexing facility that will index all words appearing in descriptions.   One gives a list of words, and a search will return those contributions that contain all of those words in their descriptions.   If one cares about the sort order, the most important word should be given first.

Leaf Pages

Leaf pages are similar to main pages, except they usually offer a way to further discriminate among the possibilities associated with this particular leaf.   Of course, there are no links to pages lower in the hierarchy.

Category Displays

When you ask to view a specific category, you will get a menu that allows you to further restrict the choices as appropriate for that category.   If this request is from a leaf, the choices for that leaf will also be displayed.   You can always simply submit an empty request, which will return all results. Results are always given with the highest rated given first.   The amount of text displayed for each item depends in arcane ways on the total amount of text for all items, and if all text for an item is not displayed a single button is provided to get all of it.   Similar comments apply to the number of items returned, once again with an option to view more if not all have been displayed.

The display of results depends on a number of factors.   If only one item has been selected, full text is always given along with other attributes that may apply.   Other parts of the display depend on the status of your data and what is being displayed.   The following initial line is given to illustrate what kind of things might appear.

2000-08-28 4.5-0   Comments   All Comments   Add   Parent   Auth.: Ribet   <znC1>

The 2000-08-28 gives the date of the original posting.   The 4.5-0 is a rating/weight field.   The 4.5 gives the rating and the following 0 gives an indication of how much weight to give to a rating (in this case not much).   A rating of 4 is average, 1 indicates totally worthless, and 7 is exalted.   A weight of 0 indicates this has not been rated, while a rating of 9 would indicate a very actively rated item and hence one whose rating is not likely to change by much.

The "Comments" button is present only if this item has been commented on, and if clicked on will take you to all the comments that apply directly to this item.   The "All Comments" button is present only if this is a comment, that in turn has been commented on.   If clicked on, this will give all of the comments that are the descendants of the non-comment that spawned all of these comments.   This provides a quick way to see the most relevant comments under an item.

A "Questions" button is present only if this item has had a question posted on it.   The "Add" button lets you post a comment or question/answer for this item.   If your are currently qualified, the "Add" button will also let you rate the item.   The "Parent" link takes you to the parent of the current item.   This is useful when you have asked for "All Comments" and are curious to know what spawned a particular comment.

The "Author" button will give you as much information as is available to the public about the author(s) of the item.   In particular this will provide a link for sending mail to the author either directly or anonymously.   Abuse in the use of anonymous mail will result in revoking your privilege to use it.   The cryptic < znC1> can be copied by you into a comment, question, or answer you are posting (also see below).   It will result in a link to this particular item being included in your posting.   If it is a link, clicking on it will give you the full details for the item.   A description of the item always follows immediately after this encoding for the link to the item.

Some items have a "url" button.   One would of course click on this to go to whatever this points to.   If this link is not working and you should try again at least a few hours later, do us a favor: click on your browser's back button, then click on the author button, and then click on the button that says "Fix bad link".   This will send the author an E-mail letting him know of the problem, and will set a flag warning others that the link may be broken. (Instead of a "url" button, others will see a "?url" button, until the author fixes the problem.   If the link happens to be working when preceded by a `?', it would be nice if you would similarly click on the "Author" button, and then click on the button that says "Link is o.k."

If you are the author of an item clicking on "Add" will give you a chance to update your submission.   If you click on the author field you are given a chance to specify coauthors who in turn need to verify that they wish to have this status.

Using HTML in Text Fields

When typing in text for a field that allows for more than one line of input, a restricted set of HTML tags is allowed.   (The restrictions are for security reasons.) In the previous section we have described how to put in a reference to an item in the mom database.   If one wants a mom anchor with ones own text displayed, precede the ending > with a `:' and followed by the text you would like.   Else you get the default text of here when the anchor is displayed.

To insert an arbitrary url, use < "Your url"text to display for the url>.   If the url does not begin with "http://" or "ftp://", then the default of "http://" will be included automatically.

When displaying an item, just after the author handle, cryptic text of the form <zn...> is displayed.   If you enter this text in the description for something you are entering, it will give an html link to this item, and display "here" where the link appears.   If you would like some other text to appear with this link, simply insert ":the desired text" just before the final ">".

For the html challenged, we replace successive end-of-lines with a <p>.   Thus if you are writing html, you should avoid this, unless you in fact want this replacement.

In addition, some of the tags available in standard HTML are available.   With anything other than what is specified here, the < or > you type will come out just like that.   Note that all of these tags must be in lower case.   The brackets ([ ]) indicate that the end tag is optional.   The names of these tags are:

Changing Contributions

Sometimes one has posted something and would like to change it.   A complete change is only possible if no one has posted something that references the contribution.   Otherwise one must update what they have posted.   The description they type in will follow the original contribution, and will have "Updated < the current date>: " just ahead of the update.   To update a contribution all an author need do is click on the "add" button for the item in question.

As a result of how this works, good manners dictate that if you notice something that is an obvious blunder, you inform the author by E-mail so that he has a chance to fix it before something references the contribution.   (And if good manners does not work for you, perhaps the knowledge that others are liable to rate you down for a lack of manners will?)

The Rating System

The rating system is meant to make most visible those contributions that are most valuable.   Most things start with a rating of 4 (average) and and weight of 2 (not much).   Ratings are maintained to 2 significant figures, and can only approach 1 (worst) or 7 (best).   You have two ratings, starting with a "visible" rating of 4.5, and an "anonymous" rating of 3.5.   Both start with a weight of 2.   If you post a comment or an answer depending on whether you make your name visible or not, the initial rating given to the contribution will be either your "visible" rating or your "anonymous" rating and once again with a weight of 2.

You also have a count that determines how many times you are allowed to rate something.   This is 0 initially, and is incremented by 4 every time you post a comment or an answer.   Every time you rate something this count is decremented by 1.   The weight given to your rating of something else depends on the weighted average of your "visible" and "anonymous" ratings.   If this is less than 4, you are only allowed to rate questions (where everyone has a weight of 1).   You are not allowed to rate something that is a descendant of something you have contributed.

One of a person's ratings is likely to change anytime someone rates a comment or an answer they have posted.   The update for a person is the same as for comments or answers.   Also if the rating on a comment is updated, and that comment has an associated rating for the thing it is commenting on, then the weight given to that comments rating changes, and thus this effects the rating of the thing the comment is commenting on.

More details of the rating system can be obtained by sending a request to mom's helper.

Privacy and Legal Issues

Although we hope you will give more information about yourself, when you register all you need reveal about yourself is a valid E-Mail address.   And that address you can keep from being revealed to anyone else (except of course from someone with direct access to the database).   The system is such that you can post anonymously, someone may comment on your contribution anonymously, and if you object to what they have to say, you can E-mail them anonymously, and they can respond anonymously.

We strongly recommend our cookies.   They are very small (only 8 bytes of data), are safe given the way we use them, see here, and will only take up a little space in your cookie file.   If you don't allow the cookie you will need to supply a password when starting a new session.   If our cookie should get deleted on your machine we will replace it for the price of a password.

If you publish papers you might find it useful to reveal more about yourself. By having more information about yourself visible, it would be possible for a referee to contact you anonymously for correspondence about your paper, thus perhaps speeding up the refereeing process.   (For this to work you will need to supply your name and make it public.)   If you buy code from us, and you would like to learn about serious bugs even when your E-mail address is invalid you might want us to have additional information.   If you would like other people to be able to reach you even when they don't know anything but your name, the same comments apply.

If someone posts something you find objectionable, and you are not able to resolve your differences with correspondence, you are of course free to post rebuttals as updates to your original submission.   If you find that the above process is not satisfactory feel free to contact us about other remedies.   Note that any correspondence on these matters may be made public at our discretion. If sufficient legal pressure is brought to bear, we will probably remove offensive material in order to free money for more worthwhile pursuits (like eating).

If someone becomes a nuisance by sending too much anonymous mail, they will lose that privilege, and if they become a general nuisance they will lose the privilege of posting anything.

Note that we track almost everything that happens on this web site.   We can provide better service by doing this, but if this makes you uncomfortable, you have been warned.

Expect more policy in this area as we become more aware of the problems.

More about "mom"

When the "mom" code is in a more stable and complete state, we plan to sell it in much the same way as we sell our mathematical software.   All sites using "mom" must, upon request, link to other sites using "mom".   Here we have in mind a hierarchy of sites.   Thus for example this site might have a parent site that services mathematics which in turn might have a parent that services science and technology, etc.   Likewise this site might have a child site that provides a "mom" site specialized to PDE's or optimization for example.   A competitor site for computational mathematics is another possibility, although it doesn't seem desirable to have siblings of this type.

We plan to make the source code "open", and if anyone is interested in contributing to this project, or for that matter taking it over, we are more than open to the idea.   If there is revenue resulting from "mom" it will be shared among the contributors.   The procedure for sharing will be an open discussion, although the lead on the project should have the last say.   (And be subject to removal if unpopular enough with those involved.)

All inquiries about "mom" should be sent to the usual mom's helper.   The current state of work to be done on "mom" can be found here.

User your browser's back button to continue.
Revised: June 11, 2001