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David White - gone from MO's user avatar
David White - gone from MO's user avatar
David White - gone from MO's user avatar
David White - gone from MO
  • Member for 13 years, 5 months
  • Last seen this week
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About

I have decided to leave Math Overflow. I joined as a PhD student many years ago, and MO was a useful way to learn, problem solve, and practice writing. Unfortunately, in recent years, MO has become a nastier place. My bad experiences started in 2020 when I wrote the following answer, which advocated for an ICM special lecture regarding issues of diversity, equity, and inclusivity in mathematics: Suggestions for special lectures at next ICM. The resulting backlash (and a long conversation in an "MO chatroom") revealed a lot of deep biases and aggressive behavior among MO users. Since then, a lot of my contributions have been met with more backlash, including snarky and mean comments (which the writer then deletes), and many more downvotes on my contributions than before. I've noticed that this bad behavior often comes from mobs of anonymous users and very low-reputation users whose history of contributions shows that they are not research mathematicians working as professors. This kind of bad behavior is part of the reason that MO has a big problem with diversity. The pros of MO (helping junior researchers) do not outweigh the cons (this site is damaging to efforts to make math more welcoming and inclusive). Specifically, MO has very few female users, and mathematicians from under-represented groups (e.g., black, latino) are barely represented on MO at all.

To anyone reading this, I would not want my history of contributions on the site to suggest that I agree with or support the kind of nasty behaviors here that drive people away. Moderators seem to be making the problems worse, not better. At this point, I have negative confidence in the moderators as of 2024. It was not easy to decide to leave after 6000+ hours on the site, ~30000 reputation, top 1% user, etc. I would be happy to return if better moderators are elected and if the community fixes the problems with its culture.

Below is my old profile text. At this point, if you have a question that you think I can answer, you should email me instead of asking it on MO.

I am an associate professor at Denison University. I do math, computer science, and statistics. In math, I'm interested in (semi) model categories, Bousfield localization, and algebras over (colored) operads. I apply my work to unstable, stable, equivariant, and motivic homotopy theory, to homological algebra, and to representation theory. In computer science, I think about graph theory, randomized algorithms, streaming computation, genetic algorithms, data science, and data systems. In applied statistics, I've done research (often with students) related to the opioid epidemic, policing and protests, gun violence, and a host of other topics. I've published in economics, biostatistics, and pedagogical research, thanks to my co-authors. In my spare time, I travel as much as possible. As of 2023, I've visited 143 countries and published 33 papers and a book.

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