Tricki now fully live

Update (25/4/09). Since the launch, the number of pages on the Tricki has doubled (from 104 to 208), and is increasing fast.

Main post. If you have visited the Tricki recently, then you will already know that it has gone live. I’ve delayed posting about it until we were sure that everything was fully transferred: if you visit the prelive site you are now automatically redirected to the proper site, which you can also get to by clicking here. The URL is

A few small points to note here. In response to comments, we have introduced some new features. One is a feature for marking an article as a stub. Our working definition of a stub is that it should have no substantial mathematical content, and should not link forwards to any articles with substantial mathematical content. (That is, a parent of a non-stub is always a non-stub.) The thought behind this is that there are two directed graphs of interest: one with all articles, whether written or unwritten, and the other the set of all ancestors of articles with interesting content. The stub feature allows one to explore either of these trees with ease, because if an article is marked as a stub, then all links to that article are clearly marked as well, with a little leaf symbol.

A second change is that in the Forums section we have a section called “Article requests”. If you think there ought to be an article on a certain topic, but are not in a position to write it (because you are short of time, or don’t know enough about the topic, or just don’t feel like it), then it will be very valuable to the Tricki enterprise if you write, in enough detail to make clear what you have in mind, a contribution to the forum in which you ask for somebody to write it for you. More generally, pretty well any kind of feedback is helpful, and has already made a difference for the better (as the two changes just described indicate).

A less direct way of requesting articles is one that I myself have been doing a lot: I just create links to non-existent articles. I should probably change most of these dead links into stubs, to give more idea of what I hope these articles will contain. Another way of helping the Tricki without a huge investment of time is to add more such links. For example, if you see a navigation page (a page that consists mainly of links to articles on some given topic) and feel that the list of links is incomplete in some obvious way, then by all means add to it. Again, it’s probably better to create the articles in question as stubs rather than giving just a title: an obvious way of doing this is to write just the quick description and not the main body of the article.

A medium-quick way of contributing is to add examples to articles that are a bit short of them. This should be much easier than creating an article from scratch, because the technique in question will already have been explained by somebody else.

But while I hope that there will be many small contributions of this kind, the success or failure of the Tricki will in the end depend on whether we get enough new articles with substantial content, and also on whether we can keep control of the organization of the articles. On the first point , let me put it like this: if every mathematician who has visited the site so far were to contribute one “core” article, we would have a much bigger and more varied collection of articles than we have at the moment, and would already get to the stage where no single person was likely to read every article on the site. In other words, it would get to the critical stage where one could find something new and interesting whenever one visited the site. And surely all mathematicians have at least one Tricki article in them — one not completely obvious technique that they know and find useful.

As for the organization, if you come across an article and have the reaction, “This is an interesting and useful article, but the people who would benefit from it are most unlikely to realize that it is here,” then please do something about it. There are many things that you could do. You could create a new navigation page with links to that article and related ones (either already existing or to be created at some point in the future). You could add a link to an existing navigation page. Or you could start a new forum topic by saying something like, “There is an article on X but it seems hard to find. Does anyone have any good ideas about how to categorize it?”

If you don’t really believe that the Tricki would be all that useful to mathematicians, then these remarks are not aimed at you. But if you like the idea of the Tricki, then what I am asking for is a few hours of your time: if enough people are prepared to do a bit of work on it, then each person should get out far more than they put in. (In other words, it’s a typical prisoner’s-dilemma type of situation.)

This post is starting to ramble a bit, because I’ve just thought of something I should have mentioned earlier. Another quick way for some people to contribute is to modify things they have already written. There are informal accounts of bits of mathematics dotted all over the internet: I am hoping that many of them will migrate over to the Tricki, where they can fit into a more organized structure and benefit from the different search methods that are available.

Added later: if you find that you have technical problems, then the quickest way of getting them dealt with is probably to send an email to webmaster at tricki dot org. That way you’ll reach whichever of Alex and Olof is next available. (Of course, “at” and “dot” should be replaced by the appropriate symbols.)

27 Responses to “Tricki now fully live”

  1. Tricki now live « What’s new Says:

    […] in Mathematics, non-technical, tricks | by Terence Tao From Tim Gowers’ blog comes the announcement that the Tricki – a wiki for various tricks and strategies for proving mathematical results – is […]

  2. Tricki « change notation and integrate by parts Says:

    […] a comment » From Gowers: the Tricki is now open for […]

  3. Joshua Zelinsky Says:

    I don’t see a description of what copyright the material in question has. Is this going to be released under the GFDL or maybe a Creative Commons license or what?

    • jc Says:

      I too, am interested in this question. It would be better to make a decision now, so that people may contribute their edits without worry.

  4. Top Posts « Says:

    […] Tricki now fully live If you have visited the Tricki recently, then you will already know that it has gone live. I’ve delayed posting […] […]

  5. GreedyAlgorithm Says:

    I tried making an account and did not get and email. I tried again and it said my chosen username was registered. I tried saying I forgot my password and did not get an email. Thoughts?

  6. asoooo Says:

    I was going to suggest that Tricki be used to also provide examples, but there is at least one article with the title “Basic example…”

    If someone needs an idea for an article, I would suggests examples and uses of tensor products. I did learn long time ago that they are the most general bilinear maps but never found how it could be used.

  7. mghjr Says:

    same problem as greedy algorithm above

  8. gowers Says:

    GreedyAlgorithm and mghjr: I’m not the person who can sort out this kind of problem. The best thing to do is email webmaster at tricki dot org (replacing “at” and “dot” by the appropriate symbols) and Alex or Olof will be able to sort you out. I’ll add something to this effect to the main post above. I’ve also started added a topic “Registration problems” to the “Bugs” section of the Tricki forums — this is another good way of proceeding.

    asooo: There is also a section called “Article requests” in the Tricki forums. I’ve made a request over there, based on your comment.

  9. Louigi Says:

    GreedyAlgorithm and mghjr, check your spam folder. My registration email was classified as spam by my email program, but I did receive it.

  10. Tricki goes live « What Is Research? Says:

    […] unnecessary subservience to Wikipedia. At the time, Tricki was still pre-live. Recently, Tim Gowers announced that the Tricki is “fully live”, which means that anybody can create a login and add […]

  11. mghjr Says:

    @Louigi : of course i looked in my spam folder , but nothing there

    two days ago i send a mail to the webmaster , but no answer so far.

  12. Olof Says:

    mghjr: there is probably a problem with your e-mail account, then. Alex replied to your e-mail on the 17th. The e-mail address you used to sign up is not the same address that you used to send us an e-mail — could that be the source of your problems?

  13. josebrox Says:

    I think another, more dynamical and spontaneous, way to help the Tricki is to browse over the forums and article comments and give answers to yet unanswered questions. Any question posted there has a high probability of being a FAQ, so answering it you actually are solving a doubt for many people at the same time. Later on, the author or any other Tricki contributor can add the core of your post to the very same article if he finds it useful, improving it with your help.

    For example, I answered a doubt at the “Tensor product” article; it’s not an improvement in itself, but a clarification of some definitions (formal rings and fields) in case someone needs them – you can’t understand an example of a new concept if you are not aware of the definitions involved! That information probably won’t be ever pasted into the article but I think it is still useful for the non-expert, and better than linking to Wikipedia.


  14. Tricki opens its doors // La Tricki abre sus puertas « chimathera Says:

    […] information available at: Tricki now fully live – Gowers Tricki now live – […]

  15. Max Says:

    On the question of licensing, I’d say the only advantage of GFDL is that text could be copied from Wikipedia into the Tricki. Otherwise, the GFDL is a fairly onerous license, and something like CC-SA or CC-BY-SA would likely be more appropriate.

    I’ve heard rumours that Wikipedia might migrate to CC-BY-SA (legal wrangling by the Free Software Foundation allows them to do so by August 2009), in which case this becomes a non-issue.

  16. How to Write a Really Good Research Paper « Successful Researcher Says:

    […] and scope are discussed at the blogs of the Fields medalists Tim Gowers and Terence Tao, see e.g. here and […]

  17. Juliette Culver » April links Says:

    […] Tricki now fully live […]

  18. YongHui Wang Says:

    Tricki is still new to me.

    I would like suggest that, in “Post new comment”, under “Subject”, it is better to add another blank as “Tags”, which already have the existed tags for this page, and the authors for comment can add new tags when they “Post new comment”.

    Tags seems to have three type in Tricki, as

    “Area of mathematics” “Keywords” “Used in”

    For that, I suggest,

    1. “Area of mathematics” can only be added and edited by the super members, and

    a) is supported by a hierarchical structure (like multi-level recursive nested folders) . Now the sub-tags is just listed in alphabet sequence.

    b) when “keywords” concide with “Area of mathematics”, then it is automatically regarded as “Area of mathematics”。

    c) For building the hierarchical structure of “Area of mathematics”, it will be convenient, if automatically take the large names as the sub-tags of small name. For example, take “Prime Number Theorem” as the sub-tag of “Prime numbers” automatically, and regard “Fourier inversion formula” as the sub-tag of “Fourier analysis’ automatically, if they are both the type of “Area of mathematics”.

    Of course, keywords can be contributed by any members.

    2. Hence, it is able to separate “Area of mathematics” “keywords” as two disjoint set. The advantage is that, we are then able to give the tags of “Area of mathematics” “keywords” as different font colors in the Tag list page and other related applications, which is friendly to our eyes and intuitions .

    3. I still donot have a good understanding for the “used in” tags, what is relation of “used in” tags with “Area of mathematics” “keywords”?
    And beside “used in” tags, why donot apply “proved by” tags. Of course, in theory, you can deduce the “proved by” tags from “used in” tags from the information of the whole site. But for single pages, “proved by” tags are still different from the “used in” tags.
    I have said that, give different font colors to “Area of mathematics” tags and “keywords” tags. So is that possible give some picture-property to the “proved by” tags and “used in” tags?

    3. Tricki still donot support “Tags Clouds”. This is another view of how to organize tags besides hierarchical structure. For example, in the tag list, give the “Area of mathematics” tags and “keywords” tags the subscripts and superscript. The subscripts shows the number how many other tags are “used in” this tag. And the superscripts shows the number how many other tags are “proved by” this tag. When the user click the subscript/superscript, then they are lead to that corresponding tag list.

  19. YongHui Wang Says:

    4. Hence for “used in” tag and “proved by” tags, they may also be the tags of the type “Area of mathematics” “keywords” .
    Besides the view of Hierarchy (only for “Area of mathematics” as the folders view), and the view of “Tag clouds” (mostly for “keywords” and also for “Area of mathematics” ), there is a third view for “used in” tag and “proved by” tags, as “Road Map” view.
    For example, if we choose two tags, one as the “starting point” and another as the “ending point”, then the “Road Map” function will automatically give the graph structure to all related tags, give the road map from the “starting point” to the “ending point”.
    Of course, this task is tough for temporary, and might not be feasible. Since, we maynot determine very clearly the level of “use in”/”proved by” for every single page. For example, tag-1 is used in tag-2, and tag-2 is used in tag-3, so in tag-3 page, tag-1 might be included as the “used in” tag. If so, that might harm the structure of the automatically generating “Road Map”. But anyway, it is still possible to be solved if finer algorithm and finer page-management is considered.

  20. YongHui Wang Says:

    A new combination of sentences w.r.t “used in” tags and “proved by” tags.

    So is that possible give some picture-property to the “proved by” tags and “used in” tags?

    For example, in the tag list, give the “Area of mathematics” tags and “keywords” tags the subscripts and superscript.

    The subscripts shows the number how many other tags are “used in” this tag. And the superscripts shows the number how many other tags are “proved by” this tag.

    When the user click the subscript/superscript, then they are lead to that corresponding tag list.

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  23. how to blog for money Says:

    I arrived on this page surfing the Internet. I checked out the Tricki site out of interest and read the discussion on editing of articles submitted, and the copy right issues that may arise.

    World over, when articles are submitted for publishing, it is understood that it will be revised to meet the publications requirements. Sometimes writers may have issues with the level of editing and may not agree with it.

    In that case, they hold the right to withdraw it.

    Sometimes credits are shared — in some newspapers and magazines, the articles carry both the writers and the editor’s name (appropriately attributed) but in terms of copy right, it is vested entirely in the writer till the copyright period runs out.

    This is, in a way correct, since the copyright is for the creativity–the idea–rather than how it is presented.

  24. Janiye Says:

    Checked out Tricki after landing on this page via www. It speaks volumes for the power of the Internet that such forums are alive and kicking.

  25. Math websites falling into disuse? « What Is Research? Says:

    […] blogged twice about Tricki, the Tricks Wiki, which went live in April 2009 (see the annoucement by Tim Gowers). Tricki held a lot of promise. Of late, the enthusiasm seems to have slowed down, though this […]

  26. Tricki Math Methods Website | New Math Done Right Says:

    […] Timothy Gowers announcement Tricki fully live […]

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