In their latest blog post, the guys from tex.SE mention that they regularly hold events where they specificly sift through the list of open questions with the goal to answer as many of them as possible.

As we have about the same number of open questions as they have, we should ask ourselves: Can this idea work for us, too?

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    $\begingroup$ Note that "Open Questions" here means questions asked on cstheory.SE that have not yet received satisfying answers. This is not the right platform to attack open problems per se; it might be if you have a concrete idea, though. Beware of coming across as a crank,though. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jan 15 '12 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ disagree, this forum system software is quite natural & arguably designed for attacking open problems per se but the particular implementation of the software by administrators is at times nearly openly hostile to it. as for being perceived as a crank, maybe too late for that =( .. just discovered this other proposal also how can we collaboratively investigate open problems $\endgroup$ – vzn Jan 16 '12 at 4:16
  • $\begingroup$ No, this is not a forum. The software is designed to answer concrete questions, and this is what our policy says, too. So, if you ask "Why does approach X to show P!=NP fail?" you might get an answer. "Please check my proof attempt" is, however, offtopic regardless of the specific topic. If you want to work on P?=NP, by all means, please do so -- but not here. Regarding crankiness: actually contributing to the community (shoudl translate to positive reputation) might help. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jan 16 '12 at 11:23

I think Jukka's idea in the comments is great, and I expect Joe and I could figure out a good way to feature an unanswered question in September.

Regarding a "polytcs" project, suitable polymath problems are "parallelizable" in the sense that there are a lot of little pieces that can be handed out as modules to people if different skill levels. Like different people checking different special cases of a conjecture. I just had an issue with my phone when I tried to embed a link, so I will be lazy and say if you search "characteristics of a good polymath project" you will find quite a bit.

So I think someone interested would have to design a plan of attack on the question, and convince others the question is amenable to crowd sourcing. Also, especially for the first such question I think it is important that we guarantee success, by choosing something that will produce original research even if the complete answer remains out of reach.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, "open question of the month" (week?) is very nice idea. (I think part of the idea of a polymath is to have lots of people consider various ideas and possibilities, i.e. the problem doesn't need to have small pieces that can be checked separately, even when that is not the case having many experts explore a large space of ideas collaboratively can be helpful.) $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Sep 3 '11 at 20:18
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe the way to kickstart this is to solicit nominations from the currently open list. Any nomination should have a little bit of explanation suggesting why this particular question might benefit from added attention. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Sep 3 '11 at 20:21
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    $\begingroup$ I have just the question to kick it off! I can write up a post tomorrow. $\endgroup$ – Joe Fitzsimons Sep 3 '11 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ It does not have to be a monthly thing, imho. Whenever someone is intrigued enough by an unanswered question to write up a post, it is fair to feature it. For the category, we should impose a minimum time of unansweredness, though. Maybe four weeks? $\endgroup$ – Raphael Sep 4 '11 at 11:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Raphael: yes that sounds right, and it shouldn't be an issue considering how many really old unanswered posts we have. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Sep 4 '11 at 16:59

I don't know. Tex.se has high volume and questions disappear quickly. Our questions stick around for a bit, and so unanswered questions are probably so for a reason. Moreover, we'd need a lot of chat expertise to cover all the unanswered questions.

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    $\begingroup$ although it would be fun to turn some of those not-answered-for-a-reason questions into small polycstheories $\endgroup$ – Artem Kaznatcheev Sep 3 '11 at 5:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Artem, we can ask Gil and Scott to see if they are interested, they have had some experience on running such projects (Terry Tao and Tim Gowers might also be interested, at least we can use their advice on how to run such a project). There is plugin that shows chat messages in a threaded way, we can create a chat room for the project, but I don't know if that would be better than a blog. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Sep 3 '11 at 6:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaveh talking to some experts is probably a good idea. I thought it was worth considering mostly because cstheory generates a lot of bite-size questions that are a little bit out of reach of a single user, but could be tackled by a few dedicated users. We do have the cstheory blog that could probably be used for hosting certain discussions, and the chat would be nice, too. $\endgroup$ – Artem Kaznatcheev Sep 3 '11 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Artem: I quite like the idea. If you get enough interest I'd be happy to donate the hosting for a wiki if required. $\endgroup$ – Joe Fitzsimons Sep 3 '11 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ On the other hand, I don't think there are any Fields medalists lurking here. $\endgroup$ – Joe Fitzsimons Sep 3 '11 at 14:43
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps we could simply pick every month one unanswered question and feature it in a blog post. Perhaps the blog post could make some educated guesses of why it is still unanswered, give some suggestions of possible approaches, explain the motivation for studying the problem, etc. This way we would get "cheap" content for the blog, and we would encourage people to answer at least some unanswered questions. $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Sep 3 '11 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Jukka, nice idea. I think explicitly asking for ideas (the way Lipton does on his blog) would help in starting a discussion on ideas to answer the question. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Sep 3 '11 at 20:14

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