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Meta thread for
What everybody must/should know achievements in 2010 and around
Quick facts: Closed yesterday without much discussion. Now 3 votes to reopen.
Personal opinion: On the minus side it is really subjective and possibly argumentative. IMO, in case it is reopened people should at least please refrain from expressing their disagreement with nominations verbally.
On the plus side it could be interesting.
I suppose I find these kinds of questions just part of the hype echo-chamber. If you're interested in a subject you have other avenues to find out about recent developments. So it's not clear what kind of special role this thread plays, aside from reinforcing already-existing mechanisms for getting news out.
I didn't vote on this thread as I have "soft question" and "big list" blocked. I suppose that's a pretty clear indication of what I think of these types of threads.
@Gerry: answers are not turned into CW if the thread was converted to CW after the answers were posted. I think maybe Anton can convert everything to CW but otherwise it has to be done by the authors of the answers.
I agree with Gjergji on everything.
Just to summarize the CW issue, which confused me myself for a while (I only recently learned this thanks to David White).
As soon as the question is CW all new answers will be automatically CW (in particular if it is so from the start all answers are CW).
An OP turning a question into CW does not affect existing answers (as can be seen from the one answer to said question); of course each answerer can individually from the start or also afterwards turn the answer into CW (so one could leave a comment on the answer to request this, this happens sometimes).
A moderator turning a question into CW can make it so that the existing answers are also turned into CW, I believe they can do this more efficiently than turning each answer individually into CW (which I think they also could).
For the existing question I already flagged for moderator attention with the request of turning into CW some time ago (when I wrote my comment). As commented on the question in particular due to this answer issue it seems to me that the 'flagging for moderator' is the way to go for CW (if it is not 'on' right away); I already did this succesfully a couple fo times, yet some moderator please correct me if this is not a good practise. [When we switch to SE 2.0 this will always be like this as there only mods can turn questions into CW or the softaware after many edits or answers I beleive but in any case not OPs right away; to some extent this this also explains that some people do not turn there questions into CW themselves, they are not used to having this abilty].
@Zeeshan Mahmud: below your answer you have a small button 'edit' (assuming you are logged in, else log in).
Click on it. Then you get a window just like the one you had when answering orginally (where you could also chnage the answer if you wanted to). Below this window, there is a small box and to its right it says 'community wiki'.
You just need to tick this box and then press the large button 'save your edits' at the very end.
Now that we have solid evidence that answers to this question are likely to influence hiring decisions, we might ask: is this an outcome we want? It seems that such a situation will create unfortunate incentives.
I think this question sets a dangerous precedent. Questions like this are always very popular (see, for example this one) but they are not quite appropriate for MO.
In addition, the MO population is quite skewed towards certain subfields, so I am not sure the answers (and their ranking by votes) will paint a very accurate picture.
Also, +1 to what Scott Carnahan just wrote.
I agree with Scott and Hailong, this is starting to sound too political.
I'm not a fan of the question either. One thing I find irritating and which could easily be fixed are the normative words "must" and "should". What everybody must know? Gimme a break. What everybody should know? Says you. If this question must stay open ;-), then why not change the title to "Noteworthy achievements in and around 2010" or something similar?
@Alexander Cherov: OP means Original Poster, that is in this case you.
@Alexander Chervov: thanks for your gracious response. You seem to have seen that I simply wanted to help avoid any misunderstandings, but I'm sorry if I seemed to express myself too strongly. (By the way, I didn't know you were the OP; I saw Benjamin Steinberg's name.)
I tried to rewrite the question in the spirit of this discussion. Also voted to reopen. Just think about it, we cannot give the impression everything only happened in Group Theory, Combinatorics, and Computer Science ;D
Kidding aside, I can also understand if it stays close but I also think it could be an interesting list if all goes well.
Thanks, Benjamin. It's all clear now.
I like this question, but I also see the force of the argument that it is subjective and argumentative and that we do not want to influence hiring decisions.
I would like to echo the comment of markvs that this information is not easy to come by otherwise. Math Reviews once experimented with "Featured Reviews," which were longer reviews of certain papers that were considered by the editors to be interesting enough to highlight. The editors knew that they were being subjective (e.g., the subject matter of Featured Reviews was skewed towards the areas of interest of the most prolific and articulate reviewers), but did not see this as a deal-breaker at first. However, MR soon discontinued Featured Reviews, and I heard through the grapevine that it was precisely for the same reasons that are being articulated here; they were being unwittingly thrust into the role of adjudicating which publications were "the best," and thereby influencing decisions about hiring and promotion.
It seems to me that the mathematical research community could benefit from more knowledge of what is going on in areas other than one's own narrow research area. Admittedly, MO may not be the right venue, but I'm at a loss to suggest a better one. The Cipra/Mackenzie series of What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences is excellent, but there's only so much one writer can cover, no matter how talented and energetic. The only other alternative at present is to look at winners of various prizes. This again is a very short list, and will miss a lot of very interesting stuff that doesn't necessarily have the flashiness to win a prize.
Some of you may remember that I once asked an MO question, "How do you find out the latest news in fields other than your own?" At the risk of sounding overly cynical, my summary of the answers would be, "You can't." This is a shame.
You made many good points, as did Mark and Timothy. I just want to say that our votes to close did not imply that your question is bad. They didn't even imply that there is any better venue for such question. In fact, as Timothy pointed out, there is none. MO is by far the biggest congregation of mathematicians I know of, and I can see the tremendous temptation to tap in such energy for essentially a good cause. Personally, I would be curious to see the answers too.
Our votes simply indicate some MO members' belief that MO is not yet suitable for such purpose. In fact, recently Tim Gowers has proposed a new MO-like system, where papers can be voted on (the follow-up discussion and post are very interesting too). So things are changing fast, and may be the day your question would be the norm is not too far away.
Dear Keith: wow!
A minor correction: "мне казались (или лучше показались) неуклюжими".
@michalkotowski: so what are you proposing people do? MO meta isn't intended to be the universal repository of all mathematical activism.
My reading of michalkotowski's comment is that using/allowing to use MO for such things (at least temporarily) would help get the ball rolling. And thus there seems to be an implict suggestion of allowing more on MO.
Not to take this thread too much off-topic, at least I will mention something specific to the question too:
While I am in favor of this particular question, I am in general against opening up MO too much.
The software is really designed for a highly specific purpose, (ab)using it for other things is just not a good idea.
Yet there are some other activities complementing MO, for example http://www.mathblogging.org/ besides other things makes it easier to follow discussion happening on different blogs. And, they also have a feature to make what Gil Kalai just did for that question (opening a blog post) more efficient by aggregating all such posts on PlanetMO.
Also there is/was (?) an offer by Andrew Stacey to set up a discussion board if and only if somebody volunteers to moderate it. It seems noone ever followed up on this offer.
@michalkotowski, A rather extreme way of putting what you're saying into words would be: there's a group of people unwilling to put the effort into creating the forum they want, so we should allow them to do whatever they like with MO, regardless of how far off MO's mandate that would take the forum.
The reason MO is a success is in part because it has a narrow mission. It isn't plugged-up with opinion pieces, pleas for funding, conference announcements, award announcements, sob stories, CV polishing and such. Because people don't want to read that stuff when they come here. They want actual mathematics.
@Ryan: +Skewes number.
@Yemon +Graham's number (to the power of A(G,G)) :P
Michal Kotowski: Quite the opposite! It makes perfect sense. If this type of question were common on MO, then those who wanted to set up an alternative forum would have a struggle because everyone would say, "Oh, but we can post those on MO". By closing them and saying "Take them elsewhere" we're helping build up the momentum for the "elsewhere" to exist.
Quid's quite right. I've said many times, and so has Scott Morrison, that I'd be happy to set up such a forum - it would take me about 5 minutes to do - I just don't want to moderate it. So far, no-one has even shown the slightest bit of interest in the idea so my conclusion is that all the people who shout loudly for such a place don't really want it.
The link to Gowers' posts is apt. It's very easy to have ideas, and very good ideas, but not so easy to put them into place. MO is a realisation of a good idea, I think that the nLab/nForum is as well. But I spent a fair amount of time and effort with others thinking about a review site before concluding that it was beyond me (and them) so talk is cheap, as you say.
This particular question matches just about every single one of my "Bad MO Question" signs. What is the point of it? What are people going to do with this information? Are people really going to read those articles (or whatevers) and conclude "This is what 2010 will be remembered for" (why 2010, by the way?). Or is it just a nice warm fuzzy list that's a bit different from the usual lists one gets at this time of year?
The link to Gowers' post is doubly apt because this sort of information is really what journals should be providing. The Journal of K-Theory really should list those articles that the editorial board feels that everyone worker in K-Theory should read, regardless of whether they've been published elsewhere.
So I'm voting to close. I agree with Vladimir that as this type of question becomes more prevalent then my motivation for participating in MO lessens.
@Vladimir Dotsenko: since you seem to have so strong feelings about this, may I ask you when you arrived at this insight.
I assume after answering: A single paper everyone should read, How have mathematicians been raised, Cocktail party math, What are qualities of a good math taecher, Choosing postdocs
@quid: I object to this sort of attack, especially from anonymous contributors.
@Scott Carnahan: I do not see why this is an attack, it was a perhaps provocative question, as a response to a particularly strong claim.
Basically Vladimir Dotsenko asserts that for example I, but a couple of other people too, are doing something (endorsing this question) that will inevitably turn MO into something annoying.
In addition in this case I really cannot see what anonymity has to do with this. Everybody can check what I say here against what I do on MO too.
Also, I am really curious whether he at some point in time changed his mind regarding what is and is not good content on MO (I changed my mind on some MO related things over time, too), or somehow wanted to make an abstract point that inadvertently got phrased a bit too strongly (IMO) and was rather meant in the way what eg Andrew said (and btw me too on other occassions) or sees a difference between the current question and those other questions or still something else.
So, could you please explain me at what type of 'attack' you see this.
ADDED: Since I just refound it, let me add that nobody objected to the following sentence "I note that your expressed view is not entirely consistent with your own questions and answers." (in a similar discussion and context, which expresses exactly the same thing.)