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Is it acceptable to ask questions that are more concerned with mathematicians (women and men alike) as persons than with their contribution to mathematics?

Those questions could be related to the circumstances under which they lived, their character or their habits.

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    $\begingroup$ Much as mathematical -history, -education, -sociology, -gossip make an appearance, such questions lie outside the main thrust, and are accepted more at the caprice of the community rather than by any rule or justification. If you ask on meta whether a specific question is appropriate, you might get more appropriate feedback. As your question presently stand, the safe answer is "usually not". Gerhard "Always Practice Safe Question Answering" Paseman, 2013.11.20 $\endgroup$ – Gerhard Paseman Nov 20 '13 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ mathoverflow.net/questions/45185/… got 49 upvotes, 4 downvotes. mathoverflow.net/questions/28947/… 38 up, 1 down. mathoverflow.net/questions/102597/… 16 up, 1 down. mathoverflow.net/questions/74707/… 66 up, 4 down. There have been questions about mathematicians who did their best work after 40, mathematicians who came to math from other fields, but I didn't find them. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 20 '13 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ It's worth being aware that you'll find many highly upvoted questions of approximately this level of softness, but if you scrutinize them more closely you'll notice that they generally weren't asked recently. Standards were different in the earlier days. $\endgroup$ – Qiaochu Yuan Nov 23 '13 at 8:39
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Questions on the history of mathematics, which to a certain extent includes the lifes of those that did it, are on-topic.

So, if the question can be considered as a relevant/interesting/good historical question, then it can be on-topic. If it is more some gossip-ing, then it is off-topic.

That being said, most questions that would fit the despcription that come to mind would be in the second category. And even some that in my mind are in the former could still face some opposition.

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As Gerry Myerson's examples show, occasionally questions about mathematicians and their lives are received well. -- But be aware that such questions tend to be at least on the borderline to off-topic, and that how such question is received depends also on who is asking it, and to a certain extent on good or bad luck. Certainly people don't like to see many users asking such questions.

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I do not think these questions are appropriate, and many of them that have been asked in the past have been heavily down voted and closed.

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