Today this question was put on Hold as off-topic


I wander if this is a disservice in fact. I suspect that a graduate student might benefit from such solutions while learning and this is part of research. Is not as if he's asking for solutions to Calculus homework. I'm not particularly inclined to suggest to reopen the question, just that I am not sure if we would actually be more helpful if we would leave these kinds of questions open.

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    $\begingroup$ It may be on topic for math.se, but less so for this forum. I have my doubts that research efforts can be furthered by having results delivered en masse. Furthering understanding of existing subjects, yes: taming the frontier, not so much. While MathOverflow is both about taming and understanding, the post is rather like asking for solution manual recommendations for undergraduate level subjects, not like reference requests to the literature. If the poster wants textbook/solution manual recommendations, have the poster try math.se $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 22:05
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    $\begingroup$ I was one of the voters to close. There's all kinds of ways MO could benefit all kinds of people, but we don't pursue them all. The site has a narrow scope for a reason. Homework solutions is pretty well beyond the line. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 0:53
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    $\begingroup$ My concern is the same as Ryan's. I don't see an intrinsic ethical difference between providing solutions to undergraduate homework and providing solutions to graduate school homework, and neither is really what MO is about. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 1:12
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    $\begingroup$ @RyanBudney you are making a point in which I agree and another one that I disagree: one the one hand I understand that having a "narrow scope" has it purpose and I do like this on MO. On the other hand I think you missed my point with the sentence "Homework solutions". My question is generic to graduate school texts which do not characterize as "Homework" (at least in my mind). How about if the question asked for solutions to all exercises "left to the reader" in SGA-7? will this be Homework? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 3:09
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    $\begingroup$ It may or may not be homework; it does not seem on topic for MO either. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 3:49
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    $\begingroup$ In general, I would find any kind of graduate-level mathematics question to be on-topic on MO. I don't really see that it matters what the source of the question is, as long as it is mathematically interesting and at the right level. Many of the advanced texts in my research area have some extremely difficult exercises in them, which sometimes even stump the experts, and these questions would certainly be on-topic at MO, despite their source. So I don't agree to any sweeping policy against posting exercises here. The policy should have to do only with the content and interest of the question. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 16:08
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    $\begingroup$ I also would think a post on an exercise from Mac Lane's book, along with a summary of a failed attempt and a question directed toward understanding the failure and/or a key perspective, would be appropriate: it is such perspectives and understandings this site intends to promote. The question under discussion seems to request something the site does not promote, in my view: a large collection of answers to questions designed to exercise one's understanding. (Even Knuth wants you to do some thinking before, during, and after reading his exercise answers.) $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 6:02
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    $\begingroup$ I don't see it desirable to ask for "failed attempts", unless they are mathematically interesting (in which case they are welcome for that reason alone). I have almost never found the numerous "what have you tried?" remarks that one finds on MSE to be useful or interesting, or even relevant, and it would be a pity for that practice to be adopted here. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 22:38


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