I am not sure whether there exists some kind of objectivity in taking a decision in closing a question. For example my question https://mathoverflow.net/questions/226226/a-symmetric-function was closed stating that "This question does not appear to be about research level mathematics within the scope defined in the help center." I do not understand their definition of "research level mathematics" in this context. It seems like moderators/admins operate with some subjective opinions usually in undeclared groups supporting each other decisions. Very rarely we find some contradictions or major disagreement. If this is my misconception please elaborate your objectivity in taking such decisions?

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    $\begingroup$ Note that your question was not closed by a moderator; it was closed by 5 community members who believed that it should be closed. $\endgroup$
    – angussidney
    Dec 29, 2015 at 1:48

1 Answer 1


StackExchange sites work on the basis of community moderation: as a user gains reputation through upvoted questions and answers, moderation powers increase: https://mathoverflow.net/help/privileges. What has happened is that five users who have earned more than 3000 points of reputation have voted to put the question on hold. As noted by angussidney above, the users in this case are not the same as site moderators, who are elected to the position by the community and who are involved in day-to-day maintenance of the site among other things: https://mathoverflow.net/help/site-moderators. Site moderators have a diamond next to their usernames.

Having a question put "on hold" is not necessarily the end of the story; such decisions can be and are often reversed. But usually this will involve some effort by the OP to improve the question (improve the clarity, provide context and/or motivation, link to relevant sources, etc.), and if you strongly believe that your question is on-topic for this site (a site which serves professional mathematicians and their graduate students), then you should probably put in such effort.

Users make their best judgment as to what is on-topic for this site (e.g., what is "research-level"), but on occasion the judgments may be based on impressions or intuitions as opposed to deep engagement with the subject matter. If however the OP makes an effort to formulate a question with a professional appearance, and is willing to engage with users who state their criticisms, the more superficial reasons for closure will likely not be valid. We also have a meta post for requests to reopen questions, usually by other reputable users who call into question the decision to close: Requests for reopen and undelete votes for on-hold, closed, and deleted questions.


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