A question was just asked about whether or not we still need model categories of spectra (vs working with the $\infty$-category). To me (and Fernando Muro at least), it is reminiscent of a previous question about whether we still need model categories. Both questions already have answers from experts in both methods. I suspect that which answers people upvote in both threads has more to do with personal preference than anything else. In situations like this, where a user is asking which of two perfectly good methods is better, and everything is opinion based, should the whole thread be Community Wiki?

For non homotopy-theorists, an analogy would be someone asking: "when you do differential geometry, is it better to work in a coordinate free setting or with coordinates." Of course, the answer is: "it depends on what you are trying to do, and your own personal preferences." You can have experts from both sides weigh in, and write answers with +100 upvotes, but it seems strange to me to get so many reputation points for eloquently stating an opinion.

Edit: the question was made Community Wiki on Feb. 10, 2019.

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    $\begingroup$ This isn't directly related to your question/suggestion, but looking at the exchanges in the comments makes me wonder if this isn't an occasion for bringing back "tea" ( mathoverflow.tqft.net ) $\endgroup$
    – Yemon Choi
    Commented Feb 10, 2019 at 3:25
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    $\begingroup$ I actually think that chat would be a good place for many of the discussions in the comments, but Dmitri Pavlov did not want to move there... $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 10, 2019 at 16:20
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    $\begingroup$ And I explained why: the chat discussion would be buried in a couple of days, whereas the comments will be readable forever. Myself, I enjoy reading other such discussions in the comments. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 10, 2019 at 19:17
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    $\begingroup$ @DmitriPavlov It's fairly easy to link to the chat discussions in the comments to the answer, and there's even a button to create a dedicated chatroom with an automatic link attached to the answer. But, of course, it's up to the participants in the discussion. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 10, 2019 at 19:46
  • $\begingroup$ It's now CW, incidentally. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Feb 10, 2019 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ @DenisNardin Well, maybe it would be more precise to say, that it's up to the participants and up to the moderators - since the mods can move the discussion in comments to the chat, if they consider this suitable. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 10, 2019 at 23:41
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    $\begingroup$ Primarily opinion based is one of the listed reasons for closing a question on MO. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 12:00
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    $\begingroup$ A hidden axiom here is that mathoverflow points have value. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 14:25

1 Answer 1


I think the answer is "yes", by analogy with the situation of "big list" questions. Essentially, if a question is highly subjective, then it is likely to generate opinion-based answers. People are going to vote to express their agreement or disagreement with the opinions being expressed (like they will do on this answer). This kind of voting is very different from the voting on a more mathematical question, where a downvote might be used to signify that the mathematics is wrong, or poorly written.

In a 2010 discussion on Tea, the community essentially came to the conclusion that Big List questions should be CW so that people can vote in support or disagreement without harming reputation.

Hence, I feel the same consideration should apply to questions whose answers are necessarily subjective, like "should we as a field do X?" Or "what should an editor do when ...?" Or "can someone give me a list of the major advances in field Y?" This way, reputation reflects (ideally) the quality of a user's mathematical contributions, and not whether or not the community largely agrees with the user's subjective opinions.


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