Why was "The origin(s) of the word “elliptic” migrated to hsm?

This question on the history of the ellipse terminology was migrated to hsm after a week of being active on MO and receiving several useful answers.

1. Did the OP ask for migration?

2. Why are some history related question on MO migrated to hsm and others not?

My personal opinion on hsm, where I was active for some time: afaik, the site never attracted an active community of researchers of the history of science and mathematics. The handful of (very competent) mathematicians that answer questions there are almost all active on MO, but some left (or never joined) hsm since the site didn't live up to it expectations. After 5 years of existence, the site never left beta and it doesn't look like it ever will. So, personally I'd rather have questions on the history of mathematics here on MO than on HSM. What do others think?

Update (June 1, '20) the question has been sent back to MO: The origin(s) of the word "elliptic"

• I have added the (specific-question) tag, see the tag-info. (If you want to discuss more general issue and this particular question was meant just as an example, feel free to remove the tag.) Maybe also (on-topic) could be considered as a tag for this question - since it is related to the issue whether history questions are on-topic on MO. – Martin Sleziak May 14 at 7:16
• An older related discussion (from 2013): Is there a consensus on whether history of mathematics questions are acceptable on MO? – Martin Sleziak May 14 at 7:18
• This does not seem to be due to a request of the OP. The question was closed and migrated in the vote-to-close process by four users (the last one being a mod, which is why a fifth was not needed). FWIW, considering the amount of traction the post gained here on MO, I find the migration disruptive and ill-advised. – Emil Jeřábek May 14 at 7:27
• @EmilJeřábek As far as I can tell, regular users cannot migrate to hsm (it is not among the default migration paths). So some involvement of a moderator is needed in any case if a question is supposed to be migrated to that site. (Just for the reference I'll include link to the close review and revision history.) – Martin Sleziak May 14 at 7:31
• I cannot give a full answer to the question (since I did not execute the migration), but 2 possibly pertinent facts are: (1) there was a comment with 14 upvotes suggesting migration, and (2) the question had been flagged for moderator intervention. – S. Carnahan May 14 at 9:01
• I'm sensitive to your arguments and tend to agree. However, while I'm happy with such a terminology question on MO, I wouldn't apply your conclusion to all "questions on the history of mathematics", but only those with enough connection with current research, and excluding questions pertaining to sociology of the research world (e.g., about relationship between French and German mathematicians as in this recent paper published in "Revue d'histoire des mathématiques")... – YCor May 14 at 12:48
• ... and by "not enough connected with current research", I'd also mean "antic" history of mathematics, such as study of old enumeration systems, etc. (I refer to subjects that exist in current research in history of science.) At the opposite I'd be happy on MO with questions about partly old-fashioned mathematics (e.g., involving 19th century algebra, etc.) if they're of elaborate mathematical level. – YCor May 14 at 12:51
• @YCor, "antic" = "antique", or really "antic"? – LSpice May 14 at 16:14
• @LSpice thanks for correcting :) I mean antique = ancient. I thought of checking this word before posting my comment and then got distracted while browsing journals of history of math. – YCor May 14 at 16:15
• @FedericoPoloni as far as I know, some left because the quality of contributions was not of the expected level. Maybe also because 1.5 questions per day, of which only a fraction is mathematics related, does not make it a very attractive site to check out regularly. "show forcibly HSM questions ..." seems like a silly question. For most MO users there is a big part of MO questions that they ignore, since it's not their area of expertise. – Michael Bächtold May 16 at 21:31
• @FedericoPoloni There is clear consensus on meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/394/… that (at last some kind of) questions on history of mathematics are on-topic for MO, hence the only way of “opting out” of them is stop using MO. – Emil Jeřábek May 17 at 6:25
• @FedericoPoloni Your answer was posted on 2019-06-06, and since then acquired a score of +1 (+8/-7). Since the same day, András Batkái's answer accumulated a score of +6 (+8/-2). So yes, this shows a clear consensus that history question remain on-topic despite the existence of hsm. – Emil Jeřábek May 17 at 7:19
• And note that counting the votes for András Batkái's answer only since 2019-06-06 unfairly underestimates the upvotes, as it ignores everybody who upvoted the answer previously and does not want to change their mind. – Emil Jeřábek May 17 at 7:32
• @EmilJeřábek Re: hence the only way of “opting out” of them is stop using MO. Strictly speaking, one could add (ho.history-overview) to the ignored tags as a way to opt out. (That's merely a technicality and only tangential to the issue discussed here, but maybe this information might be useful for somebody.) – Martin Sleziak May 19 at 7:38
• HSM mod here. We've seen the flags now and are making a decision about what to do. We'll let you know what we end up going with. Thanks for flagging it. – HDE 226868 May 27 at 14:31

I wrote the top-voted answer to this question on MO (it currently has something like 40 up votes) and was a bit surprised to see it migrated to HSM. I don't care about votes or what-not, but in terms of the content of the question and answers, I actually think that this question does belong on MO. It's a question frequently asked by budding researchers in the field. And the answer is not only about the history of the term "elliptic curve", it includes a fair amount of non-trivial mathematical content. I'd be happy to discuss this privately with the moderator who decided to migrate.

This question was asked on MO on May 8 and moved to HSM on May 13. It currently (May 25) has 5 answers, all posted on MO (between May 8 and May 10), and all upvoted (currently from +6 to +44; I can't check exact count because I've got a minimal rep on HSM). It seems to me from the discussion that there is a large consensus that this question was on-topic at MO.

Therefore I'm suggesting to flag the question there ("in need of moderator intervention"), requesting migration to MO, possibly including a pointer to this very discussion.

(I've just flagged; my text supporting the flag was Request of migration to MO. This question was moved from MO to HSM on May 13. All the received answers were posted before, on MO. There is large consensus on MO that it's on-topic there, see https://meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/4566/)

• Thank you for taking initiative. However, I am skeptical this will work. We can’t really come to hsm and ask them to give us the question back; it is their question now, and since it does fit into the topic of hsm, they are unlikely to get rid of it. – Emil Jeřábek May 25 at 19:26
• @EmilJeřábek I have no idea of the chances that it might work, and not sure they really want to keep it as "frozen" over there; anyway it's easy to try. – YCor May 25 at 19:51
• it worked, the question is back on MO --- mathoverflow.net/questions/359705/… – Carlo Beenakker Jun 1 at 10:36
• @CarloBeenakker thanks for the info! Now it's back on MO I get more info about the timeline. On May 13 it was closed-migrated (by 4 votes, the 4th being by a moderator). Today (11h ago) the migration was rejected (the technical way to HSM to give it back to MO, possibly after flags as suggested here). Then if I understand correctly, the question came back to MO as a closed question. 7h-1h ago it was reviewed with 2 votes to reopen, and 1 to leave closed. Then it was reopened based on 5 votes. (Looks like it was reopened twice consecutively, I'm not sure what happened.) – YCor Jun 1 at 12:03

History of Science and Mathematics moderator here. We've talked it over and have just sent the question back to Math Overflow (I closed it as off-topic on HSM, so that should bounce it back to MO automatically).

Over the last six years, we've had a lot of conversations with other STEM sites about their chosen policies on historical questions and what any migration process between those sites and HSM would look like. I think the big takeaway for me is that these questions really have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. What that means in practice is that meta discussions for each question can be quite valuable. There's often a fine line between questions that should be send to HSM and questions that should not - it's hard to capture the nuance of that in a few comments.

This case is a great example of that in action. I agree with this meta consensus - the fact that the key points are largely mathematical in nature indicates that Math Overflow is the better home. And, yes, appreciating the connections fully requires knowing some nontrivial mathematics.

My understanding is that the post was originally flagged with a migration request and one of our moderators processed the flag to meet that request. No, the OP did not ask for that migration; it was someone else who raised the flag.

(At the time I was taking a little but much needed break from my usual level of moderator activity, and told my fellow moderators I was doing so. So one of them stepped up in this instance.)

As noted in another answer by an HSM mod, the post was sent back, and has now been reopened by five regular MO users within the last few hours.

There is no easy way to answer "why are some questions migrated to HSM and others not?". As is so often the case, how to process a flag is left to the discretion of individual moderators; it's not like we usually have meetings over how to process a flag, unless the situation seems particularly sticky. So, it was a judgment call (and I can't speak for the moderator who made that call). I recall that some years back I had migrated a question over there, mostly in the belief that it was more appropriate there, but partly also because I wanted to support the HSM community. It saddens me a little that it never took off more. In fact, I have a question sitting over there now that should probably be migrated over here, or cross-posted since some time has elapsed.

So, it may be true that history of mathematics questions generally get a better reception at MO than at HSM. As a moderator, I'll keep this in mind.