There have been two questions today with suggestions (one acted on, at time of writing) to close, with the question being better asked at academia.stackexchange: Referee reports and Covid lessons.

In both cases the questions certainly could be asked on academia.stackexchange, but I have reservations that they must only be asked there. The problem is that academia.stackexchange is meant to be for all academics, even if currently it leans quite heavily in the direction of Mathematics and Science (as far as I can tell, from the typical answer I see there).

I work in a very small maths department, and for teaching, collaborate a lot with physicists, and more widely, with general scientists, computer scientists etc. I am continually surprised at the range of practice around things like publishing: I have slightly lost count of the number of my colleagues who express profound surprise (even to the point of not really understanding), for example, that coauthors are listed alphabetically on a maths journal article. In turn, I find it surprising how much use of Powerpoint is made in teaching: for basic undergraduate material I pretty much only use chalk-and-talk for my own teaching.

Which is all to say, I think for some questions, there really is a difference between mathematics and even closely allied subjects, and I think it would be a loss to this site, and a dis-service to question askers, to always push such questions to academia.stackexchange. That said, some questions (perhaps almost anything from a student about the working relationship with their advisor, for example) which would be best closed and asked again elsewhere.

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    $\begingroup$ "almost anything from a student about the working relationship with their advisor... would be best closed". Why is asking about the working relationship with their own advisor not appropriate? This is a key point in someone's academic career. I understand the privacy issues, but there are ways to ask anonimously $\endgroup$ – Francesco Polizzi May 28 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, I meant "closed here and suggested to ask on academic.stackexchange..." $\endgroup$ – Matthew Daws May 28 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ The second linked question about Covid lessons is not suitable for Academia, and it would be closed. In general, apart from software solutions (with certain limits), big-list questions are considered off-topic at Academia (contrary to here). $\endgroup$ – Massimo Ortolano May 30 at 9:24
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    $\begingroup$ On a lighter note, Matt, I'm still surprised to hear that there are places in the UK where one can still chalk-and-talk. <meta name="robots" content="donotsnitchonmetoNSS">Even the whiteboard version of that meets with quite some resistance here</meta> $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi May 30 at 14:48

I agree with the general sentiment that there’s overlap between the two sites and we don’t need to close all questions in that overlap.

However, I don’t personally think either of these particular questions are good MO questions. (The first is an ok academia.SE question, the latter is just not good for SE format and I’d have voted to close entirely rather than migrate.)

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    $\begingroup$ I think these are reasonable takes, but FWIW I saw that first question on academia.SE and thought "that might do better on MO since the system of refereeing for pure mathematics has several features that look odd to those in other disciplines" $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi May 30 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ Fair enough. I think we’re mostly all agreed on the big picture, but disagree on where exactly to draw the line. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder May 30 at 14:47

This may be a bit provocative, but there's an argument for never sending questions to Academia.SE.

The problem with academia.SE is that it is very different in style from MO and other SE sites. The paradigm of SE is that the questions are well-defined enough to have a correct answer, and the answers, well, attempt to provide it. Academia.SE is more of a discussion forum. Opinion-based questions, as well as non-questions flourish. Popular questions tend to have many answers repeating various talking points in different ways; it is telling that the answers almost never have any references/citations. The answers get upvoted not because they offer any useful insight, but because the upvoters agree with the opinions expressed there. Often, the highest upvoted answer is quite short and simply states an opinion.

There's nothing wrong with discussion forums, but I see no reason to endorse this particular one over Reddit/Quora/etc. If the question is or can be brought to SE style, we should answer it here. Otherwise, it should be closed altogether.


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