My question on Aristotelian spaces begins with a motivating preamble and ends with a specific and focused request as to a property which I say would help characterise these spaces.

I've bolded this part in an edit to emphasise this.

However, it has been closed, presumably by a moderator, for being insufficiently focused.

I don't see the logic in this - so why?

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    $\begingroup$ For people reading your question on meta, it might be useful to add also a link to that question. I would guess you might have meant this one: What would characterise an ''Aristotelian topological space'?? (As a side note, it is currently in the reopen review queue.) $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 5:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin Sleziak: I would normally, but my smartphone is playing up, makimg it difficult to copy and paste text, so I didn't bother. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 5:21
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    $\begingroup$ Why do you say your question was probably closed by a moderator, when it says right there on the question, "Closed 2 hours ago by Ryan Budney, abx, Alexandre Eremenko, Moishe Kohan, Lee Mosher."? $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 6:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Gerry Myersin: Because it didn't give those names when I looked at the post, hence I assumed it closed by a moderator. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry Myerson: It still doesn't mention those names when I go back to the post. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 6:50
  • $\begingroup$ Really? I don't understand how I can see it, when you can't. Doesn't make sense to me. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 7:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry Myerson: Yes, really! I just checked again, and I can't see them. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 7:25
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    $\begingroup$ If you are not logged in, then you cannot see notices like that (listing of who closed it). $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerald Edgar: I am logged in - it shows my name! $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 10:35
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    $\begingroup$ Even if you're not logged in, you should see the names of the close voter in the revision history and in the timeline. The banner at the top of the post clearly says "Viewable by the post author and users with the close/reopen votes privilege". Here is a screenshot showing what I see: i.stack.imgur.com/abJzC.png Unless you're accessing MO in some non-standard way, if the names are not displayed to you, it could be reported as a bug. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 10:49
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    $\begingroup$ BTW do you see the names of close voters when you look at your questions on other sites, for example Philosophy, Politics or Physics? $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 10:52
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    $\begingroup$ Since there is a description saying "Viewable by the post author and users with the close/reopen votes privilege", I have automatically assumed that I see the same thing as the OP does - it seems that I was wrong. But it was pointed out to me that the names are not shown in this banner to the OP, here is the relevant post on Meta Stack Exchange: How could we improve our planned post notice improvements? The close voters are still visible in the timeline and in the revision history. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2022 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ Your question has a lot of comments, where several users say why they believe your question is not suitable. $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Feb 10, 2022 at 10:42
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexM. Based on the fact that a bug report related to this was marked as (status-bydesign), this seems like an intended behavior: Names of close-voters are not visible in the post notice but in the revision history and timeline. (I'll also mention that I copied some of the above comments into this chatroom - in case we want to continue the discussion there. Although I certainly admit that I have contributed substantially to this digression from the original topic.) $\endgroup$ Feb 25, 2022 at 16:24
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak: The link that you give clarifies things, thank you. $\endgroup$
    – Alex M.
    Feb 25, 2022 at 16:41

2 Answers 2


My vote to close largely had to do with the volume of discussion, with people clearly confused about the point of your question.

MO isn't intended to be purely a social space or a blog. Questions are supposed to have some focus. Ideally your question should have a clear meaning.

I have not read your recent revisions, but I thought I'd give you an idea of where my vote came from. Your comments to me in the thread came across as defensive. So I thought there was no point continuing the discussion.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your response. But if you look at the post again, I begin with a motivating preamble and end with a specific question. Discussion is fine if it is helping clarify what the question is about. I don't see my question being any different to the recent question about anti-delta function as a dustribution. That didn't generate as much discussion because distributions are well-known, whilst Aristotlea discussion of continuity is much less well-known amongst modern mathematicians. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 5:34
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    $\begingroup$ There does not seem to me to be a precise mathematical question asked at the end. I concede that there is a sentence ending in a question mark, but that doesn't mean I understand what you're asking. At any rate, it strains credulity to think that Aristotle had in mind anything precise and mathematical by that sentence. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 19:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Noah Snyder: Rather than Aristotle having in mind something precise and mathematical, my understanding is that the question is more along the lines of the following. "If Aristotle, after having (presumably) made this assertation, were suddenly brought to the present time and somehow made cognizant of present-day mathematics, then what present-day mathematical idea(s) might he feel captures well the intended meaning of his assertion?" Still probably not very appropriate for MO, but maybe slightly in a gray area, because 10 years ago it might have been considered marginally appropriate. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2022 at 20:56

Your question has the following general form: "Here is an imprecise concept X. Does it have a mathematically precise counterpart Y?" Questions like this typically fall into one of three categories.

  1. The question is well known and there is a "standard" answer. For example X might be "mechanical procedure" and Y might be "Turing machine algorithm." Or X might be "mathematical proof as published in a journal" and Y might be "formal proof in a formal language."

  2. There is no standard answer, but the person asking the question is trying to solve a concrete problem, and the quality of a candidate answer can be measured according to whether it helps solve the concrete problem.

  3. There is no standard answer and there is no concrete problem motivating the question.

Questions of type 1 are usually regarded as being on-topic for MO (or math.SE, if the question is "too elementary"). The suitability (for MO) of questions of type 2 has to be judged on a case-by-case basis; it depends on whether the underlying problem is sharply defined enough to make it clear whether a proposed Y does or does not answer the question.

Your question seems to be of type 3. What kind of reception a type 3 question gets is something of a crap shoot. For example, I'd judge the question on the metamathematics of buts to be a type 3 question, and it was highly upvoted. On the other hand, because type 3 questions are open-ended and there is no clear way to judge whether a potential answer is correct or not, they run the risk of being assessed as subjective or unfocused, in which case they may be closed.

The fact that this question of yours was closed does not necessarily mean you should avoid asking this kind of question in the future. After all, a priori, you might not know whether your question is of type 1 or type 3. On the other hand, you should not be surprised if your question ends up being of type 3 and getting closed for being unclear.


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