I hope that I am following the instructions listed at How does deleting work? What can cause a post to be deleted, and what does that actually mean? What are the criteria for deletion?.

I would like to make a request for undeleting https://mathoverflow.net/questions/137245/how-do-research-mathematicians-garner-mathematical-intuition which pertains to mathematical intuition which, according to the cited article, is arguably required in research-level mathematics.

Constituting potential Answers had this Question not been put on hold, two comments seem to show interest in and the aptness of my question. The last comment under the Question (now deleted) raises some significant questions which have remained unanswered and which were unanswered before the deletion. It appears that undeleting would be more helpful; the original question could then maybe be edited.

  • 11
    $\begingroup$ For those who cannot see the question: the last comment was made by someone who has neither asked nor answered any questions on MathOverflow. $\endgroup$ – S. Carnahan Jul 24 '13 at 5:42
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I have voted to reopen and to undelete the question. I would be interested to read thoughtful answers about mathematical intuition by some of the deep-thinking mathematicians we have here on MO. $\endgroup$ – Joel David Hamkins Jul 24 '13 at 14:23
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ @JoelDavidHamkins: Then why not ask your own better thought-through new question on that topic? $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Jul 24 '13 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ @JoelDavidHamkins: Thank you very much for your support. $\endgroup$ – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Jul 25 '13 at 9:55
  • $\begingroup$ @S.Carnahan: That last comment had been referenced because of its ostensibly germane and significant content. Should the focus be on this or on reputation and other factors beyond the post's content? $\endgroup$ – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Jul 25 '13 at 10:00
  • $\begingroup$ @LePressentiment that comment you find so significant is, first, in part polemic, and second misses the point in more than one way. It is really not that there is no argument to be made just based on the content against all this. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 26 '13 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ @quid: Thank you for your comment. I was not alluding to any possible negativity therein. In spite of the writings of S. Carnahan and Noah Snyder, I had only been trying to but still do not understand the averred reason of closure: that of being purportedly "off-topic." $\endgroup$ – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Jul 30 '13 at 9:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ From on-topic: "MathOverflow's primary goal is for users to ask and answer research level math questions, the sorts of questions you come across when you're writing or reading articles or graduate level books. [...] The site works best for well-defined questions: math questions that actually have a specific answer." Is your question such a question? True, it then continues to discuss other types of q., but first says that new users should stick to former type, and also one can read it as saying that everything not covered by the above is off-topic and just sometimes an exception is made. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 30 '13 at 9:16

I think that new users would do well to ask some precise mathematical questions and/or give some precise mathematical answers before trying to ask imprecise philosophical questions.

Regardless of what you think about the rate at which we should have soft questions, I think it's clear that we should not be having soft questions like this one from new users. We run the risk of the site being taken over by non-mathematicians who want to talk about philosophical questions.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As a practical matter, that seems wise. Users of very high stature (such as the late Bill Thurston) might be able to "get away" with the occasional question about intuition and unformalized mental processes, because they have the wisdom and experience (and in Thurston's case, the genius) to have a deep and disciplined and articulate interchange; see for example his MO question "Thinking and Explaining". But coming from those less experienced and less immersed in our discipline, such questions are a very slippery slope, I feel. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Jul 25 '13 at 0:46
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Following on from @ToddTrimble, I find "Bill Thurston made it work" a rather shaky justification for, well, anything. (More frivolously: "Remember, children, Captain Scarlet is indestructible; you are not.") The same also goes for quotations of Grothendieck, Arnold, and the like. $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Jul 25 '13 at 5:28
  • $\begingroup$ @NoahSnyder: Thanks for your answer. If it is more helpful and apropos to focus on the content and quality of posts per se, would you please then be kind enough to suggest how to make more precise a philosophical question that you believe may be imprecise? Provided that there is interest towards my question, it feels that editing would help more than a closure. Alternatively, I would be happy for a new question to be posted on this topic. $\endgroup$ – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Jul 25 '13 at 9:51
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble,@YemonChoi: I'm slightly uncomfortable about using BT as an example here, in part because he's not here to give his opinion on the matter, and in part because from the little I know about him it seems this sort of hierarchical claim is something he'd be uncomfortable with. Instead, I'd just like to point out that BT asked 1 soft question out of 7 total questions while answering 125 questions only one of which was a soft question. I think everyone should strive to emulate BT in their ratio of soft questions to other MO activity. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Jul 25 '13 at 16:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Anyway, all three of us agree that soft questions ought to be asked at most sparingly (if at all), and probably we agree that the design of MO is not one that encourages such questions to begin with. Let me take the opportunity to emphasize my use of the words might be able to in my earlier comment -- in no way do they mean "definitely can", and indeed I believe all such questions should be held up to scrutiny without regard to "hierarchy". $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Jul 26 '13 at 6:54
  • $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble: Thank you for your comments. Returning to the purported reason for closure, I am afraid that I still do not understand why my question had been construed as "off-topic." $\endgroup$ – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Jul 30 '13 at 8:58
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Questions that would be considered safely on-topic are those that ask precise mathematical questions, at a level where they would be of interest to professional mathematicians, and that are expected to have precise, direct, to-the-point answers. Questions that are not mathematical questions, or that call for lengthy discursive responses or personal beliefs or responses that are necessarily inconclusive, are usually discouraged as tending towards the "off-topic" ("on-topic" and "off-topic" being mere shorthands for what I have just tried to describe). $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Jul 30 '13 at 11:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .