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The question Most important results in 2023 has been posted to MO, and as in previous years, has had a mixed reception. (EDIT: As of this writing, the post has been deleted by the author, presumably because of some negative reactions. It has since been reposted by someone else.) Whether such a question is appropriate for MO or not looks to be a recurring issue, and I don't think it has been discussed here on meta before. So, is it appropriate?

The main argument in favor, I think, is that despite some opposition, the analogous question in previous years has overall been received positively, and has received interesting and useful answers. (EDIT: See Noteworthy achievements in and around 2010? and Breakthroughs in mathematics in 2021 and Most important results in 2022 )

An argument against is that it is opinion-based in a bad way, deeming some results "important" and (implicitly, by omission) other results as "unimportant," not only in a narrow subfield, but across all areas of mathematics.

EDIT: Another view may be that the question is okay, but only if rephrased in a way that is less contentious; e.g., "Notable results of 2023."

I don't know if any kind of consensus can be reached here on meta, but it seems worth having a discussion about it that we can point to when the subject comes up again.

EDIT: Quanta Magazine has just published an article ("the biggest discoveries") and a video (the "biggest breakthroughs") in math of the year. One could argue that Quanta Magazine scratches the itch of those wanting to see such a list, and therefore there is no need for MO to duplicate the list. But another possibility is that the MO question could be changed to, "What results did Quanta miss?"

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    $\begingroup$ I'm glad this was brought up. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Dec 22, 2023 at 7:16
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    $\begingroup$ I like the title "Breakthroughs in mathematics" instead of "Most important results" because the second one carries some awkward implications (primarily that a result that isn't listed would be less important than all the listed results). Also one can have a breakthrough in the study of non-radial flanges even if non-radial flanges aren't a particularly important mathematical object at all - assessing whether something is a breakthrough within it's field is much less subjective than assessing the improtance of different fields. $\endgroup$
    – Will Sawin
    Dec 22, 2023 at 13:25
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with Will re “most important result”. However, by my standards, breakthroughs are rare and I would hesitate to use the word for many genuinely new and surprising results. I would prefer a more understated title like “Noteworthy results in 2023”. $\endgroup$ Dec 22, 2023 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps "Favorite results in 2023" would make the subjectivity more apparent? We could even steal the popularity contest tag. $\endgroup$ Dec 22, 2023 at 16:47
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    $\begingroup$ @ChristopherKing I once asked a question on MO with the word "favorite" in the title, and was warned by the software that my question might be unacceptably subjective. Indeed, the help page specifically flags "What's your favorite...?" questions as a type of question to avoid. $\endgroup$ Dec 23, 2023 at 1:06
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    $\begingroup$ Such a list has value. Many old more "opinion based" questions on MSE and MO have much value but would be shut down if asked today; I think that is a shame. The rules about good questions - rules mostly designed to ward off scrappy homework or low effort questions - should not be so inflexible; as there is clear value in such a list (for anyone who is nonexpert in a particular field) the question is a good one. Some of the more historic questions are just funny and interesting on a human level; that's good too. We shouldn't be a robotic "question in, answer out" machine $\endgroup$
    – FShrike
    Dec 24, 2023 at 13:53
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    $\begingroup$ Is the intended use of the voting options that users should simply up-vote the option they favor? Or is the expectation that users will up-vote the option they favor, and down-vote the option they oppose? It will have an odd effect on the votes if some users are only up-voting, while others are both up-voting and down-voting. $\endgroup$
    – user509184
    Dec 24, 2023 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ The Quanta year end summary seems, understandably, heavily biased towards results that are easily explainable to a general audience (so we see a lot of graph theory, combinatorics, elementary number theory, et cetera). $\endgroup$ Dec 25, 2023 at 2:27

4 Answers 4

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As requested by LSpice, I will attempt to post arguments for and against so that people can vote on them.

Yes, the question is appropriate, provided it is reworded to something like "Noteworthy mathematical results of 2023" or possibly "Breakthroughs in mathematics in 2023," to avoid suggesting that omitted results are unimportant, and to avoid comparisons across different fields of mathematics. Inevitably, there is some subjectivity involved, but not in a disqualifying way. Similar questions in previous years have, on the whole, been well received and have generated useful answers.

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    $\begingroup$ MO is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians. "Which results are important and interesting to the research community" is necessarily of intense interest to people whose careers hinge on producing mathematics that other researchers find important and interesting. $\endgroup$
    – Neal
    Dec 26, 2023 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ I completely agree with this answer (and learned a lot of interesting things from reading these threads). But so that we don’t receive a bunch of duplicates on different days of December, I think this tradition should be passed on to the moderators. They will ask the question with the best wording (as discussed here) and on a fixed date (in my opinion, starting the discussion of the past year is most reasonable and beautiful to start on January 1st). $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2023 at 0:15
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    $\begingroup$ The text could note that this is a special thread posted by moderators, which would also be a compromise with those who believe that freely asking such questions moves the site in the wrong direction. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2023 at 0:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Neal It's true that success as a professional mathematician is related to doing work largely considered "important and interesting." But, a question like "what field of research is best to get a job?" would clearly be closed, and such questions are always met with comments like "ask your advisor." Also, the set of people who vote on mathoverflow is not at all representative of math as a whole, so you cannot glean much from just knowing that an answer got a lot of upvotes. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2023 at 15:25
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My opinion is that the rules we make are not a Procrustean bed, but the guidelines for what to encourage and discourage in general, so we have the majority of the posts reasonable from the perspective of the majority of users and can ruthlessly wipe out the clear nonsense, but the grey area should always remain and if something that interests sufficiently many users who normally post within the strictest guidelines one might try to impose pops up, we should let it pass.

The message to the newcomers should be just "Make sure your posts make sense and are clear and of interest to at least some MO users" rather than "Check with the MO police department before posting anything". The latter will merely repel the people. Normal people (mathematicians or not) want to have some fun and occasionally discuss things beyond "How to prove this lemma?". Note that even "What is the best way to prove this lemma?" is subjective and argumentative (at least we disagree with one of my friends and colleagues on how one should present certain things to the students rather frequently). As long as the disagreements and arguments are civilized, there is nothing wrong with them IMHO.

What is the purpose of MO? I have no idea and that would, probably, be the most subjective and argumentative question here if somebody bothers to post it. I just come here to pick up some problems to sharpen my teeth, to learn and share some ideas, and, occasionally, to make new acquaintances. If you ask me "How exactly this all does it facilitate serious research?", I have no idea. I have never done any "serious research" in my life, just tried to figure a few things out and play in several sandboxes and take some short hikes in the Platonic Universe.

As to this particular question, I would keep it running as long as doesn't degenerate into "All the achievements in your area are nothing compared with Theorem X in my area". Live and let live, as they used to say. Excessive policing won't make the MO a better place. All you'll achieve is that some good people will leave the site or, at least, post way less than they are posting now.

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    $\begingroup$ I really like this answer (and, indeed, many of your contributions). But, I do want to add that vitriol directed at those who object to such "popular but clearly off-topic" questions will also drive good people to leave the site, as pointed out by Elizabeth: meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/5818/…. And, such vitriol seems common, from a wide segment of users. $\endgroup$ Jan 5 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidWhite To be driven away by occasionally seeing discussions and quarrels you are not obliged to read and participate in and can easily just ignore (they are never too many in the general stream to cause real irritation) or because some other people (harshly) criticize you for prohibiting them doing what they like without making you any real harm except telling that you can't control everything is one thing and to be driven away by the direct closing of the discussions you want to participate in and by policing the content of your posts or the posts you like is quite another. $\endgroup$
    – fedja
    Jan 5 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidWhite But I agree with you that we all need to learn to be a bit more tolerant and polite to each other when strongly disagreeing, myself including :-) $\endgroup$
    – fedja
    Jan 5 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree with your first comment. I think experienced users DO have an obligation to try to keep the site "on topic" and that's why we flag spam, vote for migrating posts to MSE and academia, edit, leave comments, and vote on others' posts. By your logic, one should never downvote or vote to close, because one could simply ignore the offending question. $\endgroup$ Jan 5 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidWhite I didn't mean the obvious spam, rudeness, etc. Read what I wrote in the beginning of my answer.I also always encourage editing for clarity, comments, and votes and do that myself all the time. Even migrating is fine with me. What I object is immediate closing just for the sole reason of being off topic in somebody's individual judgement (including but not limited to declaring the question "not of research level* without being able to solve it oneself). That is purely snobbish behavior IMHO and, yeah, I tend to criticize it quite harshly when I see it :-). $\endgroup$
    – fedja
    Jan 5 at 21:22
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    $\begingroup$ This sounds reasonable enough, but there is also the "slippery slope" concern. To make this more concrete, let's consider MSE as a warning to us here. I believe it was at some point in the (distant) past a moderately or even perfectly reasonable site. It may have transitioned to its current status as a HW factory with noise/content ratio $\simeq\infty$ by a process that was at all times following the principles from your first paragraph. Or, more succinctly, principiis obsta. $\endgroup$ Jan 6 at 21:45
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    $\begingroup$ @ChristianRemling You are absolutely correct. The amount of policing should be proportional to the square of the deviation from the ideal to keep things at bay, so MSE does need more severe policing now. But, IMHO, there should not be a big positive term in that equation. Also the noise there is not of the type of occasional free discussion of controversial topics, but of the type "I cannot add 2 and 3, please help me". I vote to close such posts on MO immediately too (though I usually give the poster some hint in a comment when doing so) $\endgroup$
    – fedja
    Jan 7 at 3:34
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    $\begingroup$ @ChristianRemling And when I said that MSE needed more policing, I certainly did not mean this: math.stackexchange.com/questions/4840714 An engineer with rusty memory about mathematics comes to MSE for the first time in his/her life seeking help, posts an absolutely clear math question directly relevant to his/her work, and gets sacked by the MSE police in no time. A shame and disgrace, IMHO, especially taking into account all the junk that usually floats there. $\endgroup$
    – fedja
    Jan 10 at 21:52
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    $\begingroup$ @fedja: I closed my MSE account after a similar incident with a question that I had answered: a perfectly clear question that would have been well above average quality on MO got closed because of the same silly policy "you only stated your question, but didn't say what you have tried and you didn't invent some fake motivation." The general phenomenon is of course well known (instead of addressing the real problem, invent imaginary ones and "fight" those). $\endgroup$ Jan 10 at 22:14
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As requested by LSpice, I will attempt to post arguments for and against so that people can vote on them.

No, the question is inappropriate. It is inherently an opinion-based question, which is discouraged on MO. In effect, the question is asking people to post their favorite results, and the help page explicitly discourages questions of the form "What's your favorite…?" Past experience indicates that similar questions, even if ultimately upvoted, have attracted numerous downvotes and votes to close, indicating that a significant segment of the community has a negative reaction to this type of public, subjective evaluation of the quality of people's results.

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    $\begingroup$ Counter-argument: although it very blatantly breaks the rules, this specific annual question is tradition and it turns out well so it should get a carve out. But we shouldn't encourage similar questions on a regular basis. $\endgroup$ Dec 23, 2023 at 3:29
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    $\begingroup$ Counter-counter-argument: new users don't know that this is an "annual tradition" and might therefore get the wrong idea about what kinds of questions are considered on topic. Also, just because something is "tradition" doesn't mean the community needs to keep doing it! Since MO began, the community has refined what we consider to be on topic, and many of the early questions would not be considered on topic today. $\endgroup$ Dec 23, 2023 at 13:32
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    $\begingroup$ I'm also not sure that doing it in 2010, 2021, and 2022 (under different names and always accompanied by controversy) makes it a "tradition." $\endgroup$ Dec 23, 2023 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ By its very nature, such a question could not have a single acceptable answer, and therefore would probably have to be a community wiki post, tagged "soft-question" or "big-list". I usually tend to downvote and vote to close these questions. $\endgroup$
    – Alex M.
    Dec 23, 2023 at 15:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Timothy: Perhaps the real tradition was the controversies we made along the way? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Dec 23, 2023 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ Another thing I think is bad about these questions is that there is no protocol for who gets to post them, or when. Already this year we saw "best results of 2023" get posted as a question twice. It seemed to me that something similar would also happen with the "important work of [recently deceased mathematician]" questions, where there would be a rush to be the person who posted the question immediately after the subject's death. $\endgroup$ Dec 27, 2023 at 3:19
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    $\begingroup$ @SamHopkins I'm not sure that matters too much. The question would be community wiki, so there's no race to gain reputation. If it gets posted more than once, then the duplicates can be closed. Of course, it would be "cleaner" if there were a clear protocol, but I don't see the lack of protocol as a dealbreaker. $\endgroup$ Dec 27, 2023 at 3:42
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    $\begingroup$ I would also argue that "interesting/important results of the year" is something that one would like to hear about from an insightful colleague whose opinion is clearly relevant. Coming from anonymous sources and upvoted by some other anonymous users makes it a very weird exercise. I think that permitting MathOverflow anonymity means that such questions must be closed. $\endgroup$ Dec 27, 2023 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ I apologize for not being up to proper rational discussion, but I once again want to point to Brandolini's law when it comes to arguing against overhyped announcements $\endgroup$
    – Yemon Choi
    Dec 27, 2023 at 15:57
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I think Tim Chow does a great job of explaining why questions like this are off-topic: they are primarily opinion based, they are a subjective evaluation of the quality of someone's research, and they flout the text on the "don't ask" part of the help page, which instructs us all to "avoid asking subjective questions where every answer is equally valid: 'What’s your favorite ______?'"

Despite being clearly off-topic on MathOverflow, it seems a large segment of our user base enjoys such questions, and argues that we should periodically make exceptions to our policies, e.g., around the holidays. There are several problems with periodic exceptions:

  1. Future users are getting mixed signals: one buried in the help page that new users probably won't see, and one represented by a highly upvoted question (that experienced users know is off-topic but allowed anyway).
  2. Exceptions are not applied uniformly, and can appear to be the whims of moderators.
  3. Big list questions that garner many answers linger on the main page, pushing other questions down and making it hard for research mathematicians to get actual help on their research, if they have the misfortune of asking during a time when such a question is active.

As Tim pointed out, a question regarding the "most important results of the year" was asked on December 22, was quickly closed, and then prompted this meta thread on the same day. Then, on December 27, a different user asked essentially the same question, and got (as of this writing) 55 upvotes and 6 downvotes. Talk about a whim! I wonder how the person who asked the Dec 22 question feels. The user who asked the Dec 27 question, Bogdan Grechuk, said in the comments that he didn't check meta or the previous closed question, and just asked because he enjoys this kind of topic (and does not seem to care if the question is appropriate or not). A classic example of (1) above.

When relatively new users ask questions that are off-topic, experienced users often write comments or include text in answers that helps the user (and future readers) realize why their question is off-topic, sometimes while also answering. Like, if a question asks for career advice, an answer might begin "Well, this question is really more appropriate for academia.SE, but while it's here on MO, I'll share my own experience..." We see the same thing all the time for questions that are more appropriate for MSE but still get a quick answer on MO.

In that spirit, I answered the Dec 27 question, including the following text:

I believe this question should be closed, and that we should not have a holiday tradition of asking "what are the biggest results of the past year" because such a question is clearly "primarily opinion based" and is not about research mathematics. Voting patterns will show only which subfields of math are over-represented on mathoverflow, and that's a poor proxy for importance of the result mentioned.

I also gave the OP a link to the Quanta magazine article that lists the breakthrough results of 2023, and I mentioned a result in my area (that the telescope conjecture is false) that didn't make the Quanta list. Despite the entire thread being "primarily opinion based", various users panned my answer for "editorializing" or "muddying the waters." Eventually, a moderator, Stefan Kohl (who I respect a lot, by the way) edited my answer to take away the part that commented on why the question is off-topic for MO, pointing out that such discussion belongs on meta instead of main. Again, this feels like we're making exceptions for one thing, but not for another. As of this writing, my answer has 21 upvotes and 19 downvotes, and serves as an example of why "primarily opinion based" questions are not appropriate for mathoverflow. Anyway, I rolled back Stefan's edit because I'm not ok with having an answer of mine to a clearly off-topic question without a disclaimer, contributing to the problem where future users will see the highly upvoted question and think they should ask the same thing for 2024. If my answer remains, I think it's important that it contain a disclaimer that the question is not appropriate. If the moderators feel strongly that such a disclaimer should not appear in an answer, then they can delete my answer entirely.

I do think the community should settle once and for all the controversy of whether or not these kinds of questions are allowed, to avoid this recurring problem. The situation feels analogous to populist political movements, so I think we need to hear from the moderators, who were elected to think about what's best long-term. I support closing the question for each of the previous years, so that users will know they are off-topic and will not ask again in future years. Or, if the moderators think these questions should be allowed, then having them asked on a predetermined date each year by some special account, with text that makes it clear that this is a holiday exception to the rules. Otherwise, I predict we'll see this kind of question asked every year, and it'll be a race among new users who want a highly upvoted question, to ask the question before anyone else does.

EDIT: This debate seems to elicit strong feelings in people. After posting this answer here on meta, a user kept vandalizing my original post on the "breakthrough results" question, so much so that I had to ask the moderators to stop that user. So, for the moment, that answer is locked to prevent tampering, but I strongly suspect that this group of angry users who want to silence opposition to their position will go back and vandalize my answer more when the lock expires. I thought I'd put an update here on meta to explain the situation. Also, I wanted to add a few examples of other places where someone commented in an answer about the appropriateness of the question:

https://mathoverflow.net/a/126065/11540

https://mathoverflow.net/a/372901/11540

https://mathoverflow.net/a/312328/11540

https://mathoverflow.net/a/454778/11540

https://mathoverflow.net/a/56229/11540

I am sure there are many more examples, but I don't want to spend tons of time cataloging them all.

EDIT 2: In the end, the moderators decided to delete my answer, then repost just the part about the Telescope Conjecture. So, it seems the decision is to ignore the rules on the help page when it comes to asking a clearly off-topic question, but then strictly enforce an unwritten rule that says not to comment on the appropriateness of a question when answering it. I suppose that if the moderators want to avoid a double-standard, they should also edit the five answers I linked above that commented on the appropriateness of their respective questions. The deletion of my answer also removed the following text, which is yet another reason why this "breakthrough" question should have never been asked, since it already has a whole article of Quanta devoted to answering the exact same thing:

Furthermore, there is already a yearly article "The Biggest Discoveries of the year" in Quanta Magazine. Here is the one for 2023. It already mentions the Ramsey theory result that is currently the top answer here. It also mentions results in combinatorics, number theory, aperiodic tiling, and physics (namely, the math governing boundaries of black holes).

Overall, I am displeased with how this was handled. I think it contributes to the problem of lack of clarity in what is considered on vs off-topic, and to the perception that the moderators act according to whims rather than according to the written rules of the site.

EDIT 3: Here is a great example of a MathOverflow answer that consists of explaining why the question was a bad question. Like my answer, it received both upvotes and downvotes (as of this writing, 10 upvotes and 8 downvotes). Unlike my answer, it was not subjected to harassment or snarky comments, and was not deleted by the moderators. Oh, well. I guess it's not news to anyone that MO doesn't maintain consistency regarding the rules, or else the "breakthrough" question would have been closed as violating the rules of the FAQ that I linked to above.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree with a lot of this, but especially the bit about how subverting the rules because it's popular to do so in this case goes against the whole point of having explicit policies, moderation, etc. in the first place. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2023 at 16:05
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    $\begingroup$ @SamHopkins I don't view the policies as Laying Down The Law Which Must Be Obeyed, so much as trying to give some guidelines about using the site for its intended purpose. The "intended purpose" is necessarily somewhat fuzzy, but it's an invaluable conceit for making MathOverflow (or StackOverflow) work. Put simply, the philosophy (as I understand it) has been that the rules exist to serve the community; the community does not exist to serve the rules. If the community wants something that doesn't comply with the rules as stated, then changing the rules should always be a serious possibility. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2023 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ You write that " As of this writing, my answer has 21 upvotes and 19 downvotes, and serves as an example of why "primarily opinion based" questions are not appropriate for mathoverflow." This does not seem to follow. The high upvote and downvotes may be (likely is) due to the fact that it calls for closure and that it mixes an answer with an opinion about it. If the answer had just been an answer to the question, I strongly suspect it would have been upvoted a lot with few downvotes. $\endgroup$
    – JoshuaZ
    Dec 28, 2023 at 16:34
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidWhite Given how contentious this issue has become, I like the suggestion in your final paragraph, of having the moderators come to some decision, and marking it clearly as a "holiday exception" if they decide to allow it. But I also want to say that I don't think that the 21 upvotes and 19 downvotes prove what you claim they prove. It doesn't prove that the question is bad. It proves only that if an answer is posted which mixes an actual answer to the question with a polemic about how terrible the question is, then such an answer will likely elicit a mixed reaction. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2023 at 16:34
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    $\begingroup$ Well, the fact that the question was closed via votes, and then re-opened via votes, at least shows a fair amount of disagreement about its appropriateness among users. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2023 at 17:15
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    $\begingroup$ I was mildly in favor of keeping the question open. Having read this post I have voted to close. $\endgroup$ Dec 29, 2023 at 12:30
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    $\begingroup$ @StevenLandsburg: Same for me. $\endgroup$ Dec 29, 2023 at 13:21
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    $\begingroup$ I feel like the question in question would be more appropriate at a tea.mathoverflow site, if we had such a thing. $\endgroup$
    – Kimball
    Dec 29, 2023 at 23:13
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    $\begingroup$ Wow. I don't find the "mixed messages" or "research help" arguments convincing, and I think the big-lists (opinion-based or not) are fun and often useful, but if this particular tradition attracts people who don't know how to behave themselves, then forget it. There's too much toxicity online as it is. $\endgroup$ Jan 3 at 3:41
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    $\begingroup$ FWIW, I am also not too happy with the moderators' decision to delete your question and re-post just the part about the Telescope Conjecture. IMO, it would have been better just to delete your answer without re-posting any of it. That said, I don't think your five purported analogues are really analogous. None of them say, "This question is definitely inappropriate" and then go ahead and answer it. $\endgroup$ Jan 10 at 3:20
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    $\begingroup$ I'd characterize your five examples as follows: 1: "This should be CW." 2: "Part 1 is inappropriate; I'll answer Part 2." 3: "There's a better SE site for this question." 4: "This genre of question is perhaps usually inappropriate, but I think this particular question is okay." 5: "I'm uncertain whether this question is appropriate, but I'll answer it because people seem interested." Again, none of these has the form, "This question is definitely inappropriate and I strongly disagree with those who claim it's appropriate, but here's an answer anyway." $\endgroup$ Jan 10 at 3:22
  • $\begingroup$ In response to your last comment linking the non-deleted answer, it was in 2012, when we had a pretty different slate of moderators, and site norms were somewhat different. Complaining of inconsistency assumes that the way that moderators approach should be totally static, and not adapt to how the community shifts over time. Questions that were on-topic in December 2009 (when the user base was very narrow and most people actually knew each other anway) would be closed as off-topic today. Does that sound your "but muh consistency!" (sorry) alarm? $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Feb 23 at 3:29
  • $\begingroup$ In particular, you can see Todd Trimble in the comments, with his prominent moderator diamond ..... but he wasn't a moderator until about a year after those comments! As far as I can tell, the answer wasn't flagged for moderator attention, so no doubt the community was more accepting in those days of such answers. In general telling people their question is a bad one needs to be done with care, and usually with enough shared context to make it clear that the feedback is meant to be constructive. Telling an undergrad their question is bad is something I would personally never do, in contrast. $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Feb 23 at 3:33
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidRoberts Yes, I think that old questions that would be closed if asked today, should be closed. That will prevent people from getting the wrong idea that such questions are on topic today. Also, I maintain that this "annual holiday tradition" is a blatant violation of the FAQ, should be closed, and should not be encouraged for next year. Mark my words: in future years, this "holiday tradition" will happen earlier and earlier in an arms race for people who want to ask a highly upvoted but totally opinion-based and non-research question, in a unique period where it's magically acceptable. $\endgroup$ Feb 23 at 3:38
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidWhite we have different tools to deal with that. A question can be "locked for historical significance" instead, and this was done recently to such a question. If you want to flag a question for mod attention that you think should be locked, let us know and use such a phrase. Closing a question instead of locking it doesn't send the correct message, which is "things have changed, please don't ask such questions any more", rather than "this highly active and upvoted question is closed for being off-topic", which is really mixing messages. $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Feb 23 at 3:47

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