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I was given -100 reputation for this sound mathematical post https://mathoverflow.net/questions/473947?noredirect=1#comment1231454_473947

This is excessive and I want to dispute this decision, how do I do this?

I propose to compromise and edit the question so that it only concerns results by deceased or retired authors. Here is what I propose:

What are some theorems by deceased or retired authors published in peer reviewed journals or otherwise reputable sources that are widely accepted to be true but that you happen to know are actually false?

I am guessing we all encounter this from time to time, but there is no appropriate place to share them. Slowly but surely the mathematical literature is becoming a minefield if we all keep this information to ourselves. I will start with sharing an example. It concerns homotopy invariance of the Leray-Schauder fixed point index for compact and compactly fixed maps which I explained in detail here.

Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge!

Note: the above question is different from this question which concerns results that are currently widely accepted to be false.

Thanks


Here's a screenshot of the question, containing all the body text. The title of the question is the same as the first sentence.

Screenshot of the linked question

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, or in MathOverflow Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed. $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Commented Jun 30 at 10:10
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    $\begingroup$ All comments on the question and both answers have been moved to chat, as I think the discussions have run their course, and things got a bit tense. Given the new question that came out of this (meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/5987/…) I think everything here is pretty wrapped up. $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Commented Jul 1 at 3:49

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Since I was one of the people who voted to close and delete your question, I will (against my better judgement) give a brief explanation. I will not respond further, and in particular am not interested in engaging in a discussion in the comments.

I explained my reasons for voting to close in the comments to your post, but here are slightly expanded versions of them:

MO is not an appropriate venue for an open-ended discussion of the flaws of papers. First, it allows anonymity, which (as long experience with the internet proves) is poisonous to collegiality, especially on delicate issues. Errors in papers are not straightforward to evaluate: they might be actual serious problems, but they might be harmless flaws that most experts can correct. Even worse, they are often not errors at all, but simply reflect mismatches between the background of their readers expected by an author and the inexperience/ignorance of the person pointing out the supposed “mistake”.

Because of this and the serious potential career consequences of errors (especially for early career people), any reasonable system for handling them must

  1. give an author the opportunity to respond before the flaw is publicized; and

  2. involve a conscientious editor who can adjudicate disputes, get outside opinions if necessary, etc.

MO cannot do this. It really is the responsibility of journals, and on the whole I think that math journals do a better job than in other fields.

This explains why I voted to close. You responded with a steam of conspiratorial nonsense that became increasingly heated. I then voted to delete the question, which in general I do if I think the existence of a question (including its comments) reflects poorly on MO and might drive good contributors away.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, or in MathOverflow Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed. $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Commented Jul 1 at 3:47
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The application of a -100 reputation cost was not a decision made by people, it is automatic in the system, as pointed out in the comments. It is also entirely possible that the people who voted to delete the closed question were unaware that their choice of reason would even lead to this rep adjustment. As noted in the comments, no moderators (those with diamonds next to their username) voted to close. Moreover the question gathered delete votes from non-moderators before it finally was deleted.

As far as disputing the delete or the close votes, you have already followed protocol and made a post on the relevant thread, and also posted this, which alerts people to your wish to have the original question undeleted and opened. Now that people can see the content of the deleted post, you can rest assured that they are informed enough to make up their own minds. Anyone who thinks this question belongs on MO is free to write an answer here and make their case for thinking so. And, that said, I note that despite suggestion in the comments on the deleted question that you yourself make that case here on meta, all we have gotten is the request to reopen/undelete, and strong claims about suppression and hints of conspiracy.

To get any traction you should make a good argument why the list asked for in original question should be here on MO. Not why there should be such a list at all. In one sense, the reviews on MathSciNet and ZBMath are one place where published mistakes can be and have been noted. These are carefully curated and linked and so on. Another place where such mistakes can be noted is in the original journal the incorrect result is published in. Again, this is carefully vetted and curated and even more closely linked to the original article. So what is the reason that those places are not sufficient and MO is more appropriate? That is the case you have to make. No one like to see mistakes propagate in the literature! There's no conspiracy of mathematicians trying to protect the feelings of authors who made mistakes and published them.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, or in MathOverflow Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed. $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts Mod
    Commented Jun 30 at 10:08

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