37

I'd propose the rule of active editing: if you value a stone soup question, then edit the question to make it better (clearer, broader, better thought out, more answerable) and ensure that it fits the answers. You might lose the original intent of the question, but that horse has already left the barn. By the time we reach the stone soup phase, there's ...


32

There has always been a lot of debate regarding what "research-level" actually means. It's changed a lot over time and it's inconsistent across various fields. (There is a plentiful supply of old discussions on tea.mathoverflow.net.) Here are my two cents... I've often heard "MathOverflow is like a colleague down the hall" and I've used that phrase to ...


19

There are plenty of questions that it is uncontroversial that they need to be closed. However, let me propose (Joel David Hamkins's proposed rule, with quid's addition) Give all questions charitable readings, when doing so leads to interesting mathematical ideas. Make sure, however, that all questions you answer are somewhat in line with the ...


17

Okay, let me try to articulate what I think is wrong with this question: it is very unlikely to get a satisfactory answer. Indeed, suppose the rumor is false (which is think is more probable, but that's not important). There is still no way to disprove it, or even to argue convincingly against it. It is not falsifiable in Popper's sense. But if the rumor ...


17

Actually such devices were at one point in the 20th century the state of the art for doing certain number-theoretical calculations, notably factoring. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lehmer_sieve (specifically the 1932 device, pictured in pages 18-20 of http://people.ucalgary.ca/~hwilliam/Sieve_Pictures.pdf).


16

I will do my best to give an honest interpretation of what is happening here, with the caveat that cutting-edge research into FLT is not within my range of expertise. (Disclaimer: I didn't vote up or down on the question, and (obviously) wasn't one of the closers; I am responding as a site moderator with fairly broad acquaintance with how the MathOverflow ...


15

MathOverflow is geared toward professional mathematicians and their PhD students who seek answers to questions arising in their research. It is the preeminent internet clearinghouse for questions of this nature, and the community here would like to keep it that way and with that specific (high-level) focus. Your question at the main site is not at that ...


14

Your question is, "How do people determine if other people's questions are research level or not?" The answer is, by applying the years of experience they have in doing mathematical research themselves. That doesn't mean they always get it right, but, fortunately, there is redress in case they get it wrong. In fact, there is a whole thread on this site ...


12

Here are some (somewhat disconnected) thoughts. The main sticking point expressed in the objections is over the word 'breakthrough' (which is indeed difficult to characterize). But the Calabi conjecture example, and Sam Hopkins' answer, suggests a slightly different sort of question which might (might) gain more traction. "What are some examples of ...


12

It seems to me that many borderline questions can plausibly be asked to itself by a professional mathematician, but look like no effort was put in it. I feel like I can ask a colleague possibly trivial questions around a cup of tea, but I would think about the question more before asking it on MO. Often, I vote to close a question that might have been ...


12

As far as I can tell, the question was founded on the false premise that the linked paper actually described a "physics method for number theory". There doesn't seem to be any number theory less than 2000 years old arising from the idea. The example is a better fit for a question asking for idealized physical models that are good for describing number ...


11

It does have an elementary solution, as I indicated in a comment that was discouraged by Andy Putman. I will not tell you the worked out answer, and opinions here vary as to what contributes an answer. In any case , it is material that is covered in elememtary combinatorics texts, and is considered by me and many others as undergraduate level or earlier. ...


10

What we did was, we made clicking that link open in a new window. So even if you misclick, you don't lose your context. See MSO for details.


10

I regard the question as more suitable to MathOverflow. (It was largely answered in the comments of Federico Poloni.) The "colleague down the wall" metaphor is useful here, and we can ask ourselves a related criteria: Is this question is going to be of interest to a colleague down the hall. In this case Donoho's result is an example of something I would be ...


10

Here is one other possible reason why your question might have got down voted: Soft questions are not considered like other questions, they are kind of special gray area in the scope that are treated differently by people from technical questions. Many users think they should be infrequent. So there are higher expectations from a soft question and also an ...


10

Thanks for bringing this up! I agree that there are many migration-worthy questions that are closed in a suboptimal way. As I was one of those who voted to close your example question "for wrong reasons"1, let me tell how I try to use the different off-topic closure reasons: Generally off-topic: I only choose this option if the question should not be asked ...


8

Since I was one of the "delete" votes for "Riemann Hypothesis", I'll present my standpoint here. In that particular instance you do not need to know pretty much anything beyond elementary algebra and a little bit of undergraduate complex analysis to evaluate that "proof of Riemann Hypothesis" by yourself or to ask your friend or colleague next door to do ...


7

Since I just voted for reopen, I'll explain why. Everyone here knows what a pseudonymous publication is, so it isn't "vague". And writing anonymously is something that mathematicians do reasonably often, so I don't see why it is sensationalist. It is likely to never get a good answer, but that is the fate of many MO questions so I don't see that as a good ...


7

I agree with Noam (great pictures, better than I found!). I was excited to post some info but what I had to say (and more) was really all in the answers there albeit as "check out these links" and some cases just in the comments. Now I regret that I didn't. SO Lehmer first used a device made of bicycle chains and rods and later devices made of gears with ...


5

We may want to have something like: "Questions must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved. Tell us what you've tried to do, why it didn't work, and how it should work. See also: [good question checklist]" For questions where the person asking the question doesn't seem to understand the basics or the person asking the question ...


5

There are two ways of interpreting your question. Literally, you seem to be asking for an explanation from those who voted to close the question. I was one of them, and the question was genuinely unclear to me. When I voted, I don't think there were any answers; but I am not sure if the answers (nice as they are) would have changed how I felt about the ...


5

I am not an expert on the topic, so I can't tell if the question could be edited to make it on-topic. Typically questions that ask for homework help are not received well here, but exceptions are possible. It seems to me that the question would be fine at MSE and could have been migrated, but others may disagree. People who vote to close are often hesitant ...


4

Some information about closed/on-topic questions can be found in the meta.SE closed/on-hold faq. There are two important points about closed/on-hold questions. No new answers can be posted. That's pretty much the point of this. Being closed/on-hold is not the end of the line. Users can vote to reopen such questions, and for questions which are on-hold, ...


3

Sometimes questions do not fit the forum. When I comment on these questions, I normally suggest they picked the wrong forum, and sometimes suggest a different forum. If there is an obvious fix that would make the question better, I suggest that. On a recent number theory example I suggested the poster do more research and not expect the community to do it ...


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