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    I just suspended the anonymous user Essentially every question he's asked in the last week has been closed, with no response from him.

    • CommentAuthorWill Jagy
    • CommentTimeOct 5th 2011
    It turns out there is a real guy Antoine Balan with items on the arXiv. No way of judging the quality myself.
    • CommentAuthorreimundo
    • CommentTimeOct 5th 2011
    And I just upvoted his last question (which was asked actually by someone else). As for the papers by the real guy. They seem to all make sense (there's a reasonable one in my own subject) in '98. I do no know about this one:

    There's also a bizarre one in '98:

    Of course, there is the possibility that the MO user is not the same person as the author of the papers.
    Joel has a very good point that I've been also pondering for a while. In general, let's avoid jumping to conclusions about identities.

    On another note altogether, there is another user who's accumulated a similar record over the same 1-week span:
    I have not yet flagged mostly because I was away from MO for a while and I missed most of this activity, but if the next question is as inappropriate, I probably will.
    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeOct 9th 2011

    Thierry, I see some difference here in that VP's questions often are/were at least questions that make sense (the FLT is not in this category), even if they are tersely formulated and too simple. However, perhaps more advertising of math.SE will do; where I think some of the questions would fit in.

    By contrast for AB there is often not even a question; one might attribute this to major difficulties with English. But then it did not seem so bad, and then there was a switch to French but the question did not at all become clearer or more detailed. And, also no willingness to communicate somehow with people commenting. So here I am really at a loss regarding the motivation.

    • CommentAuthorWill Jagy
    • CommentTimeOct 9th 2011
    Good candidate for suspension,
    • CommentAuthorWill Jagy
    • CommentTimeOct 9th 2011
    David, that user put the first answer to the recent "beauty in mathematics" question, then I guess self-deleted it after we reacted. Noam Elkies just commented "I hope you're joking" at the answer.

    If you find an answer that is rude or offensive, please flag as offensive. If you find an answer that is spam, please flag as spam. The MathOverflow robot and/or moderators will take care of the rest.

    • CommentAuthortheojf
    • CommentTimeOct 13th 2011

    Whereas I thought snide comments kind of funny!

    • CommentAuthorRyan Budney
    • CommentTimeOct 16th 2011 edited

    Ugh. Since the posts are terrible and the user is unresponsive, I've re-suspended and deleted the new posts.

    • CommentAuthorWill Jagy
    • CommentTimeNov 11th 2011 edited
 is back.

    I see, the one successful one was originally a one-liner in French, completely rewritten by algori, then re-opened:
    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeNov 13th 2011

    The user antoine-balan was active again, but is re-suspended (actually re-re I think).

    The most recent question however is now 'defended' by JDH and somewhat close to reopening. I do not have the individual competence to judge the merits of that questions, but I certainly trust JDH's judgement on this. Still I see little point in reopening this. The question seems to be alright purely as a mathematical question, but is still not a good MO question (from a more formalistic point of view). And, that user has meanwhile a considerable track-record of asking 'questionable' question and in particular is completely unresponsive to comments in English and French (so that this does not seem to be purely a language problem). Moreover, the question range over several mathematical fields, and so the motivation even seems more unclear. What's the point of all these questions? Just asking some questions on MO, or something else?

    So, I think as long as this user does not make some good-faith effort to comply a bit to the basic standards of the site I think there is little reason to be 'friendly'. Just that one of these question happended to be a good one, is to little reason for me. (We already had one other instance where somebody, algori I believe, helped out with the formulation of the question, but this was at least earlier in the process.)


    I think it's an absolutely fine question, quid. The only reason I can think of for not admitting it is that the user has violated come conditions placed upon him. And in that case, I would be happy to make enough edits so that the question becomes community wiki, so that in effect the community 'owns' the question.

    The question is very much in line with many other MO questions (just as much or as little motivated) that involve the axiom of choice and its interaction with linear algebra. It is, evidently, a set-theoretic question. JDH and Asaf evidently have an answer in mind. I for one would be very interested to hear it.

    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeNov 13th 2011

    My point here is not so much that I want to enforce standards for MO questions here. My key point is the: happended to be a good one. If one writes enough very terse question, eventually one will be about alright. (If it were not so terse one could infer something more.) I think it is unfortunate to encourage this user in any way, as long as there is no consistent improvement of behavior.

    In 10 days when the supension ends, what will happen. We get some new questions. We close five and the sixth one will be sort of alright. This seems a pointless activity to me.


    Well, in that case, I suppose you want to permanently suspend this user. We could do that (and I for one wouldn't stand in the way), but if we don't do that, then that means we are effectively giving the user another chance, and we treat him as we would another user, judging questions on a case-by-case basis. And with that, I think this particular question is not only fine, but good -- a question (and eventual answer) a lot of people could benefit from.

    So my question is: do you propose to permanently suspend this user?

    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeNov 13th 2011

    No, I do not suggest a permanent ban. I only suggest to be somewhat stricter than with any other user. In particular, as this was not the first question after the temporary suspension expired. (If this were so, one could say there was some improvement.)

    For example, you said, some days ago (my emphasize):

    I think MO is for professionals to answer questions of professional interest in ways likely to be useful to the questioner who is honestly in need.

    Let's say I doubt the emphaszied part. And, while I would not always be strict regarding this, I think it is justified to be so in this case. To put it differently, I think MO should always be open for things falling into the category you laid out, yet not exclusive for this, in general. Yet, under special circumstance, I think one can fall back to this and require at least implicit/indirect proof for this.


    Okay, I understand better your argument; thanks for clarifying. At this point I'd like to hear what others think about how to deal with balan-antoine. Meanwhile, the question has been reopened.


    Just to make my point on that last question,

    The proof itself is very nontrivial (i.e. it is more than just a simple symmetry argument as with other, simpler, permutation models) and personally I do not have the time to study it in-depth, although I would do so eventually.

    Furthermore, when answering a particular user I would always prefer to aim for the user's level. If someone whom I know to be proficient in permutation models asks a question it will be fine just to outline the model and the argument for the proof. On the other hand, if it is someone who is less familiar then I would bring myself to write a short exposition on the topic as well.

    Judging from the previous questions, it seems that the latter is the case due to the previous questions. Which makes the job even longer and harder, one more reason for me not to approach this question (even if I'd wanted to do so right now). Maybe in a few weeks I can find the time for it, but I cannot say right now.

    Lastly, all been said, I support quid's stand in this case. I believe that somewhat a stricter approach towards this user is in order.


    The question is a duplicate of, which asks the same question for free modules instead of vector spaces. I closed it.


    He's back, or at least someone with the same name is:

    I have no idea if the question is easy, or hard, or suitable, or interesting.

    • CommentAuthorYemon Choi
    • CommentTimeJun 23rd 2012
    • CommentAuthorWill Jagy
    • CommentTimeJun 25th 2012
    • CommentAuthorYemon Choi
    • CommentTimeApr 15th 2013

    Some melon farmers are still always trying to skate uphill: