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    With the recent discussions on various soft questions in mind, I thought I'd like to share an example I just saw of where MO works at what I think is its best. It's not an example of a "high flying" question that might make it into one of our "celebratory" threads here on meta, but a nice quiet example of MO helping people to help people.

    The question is Does the following condition imply the homotopy type of a wedge of spheres?.

    Here's what I particularly like about it:

    1. The person asking explains where the problem comes from, in particular relating it to actual work that they are doing and thereby demonstrating the usefulness of the question to them.
    2. There is a little information as to the background of the questioner (more is implied by the question itself) which makes it easier to know at what level to pitch an answer.
    3. One could argue that the level is a little low, but it's a question coming from a researcher in one field wanting some result in another which they haven't been able to find.
    4. To someone who knows the answer (as a few did), it takes mere moments to answer this question to the satisfaction of the questioner.
    5. The question and answer(s) are straightforward enough that I think anyone familiar with the basic language of algebraic topology would be able to understand them.

    I'm not claiming that this is a perfect question; just that in the light of recent discussions I wanted to highlight an example of where I think MO is doing something that no other resource is doing, and hopefully show why I (and others) would like it to continue doing this and not morph into some general purpose discussion forum.

    +1 Can't think of much to add, other than that I agree entirely.



    +1 You said it all.

    • CommentAuthorbsteinberg
    • CommentTimeDec 16th 2011
    Thanks. Certainly the answer helped me. It is now clear we need to trace the attaching maps under our discrete Morse matching. Argh!