Not signed in (Sign In)

Vanilla 1.1.9 is a product of Lussumo. More Information: Documentation, Community Support.


    This question looks like it's undergoing a tug of war between closers and those who would reopen (there are 4 votes to reopen last I checked). I don't think the question is appropriate for this site, but anyway it seems like a good idea to have people bring their opinions into the open, rather than have the tug of war.

    • CommentAuthorhyh1048576
    • CommentTimeAug 26th 2012
    The comment mentioning the meta post got lots of upvotes, but where are the discussion?

    The question was closed, reopened, and closed again 11 minutes ago, is it still a tug of war?

    is it still a tug of war?

    Yes, I think you could say that.

    I thought there would be discussion if I simply made a note of what was happening there. Basic etiquette, which is sometimes observed here, would seem to call for those involved in the tug of war to explain their reasons for re-opening and re-closing. Time was we used to have these discussions here.

    But there may have been a drop in the level of etiquette since that time. In fact, I almost quit MO entirely a few months ago because I was so put off by some rude behavior.

    • CommentAuthorJDH
    • CommentTimeAug 27th 2012 edited

    It seems to me that the software handles the open/close tug-of-wars very well, resulting in the nice compromise that borderline questions are closed for a part of the time and open for part of the time, roughly in proportion to the community support. These changes in status do not seem problematic or worrisome, and there seems little need or likelihood for the community to come to a consensus. If the questions were bumped when their status changed, then I might feel differently, but it seems that the questions can simply slide quietly down the main page, sometimes closed and sometimes open, while people express their views through their votes.

    In particular, I don't really see an etiquette issue concerning people who decline to come to meta to discuss their reasons for voting as they did.

    (Note: I am not involved in any way concerning the question giving rise to this thread, and I did not vote on that question to close or re-open.)


    Todd, I voted but didn't comment here. I suppose it's because I didn't have anything new to say: similar situations have already arisen enough times that the points of view on both sides have been well aired ("career advice is of interest to many professional mathematicians", "but sex advice is also of interest to many professional mathematicians", etc.).

    I half-agree with JDH's point, which is something I hadn't thought of before. Where I disagree is that the process tends to stabilize after a while, and in a case like this, the state in which it stabilizes is pretty arbitrary — but might have emotional significance for the original poster, if they construe it as the final judgement of the MO community.


    It seems to me that the software handles the open/close tug-of-wars very well

    Actually, I'm not so sure it does, since the closers are publicly visible and the re-openers aren't. (You'll see that closers often do feel constrained to explain, because of some perceived slight such as whether algebraic geometers are being disrespected. Not so the re-openers.) But anyway, we used to have such discussions in cases of controversy. Something apparently has changed.

    similar situations have already arisen enough times that the points of view on both sides have been well aired

    But some might not be aware of the history of such situations. I for one had gotten the impression, perhaps wrongly, that career advice questions from anonymous posters were frowned upon by most of the community.

    • CommentAuthorbsteinberg
    • CommentTimeAug 27th 2012
    I voted to close in the first round because the question was not well posed in some sense. If the OP wanted specific advice to his case (not a US citizen, perhaps no green card), then MO is not really the right place. Supervisors, colleagues, career counsellors and maybe job placement firms are the right answer. If the question was just what are possible non-academic careers for algebraic geometers then this is not so different than the same question for any pure area.

    I think it is good to discuss things in meta. I suspect that this practice has died down because the number of people who can vote to open or close has become much larger.

    Anyway +1 to Todd for trying to keep discussion alive.

    Point taken, Todd. It's good to have these discussions in the open, even if some of us are repeating ourselves.

    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeAug 27th 2012

    Just a technical detail (as I briefly said why I voted to close already, and the closers point of view is rather the more well-documented one, and since in general since some time I try to limit my contribution to meta severly):

    In principle one can see who voted to reopen (and via changing the number accordingly this works for any question)

    Note: While this technical detail could be taken to contradict what Todd Trimble said, I still agree with his sentiment. Not only but also as it can be a bit inconvenient to get to this list (if there is no editing history), even if one knows it exists, and it is never so prominently visible who voted to reopen.

    • CommentAuthorplhersh
    • CommentTimeAug 27th 2012
    There are people new to MO who may not have thought through the issues, so I'm sure it helps them to hear the arguments. I hadn't looked at MO until a few months ago, and it has happened now that I've answered a question and then later seen how someone who'd been on here longer (quid) was better able to foresee where trouble might develop. I'm thinking of the question "before taking on a graduate student" where I thought I could give a helpful, noncontroversial answer, but then later felt like I was implicitly being criticized by a subsequent answer (though this did get straightened out in the comment thread to the other answer, and it became clear that this wasn't the intent of the other answerer).

    Ah, thanks quid. That's good to know.

    I voted to reopen. Ordinarily I would do so anonymously, but per the requests above, I'll say so publicly.

    I think it's a good question. Relatively specific, of interest to a lot of mathematicians (especially in this bad job market), and it got lots of upvotes.

    I'm aware that my reasons are more simple-minded than those who voted to close. Nevertheless, I recently arrived at 3,000 points, and the system sees fit to grant me a vote. With all respect to those who disagree with me, I decided to exercise it.
    • CommentAuthorbsteinberg
    • CommentTimeAug 27th 2012 edited
    +1 quid. That is nice to know.

    @Patricia, this is why discussiony questions tend to be closed by old timers: they can lead to misunderstandings and flame wars. Things work best with purely mathematical questions (and not always with those).

    @Frank Thorne: note that there is no such thing as voting to reopen a question anonymously. Just as with closing, if your vote to reopen is effective, it becomes public information that you voted to reopen (as quid explained).

    @Anton: Fair enough. By "anonymously" I guess I meant "without explaining myself".
    • CommentAuthoralgori
    • CommentTimeAug 27th 2012
    I voted to reopen, as I normally do when I have a reason to expect I would learn something interesting and mathematically relevant, if not directly related to the sort of problems I'm working on, from the answers. In this case it was the mention of the book "Introduction to Money" by Honor Croome, so I don't look back: although I'm not seeking employment outside academia, on a general basis I always wanted to understand what money is and how it works.

    On a personal note: there are some poorly phrased questions which can incite useful answers. Not all poorly phrased questions are like this; in fact, most of them aren't but some are. There does not seem to be an easy-to-state formal criterion for telling which are which, so I think it is preferable to err on the side of allowing too many questions than too few.

    I also voted to reopen. I believe that a question like this has the potential to be harmful, but also very useful; as such, I am inclined to keep it open until and unless the answers and comments seem to be doing more net harm than net good.