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    I believe that the collective (including myself) decision about
    is wrong. What could we do if the author puts his 3 problems on MO
    separately, say 1 problem per day? Would we realise that these
    are olympic problems and this contradicts the philosophy of MO?
    (By the way, I could not find this contradicting the FAQ.)
    Two recent examples of "similar" problems:
    (in the last case the discussions resulted in a far-from-elementary

    In the case of the Malaysian question I would suggest to reopen it
    in the status of CW question, so that the MO residents could "discuss"
    the 3 independent problems "in live".

    A related point: why we can vote for closing a question but cannot
    vote for turning it into a CW mode?
    • CommentAuthorBen Webster
    • CommentTimeJun 30th 2010 edited


    I'm not sure I understand. The title certainly seems to suggest that they are homework problems, and MO has a very explicit "no HW" policy. Even if they are difficult and interesting HW problems.

    But if the author is smarter and hides the origin of his problems, we don't count them as HW, right?
    • CommentAuthorMariano
    • CommentTimeJun 30th 2010 edited

    No criterion is resistant to sufficiently good attempts at breaking it.

    (I write that having just yesterday endured the joys of the security measures at several international airports...)

    Great answer!

    I leave the remaining Q: why we can vote for closing a question but cannot vote for turning it into a CW mode?

    You can effectively vote to make a post CW by leaving a comment clearly explaining why it should be CW and flagging the post for moderator attention. If there's a consensus and the reasoning is good, then a moderator can convert it to wiki. If there isn't a consensus, it may be worth starting a thread on meta. Implementing vote-to-wiki (0) is not possible for us, (1) is likely to lead to "CW-bullying", and (2) makes the system more complicated without a very good reason.


    Question #29926 is different. Without knowing where it's from, there's no way to tell if it's Olympiad-level or considerably harder (e.g. on the level of Catalan's conjecture). Knowing that it could be solved by congruences, I would have voted to close it and suggested that the OP ask at, but I didn't have that information when I saw that question before it was answered.

    On the other hand, the Malaysian questions both 1) look much more like Olympiad questions and 2) were clearly identified as such. We should use any information we have in determining whether a question is appropriate.

    Question #29978 isn't great, either, but at least it could potentially have been an easy step that someone in their research was stuck on, whereas there was no possibility of that with the Malaysian questions.

    The questions were labelled as "6th form maths problems".
    In the UK, and I presume in Malaysia too, the sixth form
    is the last two years of secondary school. By the author's
    own admission these are school-level, not research questions.
    Closure was quite sufficiently justified.

    "6th form" likely refers to a Malaysian math competition which is divided up based on grade, rather than problems which are routinely assigned in school. (It doesn't invalidate your point, but "school-level" is a slightly inaccurate label.)

    It has been said before, and I think it's true, that "question X must be OK because it led to question Y, which is generally accepted as being OK" is not a valid argument. I have to be careful what I say here because I wrote question Y (I'm referring to the original post by wadim above) but basically the counter-argument was that the community here is sufficiently robust that it might generate its own OK questions from pretty much any source.

    As for the original questions in the post in question, they're clearly Olympiad-style and hence probably not right for this forum (despite the fact that some Olympiad-style stuff does get through). For example the first one involves, if you're a bright teenager, being able to spot that sqrt(50)+7 has sqrt(2)+1 as a cube root. This absolutely smacks of Olympiad and there are other places to talk about such things.
    Thanks for all these comments! I am really convinced now about the strategy.
    • CommentAuthortheojf
    • CommentTimeJul 7th 2010

    Incidentally, you can also "vote to CW" by going in and editing the post, if you have enough rep to do so. After some finite number (8?) of edits by other people, posts automatically convert. Not that I think this is a good thing to do, but it is technically feasible.