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    Recently, Math Overflow passed a milestone: the first question closed by 4 non-moderators + 1 moderator, so, by full 5 votes.

    I do think even more interesting milestone would be to work together on improving and reopening one of the questions. I personally was interested in the by Andrew Stacey's Is it best to run or walk in the rain? question.

    The question seems to generate different opinions. To summarize what I think: the topic is certainly interesting and contains non-trivial calculations, the question is famous and there's a bunch of articles about it.

    On the other hand, Andrew's presentation creates an impression that this is just some stupid random problem without any interesting math behind it to the point that somebody tagged it [idle-speculation].

    Here's my thought (or a challenge): let's see if we, as the community, can make this question+answers good enough to reopen it without antagonizing people who prefer to see it closed in its current form (see this discussion). Let's also do it with as broad participation as possible: aiming to not have any binding moderator votes. Andrew also recused himself from voting.

    To start, I voted to reopen the question (it still needs 4 more votes by people with 3000+ rep) and tagged it, as questions about shapes usually get tagged, [mg.metric-geometry].


    This sounds like an excellent project! I made some edits. Is it okay if a moderator gives the 5th vote?

    A side note: if I remember right, Andrew tagged it [idle-speculation] himself.


    As Ilya said, I shan't participate in this discussion as it feels like a conflict of interest. However, it might be useful to gather together a few of the things I've said about it in other threads before I "retire gracefully" and watch from the sidelines.

    FIrstly, Scott is right: I tagged this "idle-speculation". It is such, and for me almost certainly will be since I doubt I'll ever write a paper on it. However, I don't see that as a reason to close the question. By that reason, almost all of my questions shouldn't have been asked. Moreover, the question was sparked by the report mentioned on a weather website so didn't come from years of deep thought. On the other hand, it is a question that does keep coming up. Part of the job of a mathematician is to communicate mathematics to non-mathematicians and things like this are ways to do that.

    Secondly, I asked this question a while ago when I was much less sure of what was an appropriate question on MO so part of my intention was to test the system. In that regard, I think that this rewrite project is an excellent idea since, if it works, it shows how the community can take a borderline question and make it something worth looking at (there's a short story by Isaac Asimov on this theme, titled "Gold").

    I'm not sure if these stats are available to anyone other than myself or the moderators, but just in case not the current vote tally stands at 15-5 in favour, which slightly bizarrely means that it just picked up a "Nice Question" badge for me despite being closed!

    I feel as though now I should simply end with a parody of the US presidential ads: "I'm Andrew Stacey and I approve this message.". Now I'll sit back and see if the MOwers can turn my watery question into something worth drinking.


    @Andrew, Perhaps you arrived to the question by the process of "idle speculation", but, I think, the results of this process are interesting and should be encouraged!

    I'd also like to invite everyone who has enough reputation to edit the question (it's not a conflict of interest for you!). Actually, perhaps we (Andrew) should make it a community wiki?

    Let's give a chance to people to participate, though I don't know if we'll be able to get 5 votes without moderators :)


    I'm quite happy for it to be community wiki. Indeed, the more I think about it the more it reflects what you/we are trying to achieve with this question.

    In the light of your last sentence, maybe I can sell my vote. If a moderator wants to vote to reopen, but wishes to do so only as part of the community rather than as a moderator, they should let me know and I'll vote for them. How does that sound?


    @Harry: care to elaborate? What in particular are you against: the whole re-opening of the question, the idea of improving it to the stage where it is worth re-opening, or something particular that I've said (maybe "selling" my vote?).


    At the risk of repeating myself ... that was the point of the question!.


    No, it was a trickery to get you to agree that questions can be improved to the point that it's possible for them to coexist with you on the same site :)


    Well, let me conclude that I'm not a very inspiring community organizer. Since there weren't neither much support nor much opposition, I guess I'll really leave it to moderators at this point, meaning, Scott or other people, if you'll feel like reopening it there isn't anything that should stop you :)


    I would like to draw a line under this question now. I wish it to remain closed.

    My main reason being that I would not ask that question now on MO. I am ambivalent about whether or not there is a related question that could be asked on MO, but I am not the person to ask it.

    (I'm not sorry I asked it, though, as it was less clear in the early days what was and wasn't a good question and questions like this, I hope, helped us all figure that out - or at least, come round to Anton's point of view.)


    Andrew, I agree with you that it was a useful experiment, even though I was one of those who argued against it. I think we learned something from the conversations that it generated.

    And you've made it clear from the beginning that to a large extent you were asking it as an experiment, as a way of feeling out the boundaries of what makes an acceptable MO question.


    This question keeps getting voted on (both up and down), so I've had a go at editing it myself. Rather than clutter up the question further with reasons (which probably won't be interesting to anyone who doesn't know the history), I've left in the link to this discussion and will try to justify my re-edit now.

    Essentially, I edited it so that the given answer is still correct. Thus I turned it into a "request for reference" type question. My personal opinion is that "reference request" type questions are acceptable at a lower level than "solve this problem" type questions: asking for a reference partially acknowledges that the material is slightly basic, and also says that the questioner wants to do the work themselves rather than getting someone else to do it for them, but just needs some help on where to start.

    Thus, I hope, by making into a "reference request" question then it is more palatable and thus (paradoxically!) more likely to simply fade from view rather than keep resurfacing as it does. (Maybe I'm the only one who notices it keeps getting attention, though, in which case no worries!).

    Note that I'm not requesting it be reopened (not that I'd complain, either). Rather, just trying to tie up loose ends.