There are already several questions posted that are not really 'math questions.' Instead, they ask for blogs, podcasts, etc. Inevitably, more will follow. Favorite math-related cartoon, favorite math-themed candy, etc.
What would be an appropriate tag for these to distinguish them from questions that are actually about mathematics? subjective? off-topic? not-math?

I think there is need to distinguish between:

  • open-ended questions, like 'best teaching methods' or 'useful counterexamples'
  • questions that have a specific answer, but are not math questions, like `how do I graph y=x^2 on my TI83'
  • 'fun' questions, like MathOverflow's list of math quotes
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ strongly resisting the urge to post the cartoon question now... $\endgroup$
    – cobbal
    Jul 20, 2010 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ See this StackOverflow blog post on the death of meta-tags $\endgroup$
    – Casebash
    Aug 10, 2010 at 23:21

2 Answers 2


MathOverflow uses soft-question for these sorts of things most of the time. I think that might work here too. big-list for lists of a bunch of resources or examples of something.

We'll have to think very carefully about which of these kinds of questions we do and don't want. Inevitably, some people will come here looking for the "less technical than MathOverflow" site where they think vaguely math-related questions of this nature will be welcome.

  • $\begingroup$ I would want to pick something other than soft-question because of questions like 'explain calculus to an 8-year-old` that would show up on this site but not MathOverflow. Such questions seem soft to me, even though they are really about math in a way the examples in my question are not. $\endgroup$
    – Larry Wang
    Jul 20, 2010 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ or at least use soft-question in conjunction with another tag that might be more informative $\endgroup$
    – Vivi
    Jul 21, 2010 at 2:02
  • $\begingroup$ Since Harry's retagging spree has made soft-question the most populated of these choices, that's probably the simplest way to proceed. $\endgroup$
    – Larry Wang
    Jul 21, 2010 at 2:05

Would it not be more constructive to flag them for closure as off topic? Or where do we draw the line?

  • $\begingroup$ I think that, as on StackOverflow, not all off-topic questions need to be closed. A question like "what kind of pie are you eating for pi day?" is fun, and as far as I'm concerned, is welcome, as long as these questions aren't taking up more than, say, 5% of the total. $\endgroup$
    – Larry Wang
    Jul 20, 2010 at 22:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 5% is far to high. I plan to come here for interesting questions, not off topic questions with no mathematical basis behind the question. As per the faq questions should have a definitive answer. $\endgroup$
    – Jacob
    Jul 20, 2010 at 22:26
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Jacob: 5% may indeed be too high. I certainly didn't put a lot of thought into that number. It may be worthwhile to find out what ratio stackoverflow or other sites have when deciding what ratio would be ideal. I really think it's not 0, though. Some questions, like 'where can I find archived academic papers' can be useful to the audience, and are not even subjective. Others, like the pie question, I think have their place. (Favorite number, though, would not, and no, I can't articulate what exactly the difference is) $\endgroup$
    – Larry Wang
    Jul 21, 2010 at 0:13

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