I personally think this question on MSE is an interesting question:

Finding a certain subsemigroup of $(\mathbb R,+)$

but this was put [on hold] because it is missing contexts or details.

I agree on that part, but the answer to this question might interest some people ( possibly descriptive set theorists)

I am not a descriptive set theorist myself, but really interested in the answer (whether it is possible or impossible)

Does there absolutely no people interested in this question?

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    $\begingroup$ How about asking the question again with some thoughts of yours? Then I am sure you will get a nice answer. $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Oct 9, 2013 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ If you follow Thomas' advice, please also explain what you're doing, and link to the other question so it doesn't get closed as a "duplicate." $\endgroup$
    – apnorton
    Oct 10, 2013 at 1:43

1 Answer 1


I think that the issue is not that people are not interested (the $3$ upvotes on a question with no work by the asker is evidence of that) but that the interest should not trump site standards.

The question was asked with no thoughts by the asker added on, and it has fairly recently become the general consensus that questions of this sort should be put on hold until the asker shows some work. (Even a simple comment like "I tried to solve this but am not sure where to start" is usually enough to prevent closure. People like to see any form of proof effort put into a question.) This is not to say that people that ask questions like this haven't bothered to do anything, it's just that for several reasons users of the site seem to agree that this work should be shown in the question. No matter how good the question may be, this doesn't change the fact that this aspect of it is not up to scratch.

In this case, I agree with the comment made by Thomas, you should feel very welcome to post your own version of the question and put down some of your own thoughts. Ideally, you would mention the original and include a link to it for reference. I am sure that it is an interesting question and will receive a good amount of attention, as long as it is asked in accordance with the guidelines for the site!

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    $\begingroup$ The part "it has fairly recently become the general consensus that questions $\dots$" is not necessarily true. Perhaps we have here the actions of a small unrepresentative group of vigilantes. Or perhaps the truth is in between. Whatever be the case, my interest in participating in MSE has been profoundly affected. $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2013 at 22:41
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    $\begingroup$ @AndréNicolas I was trying to think of a way to nuance it better than my original phrasing "The site has decided" since I am aware that many members do not agree with this practice. However, given the trend in upvotes from questions such as this: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/9201/… and the fact that there is now a closure reason for this exact situation, which is being used to the extent that it is (e.g. the question begin discussed), I decided that it was not unreasonable to make the claim. $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2013 at 23:04
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    $\begingroup$ Obviously there are many people who disagree with the practice. The issue is very contentious and I would not claim that it is something that everyone agrees with. Indeed, questions like this one (that are interesting but don't fall in line with this standard) were one of the points made against an environment where this close reason is used frequently. One way to combat it would be through meta discussions such as this, another would be through voting to reopen such questions. Of course, you can only do so much as an individual and hope other users agree with you to a large enough extent... $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2013 at 23:08
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    $\begingroup$ I have no interest in begging others to reopen questions. There are other ways to teach mathematics. As MSE becomes a poisoned environment for this, a sensible alternative is to move on. $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2013 at 23:35
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    $\begingroup$ @AndréNicolas I'm sorry this affects you so strongly. I don't see reopen votes as begging, though, just a statement of opinion, and a way to change the site. After all, the site is mostly run by regular users, so it seems a reasonable thing for a regular user to do to make a difference. $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2013 at 23:38
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    $\begingroup$ Recently there has been an epidemic of holds. Should one switch from answering questions to requesting that holds be reversed? The practice will not improve the quality of the questions. Some people, needlessly insulted, will turn away. Others will make pro forma adjustments to questions, making them less readable. $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2013 at 23:58
  • $\begingroup$ I am inclined to agree with André Nicolas. It is demotivating to see a question of clear mathematical interest, spend some time thinking about it and then see that it has been declared "off-topic" even though its subject matter is clearly within the scope of MSE as was the case here. $\endgroup$
    – Rob Arthan
    Oct 10, 2013 at 0:47
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    $\begingroup$ @RobArthan (and all others reading this): That these closures are getting labeled "off-topic" should be blamed on SE: see here (it's status-declined). I'd rather see it changed as well, because it's plainly misleading. $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Oct 10, 2013 at 6:45
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    $\begingroup$ @AndréNicolas Just to bring up some actual numbers: We're now getting between 400 and 500 new questions per day. Excluding deleted questions and migrations (which don't show up in search), it seems that about 40 of those get closed. That's surely different from the "old practice" to keep practically anything open, but I don't think this fraction is too much out of line with the rest of the SE network (I'd be happy to see some numbers from other sites), or in itself reason for worries. (ctd) $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Oct 10, 2013 at 10:08
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    $\begingroup$ @AndréNicolas That these closures affect questions which you'd like to answer is probably where the itch is for you. Now there are two options per question: 1. Add a comment explaining that you see opportunity to write an illuminating answer of lasting value for the community and vote to reopen (without the former, you'll just be "one of the pack" and it'll be less likely to follow through); 2. If 1. does not apply, the question might not be worth your time. I suggest to move on to the next question. $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Oct 10, 2013 at 10:14
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    $\begingroup$ Actually, no, there are plenty of questions to answer. The only exception was the couple of times I was in the middle of writing a long answer when the pack struck. That was indeed annoying. And I do get particularly furious when I see them go after the English-challenged. $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2013 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ @AndréNicolas Indeed, that seems like a frustrating situation (which I fortunately haven't been in yet). I still suggest comments and reopen votes. Another thing that might be useful is "pinning" certain tabs in your browser. They'll be immunised against session loss even when closing your browser, so your answer won't be lost (and an open tab is an effective way to keep an eye on the question). $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Oct 11, 2013 at 9:21

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