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This question is starting to look like trouble. On the one hand, cardinality is a common and understandable source of confusion. On the other hand, the OP does not seem to be acting in good faith, and is verging on crankery.

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The question does not contain a precise definition, so there's nothing to answer. It should stay closed until the OP decides to adhere to the standards of mathematical communication.

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Note that there is a "convert answer to comment" function that moderators have access to.

Also if you are the owner of the question, all the comment entry boxes are pre-expanded for your input to invite you to respond correctly in comments.

I converted the two obvious non-answers that were comments, to comments.. but I can't quite tell who he is talking to when he says "Charles" as there is nobody by that name on the question.

Anyway, better that this sort of weirdness is closed altogether to prevent answers.

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    $\begingroup$ Charles made a comment at the top of the post saying "Your 'proof' is flawed." $\endgroup$
    – Jason
    Jan 27 '11 at 11:20
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I agree with Hendrik, and I actually was tempted to post earlier on meta. However, I wasn't sure whether I should since I'm a relatively new member here, and I didn't know if my views would be shared.

I understand that posting answers makes the question rise to the top and so it should not be used as an alternative to the comment system. However, most of the feedback the OP received was in the form of a large number of discouraging downvotes and your well-intentioned answer, which had a note about confusion that he probably felt was insulting. After I posted an answer, he posted a very gracious response (albeit answer).

I think the problem here is that John (the OP) has some fundamental concern, but it is not one that we fully understand. There are many philosophical and mathematical questions that arise when we study the infinite, and it is easy to get "tripped up" even with a fairly firm understanding. I hope that my answer, while probably not satisfactory, will get John thinking on a track so that he will be able to adequately answer his own question.

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    $\begingroup$ Based on his comments I would say he was acting in bad faith. One little good deed does not cancel an egregiously bad one. $\endgroup$
    – Aryabhata
    Jan 27 '11 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Moron: It should be noted that the question was at -4 and that there was a comment of "Your 'proof' is flawed." before any comments were posted by the OP other than the appreciative ones made to muntoo. I interpreted the comment you reference differently, mainly, "you're an undergrad so you don't yet have the experience I do." Clearly, this is an inappropriate comment even with this nicer interpretation. However, while this does not excuse any of the negative comments, I think all of this resulted out of frustration, & would have played out differently had there been a more auspicious start. $\endgroup$
    – Jason
    Jan 27 '11 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ Being a member on MO too, I really hate when a new user leaves with a bad impression because of an unpleasant experience that resulted from a misunderstanding. The only thing I'm really advocating is that we do what we can to avoid this situation in this instance and in any future cases of a similar nature. $\endgroup$
    – Jason
    Jan 27 '11 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Jason: Frankly, the question deserved the -3/4 it got. IMO, It was similar to: "I define a set to be uncountable, if it has a bijection with the naturals. Now obviously the continuum hypothesis is false!". This is a site for well defined questions and answers. This is not a discussion forum. Question like those are off-topic. Downvotes are one of the ways on this site to indicate bad content. Even if he was correct (and not talking nonsense like he did), the comments he made are really not justified. Of course, the real reason to close the question is not arrogance, but the nonsense. $\endgroup$
    – Aryabhata
    Jan 27 '11 at 21:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Moron: I should first mention that the reputations of both you and @Akhil suggest that you have both generously donated much more of your time to answering questions than I have. Therefore, it would be unfair of me not to defer to your respective judgements, and this is also why I was hesitant to post on meta. To be clear, I am not arguing in favor of his comments nor against the question's closure. I simply wanted to try to reduce any existing tension between the OP and the MSE community and try to preemptively reduce any future resentment. $\endgroup$
    – Jason
    Jan 27 '11 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ The question is not well-defined from my understanding, and I don't really know the source of his concern. Unfortunately, he may never be able to make me understand what it is. It could very well be too abstract and difficult to explain. Nevertheless, I tried to explain what I could, and hopefully he can use this in forming a question that would be more answerable. I also don't want to assume that he posted his question with a feeling of superiority but rather with cautious excitement that he may have come up with something new. $\endgroup$
    – Jason
    Jan 27 '11 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Jason: This is not a discussion forum. If the question is so ill-defined as to take multiple iterations to even start making sense, it does not belong on this site. Downvotes are one of the primary ways one indicate that, and it is nothing personal. If John resents that, he is in the wrong place, however welcoming the community might be. Anyway... $\endgroup$
    – Aryabhata
    Jan 27 '11 at 22:51
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    $\begingroup$ Dear Jason, I agree that my use of the word "confusing" was ill-advised. I am also in agreement with @Moron's judgment that the question probably is inappropriate for the website; I answered it because I saw an opportunity to correct a common misunderstanding. Since the OP claims to be aware of standard theories of cardinality, I don't really understand to what extend this can be considered a mathematical question. $\endgroup$ Jan 28 '11 at 2:45
  • $\begingroup$ In any event, the problem seems to have disappeared now that the question has been closed. I started this thread because I was concerned that it might turn into a repeat of a past thread on a similar topic (regular readers of the meta forum probably know what I'm referring to). $\endgroup$ Jan 28 '11 at 2:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Akhil For what it's worth, I don't think that your choice of the word "confusing" was ill-advised. If the OP is not psychologically fit to cope with such words in conjunction with his questions, then this is not the right place for him. $\endgroup$
    – Alex B.
    Jan 28 '11 at 6:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Akhil: "Ill-advised" is much too strong, but it might indeed be that the OP was offended by your use of "confuse", and I'd find that understandable. But I also find your use of "confuse" very understandable. It is virtually impossible to not offend anyone. The point I'm trying to make: It might be possible that this "confuse" set the OP off to write this sentence about your understanding that I don't dare repeat (not that it would be a good excuse). $\endgroup$ Jan 28 '11 at 8:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Akhil: I don't think any of us know how to perfectly insure that a response to an anonymous person is free of offense so it takes good faith on the part of the one receiving the answer as well. Anyway, I apologize for any noise I may have caused since you've now made it clear that this thread concerned the appropriateness of the question. I also want to apologize because I shouldn't of said, "let's fix this" when the negative comment was directed at you. Akhil, @Moron: Thank you for your responses. $\endgroup$
    – Jason
    Jan 28 '11 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Jason: No worries, it was as much a question of how to handle it (and avoid a repeat of the last scenario) as whether the question was appropriate. $\endgroup$ Jan 28 '11 at 14:15
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I'm not really a member of this community, so it's maybe it's not a good idea for me of all people to answer this question.

I can't really see bad faith in the behaviour of the user in question. Yes, he does abuse answers as replies, but as far as I see, noone told him that one shouldn't do this. Yes, he should have read the faq, but I think it's best to first tell him politely to do so. And yes, the question may be regarded "not a real question", but it has several aspects that can be answered.

In short: The only bad behaviour (not bad faith) I see is the abuse of answers, and that could be dealt with better than with downvotes.

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  • $\begingroup$ Did you read some of his comments? $\endgroup$
    – Aryabhata
    Jan 27 '11 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Moron: I read everything he wrote before writing this answer. And yes, his tone is definitely not the most polite, but that's something completely different than bad faith. It seems that this was his first ever participation in the site, and I like first timers to be treated with comments that try to push them in the right direction. But as I wrote, I'm not really a member of this community (I'm over at tex.sx). So maybe I'm a bad judge here. $\endgroup$ Jan 27 '11 at 16:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Hendrik: Perhaps we mean different things by 'bad faith'. He posted a question, got a polite answer from Akhil which pointed out that he hasn't really disproved CH. His response was "I have a PHD, you don't understand anything". That is bad faith to me! Akhil's answer also implicity answers the question about references/notation: "you won't find any, as what you have is BS (my words)". Bad behaviour is bad behaviour, irrespective of they being first timers or not. IF they post junk, they will get downvoted. Perhaps they will care to read the FAQ next time. $\endgroup$
    – Aryabhata
    Jan 27 '11 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Moron: According to wikipedia (which may be a disputable source), bad faith "is an attitude taken in actions or positions that involve reasoning to form a belief in which there is deception, duplicity, insincerity, or dishonesty ...". I can see neither of the four. It continues "... due to failing to take certain facts into account or using invalid argumentation". (Well, this might apply here.) And John wrote "you really didn't answer my question" and not "you don't understand anything". You read the latter between the lines, OK, but you can't know. $\endgroup$ Jan 27 '11 at 17:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Hendrik: I see insincerity. The OP isn't really being objective of his 'invention'. And, there was a comment containing the following words: "I think it is a little beyond your understanding". The lines are pretty thick here. Perhaps you missed it. It was to one of John's own answer-comments. Perhaps it was not in direct response to Akhil's answer, but still. $\endgroup$
    – Aryabhata
    Jan 27 '11 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Moron: Right, I did read that one and it was directed to Akhil, yes. This was the one point where I thought "oh my, what's this?" It probably was so insolent that I chose to forget it immediately; thanks for reminding me. But still, I would have pointed out to him (as Qiaochu did in an amicable way) that this is rather impolite. The one thing that won't convince the OP of any errors are all these downvotes. (Unfortunately you can't downvote comments. That one comment deserves all the downvotes it can get.) $\endgroup$ Jan 27 '11 at 17:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Hendrik: If you are talking about downvotes to the question, I disagree. The question was of low quality with ill defined terms, contradicting well know facts with arguments based on those ill defined terms etc and deserved to be downvoted. Also, once Qiaochu actually said things politely, do we really need to have more "I agree with Q" comments? The purpose of downvotes is to signify some issue with an answer/question. Agree that 2-3 downvotes are probably enough, but if someone is being insolent, perhaps people chose to downvote the answers/question as they could not downvote the comment. $\endgroup$
    – Aryabhata
    Jan 27 '11 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Moron: It seems that we're partly converging. I probably didn't express myself well, I wouldn't want "I agree with Q" comments: there are upvotes on Q's comment, great. And we also seem to agree that this downvoting beyond need is bad. OK, on the downvotes on the question and on the bad faith we disagree, but this might indicate that I'm really a bad judge here. But thank you very much for all your detailed comments! $\endgroup$ Jan 27 '11 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Hendrik: You are welcome :-) $\endgroup$
    – Aryabhata
    Jan 27 '11 at 23:21

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