# Best way to post "ideas" about possible methods of proof (especially about "taboo" problems)?

Consider Notorious & Difficult Number Theory Problem X (hereafter referred to as "The Problem"). Let's say The Problem has already been solved using “heavy machinery”, so that we can all agree upon the truth of the proposition. Let's now say I have an idea on a possible elementary method of attacking The Problem, and I've worked through some of it, but it's not anywhere near a complete proof. And let's assume, for argument's sake, that I'm not a total crank — call me "an optimistic amateur" instead, with perhaps even a few articles published in well-respected peer-reviewed number theory journals.

How best to start such a thread — with the intentional of rationally discussing the idea towards either a proof, a partial proof (or new partial result), or proving that the idea is a clear dead-end — without the thread spiralling either into total crank-dom on the one hand, or total crank-lynching-dom on the other?

Furthermore, should it immediately be declared community-wiki?

• For better or worse, this site is not well suited for discussion. Indeed, the help page math.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask states, If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about ______”, then you should not be asking here. So, if your intention is to discuss the general ideas for a proof, you may need to look elsewhere. One posible model is the Polymath project, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymath_Project Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 15:53
• The site is for Questions and Answers, not for Ideas. It often happens that an Idea you have leads to a good, concrete Question, in which case it can certainly be asked, as any other Question.
– user147263
Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 16:00
• Here is a concrete question you could ask without being viewed as a crank immediatly: "What obstacles are there to obtaining X by method Y". But if you cannot formulate it as a concrete question, this is indeed the wrong place. Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 16:01
• Even the question that Michael Greinecker proposes, although it is a relatively concrete question, might even attract some closure votes. My advice would be to be as concrete as possible, and not to ask many questions of that sort in a short period of time. Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 16:02
• Reading about "especially taboo questions" in the header of a question... is MSE for question&answers in math or about hypotheses on social issues in the social/scientific community? Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 20:08
• @GottfriedHelms The former, but questions of the form "Is there anything wrong with my proof of twin primes conjecture?" tend to fare poorly.
– user147263
Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 21:31
• Late comment, but in my opinion anyone who has a solid grasp of the basics in the field and does not put forth incoherent arguments (unlike Cantor deniers or anti-logicers) is very far from a crank. Not to say that you have even published in well-respected mathematics journals. As user7530 pointed out, "[cranks] leave the path of honest scholarship by e.g. ignoring related literature proving their approach is hopeless, publishing "proofs" with serious flaws and ignoring attempts by peers to educate them, etc". Commented May 13, 2018 at 11:48