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https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/1110710/is-a2b2-ab-ap-qquad-a-b-in-mathbbz-a-perfect-square

On MO there seems to be an other opinion:
https://mathoverflow.net/questions/194216/is-a2b2-ab-ap-a-perfect-square-for-suitable-a-b-in-mathbbz

The question is now removed but it was exactly the same as the one on mathoverflow.

After some considerations I can see that there where some problems with the Q and that people at MO wanted to alert that it might be close to a famous open conjecture. But my concern is that new users often get a treatment that could make them believe that they aren't welcome to the site.

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    $\begingroup$ It's an extremely dishonest question. It seems clear that OP had the Erdos-Straus problem in mind, but withheld that information. That's not the way to do Mathematics. $\endgroup$ Jan 21 '15 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry I am not sure that I, in principle, agree. It seems here that a complete solution to the question would resolve the Erdos-Straus problem, and so yes I agree that this question is therefore dishonest. However, if I was struggling with a minor step in a proof of the same conjecture then I would not think it necessary to mention my overall goal (at least not initially). $\endgroup$
    – user1729
    Jan 22 '15 at 11:32
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson Why do you think that the OP had prior knowledge of a (relatively obscure) equivalent of the Erdos-Strauss conjecture? I see nothing written in either question about that. $\endgroup$ Jan 22 '15 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill, where do you think the question came from? and why do you think OP was unresponsive to questions about it? $\endgroup$ Jan 22 '15 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Gerry Have you never once unknowingly stumbled upon equivalent variants of an open problem? There are thousands of them, e.g. see R.K. Guy's Unsolved Problems in Number Theory. That happened to me many times while I was a student. Thankfully I was never accused of being "extremely dishonest" when discussing such problems. Lacking further evidence, I think you should give the OP the benefit of the doubt before making such strong accusations. $\endgroup$ Jan 22 '15 at 15:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill, OP was asked for more information and was given the opportunity to provide it before any accusations were made. OP has not denied the accusations. Ball is in OPs court, and OP is not playing ball. $\endgroup$ Jan 23 '15 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry There is no such interaction with the OP on this site. If you wish to critique the OP's behavior on some other site then please do so there, not here. $\endgroup$ Jan 23 '15 at 1:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill, you asked, "Why do you think that the OP had prior knowledge of a (relatively obscure) equivalent of the Erdos-Strauss conjecture? I see nothing written in either question about that." Clearly, what happened on MO is relevant in answering your question. $\endgroup$ Jan 23 '15 at 2:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry The OP said nothing here (or on MO) about the source of the problem, so anything you believe about such is pure speculation on your part. $\endgroup$ Jan 23 '15 at 3:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill, Lee Harvey Oswald said nothing about his actions, so anything I believe about them is pure speculation, too, I suppose. But I'm comfortable with that. $\endgroup$ Jan 23 '15 at 13:47
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The standards upheld on math.SE and MathOverflow are not the same (even if applied by the same people). I might find it fine to joke with one particular student in my office hours, or when running into them in the hallway, I will not necessarily find it suitable to make the same joke in the classroom.

Math.SE and MathOverflow are two different sites.

Not to mention that the question was cross-posted from MathOverflow (without indication!) after less than 24 hours. This could be, for some people, a sufficient reason to close at least one of the copies.

Other reason to close might be the lack of any context to the question. Where did it came from? Did the OP try to solve it before? How, or Why not? Etc. etc.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, thank you! It's just interesting how to interpret such processes on ME. (Do you suggests that Terry Tao is making fun of the questioner?) $\endgroup$
    – Lehs
    Jan 21 '15 at 20:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Lehs that Asaf mentioned a joke as analogy does not mean that he thinks that somebody is joking in this situation. He could just as well have used some other type of conversation, say discussing health problems. The point is that in different venues different standards might apply. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Jan 21 '15 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ What @quid said. I never said that anyone made fun of anyone else. Where did you see me say that, Lehs? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Jan 21 '15 at 20:31
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There is a strong emphasis on MO in favor of placing no impediments to an anonymous question by the next Fields Medalist. This has been tested in a number of ways. The down side is that anyone can make up a number theory question that cannot be resolved with current knowledge. When someone places such a question and refuses to give background, I generally believe that it is because they do not know any background, and vote to close. However, MO has some very, very strong mathematicians who regularly comment on questions without evident background, GH is one, Noam Elkies another.

After @Gerry's comment here, there is also no impediment to someone posting a disguised version of a known open problem and hoping to crowdsource it. That's what was discussed in this thread: http://tea.mathoverflow.net/discussion/1187/extending-from-a-plane-in-r3-again-and-again-and-again

Another example, both amusing and obnoxious, https://mathoverflow.net/questions/29534/the-product-of-n-radii-in-an-ellipse

The behavior of this person posting on both sites, with no detail, is a strong indication that the problem has no intrinsic value. One of the lessons of graduate school is, after all, how to write mathematics so that others can tell what you are getting at. Many people know this as undergraduates or earlier. In comparison, every time someone posts on MSE Main "My friend said that" I just cringe.

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    $\begingroup$ The question is interesting as such despite policy details. $\endgroup$
    – Lehs
    Jan 21 '15 at 23:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Lehs, it is a disguised version of a famous open problem; the person posting was hoping to cheat. $\endgroup$
    – Will Jagy
    Jan 21 '15 at 23:21
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    $\begingroup$ Do you suspect that OP thought that someone unknowingly would solve an open question so that OP would achieve the honor? What questions can then be asked? $\endgroup$
    – Lehs
    Jan 21 '15 at 23:45

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