# History and development of mathematics

Tour says we can ask about "History and development of mathematics" - is it valid anymore since History of Science and Mathematics SE is already alive? Won't we be stealing the life out of it still allowing questions of that sort here?

• good point! actually maybe we could also migrate the questions here that belongs now there.
– Surb
Apr 24 '15 at 11:40
• Here is a closely related question. Apr 24 '15 at 11:55
• @ArthurFischer, close enough! So unless its out of beta, we can't discuss about the above? Apr 24 '15 at 12:02
• @JessePFrancis I'm not certain exactly what your question is, perhaps. Are you asking whether such questions should become off-topic here? Or just what to do with the joint on-topicness of certain questions? Though unlikely, we could, as a community, decide right now that historical questions are no longer on-topic here. But even then it's not true that we should just mass migrate questions to hsm, or even just the new ones as they appear. Such questions would then be closed, likely with a new custom reason directing users to try at hsm. Apr 24 '15 at 12:08
• @ArthurFischer, more like it. Apr 24 '15 at 12:16
• You should probably ask new questions on history there. But (as noted) old questions should be left alone. Apr 24 '15 at 15:50
• @ArthurFischer, Quoting the answer, "As for whether or not math-history questions should be on-topic here. . . I'll leave that for the community to decide." Have we arrived at any such decisions in our community? I still feel that we have left it hanging on the edge, with no clarity! May 10 '15 at 8:48
• @GEdgar, true, but what do we do when it is asked in Math.SE? You cannot close it, migration is not possible (it is on topic here), possibly leading to data duplication (on hsm and here, as I noticed with one question in matheducators.SE and math.SE - was asked in both sites) and as quoted in my question, stealing a bit of life from hsm.SE as well. May 10 '15 at 8:52

I'm HDE 226868, one of the mods on HSM, finally writing up something for this. I should add that I put forth a similar question on Physics. There's absolutely no need to follow the same viewpoints or logic, but the answers do show some interesting ideas.

Anyway, here are some important points from the community on HSM:

1. We love good questions. Everybody does, I know, but the particular types of historical questions we're after don't, in general, have textbook answers. My textbook on American history will go on at great length about the World Wars, Reconstruction, the counterculture movement, and all the other things that shaped the country's past and led to the present . . . but too often the mathematics and science attract little attention. Sure, World War II was perhaps more important than the discover of the $\pi$ mesons, but they're still important. You won't find answers to HSM questions easily - and it's hard to find material to ask about in the first place! - so we love it when we get good, well-thought-out questions.
2. We don't want to take questions away from any other sites. Yes, we're in beta, and Mathematics has graduated, so it could be argued that we need the questions more, but let's face it: If a question is on-topic on multiple sites, it could be asked on any of those. We all want good answers to our questions from true experts. Ask in a place where the experts are. If they happen to reside on site A, then go there. If they reside on site B, go there. If they're on both, then do some thinking and then make your pick. But we'd love to have experts on the history of science and mathematics active on HSM - not just Physics, Mathematics, Earth Science, etc. We're not going to demand questions from you. It's your choice, not ours. As quid said,

However, I would advise against being too active in getting questions migrated here [to HSM]. This might alienate others (sometimes also for unreasonable reasons but still). As long as a question is well-received on another site, I think there is nothing that should be done. (Normally, migration is a sub-point of off-topic; if the latter does not apply there is no case for migration.)

3. The idea is up for debate on HSM (e.g. this meta post and an earlier one). We have not yet reached a true consensus. I'll try to keep you informed as to how that works out. It seems like we as a community would love to have some newer questions migrated, but we don't want a huge flux. Again, see quid's answer.

We've had many migrations from Physics, and a decent amount from Mathematics - thank you, Arthur Fischer, for communicating with us on the specific ones - and we'll continue taking them, so long as either the asker supports the migration or Mathematics.SE decides that the question is off-topic. Don't feel obliged to migrate.

I'm far from an active user on Mathematics, so I clearly shouldn't try to speak for the community here. I know, that's tough, because that's the whole point of the question. Still, I'll try.

If you collectively decide to keep questions on-topic, we won't hold it against you - and you won't be hurting us. We've been doing okay. Would it be awesome to have more activity? Yes. Absolutely. But it won't kill us to miss out on some. Mathematics gets about one-to-three per day (looking at the past few weeks). That could help us, sure, but it's not a make-or-break amount (no offense meant). So I hope this clears that up.

As for whether or not questions should be on-topic here. . . I'll leave that for the community to decide. I see no problem with choosing one option or the other, really.

Apologies, by the way, for taking so long to get around to this. We've all been a bit busy lately.

• I just wanted to say that this is an extremely well-reasoned and polite answer, kudos! May 6 '15 at 2:10
• @pjs36 Thanks for that. May 6 '15 at 22:23

I'm not active on either site, but I have general thoughts on this.

Stack Exchange is experiencing a drift to fragmentation right now; a slew of narrow-scoped sites have been proposed on Area 51, many of which are covered scope-wise by already existing sites to varying extent.

Even though it is in beta, large parts of the scope of hsm.SE are covered by other sites, namely the respective science sites (physics.SE, chemistry.SE, biology.SE, philosophy.SE, math.SE, ...). This only makes sense if the larger sites said, "let's get rid of this fragment of our scope", and fans created their own site. If that's not the case there is no reason at all for existing sites to change scope or policy.

If hsm.SE fails because they don't have a scope that can stand on its own given existing sites, that is as it should be. Finding that out is one of the main purposes of beta, after all!

• @2mkgz True. Editing; the result remains the same: no need to change policy. Apr 28 '15 at 16:12
• So, you propose somebody interested in the history of science and math should just visit a sizeable number of different pages to find all the questions they are interested in? From the POV of such a person the creation of HSM would rather seem to be a much needed consolidation then a fragmentation. Currently the subject is fragmented over various different sites.
– quid Mod
Apr 28 '15 at 17:31
• @quid That is one perspective. All I'm saying is that beta should be allowed to run its course as it should, in particular that we/you should not artificially boost it. (In fact, I don't think a dedicated page for every interdisciplinary field is a good idea for SE as it is today. SE runs off experts (of which there is limited supply), and nobody profits if experts become scattered across many sites. This particular case may not be as harmful as others, but still.) Apr 28 '15 at 17:56
• "nobody profits if experts become scattered across many sites" Didn't you just propose that experts on the history of science should be scaterred over many different sites?
– quid Mod
Apr 28 '15 at 18:08