I saw this question today: How do you respond to "I was always bad at math"?, and I thought that it was a contradiction that that question had so many upvotes and favorites yet it was closed. It was closed as not-constructive, yet it is appreciated by the community and add a great deal of discussion and fun to the site. I was wondering if this type of questions was accounted for during the development of this site. If yes, then should it be reopened because of community support? If no, what is the official Math.StackExchange stance on that?

Thanks a lot.

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    $\begingroup$ Some thoughts: when a post is "hot", it attracts visits and upvotes from other sites' users, who may not know MSE. The number of upvotes is proportional to the accessibility of the question. Easier-to-understand questions are voted on more often. So upvotes don't really gauge topicality. Also, fun and discussion are explicitly not among the goals of the site, so they shouldn't weigh in when deciding on topicality. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin May 29 '15 at 6:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Lord_Farin: I slightly disagree with the very last statement, these should factor negatively. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 29 '15 at 7:16
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila I can slightly see why discussion should maaaybe factor negatively but why fun? $\endgroup$ – DRF May 29 '15 at 11:12
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    $\begingroup$ @DRF: Of course I'm not anti-fun, not in general and not on this site, and I didn't say that this should be given a lot of weight. But in the grand scheme, "fun" questions are likely to attract a bunch of great answers, some good answers, and then piles over piles of bad answers which may stretch over years and repeat the same couple of ideas. So it is a factor to consider, and generally it should be considered a negative factor. But again, I'm not saying that we should close or downvote every "fun" question, just that we need to take this into consideration. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 29 '15 at 11:17
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    $\begingroup$ I suppose closing the question would avoid the "piles over piles of bad answers." There's also protecting a question, which is explicitly for preventing some kinds of bad answers, especially from other sites' users who have never been on MSE. Could that be considered as a less extreme alternative to closing such a question? $\endgroup$ – David K May 29 '15 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidK it is quite common that such questions are protected for some time before they get closed. But there is also a point in closing the question in that it makes clear that this type of questions is not really what the site is about or for. $\endgroup$ – quid May 29 '15 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think there is something called "official Math SE stance". The site is moderate by all users anyway. $\endgroup$ – user99914 May 29 '15 at 14:26
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    $\begingroup$ @David: Sure, protecting helps, a little bit. But in the long run, not enough, I'm afraid. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 29 '15 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Also, isn't one of the sites key philosophies that the good answers will naturally flow to the top? $\endgroup$ – SalmonKiller May 29 '15 at 14:50
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    $\begingroup$ @SalmonKiller maybe so, still the not-so-good answers will push the question back to the front for the n+1-st time. $\endgroup$ – quid May 29 '15 at 14:56
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    $\begingroup$ @SalmonKiller: If you order your answers by activity, good answers will eventually flow to the bottom. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 29 '15 at 15:05

In my understanding the "official stance" (to the extent it exists) network-wide is that such questions are essentially off-topic. The "Don't ask" contains this:

Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

This does not mean that they never can happen, but it does mean that they are an exception.

  • $\begingroup$ In that case, should we just reopen and protect the question i mentioned in the question? I think it should be allowed as an exception. $\endgroup$ – SalmonKiller May 29 '15 at 14:59
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    $\begingroup$ @SalmonKiller I do not think so. (But every 3k+ user that feels so inclined could vote to reopen any time.) It was allowed as exception for some time, like an end-of-year party in the seminar room. Now, that party is over. Wait for the next one. $\endgroup$ – quid May 29 '15 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe we should create something like a Math.SE subsite called Discussion just like meta is a subsite of Math.SE, because me and many other people would certainly like more of those questions $\endgroup$ – SalmonKiller May 29 '15 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ @SalmonKiller area51.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$ – quid May 29 '15 at 15:11
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    $\begingroup$ Don't close em in our name!! Speaking for "team SE," we've always been impressed with Math's ability to manage soft questions really, really well. But we barely know what we're talking about yet. We'll share some more thoughts after connecting with the mod team, but I thought it worth clarifying that "SE" doesn't feel these aren't welcome. $\endgroup$ – Jaydles May 29 '15 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Jaydles So what's your solution for handling Mathematical soft questions in general? $\endgroup$ – SalmonKiller May 29 '15 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Jaydles Don't worry. I for one already closed such questions for years on MO when it was not even in the network. The sole reason I even mention network-wide is to preempt some remarks regarding who wrote that text, namely SE. $\endgroup$ – quid May 29 '15 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ @SalmonKiller, I don't necessarily assume that one is needed. Hate to answer with a question, but I always default to, "what's the problem we need to solve, and why?" To me, soft questions aren't a problem in themselves. Math has tons tagged with it, and I'd argue that 1) a lot of them are extremely useful, and 2) they have not seemed to drive a nonsense-spiral, or caused other unintended problems. $\endgroup$ – Jaydles May 29 '15 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Jaydles perhaps they are not a problem only because they get quite stringently moderate since some time? $\endgroup$ – quid May 29 '15 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ @quid, perhaps! Although I'd see that mostly as support for "keep allowing what you were; it's a strong, seemingly sustainable balance!" And I should be clear that your mods here are great, and are much closer to this - we'll have better thoughts/understanding after we kick it around a little with them. $\endgroup$ – Jaydles May 29 '15 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Jaydles "we'll have better thoughts/understanding after we kick it around a little with them" Exactly. And it so happens that a site's mod closed some such questions yesterday. $\endgroup$ – quid May 29 '15 at 16:24

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