I understand that asking a question about a famous open problem is viewed as a bit of a red flag and not encouraged, which makes sense of course.

Is there a way to stay within protocol/etiquette while doing this? For example, posting a bounty with the question?

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    $\begingroup$ On this Q+A site, the expectancy is that if you post a Q, you think that it is within reason to get an A for Q in the near future. Q's without A's should be avoided. On the other hand, I'm sure you can come up with lots of Q's about Q's without A's which do have A's that are manageable. $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Aug 24 '15 at 17:55
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    $\begingroup$ You're going to put a bounty on an open question? This sounds like a waste of reputation points to me. But you are certainly allowed to try it and see what happens. $\endgroup$ – davidlowryduda Aug 24 '15 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ You can't post a bounty until the question is at least two days old. In general, bounty changes nothing in the way a question is evaluated. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Aug 24 '15 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ @rschwieb Good summary, I think you should expand it to an answer. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Aug 24 '15 at 18:56
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    $\begingroup$ The SE site mathoverflow is your best chance. They occasionally solve obscure open problems. Its usually accidental though. $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Aug 24 '15 at 22:00
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    $\begingroup$ @PyR, mathoverflow feels much the same way about famous open problems that mathstackexchange feels. Try posting the Riemann Hypothesis there, and see how quickly it gets closed. What you can try, at m.se or at MO, is asking something like, "What's the latest on the Riemann Hypothesis?" But even for a question like that, you'll get squashed if you don't demonstrate that you have already read extensively on the problem. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Aug 24 '15 at 23:38
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson Yeah, but occasionally someone will ask about a problem they are facing, it will turn out to be open, but the answerer will solve it. Probably wouldn't happen with famous ones though. $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Aug 24 '15 at 23:41
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    $\begingroup$ By the way, if your question about a famous open problem is "Would someone please check my proof of Goldbach's Conjecture?" then it's pretty much guaranteed to be closed real fast, whether on m.se or on MO. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Aug 25 '15 at 5:53
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson: I cannot help suspecting the user's nom de plume is a clue to what Famous Open Problem would be asked about. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Aug 25 '15 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ Trav, that is not going to be a reasonable question. Certainly I always vote to close such things, and i do not read the attempt presented. $\endgroup$ – Will Jagy Aug 25 '15 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ I think, in general, if your question is short and self contained (i.e. no long proofs), seeking to learn, and mathematically specific, it can be on topic (and I've seen such questions well-received). However, most posts regarding open problems do not achieve this standard and are poorly received. If you don't have a technical understanding of the open question and related fields, I wouldn't advise asking such questions. $\endgroup$ – Milo Brandt Aug 25 '15 at 22:41
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    $\begingroup$ It seems to me that an open mathematics question will often (typically?) involve many steps, some of which are no longer open. (For example, the status of the various logical steps of FLT immediately after Ribet established the epsilon conjecture.) It might be reasonable to post questions about the way some of the established steps were in fact established. $\endgroup$ – Brian Tung Aug 26 '15 at 22:34
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    $\begingroup$ Look around for the "how to detect crackpots" web pages. They'll tell you a lot about what to avoid when asking. $\endgroup$ – vonbrand Aug 30 '15 at 2:35
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    $\begingroup$ This kind of page, @vonbrand? startswithabang.com/?p=1447 $\endgroup$ – Travelling Salesman Aug 30 '15 at 11:14
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think you quite understand the scale of this website, @TravellingSalesman. There are about 80 questions put on hold every day. Every user with the required privilege can vote to close 50 questions every day. It makes no sense to require every user to check back every question they have voted to close to see if it has improved. Instead, other users (the one who happen to look at the front page at that moment, or the ones who go to the reopen review queue) will see the post and will judge if it deserves being reopened. To answer your question, "yes, it's common". $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Sep 17 '15 at 16:33

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