A few minutes ago, I found a question with -5 votes, already closed, with the title "Were $n$-dimensional numbers discovered?", which linked to http://nicoladalfonso.blogspot.com/p/number-in-n-dimensional-space_2437.html

The question was closed as not a real question and deleted in a matter of minutes after I've seen it.

Edit: It is undeleted again, the question is: The numbers in the n-dimensional space have been actually discovered?

I'm not sure how to say this, but don't you think it's bad to delete so soon a potential real question? I know that its formulation was ambiguous, too general, but even I wondered a bit through the 123 pages of the pdf in the link to see what this is about. I do not say that I'm interested in the subject, since the man constructs some pseudo-field structure on $\Bbb{R}^3$ and $\Bbb{R}^n$, which may or may not be useful to anyone, but still got published somewhere.

Maybe the OP would have rethought the text of the question, after a few advices, since he/she may have been a newbie to the site.

One answer to this question could be:

The $n$-dimensional numbers were not "discovered" now. Mathematicians use them everyday. This paper deals with defining different operations on $\Bbb{R}^3$ which makes it almost a field. We cannot define field structures on $\Bbb{R}^n,\ n \geq 3$ which generalize the usual operations of addition/multiplication.

Shouldn't there be more time between the question is closed and the question is deleted? Give the OP a chance to make the question worth reopening ?

I know that there cannot be questions like: please explain the article in the following link, and this question was something like that. My point is that we let the OP rethink the question at least 12h before deleting it.

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    $\begingroup$ I think it was highly inappropriate that the question was quickly deleted (esp. by a newbie moderator). That prevents any chance of it from being discussed, edited and reopened. Here's a link for those who can see it. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2011 at 17:03
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    $\begingroup$ I saw this question as spam, flagged it as such and voted to close, so I take partial responsibility. In general, I don't think it is our job to look for potential questions in such posts. By the way: it's undeleted again. The whole thing is potentially more on-topic but it strongly reminds me of the whole qubrix brain twister thing. $\endgroup$
    – t.b.
    Jun 29, 2011 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ Kudos to the person who undeleted it. Perhaps some of the folks who voted to close might wish to add some comments to the question to help guide the new questioner. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2011 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Bill: look at the revision history. $\endgroup$
    – t.b.
    Jun 29, 2011 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Theo Thanks. Then kudos to Zev for listening to community feedback. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2011 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ For what it is worth, I agree with Theo that it isn't our job to look for potential questions. But I also agree with Bill that there's no point in deleting the question so quickly and manually. It would've been taken care of by the software anyway if the OP had decided not to revisit it and improve it. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2011 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ On such, I don't recall that we ever discussed any policy on deleting posts. Perhaps the time is ripe for such. Clearly some posts that are spam (advertising) or unarguably off-topic should be deleted. But it may be difficult to determine a precise boundary otherwise. Since deleting could be construed as censorship one needs to be extra careful. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2011 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Willie: Could you remind me, what are the criteria for when the software will delete a question automatically? $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2011 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Zev: Two ways: (1) If it has negative votes, no answers, and untouched for some specified-in-software amount of time that is about 1 month long. (2) If it is flagged by multiple people as SPAM. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2011 at 17:36
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    $\begingroup$ On a related note: The OP of the question also posted this answer. $\endgroup$
    – t.b.
    Jun 29, 2011 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Bill: There has been some piecemeal discussion about policy/ies for administratively deleting posts, but I think it more or less comes down to: don't. (Largely because there is little reason to delete things; closing and/or downvoting usually achieve the desired outcome without removing content.) $\endgroup$
    – Isaac
    Jun 29, 2011 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


I've undeleted for the time being, but I deleted the question when I saw it because I considered it to be spam. There was no actual question (hence the closure as not a real question), but furthermore I found the post to be nothing more than an excuse to post a link to the OP's blog. (Theo's correct, I saw a lot of similarity with the Qubrix question). Of course, I was going to send an email to the OP explaining my actions, and what an improved version of their question might consist of. But as it's undeleted, this will now be done in the comments.

I was confident in my decision and thought this would not be a contentious matter. Deleting a question is certainly an extraordinary action, but undoubtedly there are times when doing so quickly is the correct course of action; I happened to think this was one. In the future I will be much more conservative.

I forgot to mention: I'd earlier seen this post by the OP, which I took considered as evidence that their purpose here was to drive traffic to their site, as opposed to honestly asking a question.

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    $\begingroup$ I did not see if the OP is in fact that blog's owner. If he is, then this is clearly spam. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2011 at 17:37
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    $\begingroup$ I agree it is tempting. On first look at what was posted to Math.SE, I thought to myself "how could this not be SPAM"? But following the link shows (to me at least) that there is a possibility it is not SPAM. I think in general, in these cases it is better to give the OP the benefit of the doubt (and at least one chance to improve the question). $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2011 at 17:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Willie Even if the OP is the author of the linked paper, I don't think it is spam for author to ask if his results have been already discovered. But I do agree that the question needs much clarification. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2011 at 18:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Willie Either it's a bizarre coincidence, or someone is testing the spam deletion waters with the recent question What food do mathematicians eat? $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2011 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Bill: (two comments above) I agree, or did you mean to address that to Beni? (one comment above) I have no idea. I didn't even see that until you pointed it out just now. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2011 at 20:16

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