The title says it all. Is there a way to take a poll on Maths Stack Exchange? Is a poll an acceptable question?

  • $\begingroup$ Math.SE is a site for learning mathematics at all levels. We seek to collect and curate excellent content in the form of Questions and Answers. A poll does not in itself provide reasoned mathematical argument, so it's unclear how you would expect one to meet community standards. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Aug 12 '16 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ @hardmath it is conceivable that some maths question might be a matter of opinion. In fact it may be a valid, material question to ask to what extent a something is preferred or more widely used to another thing. For example. If we wanted to know if more mathematicians use pencils or pens, polling the audience might be the most accurte way of achieving an accurate answer. $\endgroup$ – user334732 Aug 12 '16 at 13:25
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    $\begingroup$ However "valid" or "material" you may believe the question of whether mathematicians predominantly use pencils or pens, it is not a question with a strong connection to a mathematical topic. My guess is that asking about this on the main site would be promptly closed as "primarily opinion based". Real mathematics is done with proofs, not by taking a vote. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Aug 12 '16 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ I had thought something in the FAQ spoke specifically against polls, but I can't find anything like that now. One might argue against polls as questions that don't really have answers. $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Aug 12 '16 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ @rschwieb This is as close as I can find. It doesn't say "poll" explicitly, but it explicitly rules out discussion-style posts and posts where every answer is equally valid. $\endgroup$ – user296602 Aug 12 '16 at 17:59
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    $\begingroup$ It's not clear to me why this question is downvoted so much. It just asks as a support question if something, not overly bizarre or unusual, is possible/acceptable. $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 12 '16 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ @quid: The question itself is pretty narrow and can be read as asking if something is possible/acceptable, but the OP's comments lend themselves to advocacy of implementing/allowing such Polls. I suspect the down-votes are offered in disagreement with that advocacy (though I did not down vote). $\endgroup$ – hardmath Aug 12 '16 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ @quid Vote this comment up if you think with all the downvotes I got I might as well just have posted a poll on Math StackExchange without asking, and found out that way instead. $\endgroup$ – user334732 Aug 12 '16 at 18:33
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    $\begingroup$ @hardmath yes, but, OP also rather quickly accepted the answer telling it is not acceptable.// Robert Frost: no I think it is still better to ask here. $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 12 '16 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ @RobertFrost: While down votes on meta are often used to denote disagreement with a suggestion (and I agree with quid, that is not what your post amounts to), even so it has no effect on your Math.SE reputation. In this sense it is much better to be down voted on Meta than on Main. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Aug 12 '16 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ BTW there exists (poll) tag here on meta. You can have a look what kinds of polls have been asked here. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Aug 13 '16 at 7:37
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    $\begingroup$ Ok, this is the general maths stack rather than the statistics one, but I would except even non-statistician mathematicians to have a basic awareness that self-selecting polls are virtually useless. $\endgroup$ – Peter Taylor Aug 26 '16 at 10:42
  • $\begingroup$ @PeterTaylor A good point but fairly relIable deductions about can still be made from a self-selecting poll, regarding matters that require a very low balance of evidence in order to achieve the required confidence. For example, a hypothesis that polls are universally unacceptable could be eliminated by minimal responses stating polls are acceptable. $\endgroup$ – user334732 Aug 26 '16 at 13:09

You can post a question, with several answers asking people to vote accordingly.

This is relatively acceptable on meta (although a discussion should be had first). If I would see something like that on the main site, I'd immediately downvote, close and then delete (and maybe flag to get the process done even faster). And I'm guessing I'm not the only one.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. What would be your grounds for closing and deleting? $\endgroup$ – user334732 Aug 12 '16 at 8:45
  • $\begingroup$ It sounds like you would down vote irrespective of whether it showed research effort, was clear and useful. Is that correct? $\endgroup$ – user334732 Aug 12 '16 at 8:48
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    $\begingroup$ If I were a regular user I would vote to close the question (if in main) as primarily opinion-based. As a mod I would either wait for the first flag or close it as such right away, depending. The question could well be very interesting to poll users about, but it doesn't mesh at all with the SE model. I could see it work in meta, if it were on-topic here. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Aug 12 '16 at 9:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Robert: Because I think that poll questions should be disallowed on the site. This is not Facebook, and it is not Twitter, and not a forum. It's a Q&A website about mathematics. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 12 '16 at 9:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Jyrki: Even on meta there is a history of people posting polls without previous discussion, and it is usually a very poorly received action. Amassing downvotes and criticism. So even on meta, treading lightly when it comes to polls is probably a good idea. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 12 '16 at 10:01

Vote this answer up, if you think a poll is not an acceptable question.

  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps you could edit the answers to be more specific. An acceptable question for main or an acceptable question for meta? $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Aug 12 '16 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ The down voting (contrary to Gerry's instruction) illustrates why polls need to be done with up votes, because accumulation of down votes causes the corresponding post to become greyed out (and less legible). $\endgroup$ – hardmath Aug 12 '16 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Joel, yes${}$. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Aug 12 '16 at 22:50

Vote this answer up, if you think a poll is an acceptable question.

  • $\begingroup$ I've downvoted you. But not because a poll is an unacceptable question. Because you didn't have a discussion first about whether it was acceptable for an answer to be a poll. $\endgroup$ – user334732 Aug 12 '16 at 13:26
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    $\begingroup$ Vote this comment up, if you think a poll is an acceptable meta question. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Aug 12 '16 at 13:27

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