Seems to me that How to Distinguish... needs a referee. On hold for lacking context, seems to me like a perfectly reasonable question.

In particular it seems clear to me that at least one of the on-hold voters simply didn't understand the question (and I assert that's not the OP's fault). See the Answer. That's simply not a proof "in first-order logic" as requested. See the comments on the answer: When I pointed out that it wasn't "in first-order logic" the guy seemed to think I was complaining that it was insufficiently formal!

Yes, asking for a proof "in first-order logic" was not the best way to put the question, since of course ZF is a first-order theory. BUT it seems to me that anyone familiar with this sort of thing is going to realize that what the OP wanted was a proof that the first-order theories of the two structures are distinct. (And it also seems to me that, optimal or not, people do phrase that question the way the OP did.)

Hence the question about moderators who know some logic - seems to me that it matters whether I'm right in various places above where I say "seems to me"...

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    $\begingroup$ I casted my reopen vote too. I think Asaf has superpower on logic. $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2017 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! I've been away for a while, couldn't remember the name @AsafKaraglia . $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2017 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ Moderators in general do not interfere with any particular questions. I guess you are really asking others users to reopen it. (Voted to reopen: my vote to close the question was a mistake, should've skipped the review). $\endgroup$
    – user99914
    Oct 22, 2017 at 20:58
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    $\begingroup$ Moderators are not meant to referee matters of mathematical content. Asaf is not a moderator. Writing @Asaf won't notify him, since he has not contributed to this thread. If you want to get a moderator's attention, the way to do it is to flag the question. $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2017 at 20:59
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    $\begingroup$ On the other hand, if you can fix the latex and add some context emphasing the use of first order logic, the questions then gets into the review queue and should be reopened easily. $\endgroup$
    – user99914
    Oct 22, 2017 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ I'm a moderator and agree with your mathematical assessment, but think these issues are best dealt with by the community. I am somewhat puzzled why someone would vote to close and give an answer at the same time. $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2017 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ As @user296602 notes, there is a specific thread in which to deal with requests for reopening a question and/or undeleting a question, hence this post is indeed a duplicate in the sense that there is already a designated space to make such appeals instead of flooding meta with one's particular gripe as a new meta post: post your complaint there. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Oct 22, 2017 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ @David, as quid suggests in their answer, some close votes come from folks who expect more than a problem statement. I know logic inside and out, but just knowing logic does not equate to "never voting against a question of logic". In any case, I understand your concern about the answer. Just don't alienate users who have legitimate reasons to vote to close, even from users who know logic! $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Oct 22, 2017 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ Everyone: Sorry, didn't know about that "Requests to Reopen..." thread. $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2017 at 21:31
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    $\begingroup$ @achillehui As do others; but that comes into play only with dupes, in which anyone with a gold badge in the related tag, can singly close a duplicate question, or reopen, if it was closed as a dupe. In this case, the post was closed as off-topic. In any case, the post is essentially a PSQ, so thanks to your reopen vote, among others, like John Ma, you've reopened a PSQ of low quality and unclear. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Oct 22, 2017 at 22:12
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidC.Ullrich Don't worry about not knowing it. But you can vote to close your own question as a dupe of it to speed up the process. $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2017 at 23:07
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    $\begingroup$ Also, could you edit the title? It doesn't seem to really relate to the question posed here. $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2017 at 23:53
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    $\begingroup$ How dare you not remember my name? :D Also, @achille, I only have a superpower when it comes to duplicates. Not arbitrary closures. :( $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Oct 23, 2017 at 16:32

1 Answer 1


The question does not seem to follow all the recommendations on How to ask a good question.

Several users consider these recommendations as binding. The votes thus seem justified from the perspective of users holding this opinion.

To be clear, reasonable people can disagree about value of these recommendations and how to enforce them. But I stress it to explain that somebody not understanding the question is certainly not the only explanation why somebody would vote to close this.

Of course, it is possible that somebody misunderstood the question and this influenced their decision, but I would refrain from assuming this is generally the case.

Even if it should be true, doing this will rather create conflict and enticed others to dig in on their opposing position.

At the very least I think that the typesetting could be improved is not controversial.

The procedure I'd recommend in cases like this for somebody in your position is:

  • help improve the question (via an edit),
  • explain why it is worthwhile (in a comment),
  • vote to reopen.

Then wait for a while so that the reopen-review queue can do its work. (You actually did this, I include it for general reference.)

If the outcome is not as hoped then post Requests for Reopen & Undeletion Votes, etc. (volume 01/2015 - ) [current version] making your case.

If your goal is to get the question reopened smoothly, try to do this in a non-accusatory way. Focus on what is good about the question, and to the extent possible keep to yourself (at least initially) how you think others were wrong.

  • $\begingroup$ ??? It's clear from his answer, and moreso from his reply to my first comment, that he did totally miss the point to the question. I'd have thought that pointing this out would count as a good thing. (Have you read the whole thing? I can't imagine how he thought that his answer counted as "in first-order logic" while the OP's "one group is cyclic while the other is not" did not.) $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2017 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ I do not disagree with this in the substance, even though the form may be exaggerated. And while technically you referred only to one of the users that voted to close, the others are indirectly also targeted. This is problematic. Furthermore, the question-post was not perfectly reasonable. The underlying question is a reasonable one. But voting is based on the quality of the post, which I think was rather poor and in any case not great. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Oct 22, 2017 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ Pointing this out would be good, but more often it also stirs up unnecessary arguments that has nothing to do with your goal (to get the question reopened). @DavidC.Ullrich $\endgroup$
    – user99914
    Oct 22, 2017 at 22:05
  • $\begingroup$ All you need is 4 more users agreeing with you, not 20 agreeing and 15 disagreeing. $\endgroup$
    – user99914
    Oct 22, 2017 at 22:09

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