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I just noticed that the Batman question was closed this past February, which seems a sad fate to befall such a historic and beloved question on this site. I understand there were always concerns about the quality of the question, particularly the research effort, but it was pointed out in the comments that simply plotting the equation may not have been as straightforwards as it looked, indicating that there was value in having the question on the site for the benefit of those who do not have the skill to verify the authenticity of the equation for themselves. At any rate, it certainly didn't seem bad enough to warrant closure.

I also don't see how the question could possibly be off-topic - it is a clearly-defined and well-motivated question which can be answered unambiguously. Is it simply the inordinate amount of attention the question received? Even if it always received a ridiculous number of upvotes (I'll admit I provided one of them), it had been around for a long time already; the attention had mostly tapered out and it really hasn't been visible on Math.SE for a long time except where you looked for it (by going to the most upvoted questions page). Even if that were the case, it seems that protection would be more appropriate. Was protection not sufficient?

It should also be noted that the suggestion of closing the Batman question was brought up before and negatively received (albeit a long time ago), so something has changed. Is this just another case of Math.SE getting crankier over time?

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  • $\begingroup$ This is not the first time this question has been closed, see the timeline. In some sense I don't think it is a big problem: that quesion does not need a new answer, and is not very likely to be deleted given its high vote count. $\endgroup$ – user99914 May 26 '18 at 3:04
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Frankly, the question is (in my opinion) terrible. That actual question is "Is this for real?!" which could easily be answered via a little bit of work with a graphing utility (non-trivial work, but the lack of such work deserves a downvote for not-doing-your-research, at the very least). I think that there are many good arguments which could be made for closing that question (it isn't a great question; it has several answers that are of a quality surpassing the question; it is unlikely to attract any new answers of greater quality; etc), and very few good arguments for leaving it open (???).

That being said, the question is one of the most popular on the site, which indicates that it has been of value to a large number of people. For that reason, it seems reasonable (even desirable) to ensure that it isn't deleted (a fate that, due to the large number of upvotes, seems easily avoided). It is a valuable signpost on the interwebs, and seems to scratch an itch for a lot of people.

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  • $\begingroup$ I guess the part that bugs me the most about it being closed is that it says "This question is of such poor quality that we do not want (other questions such as) it on our site", when in my opinion, (and that of 468 others, I will emphasize) it is not. I'll admit that it's somewhat of a borderline case, the OP was fairly lazy in posing the question, but ultimately I think the question as it was posed has value in that the research involved in answering the question oneself puts it out of the reach of many people, most likely including the OP. It might be a tough sell to get it reopened, though $\endgroup$ – Monstrous Moonshiner May 26 '18 at 4:42
  • $\begingroup$ The fact that it was apparently closed and reopened a few times before suggests it is indeed a controversial and borderline case, so it would be nice at least to have a definite discussion here regarding what its status should be. A previous such discussion took place in the aforementioned meta question quite a few years ago, so now seems like a good time to revisit it. $\endgroup$ – Monstrous Moonshiner May 26 '18 at 4:46
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    $\begingroup$ The question you asked was "Why has the Batman question been closed?" I gave you an answer; I'm not trying to start a debate. You seem not to like my answer, but there isn't much that I can do about that. Also, for the record, the Batman question has 641 upvotes, not 468---468 is just the net count, the question also has 172 downvotes, making it one of the more downvoted questions, as well. $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson May 26 '18 at 13:53
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    $\begingroup$ @MonstrousMoonshiner, I get the impression from your first comment on this answer that you're not familiar with the "hot network questions" feedback loop. It's likely that a lot of those upvotes are from people who don't participate in math.stackexchange.com but saw it on the sidebar in Stack Overflow or another site from the network. As such, they measure ability to go viral more than quality. $\endgroup$ – Peter Taylor May 26 '18 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not saying you didn't answer the question of "why would somebody vote to close this?"; I was just responding to the reasons you provided with my own reasons for wanting to keep it open. You do bring up a good point that the score displayed on the page does not reflect the actual vote totals, which better reflect the controversial nature of the question - I had failed to consider that. Nevertheless, I will reiterate that there was strong support for keeping it open at one time, so I think it's fair to ask whether Math.SE is just getting crankier. $\endgroup$ – Monstrous Moonshiner May 26 '18 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ @PeterTaylor That is a good point, I hadn't thought about the HNQ loop. $\endgroup$ – Monstrous Moonshiner May 26 '18 at 22:41

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