I want to ask this questions: What points mathematicians need in an explanation about red herring names?

This question seems to be off-topic in Math Edu, since the site is more about teachers educating students, not researchers "educating" fellow researchers (naming conventions and culture). Maybe it can be asked in MO, but I am not a professional one, so I'm not sure this is classified as a research-level question.

Technically, this question is not about mathematics, but about cognitive psychology and linguistics (and obviously these topics aren't listed in What topics can I ask about here?). But if you read the question, you will see that it is impossible to answer without having expertise in math. So I can only ask around the math sites.

Given that (1) this is not about math per se, but the language and culture in math research, and (2) I am not a professional mathematician, is this site suitable for this question?

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


According to the "what topics" page for MSE, apparently it's not on-topic:

We welcome questions about:

  • Understanding mathematical concepts and theorems.
  • Mathematical problems such as one might come across in a course or ...
  • Solving mathematical puzzles.
  • Software that mathematicians use ...

I think one could propose a different meta question that asks mods to change this (or maybe there is some other mechanism for this); notably the topic of professional culture is also not on the list of proscribed topics (such as education or programming) with other relevant stackexchange sites.

But probably the history of this site is such that it will not ever be deemed on-topic here; such questions are about how math is done as a human activity, not mathematics itself. (Yes, I am aware of philosophers saying math only exists inasmuch as it is a human activity, I'm not talking about that discussion.)

The best result I can see here is that mods/etc. help figure out a relevant place for these professional culture questions (that is, the ones that aren't appropriate for academia.stackexchange, see this link) and then link to it in the FAQ or somewhere else relevant. I will note that MathOverflow does, in principle, allow questions "about the workings of the mathematical community" but given the history of the background to this particular question, I guess I wouldn't presume to guess exactly what type of questions along those lines MO would actually like to receive.


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