Another note: (Since the first one wasn’t heeded...) OK, so the question was closed again. My appeal below was to both sides of the issue, so even though five people sought fit to do otherwise, I’d ask those who think the question should be open not to reopen it before this discussion has proceeded. This shouldn’t be a war of votes but an exchange of opinions and arguments.
Note: While it was certainly one possible outcome of this discussion that the question would eventually be reopened, I was hoping that this would take place after a thorough discussion and hopefully some form of consensus on the criteria. I see now that (likely in connection with this post) the question has already been reopened. That was not my immediate objective (otherwise I would have voted to reopen it instead of posting here). I hope that we can keep this discussion here focussed on the general questions that this case brought up and not let it turn into an edit war about whether this particular question stays open or closed. I see there are already two new close votes. I think it would be most conducive to a principled discussion if everyone on either side of the issue would refrain from voting in either direction until the required discussion has taken place.
Proof of some Riemann identity was closed as “off-topic”: “This question is not about mathematics, within the scope defined in the help center”. As is unfortunately often the case, the notice is wrong and unhelpful, since that help center page gives no indication at all why this question would be considered off-topic.
I assume that the basis for the closure is Is it ok to ask about the correctness of preprints of crank friendly topics?, and in particular the by far most upvoted answer to that question. (I couldn’t find any other basis; if there is one, please point it out.)
I don’t want to go into the question whether that’s an accepted policy (it says “Proposed policy” at the top, and not everything with lots of upvotes is a policy), because I mostly agree with it. Rather, I’d like to know whether people think that it applies and/or should apply to this particular sort of question. I don’t find it very clear or helpful in that regard. It gives several examples, but most of these are more or less obvious; for instance, “have you read X” is obviously not a question on mathematics.
The present question summarizes the argument of the preprint and points out specific ideas that seem interesting: “What I like about it is his analytic approach using the behaviour of general series at singular points. [...] In particular I want to point out his main result [...] What do you think?” That seems to be exactly what the proposed policy says how questions about such preprints should be asked: “In summary, focus your question on specific technical aspects of the work that you'd like clarification on. ”
At the time of closure, the question had $8$ upvotes and $2$ downvotes, so a majority of voters (even when including the close voters) thought that it was a good question. It doesn’t fall under any of the “BAD” examples given in the proposed policy:
Despite the introductory sentence “I was wondering if anyone is aware of this proof”, it doesn’t ask “have you read it”.
It doesn’t ask “is the proof correct” – to the contrary, it says the OP couldn’t find a flaw but presumes there is one.
It doesn’t say “I don't understand the paper and don't want to spend time reading it, can someone verify that the author’s claim is correct?” – quite the opposite, it shows that the OP read the paper and in fact summarizes it for us so that we can comment on the approach without having to read it ourselves.
So my questions are:
- Does this question fall under this proposed policy? (My view would be that it doesn’t.)
- Should this question fall under this proposed policy? (My view would be that it shouldn’t.)
- If so, why?
- If so, should the proposed policy be updated to provide a clearer basis for deciding which posts about preprints are off-topic?
(Obviously, if the answer to the second question is negative, the question should be reopened.)