I am referring to this posting:
Prove that square of all primes greater than 3 can be shown in the form of 12k+1 and similar 2 question.

The subsequent explanation was that the question was not "on topic" for mathSE. This surprised me; the posting seems to consist of 3 questions that each require number theory analysis. As an example, I thought that Hari Ramakrishnan Sudhakar's subsequent comment nailed the first question.

It would make more sense if the posting had been closed either because voters felt that the OP did not demonstrate a reasonable attempt to solve one or more of the questions. An alternative might be to close the posting because the posting is a duplicate of a mathSE posting that has already been answered.

I saw no indication that the posting is a duplicate. I am inviting debate here:

(1) If the posting is to be closed because the OP showed no work, then I think that the OP should be so advised.

(2) If the posting is to be closed because the posting is not "on topic" then I ask someone to explain this to me. I don't see anything off topic re mathSE attacking math problems that require number theory analysis.

(3) If the posting is to be closed because the OP showed no work, then I take some exception here. The OP indicated:

"I know that if a and b are relatively prime number then ak+b can be prime number, but I could not use it in these question. I stuck in proving them."

Clearly the OP (inarticulately) indicated that he had made an effort, but simply hadn't shown his work. Also, it seems plausible to me that the OP might actually have felt overwhelmed here. A middle ground approach of providing hints or guidelines for the OP to use in attacking each of the questions would seem to be a much more reasonable approach.

I have made this issue a meta-post, rather than merely flagging the original mathSE post for moderator intervention. My intention is to invite others to disagree with me and then have a moderator consider the opposing points of view. Then the moderator can decide whether to

(a) Take no action on the post.

(b) Leave the post closed but change the explanation for why the posting is being closed.

(c) Re-open the post and address a comment to the OP asking him to show more work.

(d) Similar to (c) above, but instead of addressing a comment to the OP, address a comment to potential responders to please provide hints or guidelines (in this specific posting) rather than explicit answers.

Addendum : Reaction to Martin Sleziak's comment.
I am upvoting your very nice comment. Your explanation never occurred to me. If I had even suspected that the original mathSE posting was closed because the OP didn't show work, I probably wouldn't have initiated this meta-post.

It would be nice if the interface could be adjusted so that this confusion is avoided in the future, but that's a minor issue.

As for the rest of my meta-post, I still regard it as a suitable topic for meta-math debate. Therefore, I hope that this meta-post will remain open and that others will debate (perhaps disagreeing with me) on the remaining issue.

  • 10
    $\begingroup$ It's a bit unfortunate that the banner is displayed differently for different users. All users should see this: "Closed. This question does not meet Mathematics Stack Exchange guidelines. It is not currently accepting answers." After that I see this: "Please provide additional context , which..." You probably see this: "Want to improve this question? Update the question so it's on-topic for Mathematics Stack Exchange." $\endgroup$ Aug 1, 2020 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ I upvoted your comment. See my addendum. $\endgroup$ Aug 1, 2020 at 13:07

1 Answer 1


The question-post asks three separate questions that are not very closely linked. They are on the same subject but not at all naturally linked.

It is generally discouraged to ask more than one question in a post. For one thing,
chances are very high that each of them separately is a duplicate.

Personally I'd close as "needs focus" (earlier "too broad") but ultimately it does ot matter that much.

Arguably the reason for the closure could have been made more detailed in comments, but if the poster follows the link in the close banner that they see, which as explained in a comment, is more detailed than the one you see they will find a link to explanations.

The attempt is short and superficial, but this is somewhat orthogonal.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Very interesting answer, which also never occurred to me. $\endgroup$ Aug 1, 2020 at 13:09

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