What I was really looking for was a SE but for "soft questions mathematics" - the closest thing I found was the History of Mathematics and Physics SE, which is unlucky considering the example question I wanted to ask:

$$\text{Can the Leibniz Integral rule be used for indefinite integrals?}$$

And other questions of similar nature. Also simple "identifying" questions eg.

$$\text{What is the name of the following property (so that I can look into it more):}$$ $$\int_a^b \int_c^d f(x)g(y) \, dx \, dy = \left(\int_a^b g(y) \, dy \right) \left(\int_c^d f(x) \, dx\right)$$

I could ask on Reddit r/learnmath but it doesn't support MathTex, which I've grown quite fond of.

Thanks for any suggestions

  • 10
    $\begingroup$ My personal reaction is that your first isn't a case of a soft question, but rather "didn't bother to do any research", and I'd probably vote to close it, unless is came with evidence of more thought or context. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Apr 3, 2021 at 14:00
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    $\begingroup$ For the second one, it's not soft but it's simple, which is fine by me. It can be hard to search for some math stuff without a name. (The only question I've posted would have been unnecessary if I'd know it was called the "central binomial coefficient"!). It might get deleted as a duplicate (as mine was), but I don't think people would begrudge your asking. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Apr 3, 2021 at 14:04
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    $\begingroup$ I'm inclined to require even less context for terminology or "what's this called" questions than my already de minimus standards. Certainly where you encountered a formula, phrase, or notation should be mentioned, but it is typical that one would have a limited approach to solving it yourself. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Apr 3, 2021 at 16:36
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    $\begingroup$ As long as you provide context, then you shouldn't be scared about what could happen. For the former, you need context: For example "I was reading this book... I think can be used because... it seems...but this contradicts... so idk, etc" And for the later, that might need the reference-request or notation tag. $\endgroup$ Apr 3, 2021 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ Some questions with the soft-questions tag have been very well-received on mathstackexchange, e.g., math.stackexchange.com/questions/20555/… and math.stackexchange.com/questions/21324/… and math.stackexchange.com/questions/1041623/… and math.stackexchange.com/questions/505367/… – others, not so well, e.g., math.stackexchange.com/questions/2422689/… $\endgroup$ Apr 3, 2021 at 22:48
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson It's worth noting that a lot of the well-received soft questions are from when this site was fairly new. The site culture has changed massively in the intervening years and so the OP is right to be worried. This question was still closed despite receiving many upvotes, and I reckon that a lack of mathematical experience stops users from being taken seriously when more experienced mathematicians do not share their concerns. $\endgroup$
    – Toby Mak
    Apr 7, 2021 at 6:24
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    $\begingroup$ There are soft questions about the mathematics itself, and there are other questions about meta-mathematics, for instance studying mathematics. Perhaps it would be useful to make a distinction between the two? $\endgroup$
    – Toby Mak
    Apr 7, 2021 at 6:32
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    $\begingroup$ @TobyMak There are several tags that have not kept up with the culture, and many in worse shape than soft-question. Certain tags, when they fit the question, seem to reliably indicate that a question is about to accrue close votes, such as advice, self-learning, math-software, and even education and math-history due to the MESE and HSM sites. $\endgroup$ Apr 11, 2021 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ Your fear is quite understandable. But what do you care more about: having lots of Internet points, or getting your question answered? Besides, if your question gets downvoted into negative territory and no answers nor even useful comments, you can withdraw it. $\endgroup$ Apr 14, 2021 at 3:29
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    $\begingroup$ @RobertSoupe +1: being `scared' to ask is the last thing we may want I believe. Considering before asking how to make the question relevant and interesting for the general readership is good, and that's the purpose of this reward-based system... which has unwanted side-effects. $\endgroup$
    – Joce
    Apr 14, 2021 at 7:53
  • $\begingroup$ @RobertSoupe yes ok you are right. It's not even the internet points but a badge which I was after - asking questions on separate days maintaining a positive question record. Pretty silly actually for me to put this badge before my questions lol. I'm a relatively new user but its clear that the site culture has indeed changed massively compared to 8+ years ago. As long as questions are crafted really well and appropriately, any question should be fine right? $\endgroup$
    – user71207
    Apr 14, 2021 at 10:04
  • $\begingroup$ Speaking only for myself, the thing I care about is that I can see that you have made a good faith effort to figure out the answer yourself. But of course that applies more to a question like "how do I solve a quadratic equation?" than to a question that might be off-topic, like "how do I increase numeric precision in MATLAB?" I think your question about Leibniz integrals would be on-topic, but others here might disagree with me. $\endgroup$ Apr 15, 2021 at 2:04


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