7
$\begingroup$

I was a bit skeptical of asking this question, since it seemed to be about style, which seems inherently opinion-based. However, there is a tag called "article-writing", which includes "style" in its description, and, this question isn't actually opinion-based. It asks about whether there's a consensus on whether a certain stylistic choice is unacceptable and/or whether it's uncommon.

This has an objective answer. The answer can be "this is acceptable and common", "this is not accepted and uncommon", "this is acceptable but uncommon", "there's no consensus on whether it's a good idea to do this, but most articles don't", etc. I'm not asking for anyone's opinion, I'm asking for what seems to be the mathematical community's collective opinion and what is common. These questions have objective answers, and due to the tag "article-writing", it seems that those questions are also on-topic. So, what then is the issue with my question? It has currently received 3 downvotes, but no close-votes, meaning I'm at a loss as to what I did wrong.

$\endgroup$
23
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ It is a question of style, which is between an author and their editors and reviewers. As with all questions of style, there is not authoritative, objective answer possible. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Oct 6 at 18:10
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Ironically, the question might have been better received on MathOverflow. $\endgroup$ Oct 6 at 18:16
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @user110391 I had not previously looked at the article-writing tag. Having now looked at it, I honestly don't know what the intention of that tag is really meant to be. The tag wiki is empty, and the one-sentence description seems to include a lot of stuff which is subjective, and not really appropriate for Math SE. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Oct 6 at 18:19
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ That being said, a semi-objective standard for what "style" questions are on-topic is more-or-less articulated in my first comment: if the question comes down to "ask your editor / thesis advisor / instructor", then the question is too local. This is one of those situations. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Oct 6 at 18:21
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Regarding (2), I don't think that there is enough context to give an objective answer. "Common" or "acceptable" to whom? Instructors collecting homework? PhD advisors reading theses? Journal editors? Which journals? analysis? number theory? CS? math education? There are too many variables, even if one seeks to collect data. Also, to what end? What do you do with the answer? $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Oct 6 at 18:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @user110391 What you intend to do with it does matter. If you are trying to get a paper published, then you need to conform to the style-guide provided by the journal you are submitting your work to, and you would be well-advised to do what your reviewers tell you to do (or be ready to make a strong case to the other). At the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are typing up your own personal notes, then you get to do whatever you want, and it doesn't matter if someone else considers it good style. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Oct 6 at 18:30
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If the OP had said ("provided context") that they are specifically asking how to write their master's thesis in University of Hulabaloo, that would have been grounds for dismissing it as local (not useful for a general Q&A site because what would others benefit from UoH's style guidelines). However, since the OP specifically did not ask such a local question, a hypothetical answer (which we will now never see) could indeed have been such a nice, global if not downright universal thing. $\endgroup$ Oct 6 at 18:56
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ With all due respect, "well-advised to do what your reviewers tell you to do" is not such a great advice. Generally reviewers do not spend effort on such minute details as the size of floor brackets or division operators. So typically you would not receive any such information from them. (You might receive some from the publisher's copy editor, but even that is rare.) Instead, a careful author would want to format their equations according to generally well-received style before submitting. $\endgroup$ Oct 6 at 19:29
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Exactly, @JukkaKohonen, and for the same reason, generally users here do not spend effort on such minute details as the size of ceiling brackets, and such, so thank you for repeating Xander, in that such questions are too local, minute, opinion based, and whatever adjective you care to use. I'm glad you find agreement that this is an inappropriate question to ask on this site. You just supported Xander's point. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Oct 6 at 20:16
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ amWhy, you are distorting my words, but thanks for that. It is quite in line. $\endgroup$ Oct 6 at 20:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JukkaKohonen (1) I agree that if the question were about a masters thesis, it would definitely be too local (this would be a question between the student and their advisor, which I pointed out above). But this is why context matters. (2) If a reviewer or editors don't care, then you, as the author, get to adopt whatever convention you like. This is still a decision come to between an author and their editor/reviewers (even if this decision making process requires no active intervention on the part of the latter parties. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Oct 6 at 20:19
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ In general, these kinds of questions about minute stylistic decisions are simply not appropriate for Math SE. They are highly context dependent, and require local discussion between an author and their intended audience (instructor? personal notes? phd advisor? editor? reviewers? whomever...). These kinds of questions are not really amenable to objective responses, and are more likely to provoke opinions and discussion, which is not the intended use of Math SE. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Oct 6 at 20:22
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Xander, that's exactly why I suggested MO. That site does not generally think it is above such lowly issues as what is good notation in publishing. Obviously Math.SE is above such issues. $\endgroup$ Oct 6 at 20:32
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ You don't have to be a professional mathematician to post to MathOverflow, 110391. You just have to share their concerns. On another matter that you raise, the existence of a tag does not signify that something is on-topic. I could create a spaghetti-and-meatballs tag, but that wouldn't make questions about parmesan cheese on-topic here. $\endgroup$ Oct 6 at 22:30
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Close vote? Don't get how this is "not about" meta, it's a question about something being on-topic or not that deserves some amount of debate? $\endgroup$ Oct 8 at 11:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .