This recent question on the main site: If whenever $|x-a|<\delta$, $|y-a|<\delta$ then $|f(x)-f(y)|<\epsilon$, is this equiv. to $f$ cont. at $c$ then $f$ cont. on some interval around $c$?

has nothing but a question statement. The moderator who wrote the EoQS posted an answer to it.

Question: Does the moderator violate the EoQS?


Users are pointing to the exact meaning of the acronym "EoQS" and "EoQS" should really be "QS" in the original question. Since EoQS is specifically used, the question could be written as

Does the moderator violate the QS in the EoQS?

Since there have been comments/answers under the posts, I would keep the question as what it is, in case of confusion.

Some comments confuse "mentioning someone" with "name-calling" and accuse this post unfoundedly of a "personal attack". No. This post simply states facts and asks a question:

  • the asker is not at all judging the quality of the linked question; "has nothing but a question statement" is a fact that anyone can see by the link.
  • the asker tags this post with discussion, moderators, and policy, which is what this post is about: asking if the moderator violates the quality standards in the EoQS they write.

I find it very confusing regarding site policies that the mod writing the following comment:

In any event, at the time that I answered the question, it
(1) had been on the site for two days,
(2) didn't seem to have any obvious duplicates on the site,
(3) had an upvote (so it seemed to have been positively received), and
(4) had a positively scored answer (which I felt was not the most relevant or interesting example, but that is a matter of taste).

while closing another (now undeleted) question, which, as a user points out,

(1) had been on the site for several weeks;
(2) doesn't seem to have obvious duplicates;
(3) had 8 upvotes (so it seems to have been positively received);
(4) had a (very!) positively scored answer. I find it hard to swallow the idea that this question is obviously of low-quality, and should not have been answered.

  • 20
    $\begingroup$ Generally the community here doesn't like individuals being named and shamed in public, and this seems like a direct personal attack. Also, you should explain what context you think that question could have -- it seems reasonable to me. $\endgroup$
    – postmortes
    Aug 13, 2022 at 13:05
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    $\begingroup$ @postmortes: this is not any ordinary individual; this question is tagged with moderator. Particularly, the mentioned moderator is the very mod who drafted the EoQS, which influences all the users of the site. I do not see any attack at all. If you think the answer should be a clear no, then say it in an answer instead of attacking my post. $\endgroup$
    – user1046533
    Aug 13, 2022 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ @SouravGhosh The standards on Math SE do not require an asker to provide "an attempt", and I have long argued that "attempts" provide the lowest form of context. In the case of this question, definitions are provided, the question is somewhat natural (I've had many students ask questions similar to this one), and there is no clear duplicate question on the site. What further context do you believe would improve the question? Do you honestly believe that a half-baked attempt would make the question better? $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Aug 13, 2022 at 17:01
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    $\begingroup$ @user1046533 EoQS is a procedure for working with users who post a lot of answers to low quality questions. It is an enforcement protocol for users who violate policies regarding quality. It is impossible for one to "violate" EoQS, as it is not a policy. Presumably, you mean to accuse me of violating quality standards. You have provided little evidence of this---until today, that question had a positive reception, and no close votes. Also, as you mentioned EoQS, you presumably have a list of low-quality questions which I have answered? And not just this one (perhaps marginal) question? $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Aug 13, 2022 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ @XanderHenderson Literally no definitions are provided. But if you say that being a natural and answerable with the information provided in the question is enough to not fall under the "lacking context" closure reason, I'd actually be happy. It just seems like a sharp departure from how this rule has been enforced so far. $\endgroup$
    – MaoWao
    Aug 13, 2022 at 19:27
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    $\begingroup$ @XanderHenderson Without any further evidence you can't conclude that this is not a homework question. Probably it is not a stronger assumption. $\endgroup$ Aug 13, 2022 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ @SouravGhosh It is not a routine homework exercise in the sense that it is not a problem that is meant to be solved algebraically, or via some technique in differential equations, or whatnot. It is not an exercise which has infinite variation through changing a few numbers. It might be an exercise in some analysis text somewhere, but it is not a routine, rote, computation, i.e. not "simply a homework question". $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Aug 13, 2022 at 19:43
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    $\begingroup$ @XanderHenderson To me this illustrates the problems with the "no context" closing reason very well: It was a foul compromise from the beginning between people who wanted to ban homework questions and people who didn't. The context requirement works ok-ish for lower level questions although it sometimes can feel like the OP has to jump the hoop (there's certainly context that could have been provided in this specific example - not that I think it would have improved the question ...). But for questions in advanced topics I think this requirement does not work at all in the direction of (1/2) $\endgroup$
    – MaoWao
    Aug 13, 2022 at 19:46
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    $\begingroup$ ... preventing unwanted lazy homework questions. It does drive away good people with interesting questions though. (2/2) $\endgroup$
    – MaoWao
    Aug 13, 2022 at 19:47
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    $\begingroup$ @XanderHenderson Can you refer me some links where I can find not "simply a homework question" meets Quality standards? Because I so confused about this policy. $\endgroup$ Aug 13, 2022 at 19:51
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    $\begingroup$ @SouravGhosh I have already outlined my position, and I am not sure what you find unclear about it. I don't hold this question up as an exemplar of a good question, but, in my opinion, it passes a fairly minimal bar: it is a natural question, the relevant proposition/definition is stated, it does not appear (to me) to be a routine exercise, and I don't know what additional context could be provided which would improve the question (I have asked you to suggest additional context---the response you seemed to give is "an attempt"; in my opinion, this would not improve the question). $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Aug 13, 2022 at 19:59
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    $\begingroup$ @XanderHenderson: this question (1) had been on the site for several weeks; (2) doesn't seem to have obvious duplicates; (3) had 6 upvotes (so it seems to have been positively received); (4) had a (very!) positively scored answer. I find it hard to swallow the idea that this question is obviously of low-quality, and should not have been answered. Yet, you voted "not suitable for this site". $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2022 at 8:17
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinArgerami Again, at the time that I voted to close it, I cast the fifth close vote. I also have not called out anyone for violating site policy by answering it, or attempted to smear the answerer. There is a spectrum between "this is a question which no one should have answered, thus the answerers should be notified of site policy" and "this is a question which, in the opinion of five members of the community, does not meet the quality standards of the site, but other users might disagree." $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Aug 16, 2022 at 12:59
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen: none of those who voted to close and to delete that question did anything to save Qiaochu's answer, so I fail to see your point. And I cannot possibly imagine in what sense this site is better without that question than with it. Over the last few years thousands of questions, some with amazing answers, have been deleted because the asker "didn't provide context"; it's ridiculous. And as for how the question is relevant, it fulfills the exact same list of reasons that a moderator found good enough to post himself an answer to a PSQ. $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2022 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Jyrki "it is not the responsibility of voters to save the good answers". One can of course cast deletion every day in the way they like, don't they? But does such collaborated deletion of posts all together with good answers make the site any better at all, that is a big question. If such deletion itself is not at all useful and even harmful, then yes, I do think the "burden" should be on them. $\endgroup$
    – user1046533
    Aug 17, 2022 at 13:11

4 Answers 4


We can, of course, discuss the merits of answering that particular question. Or lack thereof. I just want to remind you all of the fact that EoQS is statistical in nature. All the EoQS sanctions I have seen, have hit users who have a habit of answering low quality questions. Of course, that is a vague description. I guess that habit is a weighted linear combination of:

  • a high fraction of all the answers posted by a user are on low quality questions, and
  • the total number of answers posted by a user on low quality questions.

Further factors are undoubtedly:

  • the time span (answering $>x$ low quality questions in a week or some such period may be actionable under EoQS, but taking a year to do the same need not be),
  • the role of duplicates (Bill Dubuque and yours truly would give them a lot of weight, even though we have differences of opinion on the details), but the only comment I have gotten from the diamond moderators is that duplicates are a lower priority (in comparison to, say PSQs).

We are not given detailed threshold numbers. Nor should we, because disclosing that data will lead to some users skirting the rule.

In light of this, I think (may be only me, posting this to collect opinions, comments and more information)

A single post is never actionable under EoQS.

A handful of posts may lead to a friendly mod message reminding a poster about the rule, but sanctions take more. As in disregarding the rule.

I think @rschwieb basically nailed it in their answer.

Another nitpick (answering the title of the question). EoQS stands for enforcement of the quality standards. Moderators do the enforcing, so the only way a moderator can violate the EoQS is by not enforcing it.

Yes, I know that some posters interpreted the question to be asking whether the moderator in question violated the Quality Standards. I couldn't resist, sorry :-)

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    $\begingroup$ A single post isn't a violation, sure, but the question is what type of single posts collect into a violation of EOQS? $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2022 at 7:34
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    $\begingroup$ A handful of posts may also lead to an unfriendly mod message. $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2022 at 8:48
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You're right that it is statistical in nature. Perhaps it's only me, but I thought the question was more along the lines of "Should an answer like this be flagged for moderator intervention under EoQS?" which pertains to this specific question. Two other answers seem to take the same route. In any case, you're right. $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2022 at 10:31
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    $\begingroup$ @SarveshRavichandranIyer That is a possible interpretation. Yet, the tone of the post also sounds like an attack on a single moderator (that's fine, comes with the job, been there at the receiving end) or an attempt to rally for support to overturn EoQS. The title is closer to that, don't you think :-) $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2022 at 13:02
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    $\begingroup$ Wasn't the whole EOQS mega thread an attempt to rally people into understanding and enforcing EOQS? I mean I don't think it's really an issue to rally for support on meta. $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2022 at 14:26
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen I will concede the last point, for sure. $\endgroup$ Aug 18, 2022 at 3:28
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    $\begingroup$ Fair enough @Beautifullyirrational. The poster could have achieved that without singling out a scapegoat. I concede that I would have tried to make my posts more objective, if I had not also wanted to give a voice support to the individual. You also see that in the comments other unrelated points are being rallied for. The thread became one of general complaints. I guess that isn't very unusual either. $\endgroup$ Aug 18, 2022 at 4:39
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    $\begingroup$ "Yet, the tone of the post also sounds like an attack on a single moderator (that's fine, comes with the job, been there at the receiving end)". I agree with the first part, disagree with the second. People who are rude to mods tend to be rude to other users as well. When I teach I have a policy of mutual respect for all members of the class, and the teacher is a member of the class too. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Aug 18, 2022 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ I can understand why it would look bad (heck, be bad) for mods to delete items criticizing themselves, but for Mod A to enforce standards of respect towards Mod B would, I think, be an all-around good for the community. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Aug 18, 2022 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ I see the point @JonathanZsupportsMonicaC. But I also feel that leaving threads like this around is a display of strength from the entire moderator. Something of the scale of EoQS is never a whim of a single moderator (even though, necessarily, a single moderator had to write that post). Leaving it around shows the futility of attacking an individual diamond bearer. Of course, in the interest of fairness, it is also important to allow dissenting voices to be aired. More constructive criticism would include suggestions of other solutions to the problems EoQS seeks to address. $\endgroup$ Aug 26, 2022 at 7:17
  • $\begingroup$ (cont'd) Which could then lead to a better solution. $\endgroup$ Aug 26, 2022 at 7:19
  • $\begingroup$ I think this answer addresses the issues well. The community as a whole has come to a particular view of things. I am a bit of a dissenter on the grounds that I would prioritise more helping new users to learn and enjoy mathematics. However, certain kinds of bad behaviour became endemic and changes were necessary. But if we are to be a community then we have to do better than thinking the worst of everyone else and reacting with suspicion to everything people do. It takes more time, for example, to learn how to ask a good question on the site than it used to. $\endgroup$ Aug 26, 2022 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen - I see your point about demonstrating moderator strength, but I'll let you know that while dissenting voices definitely need to be allowed, when they come as personal attacks they create a hostile air that affects the entire community. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Aug 26, 2022 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ ... Every system which answers questions is potentially exploitable. There is a point beyond which dealing with potential exploitation gets in the way of the main purposes of the site (over-regulation). Mathematicians are often perfectionists. We can't have a perfect system. $\endgroup$ Aug 26, 2022 at 12:57

Ok, so I'll try speak a bit candidly. While the EOQS could be phrased in whatever way, I feel the underlying idea behind it was to cut down on calculation heavy/ textbook example type/routine problems which appear on the site.

The question mentioned here looks to me like one which involves helping OP out with their speculation rather than some routine question which comes in the textbook which makes engaging with it okay.

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    $\begingroup$ Great short answer. Personally, I think the sentiment across most of the comments is the same : in a "strictly guidelines" sense, it contains nothing apart from another minor result as context, which I would not consider sufficient if I were to take a hard stance. However, a closer look at the question reveals its novelty and a need to preserve it with the help of a good answer. That is being reflected (eventually!) in the votes here. $\endgroup$ Aug 16, 2022 at 7:17

This is a protest answer. Other answers and comments have made a great show of answering the question that could have been fairly asked:

Shouldn't question X have been treated as not meeting quality standards? I don't think it meets them, but then again a person who knows a lot about the quality standards deigned to answer it. Am I missing something obvious?

That would indicate the asker would be demonstrating a sincere effort to reconcile their understanding of EoQS with the question posted.

Is that what the post here is? I have no doubt it is not. What we have here is a ham-fisted attempt to undermine EoQS by insinuating the "author of the EoQS*" has acted hypocritically by answering it. Secondarily it has the other common stratagem to undermine EoQS which is to apply it in a superficial way which ignores discretion, banking on the casual observer thinking the results look bad, in an attempt to sour opinion and cast doubt on the whole endeavor.

I think that as we see posts like this occur, we should be more critical about whether they are

  1. Unduly personal (sometimes I suppose they are necessarily personal, but not in a case like this one.)
  2. Roundabout, in the sense that they are not directly portraying the concern they voice, but playing games like the ones described above in an attempt to sway casual readers' opinion.

If it is either of these things we should insist on rewriting to mitigate both, because if we don't, it just enables more such posts from the underbelly of rhetoric. For years we've often quietly ignored these bad behaviors while giving the answer to what should have been asked, but maybe we should be less accommodating.

* If this over-assignment of responsibility isn't evidence of the unduly personal nature of this post, I don't know what is.

** Normally opponents of the EoQS take exception that too many questions are closed in its name, but here a post is thrown under the bus just to forward an agenda of undermining the EoQS. Such an opponent should rather view the continued existence of the linked question a good thing (that the EoQS isn't indiscriminately used), rather than a chance to play games.

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    $\begingroup$ -1. Your answer is mostly attacking the asker and unfoundedly assuming a bad position. I am not questioning/criticizing but stating that the mentioned post on the main site has only one sentence, which is not consistent with the EoSQ standard. //"Normally opponents of the EoQS" PLEASE do not split the site in such a way. There are no opponents but users of the MSE here.// This answer nowhere attempts to answer the question in the post. $\endgroup$
    – user1046533
    Aug 16, 2022 at 15:26
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    $\begingroup$ We expect questions on the front page to be edited to meet site standards. Is there a similar policy on Meta? $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Aug 16, 2022 at 18:57
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    $\begingroup$ Hmm, that didn't seem to address my question. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Aug 16, 2022 at 21:39
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    $\begingroup$ If a person felt swayed to a certain political view for MSE by simply reading this post, that means they themself felt some sort of issue was there from before itself. I believe, this post was really a nice opportunity for the community to grow closer and to check if what we are doing is what we are saying. $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2022 at 7:37
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    $\begingroup$ This post was an ugly attack on a single member of our community. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Aug 18, 2022 at 14:01
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    $\begingroup$ You titled it "Does the moderator violate the EoQS?". That's the topic. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Aug 18, 2022 at 17:01

Reason $1$ : In the mentioned question op doesn't provide any attempt. More generally we don't know how much op can understand. OP just give two statements and asked to prove equivalence between them.

How much evidence we have to support that this is not a homework question?

Reason $2$ : This question ( If whenever $|x-a|<\delta$, $|y-a|<\delta$ then $|f(x)-f(y)|<\epsilon$, is this equiv. to $f$ cont. at $c$ then $f$ cont. on some interval around $c$? ) can be decomposed with two parts:

Part $1(\text{statement} P$):

If $f$ is continuous at $a$, then for any $\epsilon>0$ there is a $\delta>0$ so that whenever $|x-a|<\delta$ and $|y-a|<\delta$, we have $|f(x)-f(y)|<\epsilon$.

Part $2 (\text{statement}$Q$)$

if $f$ is continuous at a point $c$ then it is continuous on some interval around that point $c$?

Both the parts have solid duplicate target.

Duplicate for part $1$ :

Prove that if f is continuous in a, then $\forall \epsilon > 0, ∃ \delta >0: $ $|x-a|< \delta $ & $|y-a| < \delta $ $ then |f(x)-f(y)| < \epsilon $

Duplicate for part $2$:

Proof of continuity of Thomae Function at irrationals.

Proof of the continuity of a function at irrational points

$f(x) = x$ when x is rational, $f(x) = 0$ when x is irrational. Find all points at which $f$ is continous.

The great one

Constructing Continuous functions at given points

The main question is about the equivalence between $P$ and $Q$. And this is clear form two duplicate posts.

If a moderator has the power to close a question with multiple duplicate, then it would be better to close the question as duplicate. Even one it could be closed with a single duplicate and probably one example in the comment.

If I am not wrong it's a low quality question.

Note : I don't want to abuse any moderator. This post directed to all users including myself. It's our responsibility to improve the site's health.


One counter example is enough! Op needs only one counter example to think about the problem.

Justification : See the accepted answer.

$\textbf{I apologize for my ignorant post}$

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    $\begingroup$ The question asked in the lede here is not about the truth of the two statements, independent of each other, but is about the equivalence of the two statements. While the questions you have highlighted contain some of the details, no answer to any of those questions is a complete answer to the question asked here. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Aug 13, 2022 at 18:03
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    $\begingroup$ Note: moderators and gold badge holders in an appropriate tag can close a question as a duplicate of many targets. However, the point of this is to direct a user to several posts, any one of which should provide an answer. It is not meant to provide users with a list of questions which, when stitched together, will answer the question. Otherwise, why not post a handful of "questions" that list the axioms of analysis (or number theory, or whatever), then close every question in that tag as part of a duplicate chain which leads to the axioms? $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Aug 13, 2022 at 18:05
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    $\begingroup$ I have already mentioned in my post that I don't know the site's policy very well. I have came up this answer with a little knowledge. In the mentioned question op doesn't provide any attempt. More generally we don't how how much op can understand. OP just give two statements and asked to prove equivalence between them. I don't want to argue with you as you have more experience than me and you know the site very well. Take it as a weak suggestion and ignore all the things. $\endgroup$ Aug 13, 2022 at 19:35
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    $\begingroup$ I think this post should stay as it shows a positive example of how through calmly discussing that a mutual understanding between parties of opposing opinions can be achieved $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2022 at 19:37

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