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There was an internet meme started last year about ambiguously written arithmetical expressions leading to arguments for different possible values. Of course this is not a good place to host pointless arguments, but this is a place where people can be directed to definitive confirmation of the ambiguity of such expressions as $48/2(9+3)$, with the highest voted answer to this post from April last year being a good example.

Yesterday a duplicate was asked, and it was closed as a duplicate. However, it was closed as a duplicate of a question that is also closed, so this does not leave a place to post an answer.

I am in favor of reopening the older version, What is 48÷2(9+3)?, and have cast a vote to do so. I think that "protecting" the question to block new users from answering is a good idea.

If you think that the question should be closed, why?


Incidentally, I had voted to close the older question, but if I remember correctly, I voted to close it as a duplicate of an even older question which I had answered, but instead the older question was merged into the newer one. Regardless, I am now in favor of reopening.

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  • $\begingroup$ It may be that the closing reason is not fitting very well, but I don't think the question should be left open. I don't have a particularly good argument for it now, and I cannot guarantee I will have one later. It just doesn't feel like this question fits. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 27 '12 at 21:42
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    $\begingroup$ I wonder if the votes on this meta question mean "I agree/disagree with reopening" or "This is a good/bad question that is/is not worth discussing". $\endgroup$ – Rahul Jul 28 '12 at 0:36
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    $\begingroup$ I think we should have a canonical version of this question, so that we can use it to close other questions of this type. So I will cast the final vote to reopen if someone casts a 4th vote (it's now at 3). Ping me here if you do. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Jul 28 '12 at 0:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Bill, I just cast the 5th vote. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 28 '12 at 1:00
  • $\begingroup$ I've protected the question, too. $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Jul 28 '12 at 1:12
  • $\begingroup$ ...and within minutes of reopening, a close vote was cast on it. Huh. $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Jul 28 '12 at 1:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Gerry Thanks. Alas, it's already attracted another close vote. I added a comment there referring to this meta question. Please upvote it so folks see it. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Jul 28 '12 at 1:30
  • $\begingroup$ @J.M. See above. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Jul 28 '12 at 1:30
  • $\begingroup$ There are currently 4 close votes, 1 as off-topic, 1 as too localized, and 2 as exact duplicate. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Jul 28 '12 at 6:20
  • $\begingroup$ ...and the question's closed. How now, brown cow? $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Jul 28 '12 at 11:59
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    $\begingroup$ I find it irritating that all the comments to wait with voting were ignored (same with this instance). What's the point of having a meta thread if people don't participate and choose to act autonomously? $\endgroup$ – t.b. Jul 28 '12 at 12:08
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    $\begingroup$ @t.b. Perhaps those who voted to close didn't see my comment linking here, since it requires expanding the comments (currently the comment has 4 votes, which is too low to be shown unexpanded). $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Jul 28 '12 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I did not see the note about the meta thread until after I voted to close (and I didn't think to look at the date of the question to see that it is old). $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Jul 28 '12 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ FWIW I am content with the change to the question being closed as duplicate. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Oct 28 '17 at 16:57
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Given that there are already answers to the question that I think are sufficient, I don't yet see the motivation for re-opening. Also, the question that was re-opened is a localized duplicate of Do values attached to integers have implicit parentheses?

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  • $\begingroup$ I had mentioned that question in a comment there, but it appears to have gone mostly unnoticed among the many other comments. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Jul 28 '12 at 2:28
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you. Regarding the first point, I do not think that judging the answers to be sufficient is a good reason to close a question, or to keep a question closed. Regarding the second, I can understand considering those close enough to close the later one as duplicate. I don't know what you mean by "localized" here. I don't think either question really generalizes the other, but they are very similar. Perhaps a generalized version to capture "abstract duplicates" would be a good compromise? $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Jul 28 '12 at 6:27
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    $\begingroup$ The main rationale for re-opening (in the post above) seems to be that with the question closed "this does not leave a place to post an answer." But there are already answers, including one with 40+ upvotes. Personally, I would consider whether the existing answers are sufficient when thinking about whether th question needs to be reopened. Closed questions are still visible, along with their answers. I don't think the question needs to be deleted, but at the same time I am not sure that more answers are needed. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Jul 28 '12 at 12:21
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    $\begingroup$ +1 Carl. "Closed" does not mean it is a bad question. "Closed" means we do not need any more answers. $\endgroup$ – GEdgar Jul 28 '12 at 12:46
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    $\begingroup$ @GEdgar That's the first I've ever heard of "closed" being interpreted that way. I don't think one should ever close a question simply because "we don't need any more answers". Some of the best answers to questions arrive much later, e.g. when experts on a topic join the site. If those questions were closed for the reason you mention, we would not have many of these beautiful answers. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Jul 28 '12 at 13:03
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    $\begingroup$ In this particular case I am not holding my breath for more experts to answer the question. I do think that we can sensibly distinguish between questions in that way. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Jul 28 '12 at 13:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: Who is this mysterious expert on the correct order of calculating this? What does he have to say that Gerry did not say already? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 29 '12 at 6:37

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