In Wikipedia, if an entry does not come with references to works such as texts or journal articles, it is flagged as not being approved by Wikipedia but still allowed there perhaps edited by someone knowledgeable and if references are given warnings are removed. That is not the case on this board. But now I am in the midst of a situation that I feel is based on mathematically unjustified assumptions, and all my attempts to straighten things out have seemed to just increase the false assumptions.

It started off in a routine manner. The OP asked a question about the meaning of something he was confused about. I answered the question, based on the tags used by the OP, in a way which gave an answer rather than asking a question back or giving a hint. While doing so, several other people answered, giving the negation of my solution as their answer. I made attempts to show why their answers made no mathematical sense, only to get comment effectively saying I did not know what I was talking about. I flagged the question asking the moderators to look over the question and all the answers. I do not know who the moderators are nor do I really care, but I have not heard from them and have no idea how they would handle the problem. However, today there were two names I did not recognize commented on another answer I entered (bad mistake on my part, as I started it with I will stick by my first answer and tried to reduce the negation of that answer by an ad absurdum argument that went over like a lead balloon). These two people made comments that basically supported my original answer which had gotten lost in the mess the entire posting had become. Could they be moderators or sent by the moderators? The OP has said nothing but has accepted one of the other answers. If he goes back to his class in the tagged areas, he will be misinformed. I do not care about my reputation, but I do care about the mathematical reliability of answers on this board.

My question is, how should I have handled this situation and, more important, how should the board as a unit handles situations like these?

  • 19
    $\begingroup$ Looking at the thread, I think you should also consider the possibility that your answer is the one that makes no mathematical sense. $\endgroup$ Feb 22 '13 at 21:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Moderators are users with the ♦ character next to their names. Here is the list of moderators, and their role is described in A Theory of Moderation. $\endgroup$
    – user856
    Feb 22 '13 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ Wikipedia on Topological Spaces defn 1.2 says "Given such a structure, we can define a subset U of X to be open if U $\cdots$. I do not know of any definition of a topological space $Y$ that does not require that open sets be subsets of $Y$. Wikipedia on Metric Spaces "If $M$ is a metric space and $X$ is a subset of $M$, then $X$ becomes a metric space by restricting the domain of $d$ to $X\times X$. Again one only looks at points in the subset $X$. Yet answers using elements **not in ** $\mathbf Y$ can be used to show that $2$ is not contained in any open set of $Y$. Downvote Wikipedia! $\endgroup$ Feb 22 '13 at 22:54
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ @BarbaraOsofsky The topological space (metric space, actually) in that question was $X$, not $Y$ which was simply a subset. Nothing in the question indicated that $Y$ should be topologized in any way. But meta is not for mathematics questions. $\endgroup$ Feb 22 '13 at 23:32
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ For what it's worth: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interior_%28topology%29#Interior_point is a wikipedia page containing the definition of interior point of a subset that the OP is asking about. The OP, a veteran research mathematician, is more than qualified to appreciate the mathematical issues here...by at least a factor of 1000. I would only recommend that she step back from the situation a bit and not try to draw any broad conclusions about the math.se community from it. $\endgroup$ Feb 24 '13 at 4:24
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A meta-meta-comment: this being meta.math.se, please try to avoid discussing Mathematics here. If you have comments about the question and answers referred to by OP, please leave the comments on said question and answers, and not on the Meta thread discussing how the site functions. For one thing, such mathematical discussions is off topic for Meta; for another, these discussions are much more useful for other users if they are placed in their proper context. $\endgroup$ Feb 24 '13 at 7:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @PeteL.Clark What do mean by "broad conclusions about the math.se community"? You seem to imply that the community reactly in an inappropriate way. Could you please clarify your statement? $\endgroup$ Feb 24 '13 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Willie: In this case I mentioned mathematics briefly because it seems relevant to the meta-mathematical (sic!) issue at hand. I don't really view "absolutely no mathematics on meta.math.se" as being a divine doctrine, but if you want to explain to me the error of my ways (probably best done privately), please feel free. $\endgroup$ Feb 24 '13 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Michael: I did not mean to imply that at all. My comment was intended to request that the OP consider backing off of the statement "Mathematics on this board is by majority vote, not what external sources in the mathematical world might think." $\endgroup$ Feb 24 '13 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Pete Thanx for the clarification. $\endgroup$ Feb 24 '13 at 18:55

Add comments to wrong answers, preferably with more or less detailed explanations of the problem, and possibly downvote them. You can also add a comment on the question, so that the OP gets notified of the situation, as well as people reading the question.

Please, do not flag for moderator intervention in this situation: moderators are not editors.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Thank you Mariano. You have told me exactly what I wanted to know. Mathematics on this board is by majority vote, not what external sources in the mathematical world might think. $\endgroup$ Feb 22 '13 at 23:00
  • 27
    $\begingroup$ @BarbaraOsofsky, I have no idea where you got the idea that I said that «math here is by majority vote.» The idea is pretty absurd. Users vote, users write and read the answers, users accept what they see fit to accept, even if they are wrong in doing so. This is not something particular to math.se, as even the most reputed journals have accepted wrong papers on occasion. You are perfectly able to defend any mathematical point you might want to make, and the value of what you say is independent of votes. $\endgroup$ Feb 22 '13 at 23:56

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .