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    Dear anonymous MO users: I'd like to reiterate that you are expected to be extra polite on MathOverflow.

    [intervening text no longer necessary]

    To those of you who are not involved: I'm sorry for wasting your time.

    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeFeb 20th 2013

    I am sorry for any inconvenience or offence I caused. It was and is somehow however unclear to me that this comment crossed some line. As circumstantial evidence in my defense I can mention that it was me who flagged shortly before this question for you attention to this question. I will try to be more careful regarding my phrasing in the future.

    Also I will come back to this matter in about half a day; it is difficult at the moment (for completely unrelated reasons).

    As a final quick note to my correspondent on main; please check the FAQs for the main usecase of CW mentioned there. My reasoning is precisely the one in the FAQs (to the extent I understand them).


    Okay, thanks for your cooperation.

    • CommentAuthorgrp
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2013 edited
    Anonymity I can understand; unaccountable anonymity I cannot.

    Scott, I'm surprised you needed to resort to meta for such an issue.
    Don't you (as moderator) have some contact information for this purpose?
    As long as another moderator has your back, I see no reason not to use
    that, and then suspend if quick response is not forthcoming, just as it
    would be for any user.

    Quid, much as I view myself, I view you as a worthwhile contributor
    to MathOverflow with some idiosyncracies to be tolerated. I don't
    expect radical changes in your behaviour from you, (and it is not
    my place to insist, but on behalf of the community) it is reasonable
    to ask the following:
    1. If you see me acting with less civility, to call me on it in a civil fashion, either
    through the forum or through a forum moderator.
    2. If I believe you to be uncivil, to expect me to call you on it in
    a civil fashion likewise, and also for youto be responsive in such an event.
    3. To be accountable (and accessible) to the people who run this site.

    I am glad that you (quid) were responsive and I look forward to your
    continued presence on MathOverflow. If it is the case however that
    none of the moderators can contact you offline because of something
    you have done (I don't know what, but failure to provide a proper
    email address seems the most likely case), it then seems to me
    that you are being less accountable than users (anonymous or not)
    who provide such information to the moderators. That is the aspect
    that bothers me, and prompts this post. I urge you to fix it by
    providing such info to the moderators, even if it means your
    identity is known to some or all of them.

    If instead it is the case that Scott went [phrase involving momentary memory loss removed] and
    believed he couldn't reach you when he actually could, then I can
    only expect continued responsible and mostly civil behavior from you,
    and trust that you remain as accountable as the rest of the MathOverflow

    Gerhard "Yes, I Have Idiosyncracies Too" Paseman, 2013.02.21
    • CommentAuthorTeo B
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2013
    Hello, not that I have many interesting opinions to express, but simply can't resist in joining Scott, and especially my fellow users quid and Gerhard in this discussion/mea culpa about sometimes incivil users (notoriously being one of them :)

    @grp first, technically your comment about "unaccountable anonymity" makes sense, but I still agree with Scott that meta is a good place for discussing this. An anonymous user is something quite different from a non-anonymous one - regarding these users, problems are quite different.

    I mean, I'm anonymous, and get a warning, or even my account closed? No problem, since I'm anonymous anyway, I can quickly open another one!

    In fact, what can be really dangerous for such a website is a user who's: (1) anonymous, (2) very good at math, (3) angry for some reason. Not that I suspect quid to be one day in the category (3), but this is a general fact: when you moderate some website and you deal with an anonymous user who's "very good at it", best is to discuss all issues with that user, carefully, and in public if possible. Once again - and I insist - it's just a matter of principles!

    And finally a personal comment/mea culpa about my own incivilities. It's always about closing questions, here on MO. When I see a question closed that I feel (1) interesting, and (2) asked by some high-school kid, or undergrad, or young researcher from other science, I simply get crazy. I think this is bad: with respect to that young user, with respect to the other young users watching, with respect to MO and math in general. I mean not only bad, but damaging, offensive, and not to be ignored, but definitely be fought.

    There are flags for incivility. But I never ever used flags here on MO, simply because the only folks that I would like to "flag" are those closing such questions, and you cannot flag that! I regard this as a problem with the software: I'm serious, I really think that the "worst" incivility is that of closing interesting questions raised by young users, and unfortunately the system doesn't even consider that this can be an incivility, because you cannot flag that!

    This being said, what I do is that soemtimes I leave some kind of angry comment, ranging from ironic to agressive depending on my mood, and in any case I add the 5 folks who closed that question on my personal (and real-life) "blacklist". (That blacklist usually containing people that I don't want to see around in math depts, or life in general, due to serious incivilities - e.g. those who don't flush toilets, or things like that.) I'm probably not the only one in doing so.
    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2013

    Sorry, more meaningful repsonse later. But I would very strongly prefer the context would be preserved!

    This is the commenct called uncivil (it is not repeat it, just to keep the conetx) and originally included in OP. The particular objection was against the last sentence. And this is all there was.

    Well, I have no strong feelings regarding this matter, and or maybe because I do not care much about "rewards" in the form of points. However, I also think that the Erdős answers are likely closer in spirit to the question than the other one. So they should appear first (by votes). If it were CW I could easily up and down vote. Now this is a bit more difficult (since there is no reason to down-vote that answer on regular grounds). And, this is the entire point of the CW-ing in such cases. But of course I do not want to deprive anybody of a couple of oh so important points.

    For full context

    • CommentAuthorTeo B
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2013
    OMG. quid, this kind of comment puts you indeed in the category of potentially dangerous users :)

    Needless to say, personally I don't feel offended at all.
    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2013 edited

    I can see that my comment was certainly not friendly, it was (intended as) a somewhat annoyed comment. Of course one should avoid writing annoyed comments, but then I am still surprised in a very direct sense this particular comment caused this reaction. [Added: By 'this' I basically mean any, I do not have a particular problem with the form of the reaction. Except I'd preferred the context would have been preserved all along.]

    @grp: Some assertions you make seem factually incorrect. Or at least you use the word "accountability" in a way I do not understand. Also one is never really even asked to provide an email address, neither directly nor by the FAQs nor by the system. In addition there are other means of (almost) off-line communication (a comment somewhere, for example).

    Not sure this is ontopic for this thread but regarding the substance of the exchange itself. From the FAQs, since it seems not known to some:

    The most common use of community wiki mode is to ask a question where the goal is to produce a sorted list of answers, rather than a single complete answer. Community wiki mode gets the reputation system out of the way so that people more freely vote up and down to help rearrange the sort order, therby making the page more useful.

    I fail to see how a comment like this:

    Since apparently there is no "unique" answer here, but this rather asks for a list of results of a certain flavor I thinnk this should be CW.

    Is not clearly identifiable as referring indirectly to this description of CW in FAQs. And why my second one on up-downvoting is so surprising.


    grp: [Thanks for making the requested edit.]

    Teo B: Thank you for sharing. The fact that you are not offended does not exclude the possibility that the comment is problematic for others. Please do not leave angry comments on MathOverflow, even if the greatest question in the world is closed.


    It seems some additional explanation is necessary.

    The context is the following: Qfwfq was trying to recall a certain specific fact that he or she had heard, and produced some identifying information that did not uniquely characterize the answer. However, it is reasonable to assume that the correct answer would trigger some additional recollection. In other words, there is a correct answer, and a definite criterion for it to be chosen, even though that criterion may be mysterious to us. This is why I think CW is not particularly appropriate for this question (although this point is peripheral).

    When quid proposed that the question be CW, Joel David Hamkins asked, "Why shouldn't those who can come up with good examples be rewarded for doing so?". This provoked quid's response. My problem with the response is that the last sentence, "But of course I do not want to deprive anybody of a couple of oh so important points.", is not a counterargument that could lead to some resolution, but is instead an attempt to invalidate the question, and by association, the questioner. I think we can all agree that there are valid reasons for disliking the point system, but it is not necessary to put down people who claim it has value.

    My general point is this: if you ever feel the need to make a comment that "raises the temperature" of the discussion, please refrain from doing so on the main MathOverflow site, and instead write it on here, on meta.

    • CommentAuthorJDH
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2013

    I just noticed this thread. Should I delete my comments on the question? I dislike being caught up in something thought to be a dramatic spectacle. And I agree with Scott's main points here.

    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2013 edited

    I would prefer for the moment nothing were delted copy it over here please at least. With precise time stamps! This might be relevant. The paraphrase is incomplete!

    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2013

    The main additional explanation that is necessary in my opinion is that my first comment came after (in fact I think really as a response I am pretty sure I saw it before the edit too, I might misremember this tough)
    to the following edit.

    Edit: I'm aware there are some independence results (I think by Kranz and Di Biase) related to the boundary behaviour of holomorphic functions. The "fact" I wanted to recall is not part of this theory, though independence examples related to this theory are well accepted in the answers.

    So, after this edit, there are fundamentally different on-topic answers.

    In particular the only answer when I commented was the one by Rodrigo A. Pérez. Either there are fundamentally different valid answers or his answer is off-topic. I am conviced it is the former. Other opinions?

    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2013 edited

    The above being said, and while my hectic first comment could give a different impression is I do not much care if this question is community wiki. Over time I flagged and commented on any number of questions they should be CW. In most cases they were made CW.

    What I do care about is the claim that they idea to suggest it is odd or based on some point considerations. It is also tru that since the result OP searched was found somewhat quickly the question took a somewhat different direction.

    But I will not flag or comment on CW anymore. You can then sort out the fights between those that vote to close if it is not CW and they think so and others.

    • CommentAuthorTeo B
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2013
    @Scott first, well sorry for my sometimes angry comments on MO, usually I remove them a few days after :) But I'll try to change.

    @quid - man, that comment of yours was offending! Leaving any joke or irony aside (yes, I can do that too..) here's what I think. You don't care much about rep, nor do I, but, as Scott was so well putting it, many people of course do. Perhaps most illustrating would be a fictional story about something similar to rep, that you do care about. Don't know much about you, but I can only imagine that you care say about.. your research and publications.

    So, imagine one day that you submit a couple of papers (I,II), and the editor answers: Dear Prof. Quid, regarding your articles I just got this referee report

    "Report on Quid's papers I,II. I find these papers correct, but quite uninteresting. But of course I do not want to deprive anybody of a couple of oh so important publications. So I would rather recommend publication."

    so I'm afraid that I will have only partly to follow referee's findings and recommendations, and reject your papers. Sincerely, Editor.

    Sincerely now, wouldn't you jump from your seat, up to the ceiling, when getting something like this? That's the definition of offence, I guess :)
    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2013

    @Teo B: I never said it was uninteresting! This is a crucial difference.

    An analogy that seems closer is somebody (A) submitting two part paper, somebody (B) suggesting to better write just one containing both since it will be easier to read the material this way, somebody (C) objecting to the idea because after all publication count is important. And then (B) saying, well, do whatever but I do not like this approach.

    (I hope you do not mind how B was chosen, this was by coincidence.)

    On the last sentence matter: I would however like to point out that before that I gave an argument why CW has certain advantages (it is or at least was my understanding that it is not acceptable to downvote an answer in general just because one thinks another one is better, only in CW). And then I end in an admittedly polemic way since it seemed to me somebody values the points higher than "making the page more useful" (formulation from FAQ).

    • CommentAuthorTeo B
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2013
    @quid. humm, just to delicately point out that.. your position here on this thread looks to me quite undefendable :) Lost battle. We all do mistakes.

    And for ending my contribution here with some fun, I understand from your defence system on this thread that you won't be truly offended by a referee report containing the phrase "But of course I do not want to deprive anybody of a couple of oh so important publications". Will keep that in mind, if I ever (1) start seriously switching fields, and (2) also happen by chance to get to know who you are, and also (3) get into some serious fight with you - but I really doubt much on this third thing, usually I find you more than nice, classy and reasonable - I reserve the right of making you a bad joke like that :D

    Let me clarify again. The problem is not the fact that you had a disagreement about CW. It is that you used the words "oh so important" in that part of the sentence. In the version of English that I learned as a child, that phrase is a way of saying, "points are not only unimportant, but you are foolish for thinking they have value". That, and only that, is what I find unacceptable.

    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2013

    Okay, sorry. Thank you for the explanation: " but you are foolish for thinking they have value" at least this was not intended. So I explictly retract the "oh so important" or rather the last phrase in its entirety. (An analog of 'oh so important' where I have finer control over language, is not a positive statement either but there is no implication of foolishness.)

    It is true it was unnecessary this sentence. But, to perhaps explain my reaction: I do not care much for the points (not that they are totally useless, but the are a complete sideaspect). Now if somebody suggest I make a certain effort to influence the point distribution this suggests indirectly that I would care much about the points. (This mischaracterisation was somewhat annoying.)


    I finally understand Scott's point. There really are MO users who think that points have value and can be offended with quid's flippant remark! Maybe even among the moderators...


    Okay, it looks like this discussion has reached a reasonable conclusion. Sorry for the drama.

    • CommentAuthorTom Church
    • CommentTimeFeb 21st 2013

    I still don't have any problem at all with the comment in question, and as a non-anonymous user, let me say: if it's true that these points induce people to post more than they otherwise would, I understand why MO as an institution supports them, finds them beneficial, etc. But that doesn't mean that all of its users like them (this is why Anton added the option of disabling reputation counts, which I greatly appreciate), nor that on balance they are good for humanity/mathematicians/mathematics.


    To conclude, just with an abstract remark not directed at this exchange in particular, or its participants.

    We really think it's important that the main site is as civil as possible. Obviously there are frequent departures; we prefer to deal with this via low-key private emails. When users are anonymous to the extent of not providing email addresses, we don't have that option. Since it's then more difficult for us to intervene, we're more likely to intervene with less patience. At the same time, anonymity is a great thing, and we'd like to support users who wish to remain anonymous. Nevertheless, it's good to be aware there's a trade-off; you lose some of the privileges of being dealt with gently if a moderator feels they need to get involved!

    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeFeb 22nd 2013

    I do not want to restart this discussion, this more intended as a "private message" for Teo B:

    I still think your analogies are not good, but I admit you had some point. In any case thank you for your friendly efforts in this discussions. Still your analogies are not good :D

    • CommentAuthorTeo B
    • CommentTimeFeb 22nd 2013
    Apologizes Scott & Scott for writing below your conclusions (and btw hello :) but there's a user here even more stubborn than I am, so I have to answer :)

    Prof. Quid, guess this kind of discussion can continuate endlessly, and I would be curious and happy to do that, but only in the presence of a pint of beer! So, please consider my standing invitation of having one, if and when you'll take the decision to get public, and of course if the occasion shows up. Regards.
    • CommentAuthorabatkai
    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2013
    Is the arrogant comment of Garfield at
    not in the same category? Explaining that people should work more for him?
    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2013 edited

    [removed a comment that I consider funny, but perhaps some other don't]