And predictably the question has been closed, as "no longer relevant [...] This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet."
Makes me wonder how Stack Exchange is still getting both good questions and good answers.
I am active in a few Stack Exchange communities (sites), and two things that strike me are:
- The communities can differ a lot in how they approach things (when they feel closure is appropriate, for instance).
- As in most online communities (Wikipedia etc.), people who have been around for a while tend to get insular and think in terms of their own subculture, and do not always understand what impression their actions (in this example the actual text of the “no longer relevant” closure) make on outsiders or newcomers. On Wikipedia there's an actual policy about this, but I got tired of typing [[WP:BITE]] over and over again. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Please_do_not_bite_t...)
For math, it's retired or semi-retired professors who spend their days answering relatively basic questions from undergrads and such.
It's amazing actually. I got more professor time on stackexchange than I did in real life.
It's quite sad, but it seems like the same thing that happened to wikipedia in that the kind of people who take on moderation duty are the kind of people that like enforcing rules. The more deletes they can get the better.
(Also note that it's not the “moderators” who close or open questions, but the community itself: anyone with over 3000 points can close or reopen, which right now is over 500 users on MathOverflow. It's a small site as it's for research mathematicians; for comparison on Stack Overflow there are over 46000 users who can vote to close or reopen questions.)
> too self-absorbed in their self-righteousness
I'm feeling the self-righteousness, but it's not coming from SE...
'In fact, Thurston resolved so many outstanding problems in foliation theory in such a short period of time that it led to a kind of exodus from the field, where advisors counselled students against going into foliation theory because Thurston was "cleaning out the subject"'
But, I don't think his answer is limited just to mathematicians. The gist of it is 'Go do good things and be smart.' I think those same things could apply to even someone without a high school diploma, though probably with less chance of efficacy.
It's a great response and unfortunate that they closed it.