I ask the title question, in part because of this assigned exercise posted here and the first commenter to reply. In particular, the first sentence of the comment is fine. The second sentence of the comment, however, tells the asker to ask the question on mathematics.se, instead.

Had the comment included a disclaimer of the sort: "Math questions need to be asked on math.se, but only after first reading math.se's guidelines for asking a question, and improving your question to meet those guidelines," I would not be asking this question here, now.

So I ask this question now:

What are the guidelines on this site instructing users on this site as to whether or not (and when) users here should refer a question, or its asker, to math.se?

Are there any such guidelines? Has this site determined the criteria for appropriate references to math.se? Because I do not think passing off to other SE sites, poor questions which are poor, across the board on SE, is optimal. It merely requires yet another site to waste time and effort to close and/or delete a mess which surfaced on a sister SE site.

I think this discussion would be valuable for both this site's users, and math.se users. I am starting here first, because math.se is overloaded by a daily barrage of questions of the sort that @Jasper attempted to refer to math.se. And so to have users here referring such poor problem statements (you'll see it is not, in fact, a question) to math.se, serves only to burden the few users on math.se who struggle to clean up after such referrals.

I searched meta.matheducators.se for any prior posts about how to deal with questions of the sort I linked to, above, but found nothing. Please educate me as to any previous discussions which might in some way related to my question.

I am as much of a mathematics scholar as I am a mathematics educator. I support this site wholeheartedly. So I'd love to hear others' input regarding my question, or on a potential discussion between math.se and matheducators.se, regarding when to refer and when not to, in either direction. Also, what can math.se do to better steer good questions, not entirely appropriate for math.se, which you'd appreciate having referred to matheducators.se, and to refrain from steering questions that aren't appropriate on math.se nor matheducators.se?



2 Answers 2


The subject" "how to deal with interfacing with other sites" is common in the SE network, especially, in the context of migration.

For migration the general rule is that only reasonably good questions should be migrated, and that one should refrain from migrating if one does not know the standards of the other site.

For merely mentioning another site I think there is no specific guideline, and there is an actual difference: a migrated question better should not be closed else the migration is rejected while for a newly asked question guided improvements could happen on the new site and this might be more efficient.

That said, it is certainly in the best interest of the asker and the other site if some basic instruction is given. This is a comment I wrote not too long ago:

This site is for questions about how to teach mathematics; for mathematics questions please see Mathematics but make sure to read the instructions there. As is the question would be closed there too.

I would stop short of starting to give more detailed advice and actually engaging the asker. I think it is better for this to happen on the target site.

Thus, I think if a user knows that a question does not work "as is" on the site they recommend it makes sense to point out the shortcoming, at least briefly.

For the question when to mention another site (with a disclaimer), I would say this is essentially always appropriate as long as the subject fits in principle. That is, for any mathematical question, it makes sense to recommend math.se (for very advanced questions it could be better to mostly recommend MO and maybe mention math.se in addition). If the question would be some obscure numerology, then better not and if it'd be about something else entirely then of course not.


The reject reason for "off topic" here, but may be good on Math reads as follows:

This question is off-topic because it is a mathematical question as contrasted with a question about mathematics education. For a Stack Exchange site for mathematical questions please see Mathematics.

A tangent (pun intended); I am a mod at Money.SE. Questions are frequently closed or prompted for editing for various reasons. Copying source material, for instance. You know how to cite outside material as a reference for support or to offer further reading. Invariably (for this and other issues, this is just an example) a member will ask where the line is drawn. i.e. how large a citation is ok, is it a % of the source or X lines of writing? Must the original member answer have just a note or 4 lines of new material? This desire for strict rules is common, but impossible to satisfy. And front line mods, who are just volunteers can create a very welcoming thriving environment for members without going there.

A mod here has the ability to migrate. They do that quite often. The answer to your question is that it's no more complex than "would this question be welcome at Math.SE"? (and that not great question you cited was not migrated, and you did offer your comment)

To go into any more discussion here would literally reproduce the entire Math.SE section on What topics can I ask about here?

I can't speak for the mods here, but when a members suggests moving a bad math question over, it's not tough for any member to comment that the question itself can use some improving, as you did.

Keep in mind, not all members read every FAQ. You are looking for a way to control minor behavior that's not a major problem on either end.


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