I have been a maths teacher. I have conducted a series of thought-experiments with kids and adults which has opened up a new direction in mathematics. It is often seen as "philosophy", and this was the response by the maths stack community, but I have little interest in playing word games.

I then pursued this in the meta maths stack, and attempted to explain the alternative methodology I have been using, thinking I was simply involving myself in a discussion, and then I was banned for 7 days. This came as somewhat of a shock.

I have been a maths teacher for over ten years. Must I swallow my pride, and just slink off without being able to share my thoughts? Seems a pity, since I really like the interface here provided by stack exchange.

closed as too localized by Rory, animuson, Martijn Pieters, Toon Krijthe, Bo Persson Nov 12 '12 at 23:00

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. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    I think you'd get better and more topical answers on Math's dedicated Meta site. – Michael Petrotta Nov 14 '11 at 3:11
  • 7
    @MichaelPetrotta Wouldn't a suspension also block per-site meta participation? – waiwai933 Nov 14 '11 at 3:14
  • @waiwai933: Hmm, good point. It doesn't WRT SO and MSO, but I remember something like that for other sites. A pity, because looking at the OP's single post on Math, I don't think we'll be able to help him - he needs input from the m.se community. – Michael Petrotta Nov 14 '11 at 3:16
  • 2
    @MichaelPetrotta There may be deleted posts on Math or on their meta site that we can't see. It would be nice to get some input from the Math moderators. (I left a link in their general chat.) – Bill the Lizard Nov 14 '11 at 3:18
  • I'm not sure what "attempt to explain the alternative methodology" happyseaurchin refers to. In his two meta participations, here and here, I did not see what I would consider to be such an attempt (but clearly the OP and I don't understand the terms at issue the same way). I do not know the reason behind the suspension, though. – Arturo Magidin Nov 14 '11 at 3:34
  • 6
    Quick note, folks - while suspended users are prevented from posting on the site or the meta site where they're suspended, they can respond to the private moderator message sent to them when the suspension is initiated. Good opportunity to discuss or dispute the reasoning behind it (since these are private conversations, moderators are often reluctant to discuss them in public - however, they're visible to all moderators on the site to review). – Shog9 Nov 14 '11 at 3:48
  • @happyseaurchin It would be useful if your meta.math questions would be concrete. Describe two of the "thought experiments" you make with children and then describe what kind of answers you seek on math.SE related to this. This will make it possible for people to decide whether you are on-topic and then tell you how to formulate your questions for better results OR why this is not an appropriate place for your questions. At the moment, many people regard your questions as "not even off-topic". (Note that I have voted to reopen your remaining question, but I share many of the concerns.) – Phira Nov 14 '11 at 19:48
  • I am really impressed by this site and the community. Thank you. I will attempt to find out how to contact the moderator; the reason I didn't initially was because I didn't want to exacerbate the problem. @Phira, my intention was to allow participants to answer the question, and then to contribute some answers I have had. What is important is not the statistical result, but the exercise of considering the question... and in the series, the final rather peculiar question. Really appreciate the efforts you are putting in. – happyseaurchin Nov 14 '11 at 20:17
  • 3
    @happyseaurchin Important to whom? And what statistical result? – Phira Nov 14 '11 at 20:35

I see you already asked about that specific question on Math's Meta site. Perhaps it is better to let them respond before extrapolating too much across the network.

It is often good idea to observe how a site is used and what folks are talking about before jumping in with both feet. I see from your profile that you posted five questions in rapid succession and four of them were heavily down-voted and ultimately deleted.

The folks on Math SE are there to teach as well as to learn, and they would like you to become a productive member of the community. It looks like you got started off on the wrong foot, but don't despair. A short-term suspension like that is really designed to slow down that downward momentum and give you a chance to reflect and observe how you might use the site better. Stack Exchange works a bit differently than what you are probably used to with other forums.

Step back a bit and familiarize yourself with the questions others are asking. Part of the notice you received says "You are welcome to come back with your questions after 7 days if you can address the issues." That sounds like good advice.

  • Thanks, Robert. I got a general idea of the site quite quickly, and yes I jumped straight in with two feet. Although my first question got closed down, I thought there was enough encouragement (mistakenly) to ask the set of thought-experiments. Only as they were declining my reputation did I realise that this environment may not be the appropriate one to air this line of questioning. If I accept the advice, then clearly I can not ask such questions when the suspension is up. But the experience is that the wisdom of crowds is quite harsh with respect to innovation. – happyseaurchin Nov 14 '11 at 20:54

You asked five questions. So far, all of them have been closed, and four have been deleted. None of them has a score higher than zero.

Whatever you tried to do, I think it's safe to say it didn't work. Keep in mind: these are Q&A sites, not discussion sites. The expectation is that folks will ask a question that they actually want an answer to.

Next time, maybe a bit more up-front explanation of what you're trying to accomplish would save you some trouble; I get the feeling Math.SE users might not like being experimented on. There's some discussion on your meta post - if you'd posted that first and gathered reactions, I suspect you'd have had an easier time.

As for what you should do now... Go back to Math.SE, and reply to the message left for you by the moderator. Explain your situation, what you were trying to do, and what you intend to do next.

  • Thanks, shog9. I've got a reply from the moderator, and he simply says my material is not relevant to the site, which i have to agree with... My interest is experimental, and I believe this is a Q&A fact-exchange site. I apologise for assuming it was otherwise. Still a pity, since it would be nice to have interacted with some bright minds about this material. Be well! – happyseaurchin Nov 16 '11 at 15:53
  • 1
    @happy: you might consider answering a few questions on the site (to garner the necessary reputation) and then dropping some of your ideas into chat... Can't say how they'll be received, but that environment is considerably more conducive to that sort of discussion. – Shog9 Nov 16 '11 at 16:42
  • heheh, thanks @Shog9... The line of questioning is best suited for buddhist monks, for people who have trained their mind to not chase after the object of thought. The environment of a chatroom ain't the place to find this quality of mind. I shall have to wait until I get some kind of lucky break, before some fine and sharp minds attend to the same line of thought. I am devoting the rest of my life to it, so there's no hurry. As for answering the questions here, I am not equipped to participate, I was a high-school teacher :) Thank you, though, and be well! – happyseaurchin Nov 16 '11 at 21:37

Must I ... slink off without being able to bring to share my thoughts?

The best way to share your thoughts on these sites would be to find relevant questions and answer them.

After you feel you integrate well with the community and understand what is acceptable and what isn't, you might venture into asking questions regarding your particular interests in math.

However, as you discovered quite abruptly, many of the existing users don't believe that your questions fit the site guidelines. One of the reasons is likely that your questions are very subjective - there is no single correct answer that can be objectively viewed by all and understood to be correct.

Further, your questions are not about math and math problems - they are about education and math understanding. They really don't fit the site's charter.

You might consider supporting the education specific site http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/23685/educators or supporting a math education specific site at http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/35226/mathematics-teacher-educators

Neither of them are ready for questions or answer yet, but they seem to be the best place for your questions.

But even in those sites you need to be careful to understand both the site charter, and the community. You can jump in with both feet, but a careful study of the community might help you avoid the same situation you found at the math site.

To answer your main question, "Could I have avoided being suspended..." The answer is yes - you could have answered questions primarily, read existing questions and answer to understand the community's expectations, and test the waters with only a question or two to see how the community reacts rather than starting right in and beginning several questions without a good understanding of the community.

  • Thanks, Adam. I believe that the line of questioning is a very interesting one for mathematicians. It does suggest a paradigm shift since the methodology of inquiry is different than used in the methodology used in the science of objects (perhaps best exemplified by Newton); I can see significant implications which might influence AI, computer science, language and semantics. The field is mathematics, and not merely of educational interest. But again, thank you for your efforts in directing me. I hope to find an area where this inquiry is examined fairly. – happyseaurchin Nov 14 '11 at 21:03

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