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One of the biggest close reasons for Puzzling.SE seems to be voting to close as Off-Topic on this site because

"This question is off-topic as it appears to be a mathematics problem, as opposed to a mathematical puzzle."

Although they are off-topic, a lot of these questions are still well-received however, as they are still good questions - well written, specific, concise and clear, and often attract equally good answers. That being said, they're just not good questions for this site. These questions would be a much better fit for Math.SE, and so I think that having the option to migrate questions there would be very beneficial both for this site, and for the users asking good questions in the wrong place.

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  • $\begingroup$ Negative vote because: 1) MathSE shuns puzzles as much as we shun math. 2) I'm already dismayed by math being singled out as a close reason. Endlessly many other categories are just as deserving. This just makes math an attractive outlet for general discomfort. 3) Good math problems are naturally good puzzles, complete with clues, false leads and surprises, especially when tailored in ways that aren't casually obvious even to mathematical sophisticates. Why would we expect math oriented puzzles to be enjoyed by everyone any more than we expect it of culturally or technologically oriented ones? $\endgroup$ – humn May 13 '16 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ @humn Puzzles and problems aren't the same. Consider puzzling.stackexchange.com/q/31757/21503 as an example. The question contains no puzzle element other than the story (which is just extra 'fluff' around a purely mathematical question - "Provide a proof for, or disprove [theorem]"). It's only solution is also, purely mathematical and contains no puzzling elements. There are no clues, false leads, nor surprises. I would consider it a text book maths questions, perhaps in the "extension" section of a chapter on number theory. $\endgroup$ – KoA May 13 '16 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ My comment took into account that example $\endgroup$ – humn May 13 '16 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ I think the community then needs to have another discussion on what is considered to be a "math puzzle" and what isn't. All I see that makes that question different from "How many ways can I arrange n different objects?" or "What is the closed form of this series?" is difficulty, and I don't think difficulty alone constitutes as enough to be considered 'a puzzle'. It's just a difficult problem. $\endgroup$ – KoA May 13 '16 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ ^tick hoping for (and dreading) renewed discussion on the topic, where appropriate. Sorry to dredge it up here, just didn't want to leave uncommented dissent. Ps. I wish MathSe wouldn't shun puzzles. $\endgroup$ – humn May 13 '16 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ That's all good, meta is exactly the place for these sorts of discussions :) $\endgroup$ – KoA May 13 '16 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ Sheesh, been trying to cancel my negative vote without luck. Could've made a better comment without it. I do appreciate the more-open-borders premise in question and would also like to see consistently broader tolerance on both sides. $\endgroup$ – humn May 13 '16 at 14:51
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I think setting up a migration path may be a little premature.

I mentioned this to one of the Math.SE mods, who pointed out that we actually haven't been migrating questions to Math.SE. Without information on how a migration path would be used, it may be difficult to justify adding one. (I can't recall exactly when the last flag for migration was, but it was more than several months ago.)

Since the volume of candidate questions for migrations probably isn't that high to begin with, I'd suggest that we instead flag questions if they meet the migration criteria:

  • They're not on topic for Puzzling. We don't want to migrate questions away if they're alright here, even if they might arguably be more on topic elsewhere.
  • They're on-topic on Math.
  • They're of genuinely high quality.

The general two rules are: don't migrate if it's alright where it is, and don't migrate crap.

A moderator can then take a look and migrate if need be. (Mods can migrate questions anywhere.)

This will allow everyone (on both sites; a new path is a two-way deal) to get a better sense for how a migration path would be used, as well as iron out any kinks in which questions should be migrated. It may be possible that migration volume stays low enough that a migration path isn't even needed, either, though I think that may be a discussion for a later time.


question_asker raises a good point, that people might not flag to migrate when a close option obviously covers their concerns. So, let's actually use that to try and get a sense of how a migration path would be used.

Here's a list of the questions since April 18th that were closed with this reason. I've added my personal opinion on whether these questions would be well-received; I don't claim that this is absolute truth, though.

Also note, what's high quality to us may not be high quality to another site; look at these questions from the perspective of a Math.SE user outside of the context of migration.

In other words, in the past two months, there have been no questions closed with this reason that are nominally eligible for migration. The quality bar for migration is pretty high, and these don't pass the target site's quality criteria.

Let's go back a bit farther, and cut out the negatively-scored questions, and just look at positively scored ones. That strips the list down quite a bit, though, and we definitely don't want people migrating our negatively-scored questions. (Starting with questions posted before April 18th, going back to March 25th.)


Looking this over, the issue with most of these questions is that, when we say "math-textbook-style problem," it would look on Math.SE like a poorly-asked homework problem. There are a couple issues with this:

  • These questions don't often show a whole lot of effort. I'm cutting out the negatively scored questions, and there are still many questions in there that don't show requisite effort for migration. On our side, this low-effort nature often looks like two or three sentence problems, but on Math.SE's side, no work is shown, no attempt is made, and no context is given.
  • These questions are typically not asked by people in search of an actual answer, which means we'll run afoul of their quality standards. As an example, Math.SE currently has this custom close reason:

    This question is missing context or other details: Please improve the question by providing additional context, which ideally includes your thoughts on the problem and any attempts you have made to solve it. This information helps others identify where you have difficulties and helps them write answers appropriate to your experience level.

    These questions... wouldn't pass, almost universally.

  • It's highly plausible that we'd end up migrating a whole lot of questions that really shouldn't be moved.
  • From our side of things, the questions which do make good migration candidates are few and far between, and may not be voluminous to justify a migration path.

That being said, this doesn't have to be the ending point for discussion. If we can provide a list of questions that are off-topic here, and which we think would be well-received on Math.SE, I can ask someone from Math.SE to give feedback on whether they'd want those questions migrated. That, I think, might be the next place to go.

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    $\begingroup$ I'd say that if we have a policy of not allowing math problems (we arguably do and absolutely enforce it on low-rep users), then it's not "alright where it is". The reason you're not getting "flags for migration" is because that's not one of the things we, in our grammar, associate with flagging - it's something we associate with voting to close since migrating a question is literally right there in the options. $\endgroup$ – question_asker May 12 '16 at 10:50
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    $\begingroup$ @question_asker That's a good point. I've edited quite a bit into this answer, looking at questions that have been closed with this reason. $\endgroup$ – Aza May 12 '16 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ Quick note: for the "invisible wall" question, the OP later asked it on Math.SE. $\endgroup$ – f'' May 12 '16 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Emrakul Thanks! You make good points. My one remaining qualm can be illustrated by that rectangles/triangles question - it's very nakedly a math question, and absolutely would have been closed were it posted by a new user. One way or another, we need to solidify our policy on this, because it looks pretty bad as it is. $\endgroup$ – question_asker May 12 '16 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ @question_asker I also think it's being at least a little inconsistently applied, and can see where you're coming from. I think that might be better in its own meta question, though. $\endgroup$ – Aza May 12 '16 at 23:08
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    $\begingroup$ (1) As I was reading the question, my first thought was: This should be posted on Meta.Math.SE as well, to see what they think of the idea.  (Never mind that sticklers would call that cross-posting.)  But you’re absolutely right; it makes much more sense to gather a list of candidate émigrés for them to consider.  (2) I suspect that Math.SE will frown upon questions where the OP knows the answer (and doesn’t post it along with the question). … (Cont’d) $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook May 14 '16 at 22:35
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    $\begingroup$ (Cont’d) …  That’s going to be an immediate, automatic stumbling block for any question that was written for Puzzling.SE.  (3) Your answer raises another meta-question: do the members of this (newly graduated) site understand the difference between quality and topicality well enough that they know that high-quality, off-topic questions should be flagged and not downvoted? $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook May 14 '16 at 22:37

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