7
$\begingroup$

Today, we had this question:

Is "de" in "de Morgan" supposed to be capitalized or not?

A couple days ago, we had this question:

History of the term innovation and its difference with invention?

Both deal with the linguistics of certain terms that come up frequently in the context of science (or mathematics). However, they aren't directly related to mathematics or science. The former talks about the correct spelling of the name of a scientist (and this meta post seems to indicate that it would be off-topic), while the latter talks about a term and its usage.

It is important to set a precedent for this type of question, so we (the moderators) thought it would be a good idea to establish whether they should be considered on- or off-topic. For this, we would like some input from the community.

On the one side, one could argue that the former is better suited for Linguistics, while the latter seems to be a good fit for History. On the other hand, they are clearly not completely unrelated to the history of science and mathematics, so they could be considered on-topic here.

So, please let us know what you think: Are these questions on the linguistics of science and/or mathematics on-topic on [hsm.se]?

| |
$\endgroup$
4
$\begingroup$

Is it a question of the history of science and or mathematics?, or does it demand a good answer soundly rooted in the history of science and or mathematics? Those are my grounding questions. If neither of those are true, then the question is off topic.

The history of science-related linguistics is on topic.

How should I spell something in my current situation is not on topic. If a solid answer to such a question can be presented that addresses the question from a historical perspective, and that answer is firmly rooted in history, then the answer at least is on topic.

Whether or not any particular post should be closed is another question. I revert back to my personal grounding questions for that.

It should be said that off topic questions superficially tweaked by posters to seem like on topic questions can be expected in the future. When this is clearly the case, and such a post cannot be repaired to conform to H, S, M, it should certainly be removed.

| |
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I would like to point out that, if you think a question is off-topic, it is strongly encouraged you flag it as such, or vote to close if you have access to the review queues. This is an aspect of community moderation that we are currently not seeing enough of at HSM. $\endgroup$ – Danu Dec 17 '14 at 7:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Danu I just recently passed the rep threshold necessary to cast close votes (last 24 hours). Rest assured I will be diligent daily. I know flagging is an option, but for some reason I wanted this post to be something much bigger than some one or two particular situations. This is my personal thought process. Call it my late night thoughts and grand philosophy on how to treat posts. $\endgroup$ – J. W. Perry Dec 17 '14 at 9:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I agree with you that this post should serve as the precedent we can refer to whenever a similar linguistics-oriented question comes up again; restricting it to these specific cases is unnecessary. I just wanted to point out that we are in need of reviewers and generally, of more community moderation, in case you were unaware. $\endgroup$ – Danu Dec 17 '14 at 10:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ No, totally aware. I have been busy with the end of semester, but you state fact. We need more participation. $\endgroup$ – J. W. Perry Dec 17 '14 at 10:07
3
$\begingroup$

On my opinion, both questions you give as examples are off topic. I understand it could be interesting and important to know how to spell de Morgan (or even Chebyshev!) correctly but I am sure that the answer has nothing to do with history of science and mathematics.

Remark. One of the funniest books I ever read was The Thread. A mathematical yarn, by Philip J. Davis (a well known mathematician). Its main subject is how to spell and why Chebyshev's first and last name. And the book contains a lot of interesting information on history of science and mathematics and a lot of other very interesting things. Nevertheless I think that such questions are off topic here.

| |
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, I remember you telling me about that book! I do think that you're right that names should be off-topic, as they (most likely) don't really relate to the scientist/mathematician's work. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Dec 17 '14 at 0:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Same comment as on the other answer: I would like to point out that, if you think a question is off-topic, it is strongly encouraged you flag it as such, or vote to close if you have access to the review queues. This is an aspect of community moderation that we are currently not seeing enough of at HSM. $\endgroup$ – Danu Dec 17 '14 at 7:15

You must log in to answer this question.

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