# May I ask a big-list question?

While writing a meta-section in my thesis I wanted to give some examples of important theory proposals preceding experimental verification but I couldn't name very many from the top of my head.

For example, I knew that Wolfgang Pauli proposed the existence of the neutrino which was experimentally confirmed about 20 years later.

Since many discoveries nowadays are attributed to the experimentalists (e.g. in this list) I couldn't find a good source on the internet listing the proposals preceding experimental breakthroughs.

I am aware that big-list questions are a matter of debate (good list, bad list) but most of these discussion are several years old. Has the code of practice maybe changed since then?

Also, on other SEs this seems to be more accepted. E.g. I recently got some useful information from discussions like these.

My question is now, if I post

List of important theory proposals that were later confirmed experimentally


on physics.SE will I be shot down?

I am aware that big-list questions are a matter of debate (good list, bad list) but most of these discussion are several years old. Has the code of practice maybe changed since then?

Not particularly. The ethos in the question and the answer in the thread that you linked to is still the basic outlook on those questions, and there hasn't been any significant pushback to that status quo in the intervening ~five years.

To my mind this is as good a confirmation as you get that this site's community is still in agreement with those basic principles: basically, we allow resource-recommendation questions if they the question itself is narrow enough to provide a platform for good answers, but the woollier big-list questions are generally out. They're just too much like junk food to work well with this site's format.

The question you propose,

List of important theory proposals that were later confirmed experimentally

is definitely on that woollier end of the spectrum, and I think it would be closed quite quickly as Primarily Opinion-Based or Too Broad, depending on the exact wording.

Also, on other SEs this seems to be more accepted. E.g. I recently got some useful information from discussions like these.

You are right in that MathOverflow does have a more permissive policy towards big-list questions. They do they, we do us. Different sites operate in different environments, under different pressures, and catering to different communities, and that affects how well different types of questions can work. The topicality of questions here has very little to do with the topicality of questions elsewhere.

• okay, I get your point. I also agree that questions leading to fact-answers should dominate over questions leading to opinion-answers. However, as you know, big journals (taking this as a merit-function for scientific progress) don't accept papers just because they're factually correct. This is usually taken for granted (maybe sometimes wrongly), together with novelty. On the contrary, acceptances are made due to relevance which is quite subjective. Opinions and open discussion play a role here. Don't you think you should reflect this in a forum like physics.SE? – Quasilattice Sep 22 at 20:48
• @Quasilattice This site isn't a forum. It's a Q&A site, and there is some fairly extensive experience that attests that not all question types are a good fit for our format. We are not here to be all things to all people, and there is a clear community consensus that the format you want to post in doesn't work here. – Emilio Pisanty Sep 22 at 20:59
• Your question in this thread asks what the policy is, and this answer provides that (i.e., if you want, go ahead and post, but I can tell you that it won't do well in the community review queue). If you want the policy to be changed, don't try to argue on this comment thread; I'm not in control of the policy (it's a community consensus) nor am I on the ban-all-list-questions extreme of the spectrum. Raise a separate thread in this meta instead. – Emilio Pisanty Sep 22 at 21:02