This is the second time today that a naive question was closed, and this time even before arguments started.

closed as subjective and argumentative by mbq♦ 1 hour ago

I do not think that the simple answer that mathematics is necessary for learning physics is either subjective, or argumentative. If physicists do not have a consensus on the need of mathematics we should all hand in our degrees.

Although it is good that an eye is kept on comments and answers that are bickering instead of offering information, one has to respect/check whether the questioner is young, as he must be in this case just by the way the question was formulated.

The one incendiary comment was not taken up in a response :well, he could become a "climate scientist" and get honorary doctorates just like Al Gore... – jwenting 2 hours ago . The comment could have been deleted, as I have seen other comments deleted instead of closing the question. What if trolling becomes a problem, would the moderators close all trolled questions?

This high handedness on the part of moderators is not nurturing the young who want to become physicists, and should either be encouraged or gently discouraged. It is a question that students would be looking at after all.

Unless students are to be discouraged in stating questions.

  • $\begingroup$ one has to respect/check whether the questioner is young, as he must be in this case just by the way the question was formulated. ... @anna there is nothing to suggest that the questioner "must be young". It seems your objection is built around that supposition. Also the question was not about whether mathematics is necessary for learning physics as you state, but whether one must be a "whiz" at math. It sounded a lot like recent questions such as "are all physicists mad" etc. though perhaps not as inflammatory. $\endgroup$
    – Deepak Vaid
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 18:07
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    $\begingroup$ Screenshot of the post in question. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 0:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Magpie the screenshot is for your info, as the link works now $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 4:51

3 Answers 3


The question is clearly off topic, and as such it's correctly been closed.

That said:

  1. It's not subjective and argumentative. The closure and the comments are, however.

  2. The comments are really, really pointless, unhelpful and arrogant:

  • No. If you have lousy math skill then you can't probably have good physics intuition.

  • well, he could become a "climate scientist" and get honorary doctorates just like Al Gore...

  • You don't even need to be a math whiz to succeed in mathematics.

A good, helpful and appropriate comment would have been:

  • Hi Myers, welcome to our site. Questions on this site should be about physical theories and not physics as a profession. Your question has been closed as off-topic for this reason.

I don't know why mbq chose not to leave such a comment.

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    $\begingroup$ still, the presence of such comments indicates the topic is INDEED "subjective and argumentative", does it not? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ The FAQ on the site says:"What kind of questions should I not ask here?" "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face." Please explain to me, if a student is contemplating physics as a profession why it is inappropriate to ask the question, since it is a problem that he/she faces. Maybe the FAQ sheould be changed to "actual physics problems that you have" since experiments are also physics I suppose. Also add to the FAQ questions on physics as a profession are not within the accepted scope of the site. I am concerned because for a young person $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 20:33
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    $\begingroup$ continued: a "closed" might be like a slap in the face, particularly if he/she had looked over the FAQ. $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Jeff: the question was clearly subjective and off-topic, but it wasn't really argumentative in my opinion. $\endgroup$
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 20:36
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    $\begingroup$ @anna on the internet, sometimes rules have to be fairly strict because it is such a "wild west anything goes" global audience. (and remember we allow totally anonymous, unregistered participation). That said I always support moderators leaving comments explaining what is going on, if they see fit. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ It's also hinting towards non-mainstream ideas . $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 15:35

I think the level of the questions on the site currently leaves something to be desired. So, I for one be happy if more of the questions are closed on the “too elementary” grounds, and the level of the site is somewhat elevated. On that question for example, I see a lively conversation developing involving lots of opinions and not that many facts, which describe many other venues on the internet. Here’s hoping this site does not turn into one of them.

  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough if the rules are clear in FAQ. It was not being closed because of being very elementary, and that rule is not in FAQ. If the site aims at attracting students, as it says in the FAQ, some questions will be elementary for the rest of us. There is a contradiction here. $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 6:46
  • $\begingroup$ I am assuming by students we mean, at the very least college students, and perhaps we need to be more specific. But, based on what is in the FAQ already, this site is supposed to be all about facts, and open ended discussions of opinions are discouraged. Plenty of sites to shoot the breeze if you are into this sort of thing. I'm sure the question can find it's appropriate elsewhere. $\endgroup$
    – user566
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 6:53

The explanation that is actually left with the closure is:

It's impossible to objectively answer this question; questions of this type are too open ended and usually lead to confrontation and argument

which seems appropriate here.

What I think generalises Anna's point a little is that new users may not formulate their questions in an appropriate way and can get some unexpected treatment [including Closure] as a result. If these new users are also elementary students, then they will have received a certain discouragement from this site as a result.

I suppose it is up to the moderators (and the PR team who seem to exist) to decide whether all this is OK, or whether some form of Site Tutoring is required for genuine students with basic career and study questions (e.g. which subjects do I need to study for physics? why get a physics degree?), etc.


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