Behind the popular site Mathoverflow there is a less known site meta.mathoverflow.net, having a definitely postmodernist spirit: this is a place where people discuss not the mathematical questions, but what mathematical questions are allowed to be discussed on the front site (other issues about the front site too, of course).
Oops! I said "discussions"! No, discussions are not allowed on Mathoverflow at all. They pretend that the software is not suitable for discussions; in fact it is as suitable as any blog. So, at Metamathoverflow some people (I have no idea who qualifies for participation in Metamathoverflow) discuss what questions may be asked and answered at Mathoverflow. For example, it is not allowed to ask if some (at least some recent) paper is believed to be correct by the experts in the field.
Here is the link to a quite remarkable discussion "Is this question acceptable?: Mochizuki proof of ABC". The AMS reported that Shinichi Mochizuki claimed that he has proved the famous ABC Conjecture; as a place to find some additional information, they referred to the question "What is the underlying vision that Mochizuki pursued when trying to prove the abc conjecture". The part in italics can be deduced from the URL; I just rounded it off in the shortest possible way.
When you follow the AMS link, you will get to a slightly different question "Philosophy behind Mochizuki’s work on the ABC conjecture [closed]". "[Closed]" means that it is impossible to post any answer. The body of the question is:
“Mochizuki has recently announced a proof of the ABC conjecture. It is far too early to judge its correctness, but it builds on many years of work by him. Can someone briefly explain the philosophy behind his work and comment on why it might be expected to shed light on questions like the ABC conjecture?”
This question was classified as "subjective and argumentative" and closed by this reason. After reading the postmodernist metadiscussion I realized that the original question was somewhat different, and, moreover, had a different author. Still, it is closed.
Some answers were posted there before the question was closed; they are interesting and informative. Why these people do not allow more answers?
Well, one of the answers sheds some light on how the modern mathematical society functions. Despite Shinichi Mochizuki is highly regarded for his earlier achievements, and despite it was known for quite a while that he is working on the ABC conjecture (unlike A. Wiles or G. Perelman, he wasn't hiding this) almost nobody was reading his papers. So, almost all experts cannot say anything about his solution because they cannot start reading with his last paper.
Looks like nowadays mathematicians are not interested in mathematics for its own sake, they care only about publications and grants. And the specific questions which one may encounter trying to finish the proof of the last lemma in a paper are the most welcome at Mathoverflow.
Next post: Reply to a comment