Recently this question blew up in terms of traffic and voting comparatively to our average amount on the site but I am honestly perplexed as to why the question has stayed open.

(I apologize in advance for this small exhibition I'm about to do, but I think it's necessary to explain why I think the question shouldn't be open.) This question, I believe at its core, is asking whether or not spacetime is continuous or discrete. As people have pointed out in the comments, when the OP says "analog" and "digital" they really mean "continuous" and "discrete". As much as the question is outlining a paradox that the current top voted answer concludes is some form of one of Zeno's paradoxes, at its core the question is whether or not the universe is continuous or discrete, which I would justify by reprinting the final paragraph from the question: "So, does my example prove the universe to be digital? Or, is the universe analog, and this is a paradox? Or does my logic fail somewhere?" The question is asking about the divisibility of spacetime more than it's asking about the paradox itself.

So, my question then becomes: why is this question still up? I see two reasons why it shouldn't be. One is because that is not a philosophical question; it is at best a borderline case between physics and philosophy, but there are plenty of examples of questions being closed which lie on that same line. The second, and I think more pressing reason, is that if what I've outlined is the question being asked, then it is a duplicate question, both on this site and a very many times on physics.SE (this and almost all of the related/linked questions are questions about the same thing). My experience on this site before now has been that duplicate questions get closed extremely fast, sometimes even faster than the once-in-a-while completely-rambling-and-incoherent questions. So, I am surprised that this question wasn't closed in the same way. To that last point as well, if someone is of the opinion, like @Jobermark is given their answer, that the question might not fundamentally be about the granularity of spacetime and is actually about Zeno, then again it is assuredly not a unique question.

So, as was pointed out in the comments of this metaquestion by @Isaacson and myself, it seems incredibly weird that there are only (now) three votes to close on this question which is at worst a borderline-not-philosophy question and at best a duplicate question. The second highest voted comment, which not only exceeds the aggregate up vote count on the question (the comment has 36 and the aggregate up vote on the question is 15) but it also has more votes than the total amount of votes on the question (36 to 27, which means that even if people could down vote it, it still would have gotten more reactions than the question itself), is a comment that points out how the question is not a philosophy question and is just a question about math. I do not understand how thirty-six people agreed with that comment and yet only three people have voted to close the question. I can understand if a majority of the people that voted on the comment don't have the reputation to vote to close on this site, but it still seems incredibly weird to me that this community, which is big on voting to close as a duplicate and big on voting to close borderline questions, hasn't done so already.

As was mentioned in the above conversation that I linked to, one idea that I had which @Isaacson agreed with is that there might be a position towards amnesty on this question because of the fact that it blew up and received so much traffic. However, I raised some suspicion as to whether or not that traffic actually flows to the rest of our site. To quote @Isaacson:

With regards to the traffic, a quick glance at the homepage shows that your reservations are justified, the sub 100 view tallies common before the viral question continue unaltered after it. The 11,000 viewers simply came, looked at (and voted on) that one question and then left.

So, any hope that a viral question will cause some sort of increase in regular traffic or new users to our site doesn't seem to be justified (at least given the face value site analytics that people without the reputation for the internal and Google analytics can see).

Lastly, @Keelan edited the question to remove some of the fluff (which I agree with as a generally good practice) but that in some way shows that at least one moderator does condone the question being on the site, despite the large support from the comments pointing out why it isn't a good question. I don't think it is the end of the world if a popular question gets special privileges that let it bypass being a duplicate question, given how rarely it happens (obvious slippery slope) but I think that at least having an on the record answer to this question would be a good thing as it can set a precedent for the future.

Sorry for the repetition, but I'll repeat my question to close this out: why is this question still open? Is it because it is given special privileges since it became a (relative to our site) viral question? If this is an example of "popular question privilege", what is the justification for that privilege's existence if it allows for duplicate and borderline questions to remain open?

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    Just to add weight to what has been said already (not that it needs any more weight), but the question also ends with "does my example prove the universe to be digital?", which surely falls foul of our policy opposed to 'Am I right?' type of questions. – Isaacson Sep 7 '17 at 11:51
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    On the more important matter of whether this is a problem, I just don't see this as having anything other than worrying connotations for the health of the site. Either 90% of our community have no interest in 99% of the questions here, or a weight of people from outside the community (presumably with only a passing interest in philosophy) seem to be able to both set the tone of exemplar questions, and circumvent the site's own policies. – Isaacson Sep 7 '17 at 11:52

First, thanks for bringing this up in a separate meta question to make the discussion more structured. In general I can understand the sentiment against leaving this question open, but I think the situation is a little more complicated than sketched here.

However, first to clarify one thing about my personal attitude towards this question: editing it and leaving it open only means that I don't find it urgent to close it with a binding vote and find it more fruitful to have this discussion, as I can see points for and against closing it. In the comments on Isaacson's meta question it has been suggested that not closing it has to do with the popularity of the question — I can't speak for others, but this is not the case for me. As you all know I like to follow rules strictly and I don't see why exceptions should be made for popular posts.

Now on to the actual question. Much of this depends on what it actually asks. You identify that as "whether or not spacetime is continuous or discrete." I would rather identify it as whether the reasoning that is put forward in the question is correct and supports the conclusion. That is a distinctly different question: if there are two argumentations A and B for some conclusion P, then questions whether A and B are correct could be separate non-duplicate questions whereas the question if P is true should only be asked once. Isaacson suggest that the question is asking "Am I right?" — that close reason is meant for cases where people use the site as a blog and are really not interested in hearing criticism; this question is, it seems to me, genuinely seeking understanding.

Whether the question is on-topic is, I think, answered in the affirmative by jobermark's answer which certainly does have philosophical aspects. It is important to note, though, that topicality is a property of both questions and answers. Sometimes we tend to forget that because questions can be closed as off-topic but answers don't have an off-topic removal reason. Especially on this site the more informal kind of questions can often be answered using nothing that we would really attribute to philosophy. I think that several of the other answers on this question have this problem, and yes, I do think that that is a problem — but perhaps something for an other discussion: how to deal with answers that answer the question strictu senso but don't deal with its philosophical issues?

In any case, given that our help center states that "Both academic (..) and informal (..) questions are welcome," and given that the question can be answered "philosophically", I don't see the need for closing it as off-topic. For closing it as a duplicate, at least two things are needed: first, the answers on the original question have to answer the duplicate question.1 Second, they need to be understandable for the author of the duplicate. Above, I discussed what the actual question here is and I identified it as "is my reasoning A for P" valid rather than "is P true." In a similar way, the level the asker shows to have is an essential part of the question itself and should be taken into account when looking for duplicates. You could understand the actual question as "explain whether A is valid for P holds on level X." In this particular case, I don't think the answers on the proposed duplicate question would really help the OP — but I may be wrong.

As for whether the popularity is a problem: I don't think it has any significant influence on the site except for on the question itself. Others have already mentioned elsewhere that it doesn't seem like we have gotten more visitors on other questions now that this question has "gone viral". I personally have the impression that other questions that have been asked around the same time have received the same treatment as normally in terms of interest and answers so I don't think we can truly speak of this question "hijacking the site". (Both of these impressions (that popular questions don't generate new active users / more traffic apart from that question and that other questions have received the same treatment) are consistent with the way I sometimes end up on SE sites I don't usually visit: for some reason, I ended up at an interesting question, I read it and its answers, possibly vote, and then return. That has no influence on the regular users of the site paying attention to other questions and it is doubtful that I will become a member of a site just because of one interesting post.)

1: This is assuming the original question has answers (which is the case here). I am not advocating never closing questions as duplicates of unanswered questions, but I think different guidelines apply. For closing questions as duplicates of unanswered questions, it is important that the questions are really identical. For closing questions as duplicates of answered questions, it is important that the OP of the duplicate is helped by the answers on the original.

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    I understand how your exposition of the question could lead to a more magnanimous reading, but I think one of the factors that might need to be taken into account is that because this question has such a high visibility, we might need to be even more strict than usual about it's conformity, rather than at the more forgiving end of the spectrum? – Isaacson Sep 7 '17 at 13:01
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    Personally, I'd rather see whatever mechanism causes this kind of abberant voting removed from the system, but failing that I'm suggesting perhaps we could ensure, through such interventions as putting questions on hold, that such posts are not so able to act as clear exemplars of the type of question the regular community prefers. – Isaacson Sep 7 '17 at 13:07
  • @Isaacson In my last paragraph I deal with all of these issues. Basically, exactly because people only come for that one question, it is not a big issue. If they would then join the site and ask similar questions, yes, then we should perhaps think about being more strict. But that is just not the case. – user2953 Sep 7 '17 at 13:29
  • The point I'm trying to make is that these may be single posts but they remain forever as the highest voted/viewed posts. I imagine for people trying to get a feel for the aim of the site, that's the first place they'd look. If what we end up with there is a set of borderline suitable questions which are only on the 'top voted' list because they appeared on Twitter (or whatever), we may end up making a rod for our own back. – Isaacson Sep 7 '17 at 13:36
  • @Isaacson yes, we may but this system has been in place for several years and nothing indicates that there actually is a problem... – user2953 Sep 7 '17 at 13:40
  • While I broadly agree with Keelan here, I'd like to add two points. First, as a moderator, I shy away from giving binding votes on borderline candidates. We do have enough active, responsible highreps that could form a collective decision representing the community. And that is not the case here. Second, I can relate to @Isaacson here and am not that sure about "nothing indicating a problem". Looking at older questions, there have been quite a lot high-quality questions. This seems to become increasingly rare. The problem here: Perception bias. There are no hard facts I could base this on. – Philip Klöcking Mod Sep 7 '17 at 14:12
  • @Philip I can also to some extent understand Keelan's 'wait and see' approach, but in terms of fact as opposed to perception, the last two 'viral' questions had view rates more than ten times higher than anything the site has ever seen. Something very new and very distinct is definitely happening, unless I am very much mistaken in my interpretation of the figures. – Isaacson Sep 7 '17 at 14:19
  • @Isaacson here is a list of questions by view count. The discrete-universe question has 20k views; many others have had more views. Where do you get your "ten times higher"? – user2953 Sep 7 '17 at 14:24
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    @PhilipKlöcking let me rephrase: as long as we don't have anything else than impressions we can't really do anything about "it" - whatever that "it" may be. I also can relate to these impressions to some extent but I also remember that 4,5 years ago I thought the site was dying and it wasn't - by which I mean to say that these impressions may be skewed, which is why I prefer to have this discussion when there is actual data. – user2953 Sep 7 '17 at 14:28
  • I'm out of the office at the moment, but the link to the query is in my comment on Joseph's answer to my previous meta question. Basically, it's view rate I looked at in views per day, or possibly votes/day, I can't remember, but it's the rate that was remarkable not the total, although even that alone does still put these post in quite a short list. – Isaacson Sep 7 '17 at 14:29
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    @Isaacson I see (that query looks at votes in the first X days; I look at X=7). Those numbers are interesting, but it doesn't necessarily show which questions will later be deemed prototypical for the site. The first 'viral' question is in there but there are several other posts where the same happened. The top post in the list is this one which is 3.5 years old. It will be interesting to see where the discrete-universe posts end up in the list; the data will be updated on Sunday. – user2953 Sep 7 '17 at 14:36
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    @Keelan I sense the interest in this phenomenon is waning rapidly, but for what it's worth, I had a look at the new data and the top voted answer has the second highest vote rate ever, and it's not even correct (apologies to Jobermark, but it is the 'Dartboard Paradox', not Zeno's). I know I'm increasingly sounding like a lone voice here, but 11,000 users swooping in within a day and massively up-voting an answer that isn't even correct on a question that's borderline on-topic cannot be a good thing thing for the site at all. – Isaacson Sep 11 '17 at 7:01

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