# More helpful (non-uniform) upper limit of questions

I recognize the current upper limit on questions helps to prevent spam, floods, and this sort of distraction. But after reading Matt N.'s post and some of his questions, I am thinking a more helpful idea would be a regressive-tax-style upper limit that's tied with a user. Matt N.'s questions show effort and are excellent. Maybe the upper limit could be inversely linked with reputation?

Many users in Matt N.'s meta question are pretty positive about his questions. It would be a big shame if tip-top questions have to be delayed because of a upper limit that caps good and bad askers equally. Again, I think the daily limit of 6 posts serves its purpose for starters and bad askers. But posts like https://math.meta.stackexchange.com/a/4807/79539 discouraging first-rate askers are less helpful than a top-notch question that can help others thinking hard too. It's wonderful that there are ways here to sort out the good and the bad. I just hope the upper limit can be improved to reflect this.

Update December 24th 2013. If I'm not mistaken, some people downvoted. I'd appreciate it if the people who downvoted could explain and disclose why. I'd appreciate hearing thoughts and opinions. In summary, the privilege system here should apply to the upper limit on questions as well. I trust good askers have earned the privilege to ask more.

Update May 11th 2014. Someone else suggested a similar idea on the English website.

• Personally, I rather have a user asking six exemplary questions a day, than 25 good-but-not-great ones. Another consideration is to check what number of users would be affected by such a change (let us presume someone is affected if they hit the limits a number of times while having high rep). If this is small, it might not be worth the effort. If it's large, this adds to the request's legitimacy. – Lord_Farin Nov 23 '13 at 10:24
• @Lord_Farin: Exemplary is of course better than average. It's just that six is too strict for good askers. What if a good asker asks more than just 6 and they all turn out to be exemplary? For the second consideration, who should I approach or who should do this? Also, how can I move this idea forward? Right now, it's sort of just lying here. – Amanda d'Halluin Dec 3 '13 at 16:12
• I completely agree and support this ---- only for good askers as Jacquelyn Li defined. – dresserse Dec 25 '13 at 13:43
• And the monthly limit should be removed ---- only for good askers as Jacquelyn Li defined. – dresserse Dec 25 '13 at 13:44
• i do support this idea, but only to prevent persons from just asking questions, maybe combine it a bit with the persons reputation, (something like under 10 reputation you can only ask one question a day) , or relate it to the number of questions accepted answered. just a little barier for new comers so that they cannot only keep asking questions – Willemien Feb 22 '14 at 14:40

If this limit is a problem you're certainly doing something wrong. In fact, even if you're asking 1 question a day perhaps you're doing something wrong. The limit is already very, very, very soft.

As old MO FAQ used to put it,

Before asking your question, try to solve it. Search Google, Wikipedia (...), check any references you can think of, and try to figure the problem out yourself (maybe even sleep on it). Doing so will help you break the problem down and understand it better. Even if you don't solve the problem, putting some work into it will often help you understand exactly what it is you're having trouble with, so you'll be able to ask a better question.

Of course this requires spending some time before asking each question — and hardly compatible with asking questions each day (let alone 6 questions a day).

Upd. Of course, it's hard to find an idea less popular on Math.SE today than doing your homework. Well, good luck & Merry Christmas.

• I don't understand why asking one question a day is almost certainly problematic. In a university course, instructors usually hold office hours at least twice a week, so they anticipate students having questions at least that often. If a student is taking several math courses and working hard on them, they may well have more than one question a day. It's great for people to spend time thinking over questions and doing due diligence, but 24 hours per question would be too much time for many of the questions asked on this site. – Pete L. Clark Dec 24 '13 at 12:10
• (Re: but 24 hours per question would be too much time for many of the questions asked on this site) yes, unfortunately we have a lot of bad question and a lot of question, asker would have been able to solve himself — had he spent some time and effort – Grigory M Dec 24 '13 at 12:13
• I do believe that if a question is not worth thinking about (and googling, and searching in books) for a day it's not worth asking here. – Grigory M Dec 24 '13 at 12:15
• You may believe that for yourself or even your students, but that is a harsh standard to impose on everyone. For instance, most undergraduate students get assigned on the order of $10$ problems per week in each of their courses. It is clearly impossible for them to spend $24$ hours working on each problem. Moreover, the amount of time that you can usefully spend working on a problem depends on your background and ability to work independently. For many students, frustration sets in after much less than 24 hours. – Pete L. Clark Dec 24 '13 at 12:22
• In fact, now that I think about the questions I've asked on MO: some of them have bothered me for weeks or months, but I'm more likely to hold onto such questions because they're part of my core research. I think it must be the case that more than half the time I've thought for less than 24 hours before asking a MO question. As a research mathematician I can figure out lots of things if given enough time, but insisting on working everything out for myself is not an optimal research strategy. Sometimes you learn more in the long run by asking for help sooner rather than later. – Pete L. Clark Dec 24 '13 at 12:28
• When you are asking something your teacher (who is paid to answer your questions, btw) and when you publish something in internet so strangers should spend their time on your problem... I don't think it's quite the same situation. Anyway, maybe you're right and thinking for a day is a slightly too harsh (I've changed wording slightly) limit — but certainly 6 questions / day is way too much. – Grigory M Dec 24 '13 at 12:31
• I am one of those teachers who is paid to answer questions, and I wish my students asked me more questions, but I know that they also go to other sources (e.g. I only have office hours twice a week!). As far as strangers should: there is no "should"; answerers decide what to answer and what not to answer, and it seems strange to think that they are not gaining something -- enjoyment, experience, feeling like they are being helpful -- from their answers. Choosing the questions I want to answer is exactly what can make participation on this site more fun than office hours. – Pete L. Clark Dec 24 '13 at 12:40
• "Anyway, maybe you're right and thinking for a day is a slightly too harsh (I've changed wording slightly) limit — but certainly 6 questions / day is way too much." Well, a student who has a "7 question day" is not necessarily doing something morally reprehensible, but I certainly have no problem with the 6 question per day site limit. There needs to be some limit, and the exact value is a bit arbitrary, but $6$ is in the right ballpark, sure. – Pete L. Clark Dec 24 '13 at 12:44
• By the way, I do acknowledge that there are many, many poorly thought out questions asked on this site (recently I saw a question asking whether a certain statement about real-valued functions was true: the function $f(x) = x$ was a counterexample!), and we do need to vote to close very poorly thought out questions because there is virtually no question so terrible that someone will not chime in with an answer if it stays open long enough. I do think that it is more often the case that students give up too soon... – Pete L. Clark Dec 24 '13 at 12:49
• @Pete: Twice a week? I have one hour a week, and sure people come and ask me. But the professor who teaches the actual course gives one hour and only one or two students arrive. At best. (I agree that a question a day isn't necessarily "doing it wrong", but I feel that hitting the six questions per 24 hours limit more than once in the same week... is doing something wrong.) – Asaf Karagila Dec 24 '13 at 18:06
• Since the comments seem all to be going in the direction of student-professor-office hours, I'll point out that professors don't normally hold office hours during school breaks (such as the winter break that is under way in some countries now), yet many students are studying for exams during this time (e.g., qualifying exams in some graduate programs). – Post No Bulls Dec 24 '13 at 18:34
• @PostNoBills: That's an interesting point. In BGU we were obligated to have office hours until the first exam, and the norm was to hold at least one office hours before the resit as well. I'm not quite sure how things go in HUJI in this aspect... – Asaf Karagila Dec 24 '13 at 19:05