# I use the site to ask about specific topics in my math learning. Is it ok?

Hello I am new in this stack-exchange community which I think is the best. I have been asking lately (as you can see) specific questions about specific topics that I have trouble learning. Even writing them in the same way some times. Some people see that as not good. Could somebody explain me which way to go if I just want a short answer about a specific topic. I don't want to write an article when seeking a simple answer. What is ok and what not?

• It is great that you are asking questions like this! Users like you keep this site going strong. A lot of us higher rep users don't ask a lot of questions and when we do, they can be a bit too advanced for the community to answer easily so getting lower level questions keeps us active and engaged. (In short, asking simple questions and often is perfectly reasonable!) ... – Cameron Williams Jul 7 '14 at 19:17
• ... A couple of your posts have been closed and I'm not a huge fan of such behavior myself. I feel that some high rep users are much too harsh on low rep users who ask fundamental questions like yours. Personally, I love answering questions like yours because I know I used to struggle a lot and sometimes all it takes is someone to hold your hand and walk you through the problem. To avoid such things in the future, you should explain a little bit of what your thoughts are on the matter and maybe show a little bit of your own effort in the problem. – Cameron Williams Jul 7 '14 at 19:19
• Your questions do not actually seem to be about specific topics. They are specific exercises, stated with no indication of what is giving you problems with this particular exercise. As such, they will not be very helpful for your learning. – Tobias Kildetoft Jul 7 '14 at 19:34
• Cameron Williams kind words. Hope to see more people that think like you. – Sadot Benzauto Jul 7 '14 at 21:06
• @CameronWilliams: You mean interim steps, attempts, and thoughts on how to evaluate $(a+b)^2$? – gnometorule Jul 8 '14 at 2:17

You were given this notice:

Please improve the question by providing additional context, which ideally includes your thoughts on the problem and any attempts you have made to solve it.

The link in this text leads to the article How to ask a good question? Please read it carefully, especially the parts titled Provide context and Choose a good title. Your questions lack both. Also, the part on writing:

This is not some random internet forum. We strive for well-composed questions and answers of lasting value -- so keep in mind that your question can be of interest to others as well. ... The use of proper spelling, grammar and punctuation makes your question easier to understand, more appealing, and more likely to attract knowledgeable experts to answer your question.

• Thanks now i have a better understanding of it. Still is not clear to me, if it is the right place for seeking short answers or not.. could you please extend your answer a little bit more in that direction? – Sadot Benzauto Jul 7 '14 at 21:03
• @KAPO This is not the place for seeking answers to short questions. Specifically, we want the problem's context and any relevant attempted work. We will sometimes answer shortly (e.g. I've seen quite a few one-word answers, and even a one letter answer) if the question warrants it. (Note: this represents my opinion, and not necessarily the opinion of the answerer above.) – apnorton Jul 9 '14 at 2:17

Here are some personal thoughts that by no means represent the site.

Bylaws are hard to get right, in particular for a community that means to be inclusive, friendly, and helpful. I never like when I read what type of questions are allowed; but I would be hard-pressed to come up with a better list probably.

I think no one wants an elitist site; but the site is also not an alternative to Khan academy. It's fair to say that, ideally, you come here when you get stuck on a topic you already invested a fair amount of time in, to get a nudge and maybe a full solution. The site, though, is neither able nor meant to teach math essentially from its beginnings, and through every step; for that, there is, well, Khan academy.

As the other answer mentioned, questions left here ideally are of some lasting use for others in the future; or for still others in the present learning something while answering. From browsing your questions, with the exception of the one with the typo, these were all simple exercises about very basic topics that I cannot believe one could not work out oneself, assuming sufficient time or study, and sufficient time working on the exercise. In math, 'sufficient' is rarely 10 minutes. While it's a subjective call and I might of course be wrong, it looks as if when being stuck for a moment, you turn to MSE, with a question that you must be able to solve yourself. If you truly cannot, the topic of study or self-study is simply not understood, the answer doesn't illuminate either, and the process repeats. The site can help you when truly stuck, but is not an easily available on-line tutor.

• I want to +1 this, but the expression of disbelief that people have trouble with exercises like these prevents me from doing so. – user14972 Jul 8 '14 at 14:05
• @Hurkyl: that's a fair point, and I agree that this will not always be true. In the case at hand, though, based on what little evidence you have - the rapid-fire posting of by and large the same exercise over and over - I cannot fail to feel that one turns to this site before spending more time with actually trying (re-reading the book, notes, ...). There's never an "I don't understand this concept," nor is there apparent progress over time using the solutions given here which could only happen by investing yourself. – gnometorule Jul 8 '14 at 14:19