# Does the number of questions exceed the number of active participants?

I don't mean "exceed" literally.

I only visit MSE sporadically, but in those snapshots it seems to me that the furious pace of questions in some sense seems to be outstripping the base of active users who read, vote on, and sometimes answer those questions.

Is my perception accurate? Can it be corroborated or shown false by collected statistics?

(Added). I wonder if most active participants interact with MSE primarily through filters? It seems overwhelming to scan the posed questions directly.

• There are a ton of hit and run users, post a few questions when they get bogged down, never answer any, disappear. Home field really matters, Kansas City 4, San Francisco 0. – Will Jagy Oct 29 '14 at 1:02
• Another aspect is the tremendous repetition of questions, sometimes hundreds of times for the same early calculus question. – Will Jagy Oct 29 '14 at 1:06
• @WeaponofChoice: Where does one find these statistics? Thanks. – Joseph O'Rourke Oct 29 '14 at 1:20
• On the list of all Stack Exchange sites. It can also be sorted by % answered. Note that "answered" is understood in the StackExchangian sense: having an upvoted or accepted answer. Closed (and, I think, negatively scored) questions are excluded from the consideration. – user147263 Oct 29 '14 at 1:27
• You can find several related discussions on meta, for example Discussion: what should we do about the increasing number of questions? and some posts which are shown there among linked questions. – Martin Sleziak Oct 29 '14 at 6:03
• The number of questions asked doesn't exceed the ability of the math.SE community to provide answers, but it probably far exceeds the desire of the math.SE community to moderate, edit, classify, etc. (You know, those tasks that don't get rewarded with meaningless internet points.) – user642796 Oct 29 '14 at 8:28
• @ArthurFischer Do you mean that if a secondary scoring system gets introduced (where the score is even less meaningful than rep) then those tasks would be done to greater extent? ;) – Hagen von Eitzen Nov 1 '14 at 22:54
• Much better than askubuntu.com in answering questions. – user795571 Nov 1 '14 at 23:38
• I scan the questions directly, working back from the front page until I encounter questions that I recognize. However, I have more time than most. I occasionally check a couple of tags directly to make sure that I’ve not missed anything of interest. – Brian M. Scott Nov 9 '14 at 18:20

I ran your question against the data @ http://data.stackexchange.com/math/query/243724

Better questions get more responses, and better responses (but I haven't validated that).

• Score >5 does not mean a better question, it means "more accessible question". Something like "why is $n^2 - \frac{n^2}{2} = \frac{n^2}{2}$" or "how to prove $ab\le a^2+b^2$" (to cite two of the bigger hits that I still remember). Those get answered, no surprise there. – user147263 Nov 7 '14 at 16:20
• Also, there is a different causal mechanism in play: questions with more answers tend to get more votes, because every answer bumps the question to the top, to be seen and upvoted again. (By the way, the number of question per day is given at the site statistics page linked in my answer.) – user147263 Nov 7 '14 at 16:34
• @Rafflesiaarnoldii I am trying to address the "uneven distribution of answers by levels of difficulty" that you talk about. Can you think of a better empirical way of doing this? If you or your friends know SQL I invite you to post a query on data.StackExchange – cactus314 Nov 7 '14 at 18:45
• "how many users vote? about 10%" This is surprising to me, and quite interesting. I guess it reveals that there are not many regular, committed users. – Joseph O'Rourke Nov 9 '14 at 20:20
• @JosephO'Rourke Tangentially related: more than half of all reputation on the site belongs to 600 users (top 0.4%). – user147263 Nov 9 '14 at 21:09

Overall site statistics are not bad: the percentage of answered questions is 80%, same as on MathOverflow. (And much higher than on Cross Validated). This, however, hides the uneven distribution of answers by levels of difficulty.

The large number of questions indeed suggests using filters of various kinds. I use:

1. Ignored tags (and hide the questions with ignored tags via a setting in the profile.)
2. Search query for unanswered questions with my favorite tags and positive score.
3. Bookmarklet that shows a filtered list of unanswered questions (at least 1 hour old), tailored to favorite/ignored tag selections.
• "intags:mine answers:0 score:1 closed:0" This is very useful! How do you use this regularly without typing it each time? – Joseph O'Rourke Nov 2 '14 at 1:47
• The page of results of any search query can be added to browser bookmarks in the usual way. When that bookmark is used again, it will show the current results of the query. – user147263 Nov 2 '14 at 1:51
• Thank you! ${}{}$ – Joseph O'Rourke Nov 2 '14 at 1:54
• @JosephO'Rourke This works for me: After I have used the page a few times, browser tends to remember it. So if I start typing intags in the browser address bar, I am offered pages used not too long ago containing this string. So I have MathOverflow and MSE (which are two sites where I most frequently use this) right there. – Martin Sleziak Nov 2 '14 at 9:26
• @user26857 Doesn't mean they are good answers... just answers. – cactus314 Nov 7 '14 at 13:34
• @johnmangual An answer has to be accepted or have a positive score in order for the question to count as answered. Of course, this does not eliminate your objection. – user147263 Nov 7 '14 at 13:39