I have been involved in this site for some time, I think it is incredibly useful, and have found help and guidance to problems in maths not available elsewhere on the web...
I do have one specific "gripe" though, in that I think the focus of the site is often misunderstood. The way I see it this site is more like a forum where math problems are discussed, by no means can it be academically referenced, and as answers are given on an ad hoc basis in a very short time period, the correctness of an answer can often not be verified - in many cases no references to sources are given. Now all of this is fine when the context is understood - so now, specifically referring to answers - the tooltip when you +1 an answer is the perfect description to me: "This answer is useful/not useful". Unfortunately I get the idea that individuals treat this more as "This answer is correct/not correct".
So often in the past I would answer a question, there are some mistakes in it and someone points that out to me in the comments - many times unfortunately this is done in a very negative manner, and worse they -1 me even though the answer might still be useful - this is the first problem, as it inhibits people from wanting to post an answer that might be useful but not entirely correct.
So ok, now what I have seen is that many people, when this happens they modify their answer so that there is no trace of their original error and they do not reply in the comments, but the commentators remark is still sitting there in the comments making no sense whatsoever. Or even worse, and this could be because of the negativity of the commentator, the answer is deleted, even though it might still be useful.
Why be so afraid to make mistakes? Does it give you a bad reputation when you make a mistake in an ad hoc answer? I think it's fine to make an error, and I believe it is better to then edit your answer by rather adding to it and showing how you have come to a better insight. Or at least reply to a commentator saying you have made an edit. In that way it becomes a dialogue and discussion where everyone learns. The answers we are writing are not being reviewed for publishing in a peer reviewed journal, so please allow me to make mistakes, and on the other side of the coin, don't try to hide your mistakes at all costs for the sake of your reputation. I would much prefer a wrong answer that is useful, to a correct answer that is unclear, or just a quote from a textbook, etc. and I think we should reward answers that are wrong but useful (please note, I am NOT saying we shouldn't correct or indicate the mistakes - but why not +1 it when it is useful?)
I try to follow this approach and to engage in dialogue in this manner when I answer questions, but I must say that the response I get is often quite disheartening...does anybody else feel this way? Maybe my interpretation of how the site should be used is incorrect?