I am primarily using MSE to prepare for my comprehensive exams, and I think that it is a wonderful place to discuss mathematics. I notice that, after the summer season, ie., when school's in session, it seems harder to get feedback, comments, hints, on questions.

Are the people who are in the position to help...just wary of helping, because they may think that the source of the question is from assigned homework problems?

If so, would my stating that the source is from old exam questions help generate more discussion for my questions?


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    $\begingroup$ Merely stating that will probably not actually help significantly. What might help is providing more extensive context (what related theorems/ideas you are familiar with, where you got stuck when trying to solve the problem itself, etc), as discussed in more detail here. In practice, even if you provide plenty of context, posting questions here is always bound to be something of a crapshoot, and even many good questions slip through the cracks without getting much attention. Consider offering bounties to attract more attention to your questions. $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2015 at 1:29
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    $\begingroup$ Roughly 50% more questions are posted this time of year than during summer - so decreased attention to your own questions is probably unrelated to their quality. It probably doesn't help that many answerers are students or teachers and might have more free time in summer. $\endgroup$ Nov 24, 2015 at 2:57
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks so much for your suggestions, @EricWofsey :-) $\endgroup$
    – User001
    Nov 24, 2015 at 3:08
  • $\begingroup$ Hi @MiloBrandt - thanks for your comment. Yes, I think that I must be careful not to spin my wheels too much on any one problem and plan my time a little more carefully. I sometimes spend an unreasonable amount of time on a single question, and wait a bit to hear from the MSE community -- it's probably wise to move a little faster during the semester... $\endgroup$
    – User001
    Nov 24, 2015 at 3:11

1 Answer 1


Your questions are generally well written, which (at least to me) matters more than the source of question. To me, an additional indication of source would not make a difference.

Most of your questions get answered (7 of them by me). But it's a fact that the percentage of questions answered is trending lower, driven by the avalanche of new questions posted every day.

I think that, as a (graduate?) student you would get more of this site by balancing your asking/answering activities better. There is a lot to learn in the process of answering questions, too, and this activity can also be a kind of preparation for exams, if you choose right questions to answer. Right now, your Q:A ratio is 233:3... Consider that if you answer some of the questions in, say, complex analysis, other users will have more time to answer your questions in that tag.

And of course, answering earns reputation that can be used for bounties, to draw attention to the questions that slipped through the cracks.

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    $\begingroup$ Excellent suggestion, @NormalHuman. My thoughts on this was: "I will be an awesome and frequent contributor to MSE, and answer lots of questions from other MSE users, once I get done with my comprehensive exams (if ever.)" But I can imagine that many people on the site would view my Q:A ratio as "poor". I will plan to start answering questions on MSE. Thanks for your time, $\endgroup$
    – User001
    Nov 23, 2015 at 1:48
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    $\begingroup$ To be clear, I'm not suggesting that others refrain from answering because of your Q/A ratio (I didn't even notice it until now). My main point is that answering an easier question on the topic of an exam is something you can do (to your own benefit) while waiting for your harder question to get attention. $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Nov 23, 2015 at 1:50
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    $\begingroup$ Funny, I have almost the opposite ratio : 5:356 (note that it's not a critic) $\endgroup$
    – Tryss
    Dec 6, 2015 at 17:25

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