The title is not very precise. I usually come up with the following situation.

I come up with a question after reading some materials and put it on MSE. Several days later, I get no answers and then I ask it on MO. But usually, I felt my question is rather elementary to those people on MO and receive not much help there. (Sometimes I felt embarrassed that I just deleted the "stupid" question.)

Here are my questions:

  • How shall I improve my questions so that I might get help?
  • What do you usually do when questions posted on both sites get no answers?

[Added:] I have said that the title is not precise. Maybe somebody here might suggest a better one. It is not with "the" particular question I want to raise the issue but the usual situation I have has puzzled me for a long time.

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    $\begingroup$ According to my opinion,not getting any answer on Math SE is no reason for putting it up on Math Overflow... $\endgroup$
    – Soham
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 5:06
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think that the issue is that the question is too difficult for MSE. The question was essentially a long image of text from a book, with one line underlined. So the answerer would need to read the entire image of text, and then try to figure out what you were asking, and then write an answer. This type of question often gets worse responses - it is better to ask about the mathematics, rather than asking about what some other author is trying to say. The original question is at math.stackexchange.com/questions/1539116/… $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 12:15
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    $\begingroup$ "The question was essentially a long image of text from a book, with one line underlined." With all due respect, do you have any suggestions to improve the linked question? I did not put the image sloppily on the site. the paragraph before the stated theorem provides the necessary definitions related to the theorem. All I want to ask is the first sentence of the proof. That's why I carefully underlined it. "it is better to ask about the mathematics, rather than asking about what some other author is trying to say"--- I don't understand why my question is not about "the mathematics". (cont.) $\endgroup$
    – user9464
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ (cont.) I would really appreciate it if anybody can suggest a better way to ask. $\endgroup$
    – user9464
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 15:45
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    $\begingroup$ At a glance it seems you've never offered a bounty on a Question. This is an intended way of drawing attention to posts for which a good (or better) answer is important to you. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ The vast majority of your roughly 360 questions have accepted answers. Perhaps your unanswered questions are not "the usual situation" but rather the exception? $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ @tatan What is the underlying thought of your opinion? The fact that your comment is approved highly makes me wonder whether my view on it is too simplistic. What is wrong with "giving it a try on MO"? Btw, I did it twice (here and here), and with success. $\endgroup$
    – drhab
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 9:32
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    $\begingroup$ @drhab I mentioned a general thing....by definition of the faq pages in the site I get,Math Stack Exchange-"Q&A site for people studying math at any level & professionals in related fields" and Math Overflow-"MathOverflow's primary goal is for users to ask and answer research level math questions, the sorts of questions you come across when you're writing or reading articles or graduate level books".....I hope you understand the difference..... $\endgroup$
    – Soham
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 12:41
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    $\begingroup$ @drhab OP has also mentioned it...... $\endgroup$
    – Soham
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 12:53

2 Answers 2


There is a meta-thread on MO Interesting and not sufficiently answered questions on math.se whose purpose is to draw attention to questions here.

Posting there is an intermediate solution between reposting on MO and doing nothing.

That said, I saw in a recent case you only waited two days or so. I feel this is a bit on the short side for a wait-time, for more specialized questions.

The standards for questions on MO and here diverge ever more (in some aspects MO is meanwhile more tolerant). What usually helps on MO is that you explain the (research) context in which your question arose. Don't be verbose about it, but still give a brief indication. However, your own attempts and alike are not really needed on MO. You can paraphrase your thinking, and this can be good, but rather do not include details of failed attempts.


I've reduced my engagement here in the SE-network much and thus I should possibly avoid to take explicite position here, but, well, for what it's worth...

I think it should be made more clear, that MSE /MO is not a question of difficulties /levels of mathematical puzzles: "MSE easy and my homework", "MO oh-so-difficult", but that MO has been intended to be a platform for researchers whose daily bread is research on/in math. And as such they don't like to have on the screen long lists of questions of arbitrary provenience before they find one of their field. After that is understood- really: after - and after this could be accepted by some visitor on that site - you shall see, that even researchers sometimes have time and nerve to answer even your (and mine, indeed!) questions if they are in a acceptable shape and of somehow interesting contents. Just look at older questions in MO - there is a respectable variety. You shall even see some questions of mine, and I'm a social assistant by qualification and statistics teacher by chance and only hobby mathematician. Even I could help sometimes with answers and have thus collected a surprising amount of reputation there.

So, as I understand it currently, for the non-professional the key is not: is my question difficult enough so that MO must accept it? But rather: is it a good moment to catch some attention for my question. And not to begin arguing, if not. Finally it seems worth to recall a simple rule: let people have their own playground. (For an example of the opposite, for me nearly incomprehensible, look at a very recent complaint in MO's meta ...)

Hmm, this all is not much of a concrete advice and answer for your question, but more a hint, how to look at it - but I know that sometimes this can help in its own way.

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    $\begingroup$ Good post. It captures very well part of what I thought when talking about "diverging standards." Only on the "complaint" I feel it was just based on a false premise and otherwise alright; similar questions were and are brought up repeatedly. $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 17:51

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