I am interested in math as a hobby, and also as a tool related to other hobbies (in my case, games and game design, among other things). Some of my questions relate to mathematical puzzles of various sorts that I find around the internet and have difficulty with. These tend to get reasonably favorable results (in terms of views, upvotes, and aswers). However, the questions that I am most interested in getting answered tend to arise from my own unguided musings, or from analysis of some game I'm interested in. These questions tend to be more involved, and they have tended to get few views, few if any votes, and no answers. I am trying to figure out why, and what I should do to get more attention to these.

The questions I'm referring to are this one (which I posted a bounty on, and still got no answer, then rephrased and refined more than a year later here), this one and this one. I have a few hypotheses as to why these questions are not well-received:

  1. Perhaps I didn't state them as clearly or succinctly as possible.
  2. They are longer than many questions I see here, perhaps people are turned off by a wall of text.
  3. They are not trivial, and not structured like the type of homework or study-help questions often posed by students on this site (this meta question seems to relate)
  4. They have fairly long and/or cryptic titles (That is, it is unclear from the title what the question is about)

There is relatively little I can do about 3, except to try posting on MathOverflow, which doesn't really seem like the right place for these questions. I try to do the best I can to mitigate 1,2, and 4, but the nature of the questions makes this difficult. That said, I think the questions are understandable enough, if perhaps more opaque than necessary. I have also tried bounties, with no success thus far, and I don't have thousands of rep to throw around willy-nilly. What can I do with such questions to improve my chances of getting an answer, or at least a helpful comment?

  • $\begingroup$ Asking around in the chat room sometimes helps. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 2:49
  • $\begingroup$ For the second question, I think the problem is just that the question is non-trivial. I think it's true that long questions turn people away, but I posted this question a while back and got no answers either, even though it's very short. It's just that it's not an easy question. $\endgroup$
    – Jack M
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 12:28

1 Answer 1


I'm sorry I don't have much of an answer, since these look like interesting combinatorial questions that deserve attention. They are (possibly) difficult, so someone would have to want to invest serious time to answer.

You do seem to be working hard to mitigate 1, 2 and 4.

Some suggestions:

  • Perhaps starting out with a small or medium size example rather than the necessarily complex formal statement would help.

  • So might the sequence of values for small problems and the OEIS search results early in the post (you did that once).

  • A little history about how you stumbled on the question (e.g. the game you were playing).

  • Befriend a combinatorist at a nearby university (or virtually) who likes this kind of problem and would work with you on them from time to time. (Hard to implement!)

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the advice. I posted a revised version of the magma question based on the first and third bullets here (see the original for an explanation of the reason I made a new question rather than editing the old one). $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 21:33

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