Here's my opinion of the guide:
- Answering good questions often gives good answers. Likewise, bad questions should be avoided from answering unless you can provide an answer that outweighs the question.
I think this all depends on how the question is bad. A question can lack context but that doesn't make it inherently bad. Furthermore, a question with horrible grammar than be edited and fixed still deserves an answer. I would recommend something along the lines of "questions that are too trivial or not mathematical". After all, many questions can be 'bad' but still fixable via edits. We need to encourage a bit of participation in that aspect and not punish people solely for some people understanding versus other people not.
- We recommend you use English, as it is the language most users can read. If they can't read it, they can't like it.
Additionally, it should say "Also, while this is an informal website site one should use the same sort of grammar and writing as they would in a school setting or formal mathematical proof."
- Refrain from making the fonts hard on the eyes. All caps, bold font, colored text, etc. should be avoided except for emphasis
I personally think that those things should be avoided period except to make comments in a post for direct revision (like right now). Honestly, I would make it clearer that they are more for use in chat/comments than in answers and questions.
- Understand the question. The deeper you can understand what is being asked, the deeper you can provide an answer, and that is almost always a good thing. If you don't understand something about the question, ask. A clearer understanding of the question saves misguided answers from happening.
That is good, but I think a "the deeper you can provide an answer" sounds weird. Perhaps just say "The deeper you can understand what is being asked, the more accurate and understandable of an answer you can provide, and that is always a good thing.". I emphasize understandable as context/previous knowledge is fundamental in a proof.
- Stay on topic and think your answer all the way through before posting. Hints, for example, that are only dead-end paths will not make your answer useful.
I think a second sentence saying something about normal posts is good too. We don't want people thinking this only applied to hints.
- Be courteous. Treat everyone on an equal playing field, regardless of whether or not you may think they should already understand something.
This is generally false. People know more than others. I think that while being open to what they know and not judging is a great thing, making your answer use only simple terms so as to assume they don't know advanced things is a bit absurd. I think this should refer more to the concept of previous knowledge. Here's my version.
Proving or answering any question in mathematics always depends on the intended audiences level of previous knowledge. Always keep an open mind to what the knowledge is and be respectful when an asker or future poster needs clarification on knowledge they did not accept a true or know was true.
- Watch the tags. Questions with tags you are familiar with are more likely to be answer-able by you, and it also helps cut down 'question searching time'.
This seems like a weird thing in a guide for answer-writing. I think it should be here but yet it feel irrelevant. I'll leave this open for debate. I cannot decide one way or the other.
- Learn from the comments and read other answers. It is usually the case that you are not the only one answering, and by learning from others, you can return the knowledge to produce better answers in the future.
Good advice in general. I agree with it. However, I would like to stress that one can never assume their answer is the only answer. If someone answers using an unfamiliar technique or different reasoning, one shouldn't assume that it is immediately "not an answer".
- Look it up. Many problems have good related content from the internet that could improve your answer.
I would warn against links to wikipedia and/or wolfram alpha solely to replace the body of a question. Links should be thought of best as little tags one can click on to see the definition of an unfamiliar word like in a digital textbook.
- We recommend pictures sometimes. While not necessary, it is like icing on a cake, and often times a picture is what was truly needed to answer the question.
Once again, warn against overuse and stress diagrams not images. Images can be construed as scanning in a photo of written work. That is bad.
- If you think something out of immediate context is needed in your answer, reference it. This helps avoid readers' confusion and clarifies and distinguishes between things that may be similar.
Refer back to my previous knowledge comment. Make sure to state explicitly that the person isn't using the knowledge of the post but invoking their own previous knowledge to solve the problem or answer the question. This is mote for proof-like or numerical questions. Literal question about facts can certainly use citations though I personally find it strange.
- KIS. Keep it simple. Unnecessarily complicated answers are less likely to be understood or fundamentally undermine efforts to help the OP.
Agree/disagree. Answers that are more complicated but make the entire problem clearer for the user is far better. Think of it this way. Someone might solve some integral by direct algebra. However, if one makes a diagram and explains why that is in fact the integral and why it makes sense... it's more complicated but yet it is far more worthwhile. Complexity is not about word count. It's about the believably of a method. Yes, math is concrete but if one wishes to know something they wish to know more than just "the steps to solve it". They usually want to know why it is that way even if they don't explicitly say so.
- Use MathJax. Answers that don't use MathJax or use it incorrectly are subject not only to downvotes, but often times an unhappy crowd.
Three words: vague, vague, and vague. Please state how mathjax needs to be used "correctly". Here's my version.
Use MathJax whenever you write anything referring to a mathematical object in your post, such as numbers, geometric entities, variables, formulae, etc. Math should also follow English standards. This means that mathematical statements should be written within a complete sentence and as nouns and also sentences should not begin with mathematical symbols as they are not truly words. Answers that don't use MathJax or use it in ugly formats are subject not only to downvotes, but often times an unhappy crowd.