This forum is inadequate for my needs, because the question/answer format is too restrictive.

I need an online forum were I can make questions, and discuss the answers. I want to contact people with good math level.

I'm not a student, but not a mathematician either, so I may make naive questions which are not precise enough for this forum standards.


4 Answers 4


I'm not a student, but not a mathematician either, so I may make naive questions which are not precise enough for this forum standards.

I mainly wish to address this issue. I do not think that anyone is not capable of asking sufficiently precise questions. At the very least you would have an informal question and also know that it is informal, in which case it may be appropriate to mark your question as or . Besides that, you can easily ensure that every symbol you use has been defined. This is the most frequent issue that makes a question "unclear" or "lacking context". Imagine if someone asks:

How to prove that $x^2 \ne -1$?

My first response is:

What is $x$? Is it an elephant?

In most cases, the person who asked did not actually state everything that he or she did know, and it is not even possible to guess it. Here are two possible correct questions:

  1. How to prove that $x^2 \ne -1$ for every real $x$?

  2. How to prove that $x^2 \ne -1$ for every $x \in \mathbb{F}_p$, for any prime $p = 4k-1$ where $k \in \mathbb{N}$?

If you put in effort into making your question precise, but find that you are unable to, then you will nearly always find that one of the following holds:

  1. You actually do not know the concepts you wish to ask about. In this case it may well be better to ask about the concepts rather than blindly charging ahead with a question whose meaning you are not even sure about.

  2. You are looking for some mathematical structure that you believe exists but you have not come across before. If you can pin down precisely what are the properties of the structure you wish to find, then it would be a precise question and fit for the site. If you cannot, it may be that you are chasing some vague intuitive notion, so you should describe mathematical motivation and also tag your question appropriately.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Also, posing a precise question to pinpoint a difficulty is a learning process in itself. I find it really helps narrow down what I am having trouble with and there have been many times when the process of writing a precise question on MSE has led me to answer it myself. I have got to admit sometimes I feel lazy to write out a big question with proper formatting but then how can one expect to receive an answer with effort without posting a question with effort. $\endgroup$
    – shredalert
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 10:28
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Rather than answering the OP's question, you dispute his entirely realistic assessment of what unfortunately often happens on MSE. $\endgroup$
    – user49640
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 9:12
  • $\begingroup$ @user49640: I think you make premature presumptions. Unlike you, I have actively participated in Math SE for a long time, and I can tell you that many people ask questions expecting others to know what they are thinking. This problem is not restricted to mathematics at all, and that is why I disputed the "not a mathematician" part as a valid reason for being imprecise. If you don't agree, you explain precisely what your reasons are, rather than just saying "it is like that". I have stated explicitly what anyone can do to ask a precise question; you haven't shown that they cannot. $\endgroup$
    – user21820
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 9:32
  • $\begingroup$ With respect to your first comment, the OP reached the conclusion that this wasn't a good place for him to get answers to his questions, and asks where else would be a good place. You make no attempt to answer the question and instead tell him that this is a great place for him to ask questions, if only he'll put in the effort to satisfy you and others on the site that he's asked his question in the right way - which you have no way of guaranteeing because nobody is forced to justify downvotes or closure votes, and there is no way to force everybody to apply the rules you claim are observed. $\endgroup$
    – user49640
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 11:34
  • $\begingroup$ @user49640: I never said that this is a "great place" for the asker to ask questions. I just pointed out that he/she has made a mistake in assuming that he cannot ask questions here because of reason X, where X is actually an invalid reason. Namely it seems that he/she is asking a question based on a false premise, so of course it is suitable to point it out. $\endgroup$
    – user21820
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 11:36
  • $\begingroup$ Whether the premise is correct or not depends entirely on the OP's own needs and preferences. There is no way you or anybody can make this judgment for him. $\endgroup$
    – user49640
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 11:38
  • $\begingroup$ @user49640: When someone claims that he feels that there must be a largest positive integer, it is only responsible in pointing out that according to standard mathematics there is no such thing. Similarly, the asker here is free to reject my explanations and advice for how to ask a precise question even if one is not a mathematician or a student. I can only give a certain amount of assurance that anyone who follows my advice will generally gain a very positive response to one's questions on Math SE. $\endgroup$
    – user21820
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 11:40
  • $\begingroup$ @user49640: As far as I can tell, I am a stricter than the average Math SE participant with regards to good questions, which is why I think my advice is sound. If you see any question that follows my advice but is closed as "unclear" or "lacking context", then be my guest and point it out to me and I will attempt to get it re-opened if it is a question worthy of mathematical discussion. Of course this is subjective but in fact the Math SE community do not like some parts of the SE model that conflict with Mathematical inquiry; you might like to read the related Meta posts on this before. $\endgroup$
    – user21820
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 11:47
  • $\begingroup$ What if he has a homework problem about rings, but doesn't really know how to work with rings? If he simply asks what a ring is, he'll be referred yto a different question that's already be asked, and won't be able to engage in the interactive kind of discussion he says he wants. Also, people don't always know what it is they don't know. In these cases, it can be very difficult for them to ask a question that won't be downvoted. They can put a lot of effort into trying to fix it, but: (1) it's likely to involve a good deal of effort drawing attention to it if it's already been downvoted or... $\endgroup$
    – user49640
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ @user49640: I do have an answer to your question, but it's not short. Let us continue this discussion in chat. $\endgroup$
    – user21820
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 11:56
  • $\begingroup$ put on hold; and (2) in any event, this will involve more effort than in a forum where back-and-forth is encouraged. Even assuming that it were possible for everyone to meet the site's quality standards, as you assert, the effort may be disproportionate compared to what it would be in a different format. Not to mention the fact that downvoting and closing questions can be perceived as hostile by many people. $\endgroup$
    – user49640
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 11:57

You can try on reddit. If your questions are interesting enough and do not resemble homework, you can try on the subreddit /r/math, otherwise /r/learnmath is more permissive.


The Art of Problem Solving forums are a really good resource, and most of the people there are pretty high-level.

  • $\begingroup$ so why did you mention it, high-level people get generally pissed off pretty quickly, so not worth checking out for a high school student that keeps asking stupid questions. ( I'm referring to myself, not the OP) $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 7, 2023 at 11:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Yanjan.Kaf. If you follow the link, it is pretty obvious that the site is about low-level (high-school & college) maths. $\endgroup$
    – xamid
    Commented Feb 27 at 13:10

This forum is great at a level greater than or equal to the undergraduate. For high school and olympiads, I think Art of Problem Solving (AoPS) is great. Anyways, if you keep asking different questions here frequently, you can get used to the forum rules by the comments posted by users. So, keep asking and take note of the comments which users give, and I think the forum may be best helpful to you. For similar sites, you may try Math Help Boards and S.O.S. Math.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I am at a high school level and do fine here -- that being said, I am currently part of the way through studies in Complex Analysis and Abstract Algebra, so I'm a bit ahead. Nevertheless, I can attest to the fact that this site seems to have more High-School level calculus questions than any other one area. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 21:59

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