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I asked a question yesterday about something that turned out to be an error in my understanding of the Quadratic Formula and radicals. I am taking Algebra I, far inferior to the majority of users on this site (I think). I followed the SE guidelines for asking questions:

Search and Research: I looked up on Google and on MSE my question (reasonably generalized) and came up with nothing. ✓

Be on topic:

Understanding mathematical concepts and theorems

-- /help/on-topic

Be specific: I specified what I got as my answer, and specified my question. ✓

Make it relevant to others: My question made use of a concept required for an understanding of algebra and all fields above it. ✓

Keep an open mind: After being explained why what I did was incorrect, I thanked the user and accepted the answer. ✓

However, even after doing all this, as one user in comments put it, "of all the votes received by the asker, a third of them were downvotes." I have also, at time of writing, received 3 closevotes. I understand that voting is up to the voter, but what did I do wrong? I was also (deliberately or indeliberately) spoken to by a few users (the majority were nice to me, and I thank you for that) in a manner making me feel unappreciated, unwelcome, and unworthy.

I am familiar with other corners of the SE network that, in my humble opinion, manage the balance of healthy elitism and acceptance better than here. I mean absolutely no disrespect to all the wonderful members of MSE, but were I not as familiar with SE, I likely would have left with a bad taste in my mouth.

There is already a meta ruling that questions of all difficulties are permitted here. My question is,

How can we make sure all users, old and new, remember this? In addition, What is our vision of an "ideal" MSE? Finally, if you think the premise of this question is wrong, What should I have done that would have made my question less controversial?


Thank you to @amWhy for prompting me to write this.

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    $\begingroup$ Please also note in your question, OldBunny, how many comments you received asking you to include how you arrived at the assertions you were checking out? What steps did you take to arrive at your speculations. To none of them did you reply, nor did you edit your post to include such information (please add to this "complaint" that you failed to include "context/demonstration of effort") as a criteria which figures highly in the (down)votes you may receive for failing to do this, and failing to answer comments/questions addressed to you. So please "don't play the victim" here. $\endgroup$ – Namaste May 29 '17 at 23:02
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    $\begingroup$ Finally, I don't think you have any valid reason to blame the downvotes you received, nor the comments suggesting alternatives. nor the comments which were left to give you a chance to correct deficiencies in your question....on the fact that it was/is basic. I don't see any justification for you to accuse this site, or specific people as "biased against basic questions. $\endgroup$ – Namaste May 29 '17 at 23:13
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    $\begingroup$ By the way, your question is, in fact off topic; and the reason it is off topic has nothing to do with the level of your question; it is off-topic for failing to provide context. All you did was ask why your claim was wrong, with no indication from you as to how you arrived at your claim. To make matters worse, you changed your claim, requiring answerers to reanswer, to make their answers relevant. So no, your question was not on topic. $\endgroup$ – Namaste May 29 '17 at 23:24
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    $\begingroup$ What should I have done that would have made my question less controversial? I count at least five comments that encouraged you, asked you, suggest to you, etc. that you include the work you did prior to claiming your work is/was/are simplifications. If I were you, I wouldn't be complaining in meta about a false accusation, the number of upvotes you received. Have you looked at questions you consider "advanced"? How many of them have earned a net vote of +20.? $\endgroup$ – Namaste May 29 '17 at 23:38
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting, Old Bunny, here, like on main, you avoid addressing valid questions/comments from users who simply want to understand you, and you avoid engaging with those who challenge your unsubstantiated claims. $\endgroup$ – Namaste May 30 '17 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ The title suggests that you are asking a general question, the body suggests that you are mainly asking about your question about quadratic formula. If it is the latter, you should include (specific-question) tag. (Of course, if the question is only meant as an example of a more general issue, then the tag is not needed.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak May 30 '17 at 1:45
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    $\begingroup$ For me personally, the whole thing is weird; I find it very strange for a person taking Algebra I and just learning the quadratic formula to express themselves and participate across the SE network in this manner. I can't imagine I'm the only one who perceived something of an incongruity. I'm just saying that pings on the old "something doesn't seem right" radar can cause people to ... act. $\endgroup$ – pjs36 May 30 '17 at 1:50
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    $\begingroup$ You missed the very first bullet point of our community "How to ask a good question" page. Recommended you read what the community offers after the tour page. $\endgroup$ – Simply Beautiful Art May 30 '17 at 1:52
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    $\begingroup$ I'm sorry for not answering all your points; I have been AFK. I did not revise my question to include work because I already had an answer that I liked, and accepted that answer. Maybe I should have commented that, but whatever. I am not accusing the site, as the vast majority of people here are lovely, and I am not accusing specific users as I have not provided any names. It is a valid point that some downvotes may have been from my not providing adequate context; @quid's answer took care of this. Should I edit in my method for future viewers of the question? $\endgroup$ – OldBunny2800 May 30 '17 at 3:58
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    $\begingroup$ @pjs36, can you please explain what you mean? $\endgroup$ – OldBunny2800 May 30 '17 at 3:58
  • $\begingroup$ @SimplyBeautifulArt true, I guess I'm used to using HC instead of Meta for policies and guidelines. I'll look at that in more detail in the morning. $\endgroup$ – OldBunny2800 May 30 '17 at 4:01
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    $\begingroup$ Also, can people please stop making me out to be someone trying to be "the victim"? I made sure to emphasize multiple times that I do not blame the vast majority of the users on this site, much less the site itself, for being too elitist. I also tried to take a step back and make this more general, as I have seen HNQs before that were relatively basic and similar problems were happening. (I'll look for a link tomorrow morning.) $\endgroup$ – OldBunny2800 May 30 '17 at 4:16
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This is speculative, but many people (not I) vote based on what they think the score should be, rather than whether than whether they find a post useful or not useful or similar.

The question that prompted this (IMO) should not be anywhere near being the sixth highest voted question of the week; I imagine that is a factor in attracting downvotes.

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    $\begingroup$ Well, it's perhaps not surprising (title contains no MathJax, contains a well-known keywords) that this questions got into hot-questions-list. Almost everything, including voting, number of views, number of users interacting with the question, changes after this. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak May 30 '17 at 1:43
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The timeline is not exactly clear to me, but it seems your question changed in the process. Was the original version a typo, or did you actually make two distinct attempts? Either way, this is not optimal.

Further, it could have made sense to explain why you believe this simplification should be admissible. In that sense your questions is not all that specific. Instead, the original version seems a bit arbitrary to me. For the current version I can at least guess, why you might think this is true. Note that this did cause some issues for people trying to answer, so this is a rather real problem.

Moreover, had you tried to pin and to write this down, you might have answered your question yourself.

That said, overall your question was not received badly. In fact it was overall received quite well, and became pretty popular. Then effects like that mentioned by Hurkly kick in, and I agree that in this case this plays a big role.

On another day, you could well have gotten one short answer and and one up-vote or no vote at all. Maybe it would have felt like a better experience, not sure. But in the end you got a lot of information and feedback. Right, not all good and constructive, but maybe you could also try to see the glass half full not half empty.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. Yes, my original version was a typo due to my memory and my lack of experience with MathJax. I am not being ungrateful to all those who responded; my question was answered nicely in a way I understood. I am simply wondering why there were some who didn't respect my knowledge level and how we as a community can combat that. +1 for insight. $\endgroup$ – OldBunny2800 May 29 '17 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ @OldBunny2800 who, or what specific user disrespected your knowledge level? Don't make unsubstantiated claims unless you are willing to justify your claims. Encouraging an asker to explain a bit more, or pointing out how your question can/could have been improved (by adding the work which led to your claim, in the first place) is not an indication of disrespect to you. $\endgroup$ – Namaste May 29 '17 at 23:45
  • $\begingroup$ No, I'm not talking about the people who reasonably wanted me to add information to my question. (I didn't because by the time I saw them, I already had an answer that made sense.) Most of the posts I'm thinking of have been deleted, comments or otherwise, so I can't remember the users' names. $\endgroup$ – OldBunny2800 May 30 '17 at 2:03
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    $\begingroup$ @OldBunny2800 Just because you have an answer to your question doesn't mean its not too late to include your own efforts. Also note that the questions you ask aren't just for yourself, they are for future visitors too. $\endgroup$ – Simply Beautiful Art Jun 19 '17 at 15:41

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