# Ask not what MSE can do for you but ask what you can do for MSE!

What needs to get done around here? Are we putting our farmers to good use?

Let's say I was of the mind to spend some time doing mindless hygiene on our site: what would be a good use of my time? Would it be helpful for me to go through and link vocabulary words? There are a plethora of examples where the expression Lerch Transcendent appears without a link. The standard for our community must be something like: If it would benefit you to have a link then it's worth it for you to spend 30 seconds adding the link for the next guy/gal. The $+2$s aren't a huge reward but having a nice site where things are well connected is benefit enough.

What other things should we be promoting for our farmers to be up to when they are procrastinating their real life on M.S.E? Good answers to this question should be cognizant of varying mathematical and technological capabilities. I can add a link here or there. I cannot edit in-depth answers in some mathematics I am not familiar with.

• Besides posting answers to questions, and posting questions, I spend a lot of time pointing out how to make better use of MathJax. – Michael Hardy Jul 12 at 20:29
• One thing that's done too seldom is up-voting questions. (E.g. two answers to this present question have been posted below, one of them by a site moderator, and neither of those persons has up-voted this question.) – Michael Hardy Jul 12 at 20:36
• @MichaelHardy (1) Upvoting on meta (at least as far as I am concerned) has a very different purpose to upvoting on the main site; in particular, it indicates agreement or disagreement with a stated position. (2) Even if the goal is to upvote just so that a question gets listed higher, I don't think that this is a super wonderful question. For example, I find the idea of "reputation farming" distasteful, and would prefer not to encourage that behaviour, which I think I would be doing implicitly by upvoting this question. – Xander Henderson Jul 12 at 23:19
• @XanderHenderson : What is "reputation farming"? – Michael Hardy Jul 13 at 0:08
• @MichaelHardy Reputation farming is generally understood to mean "undertaking actions on the site with the primary goal of increasing one's XP... er... reputation." In comments to the davidlowryduda's answer, Mason indicates that this is what they mean by "farming" in the original question. I am surprised that you are unfamiliar with that term. – Xander Henderson Jul 13 at 0:17
• @XanderHenderson : Where would I have encountered that term? – Michael Hardy Jul 13 at 0:24
• – Mason Jul 18 at 16:19

MSE gets hundreds of questions every day, many of which are of very poor quality. I (personally) think that the single best thing that one could do is help to clean that up. Either help askers of poor quality questions improve their questions by adding context or cleaning up the formatting, or vote to close. It only takes a few seconds to point someone to the MathJax tutorial, to ask a couple of clarifying questions, or to flag a question for review.

• When people post homework problems such as "Solve this equation" or "Evaluate this integral", those should and do get closed. I proposed that when a newbie's question is closed for that reason, a comment should be left explaining the policy. My suggestion that such a comment should be left incited immense anger from those who spend a lot of time weeding out what they consider poor questions. I don't know why they were so angry. People do leave comments saying things like "What did you try?" (I.e. how did you try to solve the equation or evaluate the integral, etc.) but$\,\ldots\qquad$ – Michael Hardy Jul 12 at 20:22
• $\ldots\,$obviously that is not an explanation of the policy. – Michael Hardy Jul 12 at 20:22
• If you go through the queue of questions for which closing was proposed, you will be treated like an assembly-line worker, urged to make quick judgments rather than thinking about nuances. As a result, much of the work of judging which questions should be closed is done inattentively and questions get closed because they are short or because the persons closing them didn't understand them four seconds after first seeing them. If it is suggested that persons who close questions made a mistake, they usually become very angry. – Michael Hardy Jul 12 at 20:25
• @MichaelHardy I'm not sure how any of this relates to the answer that I left. Perhaps you would like to leave your own answer? – Xander Henderson Jul 12 at 23:20
• My comments are plainly related to what you posted. You're suggesting cleaning up poor-quality questions. I'm says that may be unpleasant in ways that mere identification of the task would not lead you to suspect, and you'd have to guard against becoming like many who attend to such things in an inattentive manner. – Michael Hardy Jul 13 at 0:29
• @MichaelHardy Since the majority of my advice was to comment on low-quality questions, I'm still not sure that I understand what your point is. Again, you obviously have an opinion---perhaps you should post an answer of your own? – Xander Henderson Jul 13 at 0:31
• Your advice said "help to clean that up". – Michael Hardy Jul 13 at 0:37

I don't understand your use of "farmer" in this context. Are you referring to reputation farming? If so, then perhaps I'm not a good answerer, as I don't think I have the right mindset to understand what a repfarmer might want.

I would think that it is probably a good idea to use the site in whatever ways you enjoy it. If you think adding links is great, fills you up with a nice warm glow, and you like collecting rep points, then go for it! Others might think that links are small and only a quick search away, and editing in links doesn't make them glow even a dull shade of purple.

Voting is important --- do lots of that. Asking and answering questions is also great --- maybe do those too.

Maybe choose a topic to learn and read lots of questions and answers on that topic. You can vote and edit in improvements along the way. You might even find some similar questions/posts along the way and comment to point to the others/close as duplicate (depending on how similar they are).

• Yes. Reputation farming. But I mean it without all the negative connotation: If someone pops on here with the expressed aim of farming up their reputation but would genuinely like to use their time to benefit the community I think we should explicitly list how this would be possible. So far the answers seems to be 1) Answer questions/ Help askers ask decent questions. 2) Vote. 3) Enjoy the site/ enjoy yourself. 4) You can benefit the site by bettering it in the ways that you use the site. 5) Learn something. What else are you doing here? – Mason Jul 12 at 19:01
• Mason: I vote, I review posts in the review queue, I vote, I review edit suggestions, I edit, I answer, I write what I hope to be helpful comments, I vote, I review reopen requests, I vote, I upvote good posts, and downvote what I consider poor posts, I review close vote requests, I vote, I edit, I answer, I comment.... If you ask a question, read others answers, Don't discount what others share as ways to help, or what others spend there time doing. If you think folks to do other things, post an answer of your own. – amWhy Jul 13 at 0:01
• .... And I haven't yet even mentioned participating in chat rooms, or contributiong questions and/or answers on math.meta.se, aka, "meta". Also, given we are about to embark on an election for two moderator positions, plan to read candidates' statements, when they nominate themselves, contribute what you think would be good to ask potential moderators, for all of us to know (you can do that now, here, follow the election, and most importantly, vote! – amWhy Jul 13 at 0:08

As @amWhy mentions in the comments: Participating in chat is a way to better this community.

You can go to https://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms and filter by the word "mathematics" and depending on your reputation here you can participate in helpful dialogue.