As I am learning new topics in mathematics, I would like to write web-based tutorial articles that demonstrate my knowledge so that others may perhaps benefit from what I have learnt.

However, I am no mathematician, simply someone with an interest in mathematics, so it is likely that my understanding may be flawed, or proofs/definitions/etc may be inaccurate. For this reason I would like to get feedback from 'experts' regarding correctness and style.

So, the question is, is it appropriate to post links to articles I have written, requesting proof-reading by anyone on MSE that may be interested?

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    $\begingroup$ A similar past discussion: Would Asking for Feedback about my Notes be Off-Topic/Asking for Advice? $\endgroup$ Jul 25, 2018 at 5:10
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand the downvotes. Is there something wrong with this question? I understand less the cowardly nature of those downvoting without providing feedback... $\endgroup$ Jul 25, 2018 at 11:23
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    $\begingroup$ To give a much more succinct answer: no, asking for proof reading of an article is not appropriate here. You will probably have trouble finding a good venue for this sort of activity, but a math instructor or professor who you know may be able to help put you in touch with someone. Alternatively, you may try to see if someone on the chatrooms here would be interested, or on ##math on freenode, or on /r/math on reddit. Or you can write a blog, and people can comment on the blog. $\endgroup$
    – davidlowryduda Mod
    Jul 25, 2018 at 12:23
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    $\begingroup$ Downvoting is not "cowardly", please don't use such language. Second, on meta a downvote just means "disagree". I.e. they are saying "I don't think this is a good idea". Downvotes on meta are not a bad thing necessarily. A post on meta can still be on topic, useful, interesting, etc. but get downvotes because people disagree withe the proposal. $\endgroup$
    – user223391
    Jul 25, 2018 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ @ZacharySelk thanks for the clarification. I wasn't aware that downvotes on meta had a meaning equivalent to answering the question in the negative. Also, I don't think downvotes in themselves are cowardly, but I do believe they are cowardly on non-meta sites when no explanation or attempt to help the OP is given. $\endgroup$ Jul 26, 2018 at 2:41
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree with the last part. Even on non meta sites, there is no obligation to explain any votes. That is not part of the SE model. $\endgroup$
    – user223391
    Jul 26, 2018 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ @esotechnica Then can we call upvotes on main, without an accompanying explanation for the upvote, cowardly? $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jul 26, 2018 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ You want every downvote to be accompanied by an explanation for the downvote. Then it's only fair for me to then request that every upvote be accompanied by an explanation for the upvote. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jul 26, 2018 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ @ZacharySelk I am aware that there is no obligation, it just doesn't seem constructive to me. How are people to learn from their mistakes? $\endgroup$ Jul 27, 2018 at 4:43
  • $\begingroup$ It is constructive - a downvote is saying "for some reason or another this post is insufficient". Surely not as constructive as an explanation of course. But I believe calling downvoters "cowards" disincentives people explaining their downvotes. See math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/23486/… $\endgroup$
    – user223391
    Jul 27, 2018 at 4:50
  • $\begingroup$ @amWhy I'm not sure how you draw such conclusions. Downvotes indicate that the question requires some action on the behalf of the OP (such as editing or deletion). A reason would guide that action. Upvotes do not do indicate the need for any action, hence a reason is superfluous. $\endgroup$ Jul 27, 2018 at 4:50
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    $\begingroup$ @ZacharySelk Ok, the language I have used maybe harsh. I retract it, it came from a place of frustration. And I'm sorry to read of your experiences as a downvoter. Such behaviour is unacceptable. I think that anyone who attacks others for providing constructive criticism has no place on this site. $\endgroup$ Jul 27, 2018 at 4:57
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    $\begingroup$ It's fine. Ideally I wish on main, that at least one downvoter explains and people can work to correct the issue. I understand the frustration of not knowing why you're receiving downvotes. It really can be perplexing. I'm glad we could come to an agreement and I'm glad you're partipating on meta. :) $\endgroup$
    – user223391
    Jul 27, 2018 at 5:02
  • $\begingroup$ (I had a question. What's meaning is downvoting in main sites? Main reason would become that it should be closed question, though. ) $\endgroup$ Jul 29, 2018 at 8:23

1 Answer 1


It is desirable that Questions posted on Math.SE be fairly self-contained and definitively answerable in terms of reasoned mathematical argument.

Naturally these goals are not always perfectly met, but the procedure you suggest -- posting an article elsewhere and asking here for a critique by providing a link to it -- seems at least open to abuse, even if your motives are good.

I think it may very well help you to learn from posting Questions and Answers on Math.SE to articulate and refine your mathematical thinking. That much is certainly consistent with our mission.

The distinction I'm drawing is principally one of granularity. Let's say you want to write an article on finding roots of polynomials. You may have in mind covering ground that is familiar to high school students and then following up with some more advanced topics.

Linking to a broad article and asking for a review puts a huge burden on Readers in comparison to the amount of excellent content that would get added to Math.SE. In fact a substantial critique of short length would probably require future Readers to consult your off-site article in order to get much comprehension of the points made. This borders on intending to drive web traffic to your site and away from Math.SE, and this is at best a conflict of motives.

On the other hand your article might reflect an arrangement of the typically narrower Questions that Math.SE does a good job with into a more comprehensive guide to a broad subject (like finding polynomial roots). In that spirit it might be (given appropriate links and authorship acknowledgement to Math.SE contributions) a project that benefits both you and this Community.

So I'm suggesting that you consider digesting material to suitable narrow posts on Math.SE, where the setup and problem to solve are reasonably self-contained, after which the results may be used with Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 permissions in an article posted elsewhere.

  • $\begingroup$ Ok thanks, I guess probably the best tactic is to provide a feedback form on the page where people can post correction/criticism/etc... $\endgroup$ Jul 25, 2018 at 11:23
  • $\begingroup$ @esotechnica: That sounds like a good approach. It's somewhat parallel to the Answer by rschwieb on this earlier Question about helping to edit Wikipedia. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Jul 26, 2018 at 16:00

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