# How to deal with questions, I am not sure they fit the “rules” of this site?

I would like to ask a question how to deal with knowledge gaps. How to figure out you have one and what the best way is to fix them, or even avoid them to happen.

This sounds like a "personal advice" to me, and does not fit the scope of mathematics this site deals with.

Question like this get most of the time downvoted or just closed. I do not want any of that to happen, so would such a question be fine to ask?

• I think one of the reasons we insist on context is to help potential answerers recognize a "slip" in understanding or as you say, a "gap" that, with enough context, helps answerers better determine what is lacking. If someone is asking to integrate a rational function, e.g., and struggles with factoring, if doing so is helpful, or seems confused by a hint to let $2x = \sin x$, because they can't subsequently translate the integrand, they may be dealing with a need to brush up on trig. The more an asker provides in terms of work, and their thought process as they work, the more help ... – Namaste Aug 25 '18 at 21:05
• ... they are likely to receive, and the more likely subsequent answers will address the "knowledge gap" of the asker, and suggest a remedy. – Namaste Aug 25 '18 at 21:07
• The way to figure out a knowledge gap is by posting mathematical questions, with lots and lots of context, one's thought process, one's work, step by step, until one is stuck and not sure why.... That is on topic. To ask merely "I seem to have a knowledge gap when it comes to integration. How can I fix it, or even avoid such problems" should be closed, because it is not at all clear what your problem is, nor can it be addressed in a standard answer's length. Which brings be back to providing sufficient context about a specific problem you find you are unable to proceed work on, do to a gap. – Namaste Aug 25 '18 at 21:17
• To learn meta-cognitive skills, with respect to the way you learn math, and better understand your own gaps, it is possible you may find help at Mathematics Educators. But figuring out one's "knowledge gaps" is not, in itself, a mathematics question. It remains, in the end "personal advice". – Namaste Aug 25 '18 at 21:21
• How it comes, that this question: math.stackexchange.com/questions/2895291/… isnt closed yet? – Cornman Aug 26 '18 at 18:05
• You posted your question about your linked question at best, 28 minutes after it posted. It usually takes much more than 30 minutes for a question to be closed. Be patient. And, it may not in the end, be closed. – Namaste Aug 26 '18 at 18:18
• @amWhy Yes, and it should not be closed, because it is a good and helpful question, but primarly opinion based. I do not get what is the matter with such question. There are questions where the creator is just "lazy" does not provide any inside or what so ever to the question. This can be closed. But closing any serious question is just disrespectful to the creator. You should be allowed to ask anything about math what you want, without the fear of massiv downvotes or closevotes, just because someone thinks it is "to broad"... – Cornman Aug 26 '18 at 21:34

Questions about mathematics education and self-studying are not off-topic for the site, but arguably they are not the focus of the site either.

Irrespective to this, the question as described strikes me as too broad and too vague. It might not be easy to ask a good question about that, since you need to navigate between it being a personal question and too vague.

However, if you are in a somewhat typical situation and narrow it down to that this might work.

What you also should state clearly is if you are more after general strategies or advice for specific subjects.

For the former the site recommended in a comment, Mathematics Educators might be better suited; it is more focused on questions from the teachers perspective, but self-study questions are fine and you could try to make it a hybrid questions asking what can be done to identify gaps including the teacher's perspective, too.

Maybe for the latter too, but there it is less clear cut.

Sometimes users post questions that "jump into the thick of things" without really understanding the words that are being used in an assignment. My advice is often to take a step back and ask a simpler question, e.g. about definitions or perhaps a simplified request for example/counterexample, a problem which he or she understands well enough to judge whether an Answer is correct or not.

We all have gaps in our knowledge of mathematics, because the subject has grown over the centuries to be a vast one. So the approach to filling in gaps is really the same as the way we learn (and teach) mathematics at all levels. Questions of the kind you describe may be poorly phrased or poorly researched, but I think it better to go ahead and ask. letting the Community help you to refine the Question into content that will help future Readers as well.

• This doesn't begin to address "how" (or, at the very least) "if" one should post such a question about a "I think I might have a knowledge gap. My friend read about it. I can't understand trig. What should I do? Do I have a knowledge gap, I mean, I know $\sin^2 \theta + \cos^2 \theta = 1$, but I'm stuck in calculus on remembering trig identities. What should I do?" – Namaste Aug 25 '18 at 21:26
• Which, in fact, as Cornman recognizes, is seeking personal advice, not an answer to a math question. Had the asker included a specific current problem they are stuck with, includes it, and their work, and writes their thought process very transparently, as well as about where they are stuck, then and only then will anyone legitimately be able to answer the question, and what is needed to move from one trig identity, to another more helpful identity, e.g. It is not our jobs here on this site, nor are most on this site qualified, to diagnose and treat, knowledge gaps. – Namaste Aug 25 '18 at 21:31
• "We all have gaps in our knowledge of mathematics...." This is a little like saying there are some empty spaces in the universe. The gaps are vast, compared to the knowledge. – Gerry Myerson Aug 25 '18 at 22:51