I recently took out the time to provide a very comprehensive solution to a calculus problem, but surprisingly ended up losing reputation because of it. Could I get some feedback regarding what makes my answer worthy of a negative score so that in future I can steer clear of those red flags?

Indefinite integral (calculus)

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    $\begingroup$ As postmortes' answer says, the question is basically a PSQ (problem statement question). As I write this, it has $4$ close votes, so it just needs $1$ more to be closed. If so, it may also possibly later be deleted. I've seen a few other cases where what seems to be reasonably good answers to PSQ's are downvoted but, as stated below, you can never be sure unless the downvoter leaves a comment as to why they downvoted. $\endgroup$ May 6, 2019 at 17:32
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    $\begingroup$ I suggest working on problems that interest you, enough so that what you learn from working on them (or from explicating them) outweighs the consideration of reputation "points". $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    May 7, 2019 at 0:02

1 Answer 1


Generally only the downvoter can explain their actions to you, but having looked at your answer I would say:

  1. your answer isn't "worthy" of a negative score; it happens to have one now. That may change as/when people look at it. It's very easy to lose sight of an answer's score being variable, but it is -- upvoted answers can be downvoted later on (even deleted), and downvoted answers may gain upvotes when they're viewed in light of all other answers offered.
  2. compared with other answers yours just shows the working. The other answers there provide some insight into where the working comes from. In a way, your answer is like the one in the back of the textbook, while other answers are like what you might get from talking to a teacher. Look at Michael Rybkin's answer for example, where he talks about using substitutions and partial fractions to contextualise what he's doing
  3. Finally, be aware that no matter how good your answer is, the question is not very far removed from being a PSQ (problem statement question) and may be downvoted and deleted, taking your answer along with it, for that reason alone. Sadly, your answer would not convince any such downvoters that the question has any value -- in fact, being just a set of workings, it makes the question seem all the more like a PSQ. To avoid that, providing a good answer that offers insight into how to arrive at the solution, motivates what you're doing, and indicates how to extend it, gives the question a better chance of survival.

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