First post on meta, so here goes nothing.

Earlier today, I answered the question linked below:

Evaluating $\int_0^1 \frac{3x}{\sqrt{4-3x}} dx$

I believe it is a good question. The user had a specific concern, and expressed it in detail, with good-faith effort made to understand. It is perhaps an elementary concern, but a valid one.

Three answers were posted. Only one has received any upvotes (two) and in no way answers the question the user had, but merely presents a slick alternate approach.

To be clear, I have no problem at all with the upvoted answer or its poster, and I think it is good to have that easier solution there, but I feel as though it was upvoted for being clever, despite in no way answering the specific question the user had, while the other answers were ignored.

This seems to be a bit of a theme on MSE. It has happened to me before, and I see it in many other answer sections as a lurker as well. Am I grossly misunderstanding how this is all supposed to work? Perhaps I am simply wrong and my answer is lukewarm enough to deserve neither up or down votes?

Also, I do not necessarily care about getting votes for my own answer, so please don't think I do, but is there some essential element of a quality answer that I have missed here?

I hope all is in order. Feel free to school me on "meta-quitte" if need be.

  • $\begingroup$ My opinions here: $\LaTeX$ is very visible, and maybe the actual question would have been answered if it was better highlighted, i.e. using box quotes > $\endgroup$ May 14, 2019 at 22:37
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    $\begingroup$ @MohammadZuhairKhan I agree with you. Still, that just sounds like people aren't really carefully reading. $\endgroup$
    – The Count
    May 14, 2019 at 22:49
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    $\begingroup$ In my opinion, you didn't understand what OP was after in Question 1, and thus didn't give OP what was needed. The answer by Viktor Glombik strikes me as being what OP wanted/needed. $\endgroup$ May 15, 2019 at 4:45
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    $\begingroup$ For me cleverness means something other than standard procedure explained in several textbooks, but to each their own I suppose (and "standard" is a relative term here, with its meaning varying from one person to another). Your main issue, if I got it right, was recently discussed here. $\endgroup$ May 15, 2019 at 7:41
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson See, perhaps it is all about perception. It seemed to me like that answer just retyped what the OP already had from in the answer, which he said he understood, but asked where the idea for the manipulation came from. $\endgroup$
    – The Count
    May 15, 2019 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen I remember that post. I thought "finally!" when it was posted, but then everyone reverted back to their old ways of upvoting such non-answers. $\endgroup$
    – The Count
    May 15, 2019 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ My answer to your question (though too short to be a proper answer) is because the community generally agrees that indirect answers to questions that suggest alternative approaches are perfectly fine and add value to the site. They may be less helpful to the OP, although they certainly can be, but even if they aren't, helping the OP is not the only purpose to the site. $\endgroup$
    – jgon
    May 16, 2019 at 2:33
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    $\begingroup$ A similar concern in here: math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/30076/… $\endgroup$
    – Our
    May 16, 2019 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ There are a couple of things about technical cleverness, which is not entirely out of place - though I do think that sometimes more effort could be taken to help the person asking the question. There is a concept of abstract duplicate which reflects questions with the same mathematical content - what this does not capture is that different users have different issues with that content. On the other hand it is painful to see people struggling with inefficient methods, and people want to excite others with beautiful things they know. Coaching and mathematics both have their place, I think. $\endgroup$ May 20, 2019 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ @MarkBennet Yes, I think I agree with you entirely. In my personal experience, the technical/clever insight comes later, but perhaps a better answer than any posted on that question would include both. Though, I admittedly did not include such things since the other answer already had it. I like that answer and upvoted it, but I do not think it answered the question as posed. Thanks for your input! $\endgroup$
    – The Count
    May 20, 2019 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ @MohammadZuhairKhan: Please do not use quote environments for emphasis. It’s very confusing and also could easily break compatibility with design changes, accessibility, etc. $\endgroup$
    – Wrzlprmft
    May 26, 2019 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ Considering that it is clearly listed on the how to format column, I am unsure why it is not meant to be used @Wrzlprmft : i.stack.imgur.com/q5MZJ.png $\endgroup$ May 26, 2019 at 16:05
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    $\begingroup$ @MohammadZuhairKhan: It is meant to be used, but for quotes, i.e., reproducing a somebody else’s text or to encapsulate a statement that is referred to (e.g., like this) – with other words: something that you could put into quotation marks (but usually won’t due to length). It is not meant to be used to highlight a part of the question as particularly important. This can be done using boldface or headers (depending on the situation). $\endgroup$
    – Wrzlprmft
    May 26, 2019 at 16:17
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    $\begingroup$ @jgon Thank you for your comprehensive reply. This thread concerns a topic of particular interest to me, and I picked on your reply more as a route in to making my points than to contradict you. While I agree that additional and peripheral answers add value, I read your comment as indicating that answering the OP is no more important than indirect answers. It seems to me to be good manners to at least acknowledge the OP, even if only to say something like “This doesn’t answer your question but it might be of interest to others”. (continued...) $\endgroup$
    – iSeeker
    May 28, 2019 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ @iSeeker you raise precisely my concerns. why is there no consistency? the difference is clearly occurring at the distinction between a feeling of intellectual superiority and one of obviousness. it is either ok or not, and while i accept there will be different views on this, i expect the major players in the community to act consistently and in accordance with precedent. $\endgroup$
    – The Count
    May 28, 2019 at 20:07


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