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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.

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  • $\begingroup$ 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 > $\endgroup$ – Mohammad Zuhair Khan May 14 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 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. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson May 15 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. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen May 15 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 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 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 at 2:33
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    $\begingroup$ A similar concern in here: math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/30076/… $\endgroup$ – onurcanbektas May 16 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. $\endgroup$ – Mark Bennet 2 days ago
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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 2 days ago

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