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First off, I want to make clear that I have read this question beforehand thus to avoid duplicating the question. I changed it in such a way that it describes best my current feeling about this situation.

I have joined MathSE in 2016 and my first question was on how to use a certain feature on Maple. Then as I gained confidence and necessary english skills I started to post more and more questions. But as you know it is not easy to get acquainted with rules and so on. The thing is, I believe that this site has helped me greatly to have confidence in my student skills and re learn concepts which I have long time ago forgotten. As a result my math skills flourished, or at least I do think so.

However the other side is that, I don't feel well.

I feel the need to apologize to the community as I believe I have not accepted enough responses to the questions I have asked. I understand that there is no obligation to accept an answer but on the other hand, it does not seem a good idea not to accept any.

I do not know if it is a good learning criterion, but I have always thought that to accept an answer, I must understand it fully and then make an informed judgment. Well at the end of the whole purpose is that I learn or at least have enough tools to solve the problem by myself. And although that has happened many times.

It has also happened that the amount of responses I have received to a question are so good that I cannot decide which one helped me better to understand its solution. For example my most upvoted question. In that sense, I wish to express my sincere apologies to the community to avoid misunderstandings.

On the other hand my health is also a problem. I can't use the computer and the internet so often. And the few times that I can use it I can hardly read and understand what the good people of this community try to explain to me.

I feel sad because there is also an impotence of not being able to communicate my message better at times. For example, Euclidean geometry. I have posted questions on the topic and they are downvoted sequentially. I would like to know more or master the subject better, perhaps that way I would not feel discriminated against or perhaps badly judged for not offering at least an attempt of how far I was able to solve it.

It is for this reason that I would like to know. Should I feel bad? Am I a bad student? Should math make me feel this way? I like to know what to do. I appreciate you taking the time to read my questions and apologize again. As far as possible I will try to improve that to better contribute to this community.

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    $\begingroup$ Don't sweat it. You're not obligated to accept an answer. $\endgroup$ – Matt Samuel Jan 14 at 0:33
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps take a break from posting questions if your health makes it a drain on your energy to the point that you can not understand or respond to feedback. That doesn't make you a bad student, just one who is ill and needs most of all to rest. $\endgroup$ – amWhy Jan 14 at 0:41
  • $\begingroup$ BTW something called accept rate used to be displayed for each user - but it has been babandoned. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jan 14 at 4:23
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    $\begingroup$ 20 accepted answers for 298 questions? Yes, there is a problem. And the question you point to explains this already. How come you asked questions for more than four years, but your health prevents you from accepting answers - but not from posting questions! It seems you don't want to play by the rules. $\endgroup$ – Jean-Claude Arbaut Jan 14 at 9:33
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    $\begingroup$ "It has also happened that the amount of responses I have received to a question are so good that I cannot decide which one helped me better to understand its solution." My advice in such a case would be to flip a coin to decide which answer to accept, and leave comments of gratitude on the others. I think that's better than not accepting any answer at all, and I hope you'll feel better about your participation if you do this. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jan 14 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson Its interesting that you have noted this. Because sometime ago I intended to post a question on the topic. But I believe that if I were to flipping a coin to decide which was the best. Wouldn't this be a little bit random?. Anyways I will consider about such. Since it is a gesture of gratitude as you indicated. Indeed I will try to do better. $\endgroup$ – Chris Steinbeck Bell Jan 14 at 21:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Jean-ClaudeArbaut I'm sorry if you are given the wrong impression about this. As I indicated and read in a similar response on this subject. I was not sure if should I always accept or must accept an answer?. It happened to me a similar situation on should I always award a bounty?. I do sure abide to the rules of this community. But on the other hand this does not mean that should I feel an obligation. Sure I will increase the rate of acceptance and try to participate and have a kind gesture, $\endgroup$ – Chris Steinbeck Bell Jan 14 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, Chris, it's certainly random, that's the idea. Truly random things tend to even out with the passage of time. It's the closest you can come, within the limitations of the stackexchange software, to half-accepting each of two answers. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jan 14 at 22:42
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Should I feel bad?

No, absolutely not.

In principle, an accepted answer is the answer that helped you and you specifically the most. That means different things to different people - you might accept an answer where I wouldn't to an identical question. I know I've been mildly peeved in the past because I saw an OP accept an answer when I felt mine was genuinely better - but keep in mind the end goal is to help the OP learn first, and to help everyone else who comes across later on is somewhat of a second priority.

If you don't feel an answer was adequate enough to help you, or that they were lacking in some respect, feel free to not accept it. I know I've received a few answers over the years that, while fundamentally right, were just lacking a certain ... I'm not sure, something that couldn't help me, be it at the time or my present self. These answers I'm more than happy with just upvoting.

I do make it somewhat of a regular thing to go back through my old questions and re-read questions/answers to see if I can better understand the material - or even self-answer sometimes - though.


Am I a bad student?

A bad student would put in no effort into their work, and (albeit idealistically) that's about where I draw the line for a bad student. One could argue even just asking questions is enough to make someone a good student.

Have you tried your best to understand the questions and material posed to you? Have you tried your best to read your answerer's points? If so, I think you're doing just fine.

This is not to say your question posts are stellar - looking through some of the downvoted ones, I see some that (while I can see that downvotes might have been because a lack of writing clearer understanding and attempts) have potential merit and can be saved. That is, even despite the votes, I can see that you're at least somewhat trying to think about the problems. Questions like this one, this one, and this one show to me especially that you do try, even if it's not totally clear with some of your less well-received posts.


Should math make me feel this way?

Definitely not.

I would suggest trying to take a bit of a break from the site - and if you can, math altogether - and just let your brain unwind a little bit.

I suppose if you're feeling guilty in some respect, it might help to answer questions on the site -- give back, in a sense, to the community that you feel indebted to -- but I also feel like that addresses the symptom more than the core issue.


I do not know if it is a good learning criterion, but I have always thought that to accept an answer, I must understand it fully and then make an informed judgment.

That is definitely not the case. Like I said, the accepted answer is about helping you the most. It could be the most detailed and elegant answer in the world, but if it also flies above your head for whatever reason, I would refrain from accepting it.

That's sort of the paradox of this site. On the one hand, we try to help you as an individual -- yet on the other, we also try to provide useful, borderline-encyclopedic knowledge for people who may yet come, possibly long after your account begins to rust away. People who might not need the help you need, but help nonetheless.


In summary:

  • Don't push yourself too hard. You seem like a well-meaning, well-motivated student who is just trying their best.
  • Don't fret too much about accepting answers. If they genuinely don't help you as an individual the most, don't accept them.
  • Don't let the site or your worries thereof linger in your mind too much; I can't imagine the answerers are worried that they didn't get their answer accepted, after all. They're probably happy to just have tried, and hopefully given you -- or someone else -- some help. I've been down the road before of fretting too much about a site and it's not pleasant. Try to take some time to unwind and focus on yourself, some "me time."
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  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I apparently downvoted this on my phone when it was put in my pocket. At least you don't lose any rep! $\endgroup$ – Matt Samuel Jan 14 at 2:02
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    $\begingroup$ I strongly disagree. The answers to this apply fully: I counted 20 accepted answers for 298 questions. It's unbelievable the guy was not able to find more often an answer that helped him. $\endgroup$ – Jean-Claude Arbaut Jan 14 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ @EveeTrainer Thanks for the response. It has gave me lots to think about it. While at the moment I cannot take a break for a long period.I will take it easy. To me it is sometimes not easy to make a good question but most of the time I attempt to offer my best into what I could do for myself. I agree that an answer has to help me, and for such reason I took the rationale of accepting answers which had indeed helped me that way. It seems that some others don't agree. Anyways its nice that some people do understand my thoughts on this. $\endgroup$ – Chris Steinbeck Bell Jan 14 at 21:31

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