I just asking this because of a question I asked a couple of minutes ago. I am still new to sequences and series, just started to study the subject today on my own and I tried to solve some exercises. I asked this question How to show the sequence $\left\{6(-\frac{5}{6})^n\right\} _{n=1}^\infty$ converges to $0$?

It is a beginner's question, actually, all of my questions are of this level. The question got $3$ downvotes and the two answers got downvotes right after they were posted, it never happened before for me.

In order to avoid downvotes, I use MathJax and try to write down what I have tried, my efforts to solve the question. In the above question, more precisely, I couldn't solve it, so I asked in MSE and did write the limited, the slight steps for solving the question that I was able to do at the time. I tried to maintain good formatting and make clear what I was looking for. After the question was answered I realized how elementary it was and it was very embarrassing, but the main problem is that I couldn't understand what was so wrong/bad with the question to get $3$ downvotes. I realized that it is a very elementary question, but I would like to know more precisely why the downvotes.

In this context, what is the level of elementary question that is allowed in MSE? I know that there are many people here who work in a high level of mathematics, I can't understand almost anything of the questions posted here, but I find it very interesting and I like to read other people questions and bookmark the ones that will be interesting to read again in the future. I often feel that I am not in the right place, my questions are too elementary and I can't answer anything, but hopefully, I might be one day able to answer more questions. I'm sorry for not being so good at math.

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    $\begingroup$ I think that it is a good question. Yes, it is quite easy, but you did try to solve it. $\endgroup$ Feb 21, 2021 at 22:17
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with José so I upvoted your question on MSE not here.. $\endgroup$ Feb 21, 2021 at 22:38
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think your question does enough to indicate your level and why you found this hard. Many (most?) users will look at this and declare it trivial - and it is, for them. Explaining what level you're at, what tools you have available, why other similar questions on MSE don't resolve your difficulty, and other pieces of context can help avoid this reaction. $\endgroup$
    – KReiser
    Feb 21, 2021 at 23:17
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    $\begingroup$ @KReiser Very interesting, thank you. I will look into it and try to improve my questions and answers. Despite being a little disappointed with the downvotes and mainly, with myself, all that situation may just encourage me to improve. $\endgroup$ Feb 21, 2021 at 23:24
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    $\begingroup$ There is a certain degree of a learning curve when one joins this site, whether asking or answering. Try to learn from comments and feedback, when you get them, and continue to explore the help section, etc., to become more familiar with site norms. But please understand, with virtually 450 in rep, I would not consider you a beginner. You've been a member of this site for 10 months. Please change the title to not represent yourself as a new user. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Feb 22, 2021 at 0:33
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    $\begingroup$ Also, don't put the onus on the backs of users of this site. Please take more initiative in searching for similar question you want to ask on main, putting more effort in, or if you've put that effort in before asking, include that in your question, as well as other context: what your level is, etc., and in better learning this site, primarily the help sections, and other questions you might want to ask on meta, like this one you asked here today, that have already been asked. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Feb 22, 2021 at 0:42
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    $\begingroup$ Downvotes tend to occur early in the life cycle of a Question, for various reasons. But if you have something you really want to ask, it should be pretty natural to respond to any requests for clarification to make the Question better, both for Readers now and for those who will come later. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Feb 22, 2021 at 5:24
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    $\begingroup$ Remember, you're not getting a grade in Math.SE! It's not fun getting downvotes, but you can often learn more from them than from upvotes. And coming here to ask about the reasons is a great way to find the lessons. It sounds like you're doing Math.SE right. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Feb 22, 2021 at 17:47
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    $\begingroup$ Well there is no guaranteed way to avoid downvotes. Everyone here has received some amount of undeserved downvotes. Don't worry too much about it and continue with the good work you are doing here. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Feb 23, 2021 at 9:33
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    $\begingroup$ Let's not bother about down votes and up votes! Many of us are in this forum because we have come to learn. Even great people get doubts which are sometimes obvious to others. So let's not be bothered about down or up votes. $\endgroup$ Feb 23, 2021 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ Yes. I am really enjoying taking part in this forum, it is really being a great experience. I've learned many things and improved my understanding of concepts that once I couldn't figure out. About downvotes, for me, it just makes me wonder about what was my mistake, what a have done wrong, how can I improve my answer/question. About upvotes, at least it makes me feel that the question/answer was not useless and perhaps helped or will help someone in the future, it is a joyful feeling. $\endgroup$ Feb 23, 2021 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ @欲しい未来 Honestly, you'll be happier if you don't worry about downvotes too much. Just do the best you can! $\endgroup$ Feb 25, 2021 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ @欲しい未来 I responded to the attached post of yours. Personally, you should keep the answer of user2661923 below like a checklist. Use websites like Approach0 and the inbuilt search to find duplicates. Remember, people are here to answer questions voluntarily, so your post needs to be worth their time and effort. That's why we ask for context. We avoid duplicates to allow people to access the best answer by linking it to the question. There are gray areas everywhere, and I went through plenty of them. Thank you for using the meta forum to ask your question, I appreciate your need to improve. $\endgroup$ Mar 1, 2021 at 11:32
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    $\begingroup$ @欲しい未来 You are welcome. It is just a lack of awareness, politeness and discipline that prevents people from being better on the website. We must all improve in this regard. $\endgroup$ Mar 1, 2021 at 12:35
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for your last comment @TeresaLisbon. Out of all that desirable qualities only awarenes is the easy part. But no one is stopping us to improve on other qualities. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Mar 2, 2021 at 2:56

2 Answers 2


Added a present the problem bullet point that includes an Edit-Images section.

Added an Edit-Tools paragraph.

In my opinion, the best way to have your query upvoted rather than downvoted is by first taking a serious look at this article. Hitting the high points of this article:

  • Use MathJax

  • Present the problem as clearly as possible. Try not to assume that MathSE reviewers will be familiar with the conventions in your class. For example, does $\log(x)$ refer to natural logarithms, logarithms base $10$, or logarithms to some other base. When in doubt, include pertinent definitions that relate to your problem.

    When including an image with your posting, please embed the image directly into your posting, rather than providing a link to another webpage. For help managing an image, see the Images section, at the bottom of this article and see also this article.

    Also, please only use an image to visually illustrate a specific aspect of your problem. For example, using an image to help MathSE reviewers grasp a Geometry problem, or to present a graph of data.

    Please do not use an image to present the Math inherent in the problem, such as presenting Math text from a book. That is specifically what MathJax is for. See also this article on not using an image to explain Math.

  • Describe the source of the problem. If it is from a book or class, what is the name of the book or class. If it is not (e.g. if it is from a contest), mention which contest. If instead, this is just an interesting problem that you thought of on your own, say so.

  • If the problem is from a book or class, then (assuming that this is not postgraduate work) there must have been theorems or previously solved problems or worked examples that led up to this problem. Typically, these may be regarded as the tools that you are supposed to use to attack the problem.

    Describe the tools that you think might be relevant in your query. In effect you are speculating that the intent of the problem composer is that the problem is an application of the tools.

    Even if this is just a problem that you thought of on your own, you might still be able to speculate as to what tools might be helpful here.

    Virtually no query poster makes the effort to summarize the pertinent tools. Any mathSE query that actually does include the pertinent tools is probably going to create a positive reaction among mathSE reviewers.

    I think that it is impossible for the question poster to show work unless the question poster first does work. Further, I think that it is impossible for the question poster to actually do work unless the question poster first, either consciously or subconsciously, gathers the tools that he regards as pertinent. Often, when the question poster is legitimately lost as to how to attack the problem, this often overlooked preliminary step becomes critical.

  • Describe your own math education - grade level - sophistication. Reviewers enjoy knowing up front what level of math to throw at the original poster.

  • Make a very serious effort to solve the problem on your own, and be sure to show all of your work, in excruciating detail in your query. If you tried more than one approach, show everything that you tried, in as well organized a manner as possible.

  • Assuming that (for example), you showed work, and reached a blockade, and need to insert pertinent question(s) in your query, try to avoid a question like "What do I do now?"

    Instead, you might try a question like,

    "My work has led to an answer that the back of the book says is wrong. Where is my mistake?"

    "At this point, I suspect that I am supposed to use theorem XYZ, which is one of my tools. However, at this point in my analysis, I can't verify that the hypothesis of theorem XYZ is being met. What other analysis is needed to meet the hypothesis of theorem XYZ?"

  • Have your query title include at least one word in English, so that reviewers can mouse-right-click to bring up the query. At the same time, use MathJax in your query title so that the title indicates in as much detail as is reasonably possible, what you are going to ask about.

    This is the type of consideration towards others that mathSE reviewers are going to appreciate.

  • After you format the query title, the mathSE interface will suggest mathSE queries that might have already focused on your problem. Before you post, explore any mathSE queries that you think might be relevant.

    You can also use the mathSE search interface to independently search for relevant queries. One way to positively impress reviewers is by stating in your query:

    I noticed the following other query {include the link}. However, although that query appears to be similar, it doesn't specifically address the question that I have because...

    I reviewed this other query, which does answer my question, but I don't understand the answer given by ... In his answer, he makes the following claim... Why is this claim true?

    Note that this is not that unusual, because the query poster of the previous query may have had a background different from yours. The answer was intended to communicate with his level of education, not yours.

    MathSE reviewers will sometimes cite a previous query as a duplicate, even though it hasn't exactly addressed your specific question. When you take the initiative to include a link + a discussion of a previous query, in your query, mathSE reviewers are going to like that.

  • Before you post, proofread your query. You are not only looking for typos, but also ambiguities, where it isn't crystal clear what you are asking. Try to provide such clear detail in your query that it is impossible for anyone to be unsure what you are asking.

Although other reviewers will consider whether your query represents an interesting math question, please consider: about 95% of the new-user-mathSE-queries posted are low quality, with respect to the considerations that I have mentioned.

When a mathSE reviewer encounters a high quality query, it will be like a breath of fresh air.

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    $\begingroup$ I will reference your post when I encounter new users. Thank you for your contribution. Your post is not a just breath of fresh air, but the aroma of pristine flower and rushing river from the land of the burgundy bloomingdale (I've been there for detective work!) You like breaths of fresh air (saw it in your previous answer as well), so do think of some good examples for me next time so I can keep them for new users. $\endgroup$ Mar 1, 2021 at 10:40
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    $\begingroup$ Here's a tabular descendant of this answer. -) $\endgroup$
    – ryang
    Sep 22, 2021 at 5:57
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    $\begingroup$ @RyanG +1 : Nice followup comment. $\endgroup$ Oct 12, 2021 at 23:43
  • $\begingroup$ I've posted math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/34808/… which considers your answer, in Calvin's answer. $\endgroup$ May 22, 2022 at 18:17

A bad question or answer is bad. If the poster is a newbie, so be it. You should explain why you think it is bad in a comment, more so for a newbie obviously.

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    $\begingroup$ Someone pointed a typo later and it was probably the biggest blunder, but I got 4 downvotes, I think, before that. It is not that the answer was so bad at this point, but it seemed to me that the people who downvoted did saw this question as too elementary. I don't know why they didn't simply point my mistake, edit the question, or comment and that is my complaint. $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2021 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ @欲しい未来 " I don't know why they didn't" : It is because there is no quality control on downvotes. For example, see this downvoted self-answer question. $\endgroup$ Dec 3, 2023 at 3:01

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