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$\begingroup$

I am not sure whether this is an appropriate question. Perhaps it will be closed, or perhaps not.

It is generally the case that people derive satisfaction from getting their responses validated on Q and A sites such as StackExchange. It is not far fetched to presume that a someone may get too invested in this satisfaction, and this may create an imbalance in their real life. An addiction to getting upvotes and acceptance from others is not a healthy state of affairs and may affect a person's mental health. Young people, who are not having many outside interests (which probably is the case with several students starting their mathematical studies) are particularly vulnerable.

It is of course not the business of math.stackexchange to make judgements in this regard even in general, but is there a formal acknowledgment of the above phenomena by the community? Afterall, this is a community of well meaning human beings!

To give some context, let me post the highest voted answer to a question posted previously on meta: Why do you answer questions on math.stackexchange?

I am needy and insecure and derive validation from the gratitude of strangers.

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  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Most people who cling to math already, may have social conflicts in reality. So they get put down. So you can argue for balancing some of the effects. $\endgroup$ Oct 17 at 14:50
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ I'll also note that the answer you quote was an inside joke: earlier on, we often joked about "addiction" to the site, but it can be a problem for some users, even many users at some point. So your concern is valid, just leave room for wondering if the comment you quoted was meant to be a joke, given the subsequent comments. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Oct 17 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy What you say is, I think, the position of almost everyone who is experienced in life. The issue is that practically this topic of living a balanced life is not brought up on Q & A sites such as ours because it is deemed off-topic. But users may get addicted to validation from here and particularly young people may suffer consequences when real life catches up with them. IMHO the topic ought to be at least formally acknowledged in some way. I am not sure what is the appropriate way to do that, or even whether it is being done already. $\endgroup$
    – Shahab
    Oct 17 at 16:53
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, you are correct. Some users have recognized such a pull to spend time here, when younger. Some recognized they need to spend less time (say, when summer changes to the fall semester). Of these, some fine they have to, and force a limit on themselves, others find they are missing sleep trying to keep up with coursework and with math.se. We've had users ask to be suspended from this site, until, say, the end of a semester. Mod's will assist them in that request. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Oct 17 at 16:58
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    $\begingroup$ This is a post concerning my struggle and how I got over it. It actually addresses two struggles in equal parts : MSE addiction, but also the addiction to answering poor quality questions as well (which can happen even if one isn't often on MSE). I've cut my MSE time by more than $70$% since writing that post , but made it about twice or three times more productive with some efforts I describe in that answer. I hope everybody can use this site well, but I can't write an answer to this question which is better than what I wrote there! $\endgroup$ Oct 17 at 18:20
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    $\begingroup$ Excessive use of any online platform is a problem. What is the purpose of making various entities own parts of that problem? $\endgroup$
    – rschwieb
    Oct 18 at 0:02
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    $\begingroup$ I am not sure whether lumping together all online platforms is appropriate. Math SE is different from say Facebook and has its own peculiarities. We ought to acknowledge (in some way) the problems caused by its excessive usage. $\endgroup$
    – Shahab
    Oct 18 at 1:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Teresa Lisbon. Thank you for sharing your struggle. Perhaps there should be a standing community wiki post on meta where users can share their experiences with mental peace problems related to Math SE. That would be one way of acknowledging this phenomena. $\endgroup$
    – Shahab
    Oct 18 at 4:06
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    $\begingroup$ All things in moderation. $\endgroup$ Oct 19 at 18:42
  • 16
    $\begingroup$ This is an issue in facebook and all social media, isn't it? $\endgroup$
    – James
    Oct 19 at 22:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Shahab I don’t see anything constructive in pleading a special case that excessive use of math.se is somehow tangibly different than excessive use of any site. The solutions would be the same. $\endgroup$
    – rschwieb
    Oct 20 at 2:45
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    $\begingroup$ Addiction to math.stackexchange is much, much better than addiction to Twitter. $\endgroup$
    – littleO
    Oct 20 at 3:22
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for bringing this topic up. I understand badges and points are not "bad" by itself, but I find this system based on rewards potentially addictive and dangerous. We as a society should talk more about this and be aware of how harmful social media (even a well meaning community like MSE) in general can be. $\endgroup$
    – Amelian
    Oct 20 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ Being exceptional in any field requires a great deal of obsession unless you are extremely lucky or talented. $\endgroup$
    – Niescte
    Oct 24 at 9:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Gavin What do you mean by celebrate? $\endgroup$ Oct 27 at 13:46

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