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So recently I asked a few questions that seemed pretty difficult to me. But when I scrolled through some other questions I felt that to most other users my question are probably just elementary.

Since I don't see any other elementary questions and also don't want to spam this website with my elementary questions I want to ask:

Are easy questions like high school level stuff welcome here or should I look for another forum?

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    $\begingroup$ Questions of any level are welcome here. Just make sure that your comments meet the quality standards of the site. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Jun 29 at 13:51
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    $\begingroup$ Searching for previous posts that have an answer to your questions is often a difficult task, requiring some flexibility in phrasing to improve the chances of matching. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Jun 29 at 13:51
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    $\begingroup$ You can have a look at this post: Is there a lower bound to the level of the questions that can be asked in here? And some other discussions linked there. $\endgroup$ Jun 29 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ Mathoverflow is for experts, math stackexchange is for any level. $\endgroup$
    – ZFCarla
    Jun 29 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ apparently i was banned from asking as my question seemed 'stupid' or 'something i could google' to me i think there must be some level of research you do before asking. but proving you've done the research is a problem. I have seen people include 'mathy' stuff like fonts and sigmas but still ask the same questions i asked and which are less elaborated. $\endgroup$
    – D. Sikilai
    Jul 2 at 8:31
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    $\begingroup$ @D.Sikilai I think I can understand why "proving you've done the research" is a problem : (1) Articulation is itself a problem : one can know what to say and yet not know how to say it, at the elementary level (2) Users may be afraid to admit their mistakes. If these are mistakes at the research level, they are often excused as gaps in intuition. However, elementary mistakes are recognized easily and more glaring in nature (and unfortunately can also be mistaken with a lack of care in computation). The workaround I suggest is for such users to mention perfectly correct information known to... $\endgroup$ Jul 3 at 5:24
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    $\begingroup$ ... them. For example, such students are typically studying from certain sources which are generally reliable. They are aware of certain statements made by the authors of such references. Worst come worst, elementary questions have many takers : many people post comments, there is more viewership and more interest. Any poster who is attentive to responses on their question can eventually shape it up to become decent (I should admit that some users have become very good posters after such conversations). $\endgroup$ Jul 3 at 5:26
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    $\begingroup$ Why is this post still "hot"? It says it was last modified 11 days ago, and there aren't many recent comments either. Is it the number of views? $\endgroup$
    – mr_e_man
    Jul 12 at 13:09

2 Answers 2

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Yes, I think it is harder to ask appropriate questions at a high-school level. But I don't think it's because of the subject matter - I've answered several questions about how percentages work, and they seem to have been received just fine. I think it's because we expect the posters to have spent some time working on and thinking about their questions before they post, and most high-schoolers haven't yet learned how to do that.

I don't know if these distinctions will mean much to you, (they're college-based), but posting here isn't as formal as going to ask the professor, but it's more formal than going to the tutoring center. Think "going to ask the official class T.A.".

So if you want to just throw out questions, muse about them, and kinda kick the sh*t around, that won't work here and you should look for something more reddit-y, or a Discord channel, for that.

But if you find some question really getting to you, and you've thought about it five different ways and want to spend more than 2 minutes writing up what you've got, there are some really smart and talented people who answer questions here, and it can definitely be worth your effort to get their input.


Edited to add: Oh, wait, I totally forgot about the chat rooms! You do need 20 rep to participate, and 100 rep to create a new one (h/t @MartinSleziak),but they are much more free-form. Of course you don't get the same level of exposure or expertise as posting to the main page gets you, but maybe a good strategy for you is to try things out in chat rooms, and if people there don't have answers, y'all can formulate good questions that will work well on the main site.

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    $\begingroup$ Is this what you mean by "kick the sh*t around".. I am not sure if anyone can do through the internet really.. $\endgroup$ Jun 29 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ @EthakkaappamwithChai - Sorry, I probably shouldn't have used an idiom like that - I guess it's a bit obscure for an international audience. I meant the "To kill time by talking with a friend or doing stupid sh**" part, not necessarily the alcohol part. And I've definitely participated on discussion boards where people are enjoying talking all kinds of nonsense. A math-y example, off the top of my head, would be "What if we computed homology groups, but the co-efficient ring was different types of pizza?". Discussing that could be fun, but it doesn't belong here. $\endgroup$ Jun 29 at 19:57
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    $\begingroup$ Re: You need a certain minimum reputation to participate there - not sure of the details - the list of privileges in the help center has talking in chat at 20 reputation points and creating new chatrooms at 100 reputation points. $\endgroup$ Jun 30 at 4:55
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    $\begingroup$ I think asking a question on a stack exchange site (including this one) is significantly more formal (and stressful!) than asking a professor a question in office hours. $\endgroup$
    – Robert D-B
    Jul 6 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ I might have had more formal professors. :-) $\endgroup$ Jul 6 at 20:13
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    $\begingroup$ @RobertD-B Ignoring the elephant in the room that is closure and downvotes (yes, this is probably the biggest factor, I will never deny that) , elementary questions get a lot of views, plenty of them. Any poster who can comment and is attentive to responses is likely to at least have a productive conversation here, with more than one "expert" (relative to the level of the poster) at a time. I don't shut threads with ongoing conversation, and it's okay if it lasts long : while it isn't "recorded" here, I believe that experts here don't have a problem contributing this way (I don't). $\endgroup$ Jul 7 at 5:49
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    $\begingroup$ To put it this way : yes, we have our duplicates and our unfocused questions (as long as they're on topic). However, there are enough people who are trying to help such users improve them eventually. Enough of the community has that attitude, and they will aid posters in the comments, potentially while voting to close the same question as well. I think elementary posters will be very good at connecting with other posters at that level (far, far better than me). We need our elementary posters. $\endgroup$ Jul 7 at 5:53
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Firstly, the thing is that the amount of content and resources at lower mathematics level (college and before) is over saturated at this point. Even the most basic topics of Calculus have been done by 100s of people at very high levels of quality (For instance, see 3blue1brown , Professor Ghrist, Treffor Bazet on Youtube). It will most likely be that if you have a doubt at this level, it'd be cleared by watching these videos. Else, for those who wish to read there is a large number of online textbooks and notes.

Furthermore , there are many free auto solvers of basic exercises at highschool level. For instance, see Integral Calculator , Algebra simplifier etc.

The utility of MSE is that it gives support is that it is a resource for those higher topics and specific computations which are not frequently covered. If you're asking such things, then you should be mostly fine.


Personal advice:

I've gone through the questions on your account. They seem mostly okay. However, I'd advice you to improve your formatting and add your attempt. In about three questions I've seen you just say "from my work I got this equation", it would be more help for yourself and also apt for the site if you showed how you got it so other people can advice you on which step of your work has the error.

This particular question (and it's sequel) sort of frustrated me because it has a bit too much text. Try to write your problem straight to the point in the most concise way possible by usage of mathematical symbols. Seems you really only want the solution to the fourth image, not the third one.

Hope it helps you.

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    $\begingroup$ I appreciate that you've put a lot of thought into posting this Answer. The main idea you present is that there is so much pre-college and early college level material elsewhere on the Web, that you call it "over saturated". Whatever is going on with other sites, the StackExchange approach to learning math "at all levels" stands on its own as a Q&A format. Asking good Questions is not trivial; in some ways it is more difficult than writing good Answers. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Jun 30 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ I mean due to the oversaturation phenomena I mentioned, if one is to conjure a question at the elvel I described, then most likely it will be discussed on SE in itself and to my understanding, we want to close dupes, right? @hardmath $\endgroup$ Jun 30 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ I think duplicates are a rather separate issue from the original question (and from your answer). $\endgroup$ Jun 30 at 21:01
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    $\begingroup$ How so? A lot of people have asked questions on elementary level, drying up the amount of non duplicate question which can be asked at that level. This phenomena is related to the general over saturation phenomena I described @AaronMontgomery $\endgroup$ Jun 30 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ Your answer didn't reference duplicates; in fact, your answer didn't really reference the Stack Exchange network at all, other than to say that MSE is a reference for "higher topics" or specific computations. If you had meant to say the problem was that most low-level questions were duplicates, I think you ought to have said that (and that would have some validity); instead, you said MSE is for higher topics, which I do not agree with. $\endgroup$ Jul 1 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry -- I think my comment came off as harsh, which I didn't intent. $\endgroup$ Jul 1 at 0:59
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    $\begingroup$ I think the issue is of intent vs what happens in practice. I think everyone wishes anyone at any level can ask here but due to reason I mentioned and other smaller reasons (eg people with less math edu having less knowledge in framing math q etc) , the intent and practice seem to have a large disconnect $\endgroup$ Jul 1 at 1:11

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