This is in reference to this post.

I gave my best efforts in trying to answer the OP's question. Since I have answered I was very excited to check whether there are more interesting answers which actually resolve OP's query or if OP has something to say/comment on my answer like if OP doesn't get something, likes something or wants something more, etc.

For some reasons unknown and left for me to wonder, the OP sees it fit to engage with only 1 of the users who have posted an answer. In general, this would have been fine if I answered a lot of time after the question was posted or if there were already many answers to that question. Even if it were the case that the standards while answering the question are TOO high and other simpler solutions are available, with a bit of uneasiness I might have swallowed it. Alteast, these were not the case.

This seems a bit de-motivating or rather a BIG bummer and destroys the fun of (putting efforts in) writing an answer. To me it seems strange, to comment to the OP to engage with other users too; or to simply edit one's answer based on OP's chat with some other user; or to just ignore the fact that I ever even wrote an answer.

What should one do in such scenarios? Should I (have) take(n) one of the above "strange" steps?

Also, in the above mentioned post, the OP had put their problem relatively poorly and took at least 5 reads to decode something they are asking and I tried to answer in simplest of the terms. Also, after my post, mathmajor updated their answer with whom the OP is engaging. Now, I could make an edit based on the OP's chat with another user but that doesn't seem fit to me. After all, what's the use when maybe the user is anyways ignoring your answer :-\ .

  • 14
    $\begingroup$ You are holding yourself responsible for something only the OP control i.e. who they interact with. Leave it be, there are many good questions to answer. The OP could have their own reason for interacting with the other poster. BUT, BUT, BUT : I sympathize with your concern, and I've been in your position before. It's horrible when you put your heart into something and you don't see others appreciating that. So here's your well-deserved appreciation. Now, focus on improving your post. Cite more. Get more diagrams in. Make it so good, so good, that the OP CANNOT ignore it. Go for it. $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2022 at 6:09
  • $\begingroup$ Even if the OP doesn't see it, others will. Two posters did, and gave their feedback. Expect more to see your answer if it improves. $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2022 at 6:20
  • $\begingroup$ @SarveshRavichandranIyer thanks a lot! Really appreciate your comments, updating my answer post now :-) $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2022 at 6:25
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Worth emphasis - it is generally true that longer answers are less likely to be read (by both the OP and others). It is possible that the OP had limited time at the moment to peruse the answers so started with the shorter answers, then ran out of time. To remedy such it may help to begin with a synopsis, followed by elaboration. Be sure to explicitly mention that structure in the first sentence so that the reader knows they can get the main ideas from the shorter synopsis (which may encourage them to read further). $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2022 at 8:15
  • $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque in general, that's an excellent advice though it seems that it's quite hard in the post mentioned in the OP. $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2022 at 8:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you so much for improving your post. I am still not at complete ease with two points on the real line being "next to" each other. I prefer language of the form "you get closer and closer to the point, and the two-point slope gets closer and closer to the derivative". (In one sentence. I could expand on this). Otherwise, I really like the answer. $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2022 at 8:12
  • $\begingroup$ @SarveshRavichandranIyer Thank you so much for the compliments. "next to" was how a friend once explained to me and I found it plausible so I wrote my answer that way. $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2022 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ @InanimateBeing Yes, that's actually very interesting. It might be a very tight-looking principle, but it's very defensible in its own right : one has to be careful with intuitively guiding users who are badly lost or confused (the question has $-2$ votes due to a sheer lack of clarity). The safest option is to begin from the definition and draw all the intuition right out of the definition. Unfortunately, the problem here is that the notion of "approximation" that the user speaks of, is in itself not "definable" mathematically at the level they are studying, so you have to gamble. $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2022 at 11:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you for understanding $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2022 at 11:20

1 Answer 1


One thing I'd like to say before say before I continue is that I have upvoted meta-OP's post because I thought their answer was written with a lot thought and I would like to encourage such users to further contribute on the site later.

Ok, I have been both in meta-OP's and also the OP's shoes so I can possibly provide some perspective to why this happens. I have written a little bit about this before as well. But, I think I can give some further reasons now:

  1. Getting to know users over time: Okay, this sounds absolutely irrational (hah), but when one keeps asking questions about a fixed topics many times, they'd find that the quality answerers are usually from the same users, so it will be that next time they accept an answer, they'll choose a quality answerer's answer (if they it is there) rather than someone else's answer even if this newbie answerer's answer is actually better. I dub this the 'Invisible bonding effect'.

    One big negative effect of this is that it kills the meritocracy of voting (if any existed in the first place) as the voting would place familiarity on precedence over quality.

  2. Length: If you see @DavidK’s answer is the shortest, @dumbguywithmathsmajor is medium, and yours is the longest. I believe there is some psychological effect of answer length going on here. If something is too long people will give up reading and if it's too short people may not even consider it when presented as answer in related contexts to one we have here.

  3. Initial paragraph: This is common sense, but the likeliness of your answer to be read depends on how you initially start it. I think the OP may have been looking for something with more equations / algebra (compare yours and mathmajor's answer)

With all that said, I actually think this was not a useful effort to answer this question or these type of questions as 3b1b (and others) had made a vid on this exact topic almost perfectly. Don't mean to put you in a "the fox couldn't get the grapes, so grapes suck" mindset but, the reality is that the general HS level stuff is (mostly) dried up like this, so, I suggest that you be a lurker for now and you just study more theory so that there would be more questions you could engage the site on later.

Note: I would hate this if someone told me this when I was your stage, but it is is how it is now.

Or, maybe you can study some niche field which hasn't been explored much on the site and ask questions on that. There's a lot of unexplored room for discussion on the site if one can look beyond the standard curriculums.

  • $\begingroup$ Haven't proof read this, let me know if there are parts which don't make sense. $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2022 at 18:49
  • 10
    $\begingroup$ Er, proofreading your posts is your job. $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2022 at 21:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Beautifullyirrational thank you for your answer. Just check your point 1 (save the pun though). Also, the answer length did change over time, my long answer became longer and the medium one used to be short, though that was just to address the query of OP and maybe motivated by my post. But combining your answer and comments by SarveshRavichandranIyer, I get the point. Its not much in our hands though. $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2022 at 6:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I guess it's a system the weakness of the strength of SE. The strength is that we will eventually have good explanation on every topic, the weakness is that the avenues for people to practice their math explaining and get feed back is decreasing. Nonetheless, I suggest you do post your writing(s) somewhere and try to get feedback from friend(s) IRL. People maybe more willing to discuss Math writings then you expect them to be @InanimateBeing $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2022 at 6:44
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you @insipidintegrator for editing my post. $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2022 at 6:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson Yes, that was sloppy of me. Sorry. $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2022 at 6:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Beautifullyirrational friends IRL aren't a good option imo, other MSE members who read the answer post leave comments so that we may improve our post and sometimes vote in appreciation. That I find a better option. $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2022 at 10:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .