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This post will likely be downvoted to oblivion, however this is my point. I love maths almost as much as I love chess but these two communities have the same issue; As both are difficult and appeal to a very narrow and specific audience the community members are extremely mean and and unhelpful to each other and are gate keeping these fields with an iron fist especially to beginners.
I really hope this is my experience exclusively but having lurked in the site for some time for help and having seen this type of behaviour again and again I quite doubt it. Immediate downvotes for simple formatting errors, wrong usage of latex, closing posts because of 'similar answers' that in reality are far from the same.
People who answer questions are unreasonably harsh to the exact audience that should be given compassion patience and empathy.
University is hard and time consuming, especially math which you need extreme dedication and patience to achieve the even bare minimum. Latex is not at all intuitive or easy to learn. Students are stressed and often desperate to reach out to this site for help and it often means that there is no accessible alternative. Local formatting and language barriers often make it tricky to communicate successfully . If post get immediately downvoted for easily fixable causes they will never be seen or answered. And im pretty sure people know that, they just don't care. And I really wish they did
Finally as I mentioned earlier I doubt that this is a site exclusive issue but rather a community one. And to that I only have to say that I feel sorry for the people who need to feel special through math and as a result try to keep it that way by pushing both beginners and advanced learners out.
In closing id like to thank the ones that set the good example that give good and helpful feedback and that are polite considerate and patient. You are the ones that make this community feel more welcome and approachable.
Thank you for reading.

TLDR; people who answer questions are too harsh to struggling students who just want to understand

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  • $\begingroup$ To the people that downvoted please do share your argument why you think being patient and polite to new learners is a bad thing $\endgroup$ Aug 4 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ Whoever represented to you that this is a site for struggling students told you an untruth. $\endgroup$ Aug 4 at 22:24
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    $\begingroup$ @JonathanZsupportsMonicaC Isn’t this a site for all levels? We are/were all once struggling students, right? $\endgroup$
    – user1082389
    Aug 5 at 3:13
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    $\begingroup$ "wrong usage of latex" Non-usage of $\LaTeX.\quad$ "Latex is not at all intuitive or easy to learn." It takes fewer than 5 minutes to learn to add the expected $$ and ` and \frac{}{}`. $\quad$ "language barriers often make it tricky to communicate successfully" Bothering to punctuate with periods and commas, and organising Questions into paragraphs (as opposed to vomiting repetitious incoherent streams of consciousness whose lack of basic punctuation compounds the difficulty of deciphering the text) really goes a long way, $\endgroup$
    – ryang
    Aug 5 at 7:09
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    $\begingroup$ and asks for only basic consideration and a reasonable time investment in asking for help, not any particular language skill. $\quad$ Check out this Quick Guide or this comment template. $\endgroup$
    – ryang
    Aug 5 at 7:09
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    $\begingroup$ Heck, I’ll just paste the template here, as it is apropos: Welcome to Mathematics Stack Exchange! As this site is meant to be a useful repository rather than a Do My Homework forum, it's common courtesy to show what you've already tried, and really narrow down what you're struggling with. Most people here are glad to help once you've adequately motivated the problem. [Quick Guide](http://math.meta.stackexchange.com/a/34067/21813) to attracting answers and preventing your question from being deleted. Good luck! $\endgroup$
    – ryang
    Aug 5 at 8:41
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    $\begingroup$ "And im pretty sure people know that, they just dont care. And i really wish they did" This is the heart of the debate. Even if they did care, their actions are not showing it, according to you. And yet, the question that was flagged as a duplicate, whoever did it is clearly trying to let you know that there is an answer elsewhere, yet you wish to not acknowledge that contribution. I'm sorry, but there are two sides to the compassion coin. Nobody here wants to be hurtful : if actions are still perceived as hurtful, I can't do anything about it except pack up and go home $\endgroup$ Aug 5 at 11:57
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    $\begingroup$ As much as we want to be compassionate, we cannot move out of the SE system. If actions such as closure, downvoting etc. are hurtful, then SE isn't the right platform. Having said that, the education system and its stresses are something that will play a role in how students perceive MSE, therefore the points made here will stand at least as a viewpoint of some users, even if this post is eventually removed. $\endgroup$ Aug 5 at 12:04
  • $\begingroup$ Ugh correction to my first comment above: It takes fewer than 5 minutes to learn to add the expected $$ and \sine(backslash) and \frac{}{}. $\endgroup$
    – ryang
    Aug 5 at 12:43
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    $\begingroup$ I feel like many users are being defensive and refusing to acknowledge the truth in this post. I truly believe that this site has a long way to go in making new users feel welcome and appreciated on this site. Yes quality moderation is important, but I don't think that must conflict with patiently supporting new users. A little bit of kindness and compassion can go a long way. $\endgroup$
    – user1082389
    Aug 5 at 13:11
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    $\begingroup$ @BeKind It will, because we don't know what makes new users appreciated. Honestly. A user tried to close the question as a duplicate, with the idea that the OP will be helped by the existing answer. If it turns out that this is not the case, then how can I, in good faith, place the entire blame on the closer? That's what is happening here. Downvoting, closure in the name of duplication have all been looked upon as dismissive actions, without the slightest idea that, in fact, they have been helpful to people. That's not discussed, because we get to only hear when things don't go right. $\endgroup$ Aug 5 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not saying that there isn't a viewpoint here. Stressed students need acknowledgement and special treatment, without a shred of doubt. However, we can't play the blame game : everyone has their own background. What about the closer's background? What about those who actually wish to help the author by the $x$/$n$ clarification? We can't read everybody's minds. Everyone could be stressed. Heck, I could be as well while writing this, because I don't know how to best help this author, I cannot read their mind.I bet a lot of helpers really try to be careful on this site. $\endgroup$ Aug 5 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ +1 to the answer below, however. It is heartfelt, and I do agree that we should strive to do better in the face of the reality that math students face. $\endgroup$ Aug 5 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ You say " ... people who need to feel special through math ..." and then criticize those who are not "polite considerate and patient". Hold yourself to your own standards. $\endgroup$ Aug 5 at 15:09

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Local formatting and language barriers often make it tricky to communicate successfully

Mathematics itself a language! One thing I like about math is that it doesn't require much of other language.

I think language barrier is not a big issue here. I am also weak in English as English isn't my first language.But I believe community members help you to edit your post if it contains minor issues.

I have seen one of your previous post Proof that the set containing all x in intigers for φ(x) = n is finite.

  1. In this question you haven't specify the role of $x$.So it's a natural question to ask does it have a shelter? Where it belongs?

This very first comment is to encourage you to specify the variable $x$.Though it seems trivial that $x\in \Bbb{Z}$ as whenever we define a function, it's domain is considered to be the largest subset set (another ambiguity) where it is defined. But what if the user who don't know about Euler-totient function?

So either you have to specify the variable $x$ or you have to mention the domain of definition of the function.


  1. The second issue and probably one of the big issue that you wrote "countable" instead of "finite ".

corrected to finite. Im sorry language gap

Is this really a language gap? If so then it completely changed the question to a trivial one or a dead question.

$A\subset B$ .If $B$ is countable then $A$ also ($\Bbb{Z}$ is countable and of $x\in\Bbb{Z}$ then...). So before asking a question, you have to make sure that you know all the key terms that you are going to use. In that case "countable set", " finite set", "Euler-totient function" etc.

And i am pretty sure people know that, they just dont care

Exactly. Answering a low quality question is bad for the site's health. See Enforcement of Quality Standards. So take all the comments positively and try to edit your post accordingly.

people who answer quesstions are too harsh to struggling students who just want to understand

I haven't understood your statement.That's why it is important to inform us what kind of answer you are looking for. And how much information you about the context.

Don't get demotivated because of downvotes. It's a process of learning. Edit your question to look more better (provide context, motivation about the problem,how much you know about the problem and where you stuck) and attract the attention of more user. Learning $\LaTeX$ ( to type a question in MSE) neither take much time nor take much effort.

We are here to help you. Learn and enjoy Mathematics. Hope you will be serious contributor in future. Thanks.

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I would first say that, if I were in your place, I could never have well said my feelings as you have conveyed. Note: English isn't my first language either so generally when I'm writing, I often make uses of "/" because of confusing words.

What you talk of is the very fine balance and that is what is both the beauty and the beast for this community. The closest analogy I can tell you so you can relate is that think of it as "Friction"-The necessary evil.

As both are difficult and appeal to a very narrow and specific audience.

As far as MSE is concerned, I'd differ. You see, at $\geq500$ rep, one gets access to "First Answer", "First Questions" and "Late Answers" queue. So, I've seen that very basic questions to quite complex problems, all are entertained here. So, I don't know how you can make such a claim. On various meta-posts, in consensus, I've seen that most high-rep users are of view that basic can't be well defined. Leaving the very few who think this site is too good for basic questions, generally speaking you shouldn't face any problems.

the community members are extremely mean and and unhelpful to each other and are gate keeping these fields with an iron fist especially to beginners.
Immediate downvotes for simple formatting errors, wrong usage of latex, closing posts because of 'similar answers' that in reality are far from the same.

If "mean" means downvotes or closing of questions then that isn't mean but manicure/hygiene. See, though I'm not comfortable with downvotes as I think it spoils the mood but those who do don't do it because it will spoil somebody's mood but so that the user may know that their post isn't up to the standards.

"Iron fist new users" sadly this might be true. Since I have access to first questions queue so sometimes while reviewing I take interest in some questions. I've seen most of such questions getting closed.
Read the chat under this question and perhaps you'll feel better.
In this post the questioner hadn't made any attempts to improve their post yet. Maybe the question doesn't really mean anything to OP?
In this post I feel iron fisting to a great extent. The question got closed pretty fast, and no one was commenting! After the question was posted, 8 mins in I posted my comment to improve the post. 2 mins later it got closed! Too fast! But still alright. I liked the question, so I added a very basic working and resolved the closing reasons. The OP too accepted my edit. But to my dismay the edit was later rollbacked as it wasn't OP's original working! I don't get it. The OP accepted it. Wasn't like forced upon them as it would had I had more than 2000 rep. When my edit was rollbacked I added another comment but I knew it shouldn't make much difference now as the new user saw a working on their post and them also saw it disappear, anyone will get confused by this. Perhaps here OP was indeed demotivated. The user is NEW so give them some space, that when another user is helping them kindly let them but the community thinks otherwise. Instead I was told to not repeat such a thing. Anyways, if the question stays closed for long or deleted, then I plan to ask that question myself (or not if I solve it myself.)
Basically, in some cases even though some users want to help the new users, the community don't see it in good light. Fine to me. I now just bookmark such questions or take a screenshot to save for later. But hope a positive change in this direction.

People who answer questions are unreasonably harsh to the exact audience that should be given compassion patience and empathy.

This sometimes may be the case. I think the issue is that the new users don't know what to do in such a case as something similar happened to me. When a user is harsh to you or bullies you, then you must (not should) raise a flag: Flag besides any comment or Flag2 under any question or answer. The moderators who are the power rangers of this site will see to it and take necessary actions. In my case, I saw the user suspended from the site for some time. Though sometimes the loss they cause you might not be undone.

Latex is not at all intuitive or easy to learn.

That's true for anything of one doesn't wants to put their least efforts into it. As far as basics are concerned, it really doesn't take too much time. If there is something too complex that you think you just can't then if you post it as a pic, many users are ready to entertain it as is and some will even to convert it to $LaTeX$ format.

Students are stressed and often desperate to reach out to this site for help and it often means that there is no accessible alternative.

I agree that MSE is the best.

Local formatting and language barriers often make it tricky to communicate successfully .

In this post I asked the user if am by mistake/unintentionally looking rude and they told me better alternatives to frame the sentence.
Similarly in another post, I saw interaction between 2 users and the OP there already told that she is using a google translator as a caveat in case the other users find some strange errors.
Hope you don't have strange expectations of this community of allowing questions be put in all sorts of languages or that any level of broken english will entertained.
If that's not the case, then this IMHO not much big of an issue.

If post get immediately downvoted for easily fixable causes they will never be seen or answered.

If causes ARE easily fixable and if they aren't fixed by the OP, then the greater blame lies on OP perhaps though if I see that post, I'll correct the easily fixable causes.
Also, downvotes doesn't mean they won't be answered and neither closed mean they can't be re-opened.

And to that i only have to say that i feel sorry for the people who need to feel special through math and as a result try to keep it that way by pushing both beginners and advanced learners out.

If you read this thrice, then, you'll feel that maybe saying so is rude/mean. People who are prodigies, A or O-grade students, PhD holders and believe it or not, even Nobel laureates have all positively contributed to this site to make it even better.
If a question is TOO advanced then I guess Math Overflow is a better place to ask them.
Any beginner needs to know the following before asking their doubts:
Welcome to Mathematics Stack Exchange! As this site is meant to be a useful repository rather than a Do My Homework forum, it's common courtesy to show what you've already tried, and really narrow down what you're struggling with. Most people here are glad to help once you've adequately motivated the problem. [Quick Guide](http://math.meta.stackexchange.com/a/34067/21813) to attracting answers and preventing your question from being deleted. Good luck!
Above is already mentioned in comments but I'm still repeating.

This said, you'll find all sorts of users in all sorts of mood. Some always happy, some always grumpy, some always very helpful, some very picky, some downvoting easily, some who are too conservative to downvote, some who upvote easily, some who don't and some who had a really bad day and then they open MSE! or some ... (so on).

In closing id like to thank the ones that set the good example that give good and helpful feedback and that are polite considerate and patient. You are the ones that make this community feel more welcome and approachable.

Well... Myself and on behalf on other MSE members (though no one asked me to :P): Thank you and you're Welcome.

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  • $\begingroup$ ""mean" means" , offtopic but mean means fish in Malayalam :P $\endgroup$ Aug 6 at 21:42
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University is hard and time consuming, especially math which you need extreme dedication and patience to achieve the even bare minimum. Latex is not at all intuitive or easy to learn. Students are stressed and often desperate to reach out to this site for help and it often means that there is no accessible alternative. Local formatting and language barriers often make it tricky to communicate successfully . If post get immediately downvoted for easily fixable causes they will never be seen or answered. And im pretty sure people know that, they just dont care. And i really wish they did

You have valid points in my opinion. The other answers are of type "just keep trying and learn , you'll get it" but I think perhaps the community should be thinking of ways to improve answering and asking.

There should be some features in the answer box (eg: fill out form type that was suggested by one user) put and perhaps intelligent text formatting by the site itself. Unfortunately , the ambitions of the users of the site far exceeds the ambitions of the developers/ owner of the site.

The bottom line is , SE is not going to change in such a way that it is accessible anytime soon. So , the only choice is for you to change if you want to continue partaking.

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