I have a question about my Mathematics Stack Exchange post: Can a residue class $(a \textrm{ mod } n)$ have a negative $n$?

My question is: could someone provide me feedback on why this question was downvoted and further deleted? I read the instructions about how to ask questions when I first created my account and I spent much time writing the question to make sure it would be accepted. I believed I stated everything necessary in the question, but if this was not the case, I would like to know how to improve the question and my experience on this website. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

On an initial analysis after the deletion of the question, I found two possible reasons for the downvote and further deletion of the question. I wrote them below, as well as my rationale for writing the question the way I did:

  1. because I did not state in the question what the following comment suggested: If you are familiar with (quotient) rings and ideals then you should mention that in the question since that greatly affects the type of answers one can give. – Bill Dubuque. I did not state that I do not know about (quotient) rings and ideals initially in the question because I never heard about them before. I could have edited the question with this info, but I did not do it for the same reason. I think it would make sense to edit to the question if I did know about those topics, as that would change the type of answers, as Bill mentions. But otherwise, I think the people answering simply should assume that the person is asking a basic question. I even mentioned in the question that I was learning on my own about residue classes on the Internet, and given the fact that the question and its wording is rather basic, I would say it is fair to assume that I do not have a grasp on such concepts, which seem much more advanced.

  2. the way the question was worded may suggest that not enough effort was done by myself to research or seek other similar questions. However, in my point of view, this is not the case, and even if it was, this would not even be a problem. I googled this question with several different wordings and never found one that answered my question. I also consulted several websites with definitions of residue class and none mentioned anything that could answer my question. When the post was marked as duplicate, similar questions about congruence were linked with answers that do not directly answer my question, which is about residue classes. In fact, my question never talks about congruence, and I provide a standalone definition of residue class without using the term congruence (even if it is implicit in the definition). I also state my reasoning while never mentioning congruence. Even though the two topics are closely related, I would say this question and its wording are a good addition to this website because less knowledgeable people who still are not familiar with the term modulus (of a residue class or congruence) will ask the question this way, especially if they came from Wikipedia. Also, if they ask this question in the same way in Google, the question link might appear to them (as it didn't to me). We are in 2023 and people come to Stack Overflow first before consulting/buying a textbook, and that is fine. In my view, many people use Stack Overflow to ask such basic questions and the world beneficts from these basic questions.

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    $\begingroup$ The title asks for reasons for closure & deletion, but the body is mainly a defense of the question you posted, which is a different thing entirely. If what you really want to do is to argue for the undeletion and/or reopening of your question, the place to do that is math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/34447/… $\endgroup$ Nov 19, 2023 at 20:42
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Math Meta. FYI, regarding your question's deletion, the top states it was automatically deleted by the Community Bot, with the link going to a page explaining the reasons for why the Community User "will automatically delete old abandoned/dead questions". Also, clicking on the clock, with a counter-clockwise area, icon on the left side gives the question's timeline, with the latest being the deletion, and having a comment of "Scheduled: RemoveDeadQuestions". $\endgroup$ Nov 20, 2023 at 0:30
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson Thanks for the clarification. Given that I am new to this website, I first thought that there is probably something I did wrong when writing the question and I wanted to gather some feedback before submitting the (possibly truly bad) question to the pipeline of undeletion requests/reviews. My intention with the body of this post was to be thorough about my choice of wording of the question and not defending it here (although that is what I ended up doing, as you correctly pointed out). Thanks for pointing me to the right place for question undeleting requests. $\endgroup$ Nov 20, 2023 at 9:53
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnOmielan Thanks for welcoming me! And thank you for these links, they were helpful. The reasons for deletion are clear now, as the post does meet two sets of closure criteria. I still do not understand why it was downvoted though $\endgroup$ Nov 20, 2023 at 10:39
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    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately there are those who will downvote for the most trivial of reasons without putting much thought into it. If a downvote is made without any explanatory comment, my advice is just to ignore it as thoughtless bullying. However if someone is willing to explain an issue in a comment, as Bill Dubuque did, it should be taken more seriously. That doesn't mean their reason was right, as in this case, but their intent was to help you improve the post, so you should at least examine it. Did you respond to Bill? You may have been downvoted for not giving any response (and maybe not by Bill). $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2023 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ @PaulSinclair I see. I did answer to Bill with a comment saying that I do not know about the topics he mentioned, though I did not take the action to add that information to the question body. And I see now that I did not explain why in the comments in the post. I shall be more careful with these things in the future. Thank you for the valuable feedback! $\endgroup$ Nov 24, 2023 at 0:01
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    $\begingroup$ One other possibility is that your question (at least the title) doesn't quite make sense ($n$ is a property of the congruence, not the residue class). This is common. If you have a misunderstanding about a concept, if you knew where the misunderstanding was, you would also pretty much know how to correct it. But since you don't, your question is affected by it. Some people merely react to the confusion rather than realizing its source. They downvote you for not already knowing what you do not know. Again, if they don't comment, all you can do is ignore it. $\endgroup$ Nov 24, 2023 at 0:18
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    $\begingroup$ As a side note, I think an important tip is to respond to all questions and requests in the original post (in addition to, or possibly instead of, responding in the comments). Quite often, all some people read is the original question, or some portion thereof. Assuming that readers will attend to the comments is optimistic. $\endgroup$
    – Brian Tung
    Nov 24, 2023 at 1:16
  • $\begingroup$ did you find the answer to your original question? If not why not just repost it attaching the reasoning you are giving here. $\endgroup$
    – High GPA
    Nov 29, 2023 at 1:44
  • $\begingroup$ @HighGPA Yes, someone answered the question in the comments $\endgroup$ Nov 29, 2023 at 20:50


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