Why are fundamental questions dismissed on MSE?

I was not allowed to ask questions once before and followed the site recommendations of editing posts and answering questions to regain the right to ask questions, which I did regain successfully. Then I posted the following questions:

This resulted in another disallowance in asking questions. I am not sure why these questions are considered off-topic for MSE. The second question is particularly relevant to the research I am carrying out.

I know I ask a simple questions, but these questions are fundamental. For example, I want to ask the following question:

Are marks assigned during examinations fractions or vectors?

Let me clarify. Let us say that a student scored $$\dfrac{5}{10}$$ in a test and $$\dfrac{5}{10}$$ in another test. The total score cannot be calculated by adding the fractions as $$\dfrac{5}{10}+\dfrac{5}{10} = \dfrac{10}{10}$$ giving a $$100\%$$ score; however, the student only scored $$50\%$$ combining the two tests. This leads me to a conclusion that marks assigned during tests are actually vector quantities, and not fractions, as explained below:

$$(5,10) + (5,10) = (10,20)$$

I would like to know why I cannot ask such questions and what reservations does the MSE community have?

• What makes you think the 2nd question is considered off-topic? It has no downvotes, no votes-to-close, no negative comments.... Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 20:57
• For your unposted third question, I think vectors is overcomplicating matters. Just consider the concept of a weighted average instead. Or perhaps mediants (though I guess that's no less complicated than vectors). Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 22:24
• @GerryMyerson that I can no longer ask questions on MSE, and when I try to ask a question, the message says "...we (MSE) are no longer accepting questions from your account because most of your questions need improvement or are out of scope for this site." Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 1:28
• About your last question, you're wrong even on the level that your proposal is simply incorrect: the average of the scores 1/3 and 1/6, for example, is 1/4, but your proposal would suggest it to be 2/9 which is not the same. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 2:54
• @YiFanTey let us say that a test included 9 questions each of 1 mark, and the first 3 questions were marked by one examiner, giving a score 1/3, and the remaining 6 questions were marked by another examiner, giving a score 1/6. Would you say the examinee scored 1/4 or 2/9? Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 3:01
• Regarding your examination marks question, there would be no ambiguity if the question clearly defines the weights of the tests (or questions). If each test has weight $50\%$, then @YiFan 's comment is right; if one gets $1/3$ in a test with weight $3/9$, then gets $1/6$ in a test with weight $6/9$, then the examinee scored $2/9$. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 3:48
• This is only tangential to the question, but since you brought up question ban: Even if you're banned from asking questions, the system will still allow you post a new question after 6 months. If you don't have any deleted questions, then your most recent question is from end of July - so in a few months you should be able to post a new question. (And if it is well-received, it might possibly help you with lifting the question ban. Although from I read here on meta, typically people have difficulties to get out of the question ban.) Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 5:33
• "Are marks assigned during examinations fractions or vectors? Let us say that a student scored $\mathit{\dfrac{1}{3}}$ in a test and $\mathit{\dfrac{1}{6}}$ in another test. The total score should not be calculated by adding the fractions since $\mathit{\dfrac{1}{3}+\dfrac{1}{6} = \dfrac{1}{2}}$ gives a $\mathit{50\%}$ score. This leads me to a conclusion that marks assigned during tests are actually vector quantities, and not fractions: $\mathit{(1,3) + (1,6) = (2,9).}$" Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 2:53
• 1. Given that the two test scores are $33\%$ and $17\%,$ then the total score is indeed $\boldsymbol{50\%}.$ $\quad$ 2. Furthermore, if the two tests have the same weight, then the scores' arithmetic mean $\boldsymbol{25\%}$ is of interest. $\quad$ 3. Finally, if every mark in the two tests have the same weight, then the scores' weighted arithmetic mean $\frac29=\boldsymbol{22\%}$ is of interest. Elaboration; vectors are unnecessary for these computations. Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 2:53
• @ryang the 'Elaboration' concludes with "neither average is more correct than the other; the choice of formula just depends on the assessment scheme" which suggests there is no 'rigorous' way to look at marks assigned during examinations. I think that points to a larger issue, different institutions have been devising different schemes to assign marks without worrying about the mathematics involved. Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 16:34
• @ananta 'Elaboration' concludes with "neither average is more correct than the other; the choice of formula just depends on the assessment scheme" which suggests there is no 'rigorous' way to look at marks assigned during examinations. $\quad$ No, your inference does not at all follow from that conclusion. Commented Dec 2, 2023 at 2:45

2 Answers

I think you are drawing faulty conclusions. The bottom line is that many of your questions have not been well-received, and as a result, the site automatically limits how many future questions you can ask.

This has nothing to do with fundamental vs non-fundamental questions; it has to do with the historical pattern in how your questions are received (e.g., votes, closures, deletions).

This limit on asking questions is a self-defense mechanism that was created to keep the site healthy. Our mission is to build up an archive of knowledge that will be useful to others. The site is designed to enable a community of volunteers who care about that mission to come together to work together on that mission. If there is a pattern where your questions aren't contributing much to that mission, or are harming that mission, you should expect that the site won't go out of its way to help you to ask those questions, and the site might even block you from asking.

The site is run entirely by volunteers. No one has any obligation to help you specifically. Each question consumes some attention from volunteers. If someone posts many questions that are not well-received, then it is likely that they are not contributing to the site's mission as we would like, and it's also likely they are taking up the time and attention of volunteers, which is detrimental to the health of the site and the continued participation of experts. As a result, to protect the site from being inundated with questions that aren't a good fit for the site, when that kind of situation happens, the site automatically imposes limits on future questions.

You asked "why?", but I suspect that part of your post is really a statement that you don't like it and want it to be changed. However this part of the system is not likely to be changed. The community generally appreciates these protections. Many people here have experience with other sites -- like Yahoo Answers, Experts Exchange, and Quora -- with no protections. Those sites have generally degenerated into a place that wasn't healthy and where experts don't want to volunteer their time. We don't want to see that outcome here. So, some protections are essential. And I think it is working. Many people want to ask here, rather than elsewhere, specifically because there are so many experts here who will provide useful answers -- but those experts only stay if the site has some protections in place.

Don't take it personally. Instead, I encourage you to think about how you can contribute to the mission of the site. Perhaps you can contribute by helping others and providing useful answers to other people's questions, instead of asking questions here. This site is not a resource intended specifically for you. It is intended for the general good of the public. You are welcome to contribute to that mission by posting good, helpful answers to other questions. If you get into that mindset, it is likely you will have a better experience here.

I hope this helps you understand better how this community works and its norms and expectations, and helps you evaluate whether you want to try to participate here under the terms that we impose on users of this site.

I dispute the premise in the title of your post. Fundamental questions aren't dismissed on Math.SE. And your questions are not any more fundamental than many others on Math.SE. Just because you call them fundamental, does not make them so; and just you consider a question fundamental, does not necessarily make it any more important or valuable than other questions on the site. And in any case I don't think it is particularly helpful or constructive to try to debate whether a particular question is or isn't fundamental. That is a matter of taste.

I dispute your claims in your post. The two questions you linked to are not considered off-topic. I think you might be confused about "off-topic". Some questions are closed because they are judged off-topic. Both of the two questions you linked to are still open; neither is closed. At the time when I write this answer, one question has been upvoted, and one question has been downvoted.

• Thank you for your answer. It clarifies a lot about how to navigate the site and contribute to it constructively. However, not having a formal training in mathematics, I do not have a head start and am not able to do so. You may have noticed that I am more active on Chemistry Stack Exchange. While being more informed about chemistry, I also identify as mathematics enthusiast. If the site could help me with a problem of interest to me, I would devotedly study it and, in the process, learn mathematics to a greater depth, and contribute to the site's mission with great enthusiasm. Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 7:32
• I am here and not the other sites because I do believe in the mission of the site and aim to become a valuable part of the community while contributing to my best. However, I do need a starting point. The site guidelines do mention that most users only seek answers to their questions; however, I am here to do both. I love challenging questions and providing answers and have answered questions which I could, considered the comments and answers, and improved upon my knowledge. These problems are of particular interest to me and will pave the way for me to contribute more effectively. Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 7:39

Firstly : The first question is not a fundamental question but rather one that shows less research. Rather none of the questions you stated are "fundamental". An example of fundamental would be something like a doubt in some theorem's proof or the conditions imposed during derivation or generally the building blocks of mathematics like GĂ¶del's incompleteness theorem or something like that.

In the first question, you have cited research papers in your post saying it is an "ongoing debate/research" among scientists when if you would have seen the official SI unit brochure you would have realised that there is not debate, it was all standardised and defined long before 2023. Citing research papers is not a big deal. One can find numerous research papers for any topic arguing on both sides and that does not decide how important the question is or if there is a raging debate on that question.

Secondly : marks assigned during examinations to be considered fraction or vectors? You asked a question that does not concern any branch of mathematics because it is about naming/nomenclature rather than any specific problem or something that relates to mathematical knowledge. You did this because 1) you are not allowed to ask on the site, 2) you thought asking on the site would again result in closing of that question and you being banned from asking questions again (although it would be correct to close the question as "off-topic" - did you read off topic rules and "general asking question on this site" pointers?)

Also, the second post as stated in the comments has no downvotes, vote to close and is rather upvoted and it is not the reason you are banned from asking questions on this site. I do not know if the site moderators count this, but some of your questions were not even relating to this site and almost all of your questions are open without any verified answer even though people have given answers to them. You can comment if you feel that you did not understand the answer or ask them for another follow up question, but you did nothing and the questions remained open. Some answers you edited yourself and/or commented on them but did not verify them to be true? How do you wanna keep asking questions but not verifying to the moderators or site that your previous questions have been thoroughly answered?

Also about the last question about that "marks in exams", your case is clearly stating that when a student is awarded marks in two different papers meaning you assume that they have to be equally weighted papers i.e. the papers carry equal weightage in calculating the final marks of the student. You chose the only case where the marks behaved as vectors and decided to ask about it. In the comments, you asked us to consider one paper given by the student which was graded by one professor for the first 3 questions and another professor for the next 6 questions. Changing a professor does not make it 2 different papers. The total questions that the student got right would be 2 and the total questions would be 9 so the total marks given to the student would be 2/9 in that single paper only. If you would think about it yourself, you scored 1/3 (33.33%) in one subject and 1/6 (16.67%) in another subject, would you directly add 1 + 1 = 2 and 3 + 6 = 9 and say you scored 2/9 overall (22.22%) or would you add both percentages and divide by 2 to get 1/4 (25%)? Final marks are based on many things, one of them being the weightage of the individual papers used to grade. You cannot give us an example of marks obtained in "2 different papers", use equal weightage to calculate final marks (you said "student scored 50%" in both papers so the final weightage should be 50%) and then when we tell you that adding numerator and denominator is wrong, give us another example of "1 single paper graded by 2 different teachers". You tell us to assume equal weightage in the first example indirectly and when we do but contradict your theory that marks awarded are vectors, you tell us we are wrong by giving an example whose assumptions and conditions are completely different than the first. If your final result is calculated by ratio of weightage of questions in each paper, sure your "marks awarded in exams are vectors" theory is right but that accomplishes nothing for this site. It benefits probably a very small amount of people and is not even related to "mathematics", more so to nomenclature (thus better suited here probably?). This is also a reason why this question would be closed and if you posted it when you were not banned, you would again be temporarily banned from the site.

If you found my language rude/aggressive at any point, I did not mean to be. My main message is just that while visiting a new site, you should first read it's rules (like asking a good question and what the site is actually about - if it contains math in it's name, you can't ask something remotely containing the word math in it) and carry out all your duties as an asker like verifying questions (why do you think someone would answer questions when they can't even be verified for a completely correct answer?) before asking why you are getting temporarily banned and what question you should ask (the answer always stays the same)

• Choosing to declare all my questions as not fundamental, or superficial, is dismissing the questions, which is the issue I am trying to raise. What makes you think the second question is not fundamental? Can you answer the question? I believe the MSE community is not just about asking doubts in theorems already established in textbooks but also about raising new, interesting, and fundamental issues that we encounter in our daily lives. The second question is the reason why the ban was implemented because that is what changed between me regaining the right to ask questions and losing it again. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 16:36
• Peer-reviewed articles are the way of research, and dismissing published papers is a complete dismissal of the academic system. I am sure the authors of the articles I cited referred to the SI brochure and found discrepancies that needed further clarification. In science, we debate! That is how we reach the right conclusions. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 16:39
• If you think fractions and vectors are not any branch of mathematics, then you are going in the wrong directions. These are both fundamental concepts in mathematics, and knowing if an object belongs to which category is important. Fractions cannot be vectors and vectors cannot be fractions. I did not do this because I was banned, but because, even after reading all the instructions about asking good questions, I consider my question appropriate, which is the case since it concerns fractions and vectors. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 16:44
• I had not considered weights and that concerns another issue with awarding marks. Surely marks are not fractions, as exemplified by the example, and may not be vectors considering that marks assigned are often weighted by examiners. These maybe another object, which is neither fraction nor vector. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 16:47
• I did not find your language rude or aggressive. It was very insightful. Infact, all the comments made to this post have been constructive and supportive, which I am thankful for. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 16:48
• 1st comment : I did not say the second question was worth asking, what I just said was that it is not "fundamental" in the term you mean fundamental to mean. It is a good question which is why the question has recievd upvotes. I have myself been handed bans before on other stack exchange sites. I do not know how they work but as I said, there are many factors and posting a question and getting a ban is not equivalent to the question being bad. The previous questions may have been reviewed recently and the fact that your new question did not recieve an answer may have promoted the bots to ban. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 17:11
• 2nd comment : i am not dismissing published papers, but what I am saying is that you cannot always see a published paper and relate it to the topic being controversial or in discussion. I am not saying the people publishing the papers have not read the official SI brochure, but Math and Physics work on a basic set of definition or "conventions" if you want to call it, and that is just how it is defined by the official SI unit boards. If we do not question them in other things, why do we question them here when both of the things are conventions? And your question has been why we cannot add ... Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 17:14
• ... different dimensionless quantities and why they are not in the SI unit system, which as you see, has already been answered there and the SI official board has included radian and steradian in the SI units. My point was that there was a lack of research on your side and that the topic did not concern the stack exchange site and rather something else. there was another answer on that question which you failed to verify or ask about which showed the lack of response from your side too Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 17:19
• 3rd comment : fractions and vectors are obviously branches of mathematics but relating such things which do not concern a large group of people is usually not the right choice of question on stack exchange, and honestly, I do not think a very random topic like "marks obtained in an exam" relating/giving it a name of a branch of mathematics is a very math related doubt. Like there a million such random topics you can ask about, take something more general rather than soo random that it may concern nobody other than you. This combined with the fact that the question you posed was "ambiguous" ... Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 17:28
• ... or your assumption was incorrect which you then proceeded to wrongly defend in the comments, if it were posted on stack exchange, it would probably be closed. The point of the meta is to ask questions about the site and not ask math questions because you were banned and cannot wait. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 17:28