As I found, most people asking really smart questions. But what if I have a "dumb" question. When I simply don't understand something or even don't understand some answers. More specifically, can I ask a question about an answer posted on math.stackexchange.com?

Or is there an appropriate place where I can ask that sort of questions?

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    $\begingroup$ This is related to one part of your question: Clarify an old answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 3, 2012 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ I suggested to some of my (junior honours) students that they could ask some of their questions on here. They didn't want too, claiming they the level of questions here were "too high". So, I think this is a common worry... $\endgroup$
    – user1729
    Commented Jun 4, 2012 at 10:02
  • $\begingroup$ @user1729 That was a year ago... I think the problem of having too high level of questions appears to be resolving itself. That said, I could not resist doing this. $\endgroup$
    – 75064
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ @75064 This comment may be a year old, but the (different) students I have been interacting with this year hold the same opinion. $\endgroup$
    – user1729
    Commented May 13, 2013 at 20:34

3 Answers 3


The charter of MSE is to welcome all types of mathematical questions. In particular, we do not discriminate based on the "level" of the question. But we do frown upon poorly posed questions - whatever the level. Please provide as much context as possible when posing your question. Tell us something about what fields of math that you know (and/or put this info in your profile). Mention the source of the problem and and/or your motivation for solving it. Tell us what you have tried and where you are stuck. The more information that you supply the better we can provide you with answers that are aimed precisely at your level.

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    $\begingroup$ I was just teaching a class and somebody wrote on the white board among other rules "There are no dumb questions-please try not to disprove this" $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 2:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Ross: I would prefer the wording "Please do not try to disprove this." Actively trying not to disprove it is too much pressure. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 3:11

There is no lower bound on how "dumb" a question can be here. We only ask that you've put some honest effort into it (e.g. that you don't ask a question about a homework problem you don't understand when you haven't even looked up the words in it yet).


Adding to what has been already stated, if it is the case that your question merely requires a "moment" of thought and a little determination for resolution, then please do refrain from posting for lack of initiative on (potentially) your part.

Although, this may go without saying, such criterion makes explicit the point of effort in mathematics. So, it's not really there for our benefit as much as it is for yours. Though it may seem to the contrary, every great mathematician (or great anything) was the result of a lifetime of determined effort, which is a principle one must always strive to uphold in all endeavors.


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