Recently, I have noticed that there are many new users, especially those with reputation 1 or 101, making the same errors over and over again. Could we provide a simple guide for them and perhaps a few simple guides?

The most common errors I have seen are LaTeX formatting

  • a / b should be $\frac{a}{b}$
  • using mu, sigma instead of $\mu$ or $\sigma$
  • not putting \$ to open & close an equation eg. x^2 instead of $x^2$

Also, some of them do not know how to view the math ML. Perhaps we could simply say like "left-click on equation", navigate to "View in TeX" format.

Also, common errors of newbies like

  • Not posting own proposed solution

What other errors do newbies make?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I don't feel that not up-voting a more popular answer is an error on the neophyte's part. $\endgroup$
    – Rustyn
    Mar 7, 2013 at 8:26
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ -1 In addition to agreeing with Rustyn, I also don't see the point of have such a list. Who is the list for? Do you want higher rep users to go check every single first posts against this list? Do you want every new user to come here and read this list? Why isn't leaving a comment on the "offending" post enough? $\endgroup$ Mar 7, 2013 at 8:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Personally, I think $a\over b$ should be $a/b$. I also think OP is unaware that some of us use Apple computers that have no left-click. $\endgroup$ Mar 7, 2013 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ Did you mean "right-click"? Normally the primary button for a mouse is on the left side, and Apple pointing devices send the primary button for all clicks by default. Apple users can right-click, (Mighty mouse or Magic mouse) ctrl-click (really old Apple mice or trackpads), or two-finger click (multi-touch track pads) depending on their hardware and settings. $\endgroup$ Mar 7, 2013 at 19:47

2 Answers 2


Having a guide for new users to help them avoid "newbie mistakes" (which we sort of do), and somehow ensuring that new users actually read it are two different kettles of fish. I don't think it is a stretch to say that the latter is impossible.

As stated by Willie Wong in a comment, "oldies" are always welcome to comment on posts by "newbies" and direct them to the information they feel might be helpful to the "newbie". To aid in this there is a meta-thread on comment templates which includes many that are meant to guide new users to resources. If you find yourself using the same comment again and again, please feel free to add it to the list. While we still cannot guarantee that new users will ever actually read either the comment or the information linked to, I think the "personal" nature of such comments is at least somewhat effective. (I have received several "Thank-you"s from new users after posting such comments.)

To conclude, I personally see no benefit in having a list of "newbie mistakes".

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ So that was where many "oldies" get the message because it sounds familiar, despite it being a long paragraph. $\endgroup$ Mar 7, 2013 at 9:09

A common error that I often see is posting a question with the wrong tag or too many tags.


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