I was going through the weeks unanswered questions, and came across this one:


The peculiarity of the question is that it requests an answer via e-mail communication. Though the question is quite localized, the practice personally seem off due to the fact that it would not help future visitors by not providing a public answer to the question.

Thus the question, is it alright for a user to request answers to also be sent by e-mail?


1 Answer 1


No, I don't think this is appropriate. Users can opt to receive emails when their questions are answered or commented on, so this could really only be interpreted as a request to receive an answer by email in lieu of an answer here, which is not acceptable as it excludes other users.

  • 16
    $\begingroup$ I personally feel that people who ask to be e-mailed the answers, in a public site such as SE, are of the selfish and inconsiderate sort, as they deprive other users of the chance to learn from potential respondents. $\endgroup$ May 27, 2013 at 6:39
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    $\begingroup$ I think the correct way, however, to deal with users who request answers by e-mail is to point out to them that they have the option of receiving e-mail notifications of answers (see the bold text above). $\endgroup$ May 27, 2013 at 8:21
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @J.M. I am sure that there are plenty of other Gaussian elimination examples on MSE, so I do not think that being "selfish" is really an issue here. Anyway, if I was to send an answer by e-mail (which I wouldn't do, but if I was to...) then I would also post it as a reply to the question. So I think this is a moot point. However, what I am slightly concerned about would be that this is from some sort of assessment. If an answer does not appear online then, so the student thinks, they merely tried to cheat. Therefore, there can be no punishment! (Again, so the student thinks...) $\endgroup$
    – user1729
    May 27, 2013 at 9:33
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    $\begingroup$ @user1729, coming from fora and newsgroups from a long time ago, I've always been very annoyed at users of these sort. I would have thought we are now in 2013 and such people don't exist anymore, but apparently not. Stuff on Gaussian elimination is indeed widespread, but that doesn't change the fact that the guy was inconsiderate. (As Chris has suggested in the thread I commented to, he might just have been ignorant, but that would still fit with his being inconsiderate, as he did not think things through.) $\endgroup$ May 27, 2013 at 11:09
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    $\begingroup$ I'm with J.M. Posters asking for e-mail answers in sci.math were told in unmistakable terms about their faux pas. The excuse "I don't come here frequently" was met with the contempt it fully deserved. In other words, IMO this is equally impolite and inconsiderate as the plea: "URGENT, THIS IS DUE IN TWO HOURS!" $\endgroup$ May 27, 2013 at 11:36

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