Here I only ask questions and do not (can not answer for lack of knowledge) answer any of the questions.

Sometimes I feel it is bad. Some questions that I know answer to are either closed as not research level or already has very good answers.

What does MO community think about this? Is it a good practice to just take help from this site and do nothing in return? I used to do something at MSE but am not doing here.

  • At Mathematics Meta: Is it annoying that I don't answer questions and just ask? and other posts linked there. (It is a different site, but since there is an overlap between the users of the two sites, the discussions might be worth mentioning.) – Martin Sleziak Jul 7 at 5:28
  • thanks for the link @MartinSleziak – Praphulla Koushik Jul 7 at 6:32
  • @ThomasRot I thank you for your comment.. Are you saying you have suggested to read something but I did not respond for that.. please do let me know.. i have no shame in asking for apologies.. I ask for apologies in that case and I want to become better.. or is that comment was made in general sense? – Praphulla Koushik Aug 14 at 13:34
  • @ThomasRot Hehe :D semi general means it is specific to me as welll.. please do let me know :) I will change for better.. – Praphulla Koushik Aug 14 at 13:39
  • 2@ThomasRot I will surely look at that.. no need to delete :) – Praphulla Koushik Aug 14 at 13:42
up vote 55 down vote accepted

It's fine in my opinion just to ask and not answer questions, and conversely I think it's fine just to answer and and not ask questions.

In time you will probably acquire enough knowledge to feel comfortable and confident answering questions as well, but there's no particular hurry.

Either way, if your questions or answers are well received, you are seen as adding value to the site. We need all kinds here.

  • 3
    Ok ok. That is very nice of you. Thank you. – Praphulla Koushik Jul 6 at 20:57

I am more or less in the same situation in the set theory sub-community where there are some very well-informed colleagues who can provide really high-quality answers to almost every question that I can answer. I also tend to ask many questions there.

Based on my personal experience, MathOverflow community is mostly concerned about the quality of users' contribution (i.e. research level mathematics) rather than its quantity (i.e. the number of one's posts) or type (i.e. the question, answer, or comment). That is why almost everywhere on this site you see guidelines and comments encouraging people to post as high-quality stuff as possible rather than rules dissuading them from asking many genuine nice questions. Note that:

  • Nice questions are in fact the main source of generating high-quality material on this site as there will be no informative answer if there is no one to bring up a related interesting topic in his/her question.

  • Many high reputation answerers strongly encourage those active community members who provide nice questions, particularly because it allows them to share their knowledge more easily. This happened to me on several occasions when some users of high standing gave me public or private compliments concerning some of my posts.

  • If you are in doubt whether the other users are satisfied with your contribution style, you may pay more attention to the feedback from the community. I personally check my vote/post ratio as an (not completely accurate) indicator of my contribution quality. As far as it is higher than 10 vote/post per month (i.e. average nice question/answer), I assume that the community is more or less satisfied with my contribution. If it drops beneath the mentioned self-imposed threshold, I consider slowing down my asking rate, spending more time on searching around the topic and even consulting some colleagues about the content of the question before posting it, in order to improve the quality of my posts.

As the conclusion, I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking a lot of questions without answering any if your questions are high quality enough for this site and if you are able to be always nice and respectful towards other colleagues who may express some critical views towards some of your posts. Good luck with your contribution to MathOverflow! :-)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .