My account says "we are no longer accepting questions from this account". Although some of my questions have been negatively received (and taking into account the fastidious nature of MathOverflow), I find it a little unbecoming to prevent someone from asking more questions.

Is this site not intended to help mathematicians and aspiring mathematicians become more informed about the subject, and foster an environment for mathematical inquiry?

While I understand MSE is intended for more elementary questions, I would argue that the current scrupulous nature of the site is anti-thetical to this very ideal of promoting curiosity. Some may argue it is to eliminate "soft" questions, but I am convinced otherwise. Insofar as math is perceived as an "ivory tower" subject, I think the current guidelines for asking questions is simply advancing this misconception. Please convince me otherwise.

Note, this is my first post on meta, so I would not be surprised if it is negatively received. Also, let me know how I can improve the question instead of simply down-voting.

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    $\begingroup$ "MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians." I don't see "and aspiring" there. $\endgroup$
    – user86028
    Aug 9, 2018 at 1:16
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough, but I don't think this fosters an environment which encourages more people to become interested in math, which I think is holistically more important than exclusively helping those who already "know" the subject. @user86028 $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2018 at 1:26
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    $\begingroup$ Sure. And combating climate change is even more important than that. It's just not what this site is for. $\endgroup$
    – user86028
    Aug 9, 2018 at 2:16
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I understand; climate change is indeed far more important. I just wanted to understand the intentions of this site besides the usual "MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians." It just seems like the site is inundated with a little too much pedantry which makes it inaccessible to those lacking expertise. But I understand your point. Did you down vote this by any chance? @user86028 $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2018 at 2:37
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    $\begingroup$ If it helps, you can find links to some basic information about the question ban in the corresponding tag-info, $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2018 at 5:06
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    $\begingroup$ I also think that crossposting everything on math.se helped gather some downvotes (not by me) $\endgroup$
    – Thomas Rot
    Aug 9, 2018 at 6:35
  • $\begingroup$ Just out of curiosity, I wonder why this is being down voted? It seems like everything I post is always immediately down voted without explanation. @ThomasRot $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2018 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ In Meta, up and down votes have a different meaning. Here, upvote means "I agree" and downvote means "I disagree". $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2018 at 10:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Multivariablecalculus You are right that mathoverflow is relatively inaccessible to those lacking expertise. But this is not in itself a bad thing: not all Q/A forums should be aimed at everyone. It might help to turn things around: would you object to a site dedicated to helping students with questions about elementary calculus disallowing questions about multivariate complex analysis? I hope not: obviously multivariate complex analysis isn't within the intended scope of that hypothetical site, even though there is a connection between it and elementary calculus. $\endgroup$ Aug 11, 2018 at 18:05
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    $\begingroup$ Incidentally, let me echo Gerald Edgar's comment that downvotes on meta indicate disagreement (and I've downvoted for that reason), not perceived poor quality. In this case, what I disagree with is the assumption that the purpose of Mathoverflow needs to include encouraging interest in mathematics; while that's a noble purpose, it's simply not this site's purpose. (cont'd) $\endgroup$ Aug 11, 2018 at 18:05
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    $\begingroup$ Now obviously your questions are much higher level than elementary calculus, and I hope I don't come across as implying that they are (or that you should feel bad for asking them). I just want to emphasize the appropriateness of a site deciding its own purpose/focus/etc. $\endgroup$ Aug 11, 2018 at 18:08
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for clearing that up! @NoahSchweber $\endgroup$ Aug 11, 2018 at 18:25

2 Answers 2


I don't think you understand what has happened. It's the StackExchange software that has blocked the asking of questions, based on what has recently been happening with your reputation. Please have a look at this thread: Account banned from asking questions despite being compliant with rules?.

In other words, no human agent pressed a button to prevent you from asking questions. And for that matter, if we take Adam Lear at his word in that thread, no moderator or human agent in the employ of StackExchange can press a button to undo this software action. Nor is the exact algorithm for when this action is initiated part of public knowledge.

Perhaps more especially, read carefully this post: What can I do when getting "We are no longer accepting questions/answers from this account"?, especially the part about what you can do to fix the problem. One way of doing this is: fix your existing posts. Another: contribute good answers.

This is, undoubtedly, super-frustrating for you at the moment. I am hoping that some of the community members who understand what happened in your case can give constructive feedback so that your problem can be fixed.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks so much @ToddTrimble. I was not aware that software was behind the block. $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2018 at 1:59
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    $\begingroup$ No moderator or human agent in the employ of StackExchange can press a button to undo this software action --- That must be false. They write the software, they can implement whatever they want in it. $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2018 at 6:30
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    $\begingroup$ @FedericoPoloni That's why I qualified the statement. $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Aug 9, 2018 at 10:14

"Becoming more informed" can be interpreted in more than one way: as being helped on a particular problem by a colleague, or as asking for free high-level tutoring. MathOverflow is for the former, and not so much for the latter.

I am not familiar with the mathematics involved in your questions, so I do not know how to help you technically. The pattern I see (as well as comments by Todd Trimble and others) suggests that you are looking for high-level tutoring. This is primarily through the timing of the questions (15 in as many days is a bit fast), but also by the appearance of the comments and also the way you use them.

Whether you intend it or not (and whether you are actually doing it or not), it appears to me as if you are reading through a text, encountering a difficulty, spending little or no time thinking on it, asking about it on MathOverflow, and then trying to engage in discussion about the responses you get. This is the sort of behaviour one might expect between a student and a paid tutor. This is not quite the service provided by this forum. The answers are meant to be helpful, but not do much work for you so much as to show you how you can do the work. (This does not hold for many question-answer examples on MathOverflow, but it is the goal to keep in mind.)

In the above, I am inferring a lot from the behaviour I see surrounding your posts. Maybe you are working hard, busting your head, and asking for help. I am just not seeing it. Also, the moderators do not suspend certain account actions lightly; I'm sure there is a good reason.

I am not a moderator, and I really don't know why your account has been modified this way. My guess is that your behaviour resembles something like the above. If so, I suggest not asking questions for a while. You can also write to the moderators by email at [email protected] and ask what you could do differently. (Especially not raising new technical questions in comments to a post on an existing question; that is an etiquette breach which is important but minor compared to other aspects of this situation.). If you give pertinent answers and build up your reputation, then a week or so after that I suggest posting a question on meta where you ask how to write it so that it will be well received and so that you are on the right path to joining this community.

Gerhard "Listen Carefully To The Comments" Paseman, 2018.08.08.

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    $\begingroup$ Now I see Todd's answer as well. My guess now is the system 'thinks you are a help vampire'. I would suggest now editing your existing questions (especially the ones that are closed and have the most downvotes) and then ask for help in getting them reconsidered. One improvement would be to acknowledge the helpful comments and report how this helped you progress, but be clear on what you still need to have a good answer. If this proves challenging, ask on meta for suggestions. Gerhard "Eating Garlic Is Sometimes Recommended" Paseman, 2018.08.08. $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2018 at 1:59

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