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I am in uni and I'm struggling to write a proper question for this site. I always end up writing too little and people say they need more detail. Sometimes I get a bad rep and criticised for being lazy, cavalier, and obfuscating.


In the coming years I want to be an active member of the community and be able to ask a more fleshed out version of:

"How to classify certain algebraic function fields in Hadamard spaces that are enriched with co-complete fibered CAT(0) spaces?"

I'm working on this for physical reasons, and am enjoying the process.

I realize it will take time, work, and patience to build an appropriate question.

Just wondering if it's on topic for this site.


I am very flexible and respond well to feedback. I think communcation and feedback is necessary for my growth as a mathematician.

I look forward to becoming a contributing member in the community.

Thanks very much.

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    $\begingroup$ your user profile does not list any questions on MathOverflow, what is the negative feedback ("bad rep") you are referring to? $\endgroup$ – Carlo Beenakker Apr 26 at 11:00
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    $\begingroup$ @CarloBeenakker They've all been deleted. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Apr 26 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ I must say: I can't make heads or tails of this question. That may be due to my ignorance, but what, for example, is a cocomplete fibered CAT(0) space? I try googling the phrase, and Google asks back: did you mean "complete fiber CAT(0) space"? Of course I have no idea. I do have some idea what "algebraic function field" means (I think I would just say "function field"), but a function field in a Hadamard space? Is "in" the correct word? Sorry, I just find the language confusing and opaque. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Apr 26 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ @todd here's one thing i'm reading: books.google.com/… $\endgroup$ – geocalc33 Apr 26 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ chapter 4 by the way $\endgroup$ – geocalc33 Apr 26 at 16:54
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    $\begingroup$ That's a healthy start: giving some much needed context. Supplying that often helps when you're trying to pose questions. What does "enriched with cocomplete fibered CAT(0) spaces" mean? (You don't have to define CAT(0) space, but I don't know what the phrase as a totality is referring to.) $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Apr 26 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ Several general points about asking on MO are summarized here: How to write a good MathOverflow question? (However, I suppose you are more interested in suggestions how to write down this specific question rather than a general advice.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Apr 28 at 7:20
  • $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble what it means to me is, I fibrate the CAT(0) spaces, and now I try to work out how to "enrich these function fields" with the fibered CAT(0) spaces. I'll be honest I have no clue how to do this at the moment, or what tools I really need to make everything work out properly. I have not built the entire bridge yet :). When I say "enrich" I mean that I need an object that synthesizes information between function fields and these fibrated CAT(0) spaces. I think it will take me about 5-8 years to resolve it fully if I work alone. I'm in no rush :). If it takes me 20 years, no bother. $\endgroup$ – geocalc33 Apr 29 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ (And "cocomplete"? That's a familiar term from category theory, but I'll guess you meant something different.) If the question is sensible, then it shouldn't take anything like 5-8 years -- but it's possible you'd find in a year or so that you're not really asking yourself the right questions. It's hard working alone, especially when you're young as I'm supposing you are. Once you get into graduate school and begin talking turkey with an advisor, your work will probably get a lot more focused and meaningful. Meanwhile, keep trying to simplify the mathematics you do on your own terms. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Apr 29 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble Thank you so much! Sorry for the confusion! $\endgroup$ – geocalc33 Apr 29 at 14:48
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    $\begingroup$ There's a piece of advice from Polya, and I can never remember quite how it goes, but one version is: if you find a problem to work on and can't solve it, there may be a simpler version of the problem that you can solve: find it! But I can't quite remember if it's supposed to be version 2: there's an even simpler problem you can't solve; keep going until you find the simplest version that you can't solve, and maybe you'll actually solve it! $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Apr 29 at 14:49
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To write a good MO question, it helps to get into the heads of people answering questions - what attracts and motivates them, and what repels and discourages them. The best way to do that is to try to answer some questions yourself and notice patterns in your own behavior; behaviors that intimidate or irritate you are likely to do the same to others. Here are some examples of positive and negative behaviors that I've discovered this way:

  • Provide links to (or write out) all of the definitions and results necessary to understand the question. Even if it's an area that I know well I still may need to refresh my memory on details, and I'm rarely motivated to go off and dig stuff up myself.

  • If you have an idea, or at least know something that doesn't work, share it. Even if I'm intimidated by the question, maybe some partial progress will jog an idea loose or at least remind me of a helpful reference to recommend.

  • But don't write too much. If I can't get the gist of the question from the title and about ten seconds of skimming, I lose interest.

  • Don't rewrite the question too much, especially after it receives an answer. If you formulated a question incorrectly or forgot an important condition and get a correct answer which is unhelpful for your true question, accept the answer and ask a new question. Questions are free, and you might motivate the people who answered your first question to continue to engage.

There are probably a lot of other tips and tricks like the above, and again: build empathy for your target audience by answering some questions yourself.

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