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This is not a really new meta discussion post. One can find many similar posts in almost all other stackexchange forums but there is a difference here.

On-topic questions of MESE are completely well-defined by this meta post. We have two types of on-topic questions here:

(1) Questions about teaching mathematics in both university and school levels.

(2) Questions about teaching in general which are applicable to teaching math.

As a completely reasonable argument based on the predefined scope of MESE the number of the questions of type (2) should be moderated and we don't want to get flooded with such questions.

But in the absence of a precise criterion for the appropriate percent of the questions of type (2) there is always a possibility for producing misunderstandings and objections. Each user has a personal perspective for the appropriate number of such questions and nobody can determine the true value of it. Thus it seems we need a precise criterion (e.g. at most one question of type (2) per day for each user) in order to avoid producing unnecessary discussions and useless noises.

Question. What is the adequate precise number of allowed questions of type (2) for each user per day?

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    $\begingroup$ I will write something more elaborate later, however, please note that a standard global (per site) limit of questions per user is 50 per month. (Though, AFAIK, this is not active here, but as example.) Thus, since these type 2 questions, as we agree, should be rather quite a bit rarer than type 1 questions, this could lead to some number. But actually I do not think it is the best idea to write down exact numbers. (And who would decide which question was type 1 and type 2, and who would keep track of it.) $\endgroup$ – quid Mar 27 '14 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ @quid Maybe moderators could be good persons to decide on the type of questions. But let me to emphasize on the necessity of having a precise and well-announced criterion for this type of questions because asking this questions "frequently" could be interpreted as a disruptive behavior easily. $\endgroup$ – user230 Mar 27 '14 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ I would personally like to see not many questions of Type 2 on this site, at all. The more specific to mathematics the questions are, the better. The fact that you're asking how many of this type that one person can ask per day is alarming to me. $\endgroup$ – Brendan W. Sullivan Mar 27 '14 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ Frankly: I'm still not sure about an upper-bound, but my sense (others should correct me if this seems inaccurate) is that you're exceeding it now. (Particularly since about a third of your questions are at least one of: on-hold, migrated, or have negative vote totals.) The key, I think, is not so much to ask rapid fire questions - there will be plenty of time to ask your queries - but rather to aim for high-quality ones. $\endgroup$ – Benjamin Dickman Mar 29 '14 at 9:55
  • $\begingroup$ @brendansullivan07, you are wellcome to vote to close questions that aren't germane to the site (and I'll do so too). It doesn't matter if they are from the same person or not. $\endgroup$ – vonbrand May 19 '14 at 2:57
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Re-pasting your question for convenience:

(1) Questions about teaching mathematics in both university and school levels.

(2) Questions about teaching in general which are applicable to teaching math.

Question. What is the number of allowed questions of type (2) for each user per day?

I think a goal of the site should be (is) to help Math Educators and others interested in Math Education to obtain useful and interesting information. To this end, I don't think there is some minimal upper bound on how many questions of a certain type should be asked per user per day; I think the salient point is that the questions be high-quality and, hopefully, receive high-quality answers.

As for the dichotomy you've outlined (note I read "teaching mathematics" as "mathematics education") my own preference is to steer clear of (2) entirely. If you have a question about education that can be applied to mathematics, then I think the onus is on you (as the asker) to phrase it precisely so that it is about mathematics education.

I understand that there is not a general education site, but I don't think that should entail this site taking on the burden for all other subjects. Those in related areas (e.g., computer science, physics) may occasionally be relevant here, but I think that overall we should stick to questions about math education. Note that even within the domain of mathematics education, the questions can come from a variety of perspectives (e.g., psychology, cognitive studies, pedagogy, pure mathematics, philosophy).

I suggest focusing on sniping a few high-quality answerable questions about math education, rather than firing off a blunderbuss of general questions that could be applied to math ed.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree with a lot, but I am not convinced of the following: "If you have a question about education that can be applied to mathematics, then I think the onus is on you (as the asker) to phrase it precisely so that it is about mathematics education." I think I would share the intent, but in practice there is the issue with this is that it might create questions that are artificially narrowed down to give the impression to be more "mathematical." This is then typically worse than the question that was actually meant to be asked. $\endgroup$ – quid Mar 28 '14 at 17:12
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To give a hard and fast rule for this and such types of questions strikes me as not a good idea. If one wants to implement some automatic check or the community is very large, then one has to decide such things, but as long as we are small enough as community to discuss things on a case by case basis I think this is the better approach.

Still the decisions made by others can serve as a guideline: 50 questions in total per month (technically over the last 30 days) is what a user gets on SO as absolute maximum, and this is considered as rather more than enough by those that set it. So, let us take that for the sake of argument, and since 50/30 a day is the absolute max, maybe a question a day is still quite a lot.

If we in addition agree that type 2 questions should rather be the exception relative to type 1 questions -- and I think we agree on this, I mean we created a site for mathematics education for a reason, we also could have joined or created a general education site -- well then we see that such question should be asked (per user) significantly less frequently than at a rate of one a day.

Now, during private beta, right after joining, and a like, things can be a bit different. Or, I would find it a bit silly to artificially delay somebody asking a general follow up question to a general question just to not exceed some self-imposed quota. But as a rough rule of thumb I would say significantly less than once a day.

That being said let me add that I consider the splitting of questions in type 1 and type 2 questions not as clear cut as suggested and there are other considerations too.

Namely, a question can be not only not very specific to mathematics teaching but it can be even not really a question on teaching, but a question on academic life that somehow involves the fact one is teaching.

Now, I do not even mean to say we should never admit such a question. But then, it feels less on-topic than a question that is at least directly concerned with teaching (even if general).

Further, considerations of quality could also play a role; the tolerance towards questions that are general but otherwise great will/should be greater than the tolerance towards not so good general questions.

Long story short: I think to attach a hard number to this is not the way to go. Once an activity of some user is perceived as disruptive or a distraction, users will and should speak up (in a tactful way), and then let us collectively take it from there. Conversely, users should pay attention to critique voiced by others, for example expressed via downvotes (yet should also speak up if they feel targeted unfairly or also just do not understand the situation).

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  • $\begingroup$ About the rate of questions, I think because we are in Beta phase we need improving our rate of posts per day and users should help on this. Our situation is quite different from StackOverflow because SO is a very crowded site with many users but we are just a Beta forum with less than 400 users. About the 50 questions per month upper bound I suspect that it is really global because if I remember correctly in MSE one can ask 6 questions per day or something near to this number. On type 2 questions I am agree with rarity of such posts but what is important is "defining" this rarity precisely. $\endgroup$ – user230 Mar 28 '14 at 7:57
  • $\begingroup$ Please note that I did not recommend we adopt a limit for all questions. I mentioned the limit to have some basis for claiming what can be considered as "asking a lot." It is true the number of questions in beta is tracked, but it is really not only or even mainly the number of questions we should worry about. A "good" way to make a site proposal fail is to fill-up the site with hardly on-topic and/or low quality questions. I am glad be agree on "type 2" questions. As I explained I do not consider it as feasible (and also not necessary) to define this precidely. $\endgroup$ – quid Mar 28 '14 at 9:28
  • $\begingroup$ On the limit on other sites: yes there is also a 6 per day limit in addtion to 30 per month. These automatic limits are however not active on all sites but only on SO, SU, SF, math.SE. $\endgroup$ – quid Mar 28 '14 at 9:39
  • $\begingroup$ The notion of the "quality of a post" is not completely clear.The only precise criterion which I can count on is up/down votes.The overall result in the particular post "How formal should I be as a university teacher?" shows that it has at least 10 up votes and some down votes.So it is a "nice question" in some sense.Also some users described it as an important question.People can describe "what they don't like" as a "low-quality" post.Also they can down-vote and vote to close such posts. Thus it seems beside the "low quality posts" we should be worry about "low quality votes" too. $\endgroup$ – user230 Mar 28 '14 at 10:13
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    $\begingroup$ If you would like to discuss a particular post of yours (or anyone), please, open a meta-question for it. If you want to discuss "low quality posts", please, feel free to create a meta-question to that end, too. However, as a general advice (yet feel free to ignore it), it seems you are a bit worked up at the moment; perhaps take a short break and let us revisit the issue later. $\endgroup$ – quid Mar 28 '14 at 10:50
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This question makes assumptions that prevent a straight answer.

1) On-topic questions are not "completely well-defined" by the linked post, which simply excludes some topics. They are defined by the community, as in this post, which gives a positive vision.

2) The "number of allowed questions" won't be precise and will vary with the circumstances of the questions and questioner. You can get the benefit of the doubt by providing

  • a name and picture that you also use off-line
  • other informative biographical data
  • a motivation for the question from your experience

and by building up a record suggesting that your question will elicit good ideas.

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    $\begingroup$ The tone of this post is a bit negative. But I think you also raise and high-light some relevant points. Perhaps you could try to rephrase it to be less confrontational. $\endgroup$ – quid Mar 30 '14 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ @quid I'm open to suggestions on possible phrasing. $\endgroup$ – user173 Mar 30 '14 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ You could write instead or at least in addtion something that inclines you to give the benefit of the doubt. It could somehow convey the same information but feel more positive. $\endgroup$ – quid Mar 30 '14 at 22:11
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I think questions of type (2) are welcome, unless there's another site on the Stack Exchange network that would be better suited to such a question. This is a site for discussion of issues that arise in math education, and not every such issue is necessarily related to the "math" part.

I suppose there is a danger that the site could become overwhelmed by non-math educators who ask and answer questions of type (2), but I don't think this is very likely. Right now, I think most of the questions here are math-specific enough that a non-math educator would feel out of place at this site (like Pee-Wee Herman in the wrong bar), which means that we are most likely not attracting an audience of non-math educators.

If we get to the point that there seem to be an unreasonably large number of general education questions, we might need to have a discussion about it. But right now I don't think there's any problem with such questions.

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Unless such a situation really develops, and isn't handled automatically by us flagging/voting to close questions that aren't really on our target, I'd not worry.

Besides, a site like this one is (supposed to be) shaped by its questioners and answerers. Our opinions and tastes as founders of the site must sadly take a back seat here.

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