Some stackexchange sites (such as science fiction) have had weekly question contests to generate interesting content.

I think this would be a good idea, because of our question/answer ratio.

What do I mean? There are few questions on here, but the average question generates a lot of good answers. My interpretation: Many users are looking for ways to contribute but find difficulty in thinking of questions to ask. Also, once a question is proposed, they find it easy to think of answers from their own experience.

My proposal: A weekly question contest with a chosen theme. Every week we choose a topic. Anyone who wants to participate may write a question on that topic. At the end of the week, the highest-voted question wins.

Now, the rules may seem dumb, so just like in the American children's game Four-Square, the winner's award would be the ability to change the rules of the next contest,and to pick the next topic.

Please let me know your thoughts below. If you want to try this out, consider suggesting a topic for this week's contest.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ We could use this to help get more questions in under-represented areas. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ Could you perhaps post a link to similar contest on another stack exchange site? $\endgroup$
    – Jim Belk
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ @JimBelk I've edited in an example. They mention the cooking site doing it as well. They use cash funds and a drawing. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 20:01
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The following seems closely related meta.matheducators.stackexchange.com/questions/149/… $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Apr 21, 2014 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ @quid As you said, "Perhaps if at some point in the future it should seem that things slowdown too much, while we are still below a critical mass, then might be a good time to induce some extra effort via some "contest."" Perhaps we should see how many questions are asked 'organically' this week before trying a contest. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 21, 2014 at 12:25
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, at the moment I feel it is still a bit early for this for reasons along the lines given by Benjamin Dickman. But maybe we could bridge the summer months with something like this; chances are they'll be a bit more idle. But also then I would not be that much in favor of having a contest being decided by usual votes only. To optimize for votes often does not yield an actually good contribution. Many votes means popular, which should be related to but is not the same as good. Perhaps we could have some jury in addition. Not sure how to do this in detail; just a quick idea. $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Commented Apr 21, 2014 at 21:57

2 Answers 2


This sounds like a fine idea to me, as long as you would be willing to run it (at least to start with).

Please wait a couple of days before starting it, though, in case anyone else wants to weigh in.


Brian - the idea is intriguing. My current question Method of Solving $5^x=326$ (Logs not allowed) might (?) fall into that category, as I believe I've formulated a rather elegant solution for the general problem.

I'm intrigued as to how to solve certain high school math problems in new ways, with an eye toward helping students who don't quite get the current method. The contests might lend themselves to this type of approach.


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