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I'm asking it here because it is specifically about Mathematics Educators Stack Exchange and not about the Stack Exchange network in general. Also since this question is about Mathematics Educators Stack Exchange and not about the whole Stack Exchange network, I don't think it's worth taking the time to read the first answer to every single question FAQ for Stack Exchange sites links. That's because there are probably so many ways I could help with research that I might decide to do that I won't waste time doing a less useful thing for research of reading all those answers for now. I'm not trying to promote my own questions but am linking them because I know only how I think and not how other people think, and think it's not that bad to because I'm not suggesting they are worthy of upvotes. Feel free to tell me if I'm wrong about that assumption.

I think on both Mathematics Stack Exchange and Math Educators Stack Exchange, I had some really good questions at first and posted them then I later ran out of really good ones and got interested in less good ones I thought of and started asking them and then sometimes got a question ban and then would sometimes get unbanned again, and I feel like I wasn't given enough chances to get feedback and learn how to ask a better question.

When is it fine to ask a question for discussion and when isn't it? Is it sometimes fine to ask a question about general education because there is no Education Stack Exchange? How can I use the negative score on this question to figure out how to avoid asking another question that will turn out bad when I don't see how I could have predicted before I asked that question that it was going to end up bad? I can't yet think of any question at all that I can figure out how to tell for sure will be good but I think I still have some more questions some of which are good and can eventually slowly learn through feedback how to seek out the good ones and ask them. How can I get better at predicting that? After I asked this question, and before I asked the next question, I got blocked from asking questions but I think it may have actually had a good idea because this question got asked based on it. I'm actually glad somebody asked a question based on it. I just think maybe other users will be glad to get the useful information that that question might have been good after all. I believe I did not have the knowledge and past experience from which I could have possibly figured out how to ask it really well like the person who asked the question based on it did.

After having watched the YouTube video How The Chinese Language Makes Math Easier - Linguistic Analysis, I think China is unique in how they teach rational numbers in that they define a positive rational number as an operation on the natural numbers or as an equivalence class of operations on the natural numbers, but I could not find any Google search results on how fractions are taught in China so I'm wondering if it would be suitable to ask a question about how rational numbers are taught in China if I write the details to the question the right way.

Could it really be the case that since I'm lacking knowledge other users have, if I kept being given more chances to ask questions and using those chances, only two more of them ever would end up good question and after that, I will be permanently out of ones that have the potential to end up good without that knowledge? Could I ask a question Mathematics Educators Stack Exchange or its Meta website about which knowledge I'm missing from which I can figure out how to ask more good questions and how to get that knowledge?

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Not required, but I'd suggest, you add something to your profile about yourself. Your 'self-learning' tags are fine, but a bit extra on your background would help members understand the origin of the question a bit better.

Across SE, members are permitted to offer a vote without comment. The question you started with, had just one vote, a DV. Not mine. What you did get, however, was kind interaction from 3 members commenting. 2 simple responses might have helped a bit, addressing the lack of a link. (You cited a Wiki article as the premise of your question, yet didn't link) And a bit better formatting. In the end, the question felt more like discussion than a question and it might have been tough for members to parse out the question you were looking to address.

For the cited question, the tags are not accurate. Mathematical-Analysis shows a use case of "For questions applying to analysis courses: Real and complex analysis. Typically a higher and more proof-based level than calculus." Far above my pay grade, and probably why I never noticed that question. Self-Learning might describe you, and that's fine, but you asked the question as if you were teaching middle schoolers and trying to see if a certain approach would work well.

Another question of yours, Should schools get students to do discovery math? (And I now see inappropriate tags here, too), was actually interesting to me, I voted up. What you may not see is that behind the net zero score are 2 DVs and 2 upvotes. But, interesting doesn't always make a question suitable for MESE. Again, there's a headline question, and many links to otherwise interesting articles, but the question is more of an invitation to a discussion than one that can be answered as asked. You also got 3 comments, one of which -

I voted to leave this open, but I think it is important to stress that questions should not be of the form "I have idea X; does anyone agree?" This isn't a normal internet forum; it's a Q&A site. This one seems to be worded a bit better and I think it could have good answers (Discovery Math was implemented in location X and it had outcome Y).

was a direct bit of good advice on framing good questions. It would be helpful to re-visit those questions and address the helpful comments, both in general, but especially the ones suggesting link edits. Easy fixes in many cases.

At any stack, I'd strongly suggest you first read. Start with the tags that are of interest to you, and see the kinds of questions that are good, in both their votes, but more important, in the answers they attracted. Then, compare those questions, not just the topic, but how they are framed, what they offer, and what they seek, to your own questions. Last, instead of asking yourself "what question can I think to ask on MESE" just pursue whatever it is you are doing in your math interest, and wait until the question comes to you.

(Note - I've removed the 2 Mathematical-Analysis tags, but warn you that the edits bop those questions to the front page, and that might attract votes either way from those who haven't seen the question yet. And later, if another member edits tags, as well, the same thing happens.)

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  • $\begingroup$ I feel like my brain has developed a routine and I feel that I have a bit of a feeling of liking to do something on this network for the sake of it and am less happy than I was when I was using it earlier. I kind of don't like the feeling of heavy overdependance on my past in my current think. Sometimes I do some of my own thinking independently of my past and like the feeling of it. It's probably actually the thing that's on my mind right then that's making me have more fun. When I was 21, I discovered the axiom of choice wasn't provable and got fascinated by studying it. I feel like working $\endgroup$ – Timothy Mar 12 at 1:57
  • $\begingroup$ towards figuring out the answers I'm looking for about the negation of the axiom of choice all on my own is a lot more fun than is getting answers to some of the questions I asked on Stack Exchange. I feel like my discovery of the unprovability of the axiom of choice got me to do more of my own thinking and doing less overdependence on my past. Some people may think that living for ever would necessarily be boring. They may think, surely, everything is going to be related to an earlier experience. They may get bored after 60 years. However, I believe that after enough time, they would get $\endgroup$ – Timothy Mar 12 at 2:00
  • $\begingroup$ better at doing their own thinking and deriving of results independently of their past and then realize that they don't actually need a change and what they really need is for their current thinking to come independently of their past which is what's happening. They will probably lack the ability to reliably quickly recall anything from long enough ago but there will still be a reliable slow advanced method of reconstructing their past from the state of their brain. Maybe eventually, they would gain the ability to stop anticipating the obvious about how the future is really going to go. $\endgroup$ – Timothy Mar 12 at 2:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Timothy "When I was 21, I discovered the axiom of choice wasn't provable and got fascinated by studying it. I feel like working towards figuring out the answers I'm looking for about the negation of the axiom of choice all on my own is a lot more fun than is getting answers to some of the questions I asked on Stack Exchange." would be a fine paragraph to put in your SE profile. That is the kind of "background" that JTP is talking about -- it helps other people see where you are coming from, and can help them post better answers. $\endgroup$ – Chris Cunningham Mar 15 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisCunningham I haven't decided what I'm going to do. From what I wrote in the earlier comments here, I might eventually stop asking questions on Stack Exchange entirely. It might eventually come naturally for me to only have questions I'm able to work on myself because that way, I will enjoy the present and not be impatiently waiting to see what the answer is going to be. It's also possible that I might eventually learn to enjoy the time before I see the answer and stop anticipating the answer coming in case it doesn't come and then get interested in the answer only after it comes as $\endgroup$ – Timothy Mar 15 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ though it were somebody just trying to tell me something interesting. I kind of don't like the feeling of the current ingrained tendency to want o hang around Stack Exchange for something to do. Maybe eventually, I'll be able to not have any questions until I discover an already existing flaw in the way the world works then ask about it and also be satisfied when I don't have any questions. $\endgroup$ – Timothy Mar 15 at 20:09
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I think China is unique in how they teach rational numbers in that they define a positive rational number as an operation on the natural numbers or as an equivalence class of operations on the natural numbers, but I could not find any Google search results on how fractions are taught in China so I'm wondering if it would be suitable to ask a question about how rational numbers are taught in China if I write the details to the question the right way.

I doubt that MESE is currently big enough in its user base for someone to know how to answer this, but it seems within the scope of allowable questions.


To adress your 'actual' question, which I interpret to be not quite

When is it fine to ask a question for discussion and when isn't it?

but rather

Why do my questions seem to get down votes or closes or just no responses, and so perhaps aren't appropriate?

I think that sometimes on SE sites you just get bad luck. Especially with one as small as this one, there's only so many active people with enough rep to vote for a close. (I don't know what a 'question ban' is but I assume this is what you mean, my apologies if there is something else.) Note that one of the questions you reference isn't closed or anything - it just didn't attract any votes or answers, which given its very narrow content isn't surprising. MESE is not a comprehensive repository of knowledge (yet!). (Edit: I see JoeTaxpayer has addressed this point more comprehensively by looking at the actual vote totals.)

A contributing factor to this situation is that MESE is not a journal. What I mean by this is that edits do not have give and take; they are essentially unilaterally imposed by someone with more reputation. Unfortunately, that means that the work one does in editing (and I have a modest amount of this experience) in helping people get to a better question, or indeed the work that one does in teaching mathematics, cannot happen in an organic way here. Unless you have an edit by someone who is willing to fundamentally rewrite the question, it's unlikely you'll be able to rescue a less-than-optimal question without reading a lot of successful questions.

That's a fault of the format, though, not of the content of your questions. So keep trying, and pay careful attention to the specificity of successful questions. Good luck!

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    $\begingroup$ Also, just to emphasize: Asking a difficult question that might not get an answer yet is completely fine and actually good, since it might attract an expert (on education in China) to answer it, eventually. One simply should not be too hopeful in getting an answer fast. $\endgroup$ – Tommi May 2 '19 at 8:36
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    $\begingroup$ Yup, totally. I've both answered and gotten answers late enough to earn various wacky badges I didn't know existed on other SE sites. $\endgroup$ – kcrisman May 2 '19 at 12:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Namaste - sure, I updated the answer. I may have intuited incorrectly, but I have a feeling I'm right on this. $\endgroup$ – kcrisman May 2 '19 at 22:57
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    $\begingroup$ Agreed and tough to answer a half dozen variations at once. And my +1 was for “keep trying”. We don’t need spammers. We don’t need trolls. But we do need those with a passion for the subject which is where the OP lands. $\endgroup$ – JTP - Apologise to Monica May 5 '19 at 22:40

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