So I know there are several general "How to attract attention" posts. But I don't know how to improve my question given the tips because I feel it is really simple. I saw three options to increase readership:

  1. Crossposting on math (which I know is discouraged)
  2. Bloating the question with things like "Please help" or "it is really simple" in the heading
  3. Posting in meta about my problem

While one may think I just want attention (which I do), I would like to point out that I tried to use the most polite way to do so.

If you have tips how to improve the question, make it clearer, or if you could just give me an outright answer there, I would appreciate it very much.

  • $\begingroup$ My apologies... I initially misunderstood your linked question, even after reading it several times. My answer is being modified. It may take me a while. I'll undelete when it's better. (Now done) $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 9:58
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    $\begingroup$ I don't really follow your question there. I can make some educated guesses as to what it is about, but you would be better off trying to clarify your situation, your data, the models, why you want "relative error" (& what exactly you mean by that), etc. It can also be better tagged; neither [mathematical-statistics] nor [estimation] seem really appropriate. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 15:56
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Certainly, some hints here will help. Good luck. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ 4. Offer a bounty (stats.stackexchange.com/help/no-one-answers) $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 12:38
  • $\begingroup$ @hplieninger I meant 3 options I'm able to choose from. $\endgroup$
    – GreenThor
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ Sure, I know. But you may earn reputation, and others may come across this thread. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


Crossposting on mathoverflow (which I know is discouraged)

It would be dramatically off topic on mathoverflow, which is for research problems. Unless you are planning to publish in a mathematically-related journal somewhere, you probably shouldn't post there.

It might instead be on topic on math, however.

Bloating the question with things like "Please help" or "it is really simple" in the heading

Pointless, since it would be almost immediately edited out, and likely annoy several of our frequent contributors, so it's more likely to cost you answers than gain them.

  • "please help" is utterly redundant since everybody who posts a question wants help, that's why they're posting. It doesn't do anything to make your post a better question for the site -- in fact the opposite.

  • if it's really so simple, you should answer it. If you don't know the answer you also cannot actually know how simple it is to answer, you only assume it's simple -- but many questions that are easy to ask are impossible to effectively answer. Being told a question is simple is for me a disincentive to answer because it belittles my contribution in answering a question - before I've even started. Why would I put effort into answering a question that you don't think takes any?

Posting in meta about my problem

Well, sure, but the general advice doesn't change much from several posts here about how to improve questions and how to encourage answers. First and foremost you make it the best question you can.

  • [In spite of initially thinking there was a problem with the question] I now think this question is answerable, but it could be clearer. I had to reread it several times to see where I had misunderstood. [Now I understand it, I suspect it may be a duplicate. If I can't locate one, I will answer it -- assuming nobody beats me to it.]

  • You should as far as possible make sure you have posted in the one best place for your question. Is this a stats question at all, rather than a mathematics? If so how is it about statistics? (I realize its origin is in work with models, but the question itself seems (if I have it right) to be just about how percentages work. Consider whether you should request migration to math.SE; if you do think it is a stats question you should try to make that aspect of it clearer)

  • $\begingroup$ I meant math, just confused it. Thanks for your enlighting answers (both here and in the original question), I will try to look for additional sources and do a little work so I can post a satisfying answer. I also want to thank you for explaining why calling an own question "simple" is no good idea, I wasn't aware of this :-) $\endgroup$
    – GreenThor
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 13:21
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    $\begingroup$ @GreenThor "Math Overflow" strikes me as rather poorly named, when so many users of Stack Exchange are primarily used to "Stack Overflow" and are quite liable to confuse, or simply assume, "Whatever Overflow" is for the non-programming stuff rather than "Whatever SE" (which is far less memorable). It's clear why there need to be separate "Math Overflow" and "Math SE" sites but the naming is very easy to confuse! $\endgroup$
    – Silverfish
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 23:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Silverfish mathoverflow started pretty early (2009, when SE consisted of only the SO/Server Fault/Super User trilogy -- all computing-related), not as part of the SE network but as its own site, using the stackexchange software; it joined SE in 2013 (when even OpenData had already begun). This early start may explain the naming choice (indicating it was like SO is for programmers, but for professional mathematicians). Had it started later (say in 2013 ... or even as early as late 2010) as an SE site no doubt a different name would have been selected. $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 23:47

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