In a moment of self-doubt, I googled a really simple question about how to compute standard deviations of a survey experiment. I found plenty of answers, but none on sites which are as good quality as Cross Validated (I saw lots of ads for flat bellies, and answers which are clearly spam).

So I thought I'd ask the question here. After an hour, all I got was comments linking to the definition of standard error, and how to ask appropriate questions.

Is this not a place for asking simple questions? When I ask simple questions on stackoverflow, I usually get multiple answers and upvotes.

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    $\begingroup$ Simple questions are welcome here. But statistics is different from coding. What users expect to be simple often isn't really. We commonly need more information about your situation to properly answer a question. Please be patient with us & provide extra details when requested. We are trying to help you with your question. Another issue is that very simple questions are often homework questions. Many of us teach statistics & bristle at the idea that students simply go somewhere like CV to have their HW done for them. So we can be prickly about that, but even there, we are trying to help. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 1:19
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    $\begingroup$ @gung lol, I get prickly when people are clearly asking homework questions on stackoverflow, too $\endgroup$
    – lebelinoz
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 1:26
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    $\begingroup$ Answers here can be fast, but getting multiple replies within 1 hour doesn't seem to be standard, unless the question strikes several people as really interesting. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 19:32

1 Answer 1


This is absolutely a place where you can ask simple questions.

However, it's important to understand how things work. In particular

  • homework-style questions are treated specially (as noted there under your question), and usually require a clear indication of some level of effort on the part of the asker

  • good questions (see here in the help/how-to-ask) should have made a clear effort at search and research (again, as noted there in comments under your question)

Links were provided for both issues, so I thought what was required from you to get to a suitable question (in the form of edits you should make) would be pretty clear. With very simple (and very simply answered) questions it's even more important to follow the guidelines (otherwise you risk giving the impression you expect the site to do the equivalent of finding what page of your textbook the information is on).

Is there something at (the relevant parts of) those links that you think is ambiguous or not explained? We can perhaps clarify.

  • $\begingroup$ I actually just figured out the answer elsewhere (the answer is standard deviation = square root of 0.53(1-0.53)/100 and standard error is that over 10). I'm wondering if I shouldn't just delete my initial question. $\endgroup$
    – lebelinoz
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 1:30
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    $\begingroup$ @lebelinoz If you're inclined to edit to improve it then it wouldn't need to be deleted* -- you could even answer it yourself. If you don't care to edit, you might choose to delete it. .... * it's possible an improved question wold be a duplicate however, and so it may close. However even good questions that close as duplicates perform a very useful function on site, so such closure should not be a concern. $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 1:34
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    $\begingroup$ @lebelinoz, why not answer your own question? Future information seekers will benefit from what you were able to figure out. You can mark it as accepted. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 1:34
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    $\begingroup$ @gung I hate it when people ask simple questions, and then answer it an hour later. I'll give it a day or two. $\endgroup$
    – lebelinoz
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 1:35
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    $\begingroup$ @lebelinoz I'd encourage you to answer it sooner rather than later. It's completely fine to do so. It would immediately remove any impression you weren't putting some effort in, for example (which might lead to downvotes). $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 1:39
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    $\begingroup$ That's perfectly reasonable, @lebelinoz. For my part, I don't hate this, so I'm OK if you answer it sooner. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 1:40

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