I have been a huge fan of Cross Validated. This community has helped me learn mathematical statistics through a self-study- although it's hard to say that I self-taught myself with such amazing textbooks and this community.

I want to give back and answer questions; however, every time I filter questions on this forum, the only questions without answers are either not too related to the math stat theory that I've learned or way beyond what I know.

Is there a way to locate the "low-hanging fruit" to free up more time for you bigger-brained folk to answer the more difficult questions?


1 Answer 1


Good question! I am very far from being an expert, so I struggled with the same problem. Here are a few things I found helpful:

  1. Find and follow tags that you know something about. I spent a fair bit of time on early on because it included a number of basic questions I could answer. I also discovered some more niche tags that were relatively neglected, implying either that the regulars here were not especially interested in them or were not experts in those topics. Answering (and editing) questions on these types of tags helps a lot of people.

  2. Look up the 'unanswered' questions on these tags. Frequently, there are a number of old-ish questions that are quite deserving of an answer. Sometimes doing this can be a bit thankless, but answering old questions can draw attention to them. While doing this, you will want to familiarise yourself with the most upvoted questions on those tags. Some of the unwanted questions will be duplicates, so you will help the community more by flagging them as duplicates rather than answering them.

  3. Look up the 'new' questions on the front page when you visit the site, not just the home page (which also includes questions that were just answered, edited or bumped). Also look up the new questions of the tags you are interested in.

EDIT: I realised after being on the site for ~5 years that you can easily achieve much of points 1-3 by creating custom filters for yourself. Go to your home page, look on the right side of the page below the box about posts on Meta, then click on 'Create a custom filter'. Select a specific tag, filter by 'no answers' (or 'no accepted answers'), sort by 'newest', and then click 'Save custom filter'. This makes a link for you that will show up with a blue circle next to it whenever there is a question posted that meets its criteria. This ends up being MUCH faster than manually navigating through individual tags like I used to.

  1. To make sure this does not end up feeling like a slog, pick a strategy that amuses you. Look up the CV badges and pursue any that you'd like, if that floats your boat.

  2. There's a bit of disagreement about whether we should answer every basic question that gets posted. Some people prefer to stick to CV's original goal of maintaining a corpus of high-quality Q&As, others are happy to answer basic questions, most fall somewhere in the middle. In case you fall into the second group, you will find it easier to identify questions to answer. But be aware that these questions end up getting closed more frequently than others, either as duplicates or as lacking in important detail.

  3. When you open any question, CV lists a bunch of 'Related questions' on the right side of the page. So when you find one question you are able to answer, it can frequently lead to discovering a few more.

And if you have not seen it yet, this is a very useful thread about how one can help here even without the advanced training that you clearly possess: What is the best way to give back to the community when I don't have the math skills?

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    $\begingroup$ I would add being aware of what your reputation allows you to do by looking at stats.stackexchange.com/help/privileges For example, some not so great questions are often not very well presented. Just going in and subdividing into paragraphs, tidying up the English, editing out repetition and minor irrelevance, and so forth can (a) keep a question in sight (b) make it more likely than others will work at it (c) allow you to understand what the question is about! $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 7:04
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    $\begingroup$ I should have said ... this is an excellent answer. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Apr 25, 2020 at 10:05
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    $\begingroup$ @NickCox Thanks! I appreciate your helpful addendum too. $\endgroup$
    – mkt
    Commented Apr 25, 2020 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @NickCox That is a great point! Thanks $\endgroup$
    – Ron Snow
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 23:03
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you so much for providing this information. Following finals, I plan to sit down and give back to this amazing community. I always felt bad that I'd ask so many questions without finding questions to answer. Thanks so much! $\endgroup$
    – Ron Snow
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 23:03
  • $\begingroup$ @RonSnow You're welcome! Good luck on your finals and we look forward to seeing more of you around here. $\endgroup$
    – mkt
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 8:27
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you, @RonSnow, for asking what I have been thinking about lately—and thanks, mkt, for the strategy you provided, and the link to another question about contributing with limited math knowledge (which is also the case for me). $\endgroup$
    – psyguy
    Commented Aug 10, 2022 at 12:40

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