Note: this question is the one currently appearing as the welcome page example.

I happened to look at the welcome page today. It shows a example question and its answers. In my opinion the question chosen is not good example. Here is why:

The question (which was probably chosen for its brevity) is a rather open-ended question asking for recommendations of an open-source substitute for Wolfram Workbench. This question, while acceptable, is hardly typical. I further think it encourages new users to ask questions of the "Is there a thingy to do X?" sort, which are often not high quality questions.

The two answers shown are essentially link-only answers (again chosen for brevity, the actual question has other more thoughtful answers). I fear this will encourage new users to think that kind of answer is typical and desired.

I request that a well-posed question involving a coding problem or concerning a one of the subtleties of Mathematica that have answers that are not links be substituted.

I accept that it is incumbent upon me to suggest some alternatives. How about

Flatten command: matrix as second argument
What does the construct f[x_] := f[x] = ... mean?
What is a Mathematica packed array?
Partitioning with varying partition size
Replacement inside held expression
How do I extract the middle element(s) of a given list?

It would be necessary to do some editing of the above to use them as the welcome page example, but since the current example is clearly edited, I don't think that should be considered an impediment.

1 Answer 1


I had a discussion with Shog9 (SE employee) about this issue before the feature was rolled out publicly in January (link for mods). The reason for that rather poor example is because SE uses a highly simplified, one-algo-fits-all "logic" to choose the set of candidate questions for the about page (mods can pick one from this list). Some of the constraints are:

  • The question must have more than one answer
  • The question and the answers must each be under 400 characters
  • The posts must not have any code (not even inline code), lists, LaTeX or images.
  • Some other tag restrictions as well that I don't remember (perhaps min # of questions in the tag?)

Needless to say, these restrictions are extreme for our site — answers are seldom without code/images and 400 characters is too short. In all the 11k+ questions on the site, the chosen one is the only question that fit the above criteria.

He did say that they'd try to tweak the algorithm and relax it a bit to give us more options, but it doesn't look like they've done it and they've already moved on to other things by now. I know, it sucks for us, but it seems like this rather clumsy set of rules works pretty well for a good majority of the sites on the network and they're probably reluctant to make exceptions on a site-by-site basis.

  • 1
    Perhaps we can fake a good question on purpose Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 19:45
  • @belisarius I doubt it. if the question and answer can fit in 2 tweets, then it most likely isn't a good question for the site...
    – rm -rf Mod
    Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 19:51
  • Thanks very much for the reply. You have certainly addressed my issues although not in the way I hoped for. I am very sorry to learn that examples are restricted by draconian rules which, as you point out, are almost guaranteed to produce an example unsuited for our site.
    – m_goldberg
    Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 21:27
  • 8
    I've lifted the restriction on block elements (code, etc.) - you now have a reasonable number of choices. That said, be careful - posts with block elements can end up looking really awful when shoehorned into /about (the page layout doesn't adjust to accommodate them at all).
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 2:32
  • Thanks @Shog9. That's a decent list. I'll go through it later today.
    – rm -rf Mod
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 3:04

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