I am using Mathematica since 2 weeks ago.

I have two questions here I got down votes on both.

Well, I confess that the first one was a stupid question. But the second one I don't agree. Maybe the solution could be found on the help or over the Internet but not so fast (or easy) for a beginner user.

I'm a member of TeX.SE and I saw a lot of easy questions with a simple answer and no down votes.

Maybe members here are not so patient with beginners.

I agree that we can learn a lot by ourselves but not so fast. We need time and some simple questions with simple answers (even short ones) could help us.

Sometimes it is a matter of searching over the web but the solution could be hidden.

Thanks for attention. That's all.

  • I suppose the downvote may have come because your MeshFunctions admission. The help indicates that questions exhibit "some proof of a minimal Mathematica knowledge: be familiar with the language, its syntax, and the ways you can look for help. The searchable Documentation Center is included in Mathematica, and contains a full language reference, tutorials and guides." Still I wouldn't downvote a new member's question, and certainly not yours. I do vote to close duplicates and ones whose answers can be found on the command's help page.
    – Michael E2
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 0:54
  • Dear Michael E2, thanks for your attention. Please, read my comment below and consider my words also for your. Thanks again.
    – Sigur
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 1:01
  • 10
    One down vote is not enough to form an opinion. In any community there is always an outlier who has different ideas about how to behave. If you get a down vote then double check your question and make sure that it is as good as you can make it. If the question is seriously flawed, in my experience, someone will point it out eventually.
    – C. E.
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 1:22

3 Answers 3


I think most people here would usually vote to close as "easily found in the documentation" if they felt a question was too simple. The sort of questions that attract downvotes are normally those where the OP has made no effort to ask properly, for example the lazy ones with no code, no data, and an incomprehensible one-line statement like "I want to unplot the negative equations".

So I personally don't think your question deserved a downvote, but of course it was only one downvote, and you probably shouldn't draw conclusions about the community from the actions of one individual.

Simple questions

Regarding the wider issue of "simple questions with simple answers", I believe a certain amount of filtering is definitely a good thing. Mathematica has a very large amount of built-in functionality, so the potential number of easy questions is huge, and the site deliberately aims NOT to become a collection of basic examples and "getting started" tutorials. There are numerous resources for that, not least the built-in documentation which is immediately available at the press of a button.

I hope that most beginners find this community patient and welcoming, even if some of their questions are closed down. But I also hope that any Mathematica experts coming across the site will find it stimulating and want to stick around. We need to strike a balance in the site's content so that it is attractive to both beginners and experts (and everyone in between), which necessarily means weeding out some of the very simple stuff that can be found elsewhere.


It's unfortunate that your question was downvoted, but sometimes that's life. I would've rather you looked around and participated for more than a week and asked more than two questions (one of which, by your own admission, was "stupid") before forming an opinion of the site. However, since you brought it up here, let me try to address a few points.

I disagree with your hypothesis that people here are impatient with new comers. I've been here for a while and I can recollect several examples where experienced users were extremely patient with newcomers. While we certainly don't greet every single question with welcome comments, we do try our best to help the OP.

I'm reading your question for the first time today and the first thing that struck me was

I don't know the effect of MeshFunctions.

It sounds like you were indifferent and lazy (I'm not implying that you were). What MeshFunction does is just a single key press away — just press F1! It's a different issue if you tried reading it and had trouble with a specific part of it, but that wasn't the case here. And sure enough, the first comment was also pointing out the same. The next line that stood out was:

How to get the desired obvious result?

but you hadn't explained or mentioned what you desired or what was "obvious". I have an idea of what is obvious to me, but it is not obvious if that is also what's obvious to you... Since Szabolcs pointed out two instances of confusion/lack of clarity in the question, you could have tried to rephrase it or include what you tried after reading the docs for MeshFunction.

I cite these examples, not to dissect your question, but to point out that sometimes (especially in text), it's very hard to convey tone and indicate your sincerity/effort properly. Your phrasing of the question at certain places and the lack of detail had the unfortunate effect of sounding like you just grabbed some code from somewhere and wanted us to make it run like what you imagined. Someone else reading the question might have come to the same conclusion and downvoted for lack of effort.

Also note that we get several questions every day from new users that are just off-loading their homework on to us or want something "done right now", but don't know the language and don't want to learn. A good tip to get the members to treat your question better than those of the drive-by users, is to try and differentiate your question from theirs :)

  • Dear rm -rf (nice nick!), thanks for your attention. I agree with you. Unfortunately it is difficulty to me to write as I wish (sorry for my pour English). Well, I learned a lot with your opinion. I said that about Mesh because I didn't know if it was relevant or not for the problem. About the obvious, sorry but I guess that it is (almost?) obvious since I'm replacing $z=0$ by $z=1$. So the desired result is the intersection at level 1 :-) but well, anyway, thanks again for your time and lets continue studying this new software. Regards.
    – Sigur
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 1:00
  • @Sigur Like I said, it is obvious to some that infer the question and fill in the blanks from the figures. However, that is not what you wrote in your question. You had two figures Z0, the original plot and Zk, the modified plot. If you had asked "How do I get the obvious" after Zk, then it would have been a lot less confusing. However, you wrote as if Zk was what you were intending to get, but somehow the Show[Z0, Zk] step worked incorrectly... This is where you asked about getting the obvious. This points to another beginner problem — the over (and unnecessary) use of Show.
    – rm -rf Mod
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 1:30
  • 1
    Show is not needed for the plots that you had. Although it might be too much information for you at this point, some history might help in understanding why you might have seen code peppered with Show, especially if you were following an old textbook or ancient code.
    – rm -rf Mod
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 1:31
  • 1
    I think I may personally have overdone the "show effort" thing. Showing what you have tried can distract from the question. Looking at Sigur's profile I'd say he has contributed more to the SE/SO network than he has "taken". I don't want to make the site less open to new users, but maybe we could let this weigh just a little bit in deciding if enough of an effort has been made. Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 10:05
  • 4
    @rm-rf - Really well-written, regarding phrasing. But \@Siguar, I'm sympathetic to you as well (and I think most of us are). The problem is that your "poor" English is actually quite decent (and especially your phrasing seems quite natural!), which I think actually makes you easier to misunderstand, haha. In other words your decent usage of language invites heavier criticality than if your usage was poorer. Think of it in that positive light :-) Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 18:09
  • OK, thanks for the help. I had edited that post and better discussion had appeared there. I'm still learning! My post here was based on the early down vote. If I had waited days for a simple comment or answer, I understand, OK, no problem. But in few minutes... boom!! Down vote! But OK, this is the way we live. The show must go on (but not the command one show lol). Best wishes for everybody.
    – Sigur
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 11:34

In any open/public access environment like this, you'll have your share of... knobs. Don't sweat it: this really seems to be a well-balanced, patient, giving (as in unpaid time and effort to answer and guide) community. I can't add much more to the above answers, they cover my thoughts pretty well. Again, don't sweat it, we've all (or mostly all) been there, done that...


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