I posted a Question this morning and promptly received responses from two users who had not understood the Question at all. I wasted some time trying to rewrite it for them, but to no avail.

I had the same problem with one of the several months ago.

I realize that other users can still respond to the Question, but I also know that seeing it already has "2 Answers" makes them less likely to view it, even if those Answers have been down-voted by the OP.

Anything I can do about this? It might be a good feature is the Questions list displayed the number of Answers not down-voted by the OP instead of just the number of "Answers".

EDIT: a commenter below said I shouldn't down-vote bad Answer because it dissuade other people from Answering. Is this true? I actually down-voted them in the hopes they Delete their non-Answers and stop posting comments that would only confuse other users.

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    You could place a bounty if nothing else helps Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 14:23
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    I think you may have undermined you chances at getting help by being combative towards the people who were trying to help you. This could be the bigger problem. Maybe delete some of those comments and start preface your question with "I'm sorry that I didn't explain myself carefully the first time around. For this reason the answers I got aren't what I wanted. I've made a new attempt now, please have a look." This might get people to keep reading.
    – C. E.
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 14:37
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    @Pickett No, I wasn't the one who got combative. I see one of the guys edited his first snotty answer. The other guy has done this to be before, posting unresponsive responses and then arguing with me all morning when I try to tell him he hasn't answered my question. Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 14:40
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    I don't see why someone would post an answer they know doesn't address the question just in order to start an argument. If one person writes an answer that misunderstands the question, maybe they just failed to comprehend the question properly. If two people do so, it seems much more likely to me that there was something wrong with the question that caused this misunderstanding. I appreciate that this situation is frustrating for you if you made an effort to ask the question as clearly as possible, but please don't assume bad faith of others, who are only trying to help. Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 22:29
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    @OleksandrR. Well, at some point the "only trying to help" ends and people are just arguing, trying to get in the last word. That's why I think it would be better if OPs could just delete comments that will mislead people reading it. Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 22:41
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    When one of those to did the same thing to me several months ago, he claimed it was a Duplicate of some other unrelated Question and wanted to close mine, so I had to try to convince him that WASN'T what I was asking. No matter how I rephrased or clarified for him, he just insisted (all morning) that he knew what I was asking better than I did. I ended up flagging his comments and politely asking him to just stop. To my surprise, he deleted his comments and left me alone, and I eventually got the answer I needed. Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 22:49
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    Jerry, if I may: if the users did misunderstand your question, it is not proper to be dismissive of their efforts to try seeing what you're seeing. As the answerers don't have the same brain as you do, it is certainly possible that your point was inadvertently missed, and you should know that there are constructive ways of resolving such misunderstandings. Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 5:51

2 Answers 2


Well indeed there is something like this, because you don't need to accept an answer which doesn't help you, so anyone sees that your question is not completely answered.

Furthermore may answers, even though they didn't help you, be helpfull for others, in special it avoids that someone else does unterstand the question in the same way as the guys which answered "wrong" and so waste his and your time.

As I mentioned in the comments if you think that your question doesn't receive enough attention you still can place a bounty (last time I placed one this was even available as reason).

At last both answers really seems to be written in a good intention and not intentionally wrong. Furthermore your code is not a minimal working example which I would expect if someone asks for my help, but after all I am not so often on this site, so maybe a lot of users got a different point of view.

  • Yes, I know I can just not Accept I have been told that Questions that already have Answers get far fewer views. And this makes sense, because there are hundreds of Questions on this site with several Answers but that the OP has not bothered to Accept. Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 14:55
  • And why do people always say to post a "minimally working example". If I had a working example, I'd be done and wouldn't need to ask advice. Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 14:56
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    @JerryGuern minimal working example doesn't mean your code is working, but you have a lot of constants in your problem which are not related to the question you are asking. You should reduce the problem as far as possible. Personally I would think twice of posting an answer while knowing that the OP did have downvoted most of the answers, so in fact the chance that I will read your question become smaller, not bigger Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 15:04
  • Actually, I have posted the minimal example that illustrates the problem. If I only use three B's and three m's, FullSimplify works fine. It only bombs if I use at least 4. Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 15:11
  • I understand your point about the down-votes, but I hoped they would see those and delete their non-Answers. One of them is pretty combative, and the other one just keeps posting comments claiming he totally understood my question. Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 15:15

The problem with the post you're referring to was not the responses you got, but the way your question was phrased and the rudeness in your comments to the responses and the later edits in your question. And, although most of your rude comments were deleted and are unrecoverable now, anyone can see your original question and the edits therein.

Let's start with the very first post, quoted here in full:

The product of Normal distributions is an un-normalized Gaussian distribution. I am trying to get MMa to give me the result in some coherent readable form:

(* Create a product of normalize gaussians *)
gau[y_, v_] := Exp[-(y^2)/(2*v)]/Sqrt[2*Pi*v];
f[z_] := Product[gau[z - m[i], B[i]], {i, 1, 3}];

(* Calculate the mean and var of the resulting gaussian *)
logf = f[x] // Log // PowerExpand;
mn = x /. Solve[D[logf, x] == 0, x][[1]];
vn = 1/(-D[logf, {x, 2}]);
h[z_] := gau[z - mn, vn]

This much works fine, and all that remains is the find f[x]/h[x], which is just a constant. And all kinds of things go wrong there. I've tried many combinations of Expand, Together, Simplify, FullSimplify, Log, Exp, and PowerExpand, but result is always a mess.

I even tried just calculating f[mn]/h[mn] to make it easier, but I still find that simplifying the exponents garbles up the constants and vice-versa.

As one can see there's not actually a question asked. You mention that his goal is to find f[x]/h[x] and that your approaches so far have failed.

Both user Wolfies (the statistician and Mathematica book/software author Dr. Colin Rose) and I interpreted this post in the same, I would say, understandable way, that is a request to find a simple expression for f[x]/h[x] and we provided an answer to that question.

We both noted that some of the phrasing of the original question ("product of distributions") was not strictly correct. In the case of Wolfies' answer you responded in a very offensive manner, similar to how you write about him in your comment above "I see one of the guys edited his first snotty answer".

In my case, you first uttered your surprise with what I had been doing, then claimed it was wrong in various ways. As far as I could see, you were incorrect in all of these protestations. The discussion (partly deleted I believe) started getting rather unpleasant, culminating in edit 8 of your post in which you added the following heading:

EDIT: This question has not been Answered. The two responses below are from users who did not understand the question.

Again, rather offensive. I believe most people who read your original question will conclude that the answers that were given perfectly addressed the question as (perhaps ambiguously) phrased. A similar offensive sentence can be found in the current Meta post:

I posted a Question this morning and promptly received responses from two users who had not understood the Question at all.

All while this is going on you kept on receiving downvotes from users who saw what was happening (to be sure: I didn't downvote). That at least should have given you a hint that there might been something wrong with your post and/or comments. I must assume that some of your comments were flagged as rude or offensive too as they have been removed.

When I found out that you downvoted me (not too difficult to do) I simply decided to ignore you for the time being. Until I saw your post here.

By the way, you stated in one of your comments above "posting unresponsive responses and then arguing with me all morning". I may be mistaken, but I believe you're confusing me with another frequent user of this site, with whom you have had some unpleasant exchanges earlier.

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    I didn't ask this Question to continue the argument with you, I asked it to get some advice on how to get people like you off my back. I liked what you said though about ignoring me; I would appreciate it very much if you would continue that policy and never respond to my Questions again. I have asked you for this before and you ignored the request, but I think it's clear now that this policy would save us both some consternation. Vaya con Dios, Amigo. Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 1:38
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    I only responded to this post to correct the untruths you were telling here. Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 5:17

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