I post a lot of questions and I always obtain learned answers. But rarely, if at any time, am I skilled enough to return the favor and post an answer. How can I contribute more to the community?

  • 9
    Ask good Questions and Vote early, vote often.
    – user9660
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 17:41
  • 11
    No, you are an organelle
    – shrx
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 10:26
  • 3
    I can confirm :-) Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 10:55
  • 6
    After hanging out here for a while, your Mathematica skills will increase. Soon you'll find yourself saying: "Hey, I know the answer to that one!"
    – bill s
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 0:52
  • 6
    Almost any question has the potential to contain a morsel of MMA wisdom: many a time a "trivial" question turns out to be subtly interesting, leading to amusing side-effects like benchmark wars between performance geeks. The end results are nearly always worthwhile and educational to others. Don't sweat the "no answers yet" aspect...
    – ciao
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 6:26
  • 2
    Possibly there is a topic that you are more skilled at than others. It can be helpful to spot questions concerning this topic if you add the appropriate tags to your "Favorite tags", located in the right side bar of the main site. After you do this, questions with these tags will be highlighted so it's more likely you will see them and be able to answer.
    – shrx
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 7:24
  • I'm here from EL&U. I have the opposite problem. I'm always posting answers but find it difficult to ask questions. Either I find solutions myself, or leave it because to me it appears silly to pursue further.
    – NVZ
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 9:54
  • Keep making the ATP
    – user1066
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 13:41
  • 2
    To add to ciao's comment, it isn't just performance that attracts people: it is the "infinitely" malleable nature of the language that we often try to highlight. So, if you have a method that hasn't been used, it is a valid answer, especially if it does something the other answers don't do, like being more (or less) readable. For instance, MrW is a known key-stroke minimalist, as he tries to write solutions with the fewest key-strokes possible. As a group, we like to encourage this type of playing with the answers as it helps everybody.
    – rcollyer
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 14:12

3 Answers 3


I am glad you wish to contribute to our community.

One of the best ways to do this is by asking good questions, as noted in the comments. Be clear, concise, and considerate of future readers who may have a similar problem but not understand your circumstance as well as you do. You will find that many of the best questions are posted by users who do not have a particularly high "reputation" score, and IMHO the site would be impoverished without these contributions.

In time you will probably find that you can answer questions. Many questions that are asked are quite simple in nature (for experienced users) but it can be wearisome to answer many similar questions, so if you are willing to step up and answer these simple questions it can free up the time of more advanced users to answer more deep questions. (Incidentally this is exactly what I did when I joined Stack Overflow when our community was centered there. To a significant degree it is what I still do though I like to think that I answer somewhat deeper questions with greater frequency now.)

Many posts initially need some editing, especially those by new users. Performing this editing is a significant service to the community, as is instructing said users in correct formatting and the use of the editing tools. Posts that are "spam" or have serious problems should be flagged for moderator attention, and when you acquire the Close Vote "privilege" its well reasoned use will be much appreciated.


Do not underestimate how important good questions are for the health of the community and how much they are appreciated by other users. I personally find writing a good question much more difficult than writing an answer, which accounts for why I (still) haven't asked any questions yet, apart from self-answered ones. If you're happy with the quality of your questions, then rest assured that you are already making a big contribution to the site.

  • 3
    Without good questions, how else are answerers going to show their chops? :) Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 13:55

I have not previously answered a Meta question. I learn from the answers and the commentary but have felt I had nothing to contribute.

I am prompted to respond to this particular question from the viewpoint of somewhat a misfit who very much values this community:

  • I would suggest that the introspection in the question is a valuable characteristic for MSE (as well as life)
  • "reputation": my reputation is based almost entirely on what a colleague of mine would call 'low hanging fruit': the simple(r,st) questions. The process of answering these questions can be a catalyst for (friendly) competitive answers. It never ceases to surprise me the creativity of the users. I have learned a lot from these. So, I agree entirely with rcollyer and J.M.'s comments in this regard.
  • I am not really an expert in anything. As bills observes a point came where I thought I could answer a question and so it started. Please know that I have posted some embarrassing blunders and unmasked (to my shame) important gaps in my understanding. This has, without doubt, taught me a lot.

  • Contribution: I am not sure I contribute particularly. I do not really understand chat (my children rebuked me for my SMS skills by emphasizing "short message" and my use of emoticons is a source of eye-rolls). I vote too infrequently and I do not participate enough in closing/editing/first post assessments. Perhaps all give what they can (as well as receive).

  • Finally, I have found Mathematica Stackexchange a diverse, creative, and extremely self regulating community. The common bond is enjoyment of the flexibility/versatility of Mathematica/Wolfram Language. The diversity of people, backgrounds (almost all hidden) playing in this playground has been 'therapeutic', interesting, humbling, and educating. I hope it continues in this way.

This is entirely opinion based. I just posted this to present a non-expert, essentially l'homme moyen.

  • I can handle chat and probably am voting too often Except that you've said all I could say about my participation in this community. +1
    – Kuba Mod
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 6:44
  • @Kuba thank you it is reassuring to read my experience is shared. I have learned a lot from your answers, e.g. DynamicWrapper :) llap
    – ubpdqn
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 7:12
  • 1
    +1 for the low-hanging fruit! I love 'em, those posts where you read it, you think, "Okay there's probably a million ways to do this, if I can think of the best one quick enough I'll get all the glory!!!" Usually doesn't work out like that, but it's fun when within 10 minutes you have 6 different answers
    – Jason B.
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 12:57
  • @JasonB thanks...there is a thrill in those times. The creativity never ceases to amaze me. :) 🖖
    – ubpdqn
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 13:01

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