Very Little Excuse To Ask A Question Cold

We frequently get questions such as these:

“What is energy?”

“What are Cooper Pairs?”

“What is conservation of momentum?”


And the persons who asked such questions didn’t bother to explain the context of the question, what exactly did he/she wanted to know, and didn’t reveal the level of education that he/she could understand.

While we welcome questions, in this day and age, it is hard to comprehend anyone coming here asking a question cold, without first trying to look it up. There really is no excuse, other than laziness, for asking such a question. If you are curious enough about something, the first thing you do is fire up google, and do a search on it. You don’t just pop into an open forum and ask such a question as the first thing that you do, do you?

Learning, believe it or not, is a very personal and internal activity. While we use external means to gain knowledge, in the end, it is something that has to sink in for yourself. So the effort in learning has to come from you. While this forum can do a lot of things, what it can’t do effectively is teach BROAD subjects. It is just too cumbersome! What it can do very well is tackle specific and narrow areas. Often, questions coming from such narrow areas are dealt with satisfactorily, with full closure.

So if you have question, this is what you should do:

1. Do a search. Try finding out the answer yourself. Even Wikipedia, which I dislike, might offer some help.

2. Figure out where, in all your readings, that you lost your understanding. This could be an equation, a derivation, or a description that simply doesn’t sink in.

3. Note the exact reference that you used, and cite these references when you tell people where your source of information was.

4. Post your question in full, and within the proper context. Cite your sources, and indicate what level that you can understand. It is a waste of time if someone presents a response that is way beyond what you can comprehend.

5. Make sure you follow up. There’s nothing more annoying than someone who posts and run. The rest of us can’t tell if we’ve answered your question, or if you never came back to even read the responses. The least you can do is indicate that, yes, you’ve read it, and it is satisfactory. If not, ask what you still don’t get.

6. Don’t be impatient. Students who demand answers IMMEDIATELY deserve to fail their exams. Remember that no one is being paid to do this in this forum. People are helping you voluntarily. Demanding that your question be answered will do nothing but turn people off, and may get you an infraction or two for being a jerk.

7. Don’t get annoyed if people are helping you via a “guidance” rather than giving you a direct answer. In many cases, it is best that you discover the answer yourself, with the guidance of others. This is one of the most effective means to learn, where you use what you already know, and build on top of that to learn new things. Some time, what you think is new, actually has an analogous situation elsewhere that you’ve already understood. Making you realize that the situation that you didn’t realize to be similar to be just that is part of learning. So be prepared to be asked questions as responses to your question. People might be trying to get clarification of what you were asking, or trying to guide you to arrive at the answer.



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