What makes a good question?

edited January 14 in Meta

In general, your questions on Calc Talk should

  1. be on topic,
  2. be complete with context, and
  3. use the presentation tools for mathematical typesetting and inclusion of images when appropriate.

Here are some more details

On topic

The Student Questions category is meant for student questions about the mathematical content of our class. Questions about homework problems, problems off of tests or quizzes or worksheets, or even related questions on calculus are always on topic. Questions about about due dates, points, class policies, or similar topics should probably be directed to the instructor.

Complete with context

If you ask a question about a particular mathematical problem, then you should state the problem completely and indicate where the problem came from. Thus, question like:

How do I do problem #3 on the HW?

is not appropriate. Keep in mind that the online homework problems are usually randomized so someone else likely has a different version of your problem. Even if the problem is from a test or quiz, there's no reason to expect that folks reading this will remember the problem. Thus, a more appropriate question would look like so:

In problem #3 on the online HW entitled "03: Derivatives", I'm asked to find the derivative of the function %%f(x)=x^2 sin(x)%%. I know the derivative of %%x^2%% is %%2x%% and that the derivative of %%sin(x)%% is %%cos(x)%%. I figured then that %%f'(x)=2xcos(x)%% but this is marked incorrect. Where is my error?

Note that mathematical typesetting is not hard. For the most part, you simply wrap exactly what you would probably type naturally inside double percentages (%%) delimiters to indicate that the input should be interpreted as AsciiMath. Thus, I typed in the complete version of the question as follows:

In problem #3 on the online HW entitled "03: Derivatives", I'm asked to find the derivative of the function %%f(x)=x^2 sin(x)%%. I know the derivative of %%x^2%% is %%2x%% and that the derivative of %%sin(x)%% is %%cos(x)%%. I figured then that %%f'(x)=2xcos(x)%% but this is marked incorrect. Where is my error?

Use the provided presentation tools

The previous example shows how you include typeset mathematics. In addition, it's easy to include images using the groovy image upload button that looks like so:

In fact, I incorporated that image using the image uploader itself! Of course, you might very well incorporate the graph of a function taken as a screenshot from the textbook or generated with a tool Desmos.

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