3

Academia gets a lot of questions in this genre.

https://academia.stackexchange.com/search?q=how+to+ask

Many of the asker's problems could be solved if they reworded their post to be addressed to the academic in question, and then asked the question. I feel like these posts are just looking for affirmation. They contribute to the noise rather than the signal. Can we make a catch-all question or otherwise reduce these?

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    Questions about academics asking students questions seem more interesting to me. – Anonymous Physicist Feb 24 '16 at 4:51
  • Looking at the top ~ten questions on that list, it doesn't seem like there could be a (useful) common answer for all (or even many) of them. – ff524 Feb 24 '16 at 4:53
  • Not all the questions linked are in the genre. – Anonymous Physicist Feb 24 '16 at 4:54
  • Perhaps you could provide a list of questions that you think this proposal would apply to, then. – ff524 Feb 24 '16 at 4:55
7

If I understand your concern, I think that there are two genres of questions embedded within the "how to ask" that might be good for setting up community wiki answers for:

  • "How do I effectively ask a busy stranger for help with admission/funding/hiring/research?"
  • "When should I treat professors as authority figures and when like ordinary human beings?"

The rest I think are highly heterogeneous, but we get a lot that are basically students or junior researchers who are struggling with these two general issues, and a CW might be able to help consolidate them.

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    Right. These questions are not really about the stated situation. They are about the asker's self confidence. – Anonymous Physicist Feb 24 '16 at 22:39
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    @AnonymousPhysicist It's not just self-confidence, it's also about complying with social norms. If you ask a busy stranger for help in a problematic manner, you are guaranteed to not get help. Likewise, there are some times when you should treat a professor as an authority figure and not an ordinary fellow human being. – jakebeal Feb 25 '16 at 16:42

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