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I've never found a Stack Exchange site or a QA site comparable with this SE. Every one is super friendly. Every question is either well-crafted, or concise and precise. Every answer is super helpful. There is no fight, no politics, no troubles. Everyone is simply helping each others. I've learned much more about academics here than from my super busy advisor.

However, as a student, I have very very little experience to offer back to the community. In addition, I don't want to misguide others with my inaccurate information and my immaturity. I feel guilty if I don't give back in return. How can I effectively contribute?

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Thanks so much for sharing! Glad that we're helpful. I can see two ways you can help out, and I'm sure there are more:

  • There are many questions stemming from a teacher's point of view, or a lab advisor, or a colleague. Your perspective is quite valuable on these posts. You'd be surprised how quickly the student experience is forgotten. Share your thoughts, especially when you notice that they're not being expressed in other answers.

  • Play the long game! I've been on this site for ... *checks watch* ... more years than I care to admit to myself, and the type of contribution I've been able to provide has shifted dramatically. "Pay it forward," as the saying goes, whenever you have the opportunity.

On a related note, please take to heart that your asking questions and participating is an incredibly valuable contribution to the community. You have over 35k views on questions you've asked... using the time-honored tradition of guesstimating, that's probably over 15k people who have benefitted from your contributions. That's incredible! Well done!

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    Even more ways to contribute: Proof-read answers and questions, participate in close-voting and reopening, checking suggested edits, adding or removing (non-)pertinent tags from a question, voting, flagging duplicates, off-topic questions, inapropriate content and overly long discussions in the comments. – henning Oct 19 '20 at 18:20
  • "I've been on this site for ... checks watch ... more years than I care to admit to myself" You have 8 Yearling badges, so at least eight years here. – nick012000 Oct 23 '20 at 13:35
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Academia SE is the best SE!

Hard to argue with that!

However, as a student, I have very very little experience to offer back to the community. In addition, I don't want to misguide others with my inaccurate information and my immaturity.

It is admirable that you recognize this! Unlike some other SEs that are based on technical "facts" or verifiable references, we rely heavily on "personal expertise" from those with experience in academia. We are lucky that our user base represents a wide cross-section of students, lecturers, post-docs, professors, industry researchers, and former academicians. But we must all recognize our limits, and avoid the temptation to overgeneralize from our experience or knowledge. I am sometimes reminded of this "the hard way" when I answer a question I shouldn't, and end up saying something stupid about law or theoretical math. :-)

I feel guilty if I don't give back in return. How can I effectively contribute?

Eykanal gave some good suggestions, but let me underline three in particular.

  • Ask questions. As discussed here, crafting a well-received question is difficult. Long-time users are familiar with our site's norms, and can be a good source of interesting questions.
  • Edit. This is definitely something that not everyone can do: it can be a tricky balance to make (sometimes major) revisions while still respecting the asker's intent. But if you have good writing skills (which you seem to) and are familiar with our norms, this can be really impactful: I have seen edits turn a soon-to-be-closed or largely-ignored question into an HNQ. And it is largely thankless work.
  • Vote and flag. If you've been around for a while and are familiar with our norms, your votes (including close/reopen votes) are very helpful. And as for "there is no fight, no politics, no troubles"...well, the view as a mod is a bit different, but flags are a very helpful way to bring (potential) issues to our attention before they turn into trouble.
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I don't want to misguide others... How can I effectively contribute?

Vote on questions. You do not need to know the answer to a question to determine if the question is useful.

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    Actually I don't think we have a "dearth of votes" problem. – einpoklum Oct 25 '20 at 7:25
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Because it hasn’t been mentioned yet:

Review, in particular first posts. I would argue that this is the most important review queue, because if done properly, a good first posts review can make a new user feel welcome, fix problems with a question before bad answers or closure happen, and so on. Just make sure that you edit the post as well as you can, leave comments helping the author to improve their post (or explain what is the problem with an unsalvageable post), and vote and flag as appropriate.

In my experience, a secondary advantage of reviewing is that you automatically engage with posts, and learn something in the process or find questions that you can answer.

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I feel guilty if I don't give back in return. How can I effectively contribute?

Even just upvoting questions and answers you like is a valuable service, and it is a nice little show of appreciation for those of us who contribute questions and answers.

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