In these two years I'm always trying to understand how to write well my questions.

Some of my Physics questions necessarily also require mathematical knowledge that I don't have at the moment and the user of Physics.SE. invite me to write a question on Mathematics.SE.

But some users of Mathematics.SE ask me, instead, to write questions about physics, although they contain mathematical aspects, that they are not welcome on the site Physics.SE. Why?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Looking through your question list (including deleted questions), only 9 have negative vote totals and 14 have positive totals. Leaving 19 questions at 0. This isn't really a sign there is a problem with how things are working. Do you have specific instances in mind where you don't understand why something happened? $\endgroup$
    – tpg2114
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @tpg2114 Mine is a personal viewpoint. It seems that someone is annoyed if I ask for clarifications of Physics related to Mathematics. I am trying, also because I do not always understand the symbolism different from user to user. For example, one user asked to close one of my questions: see my comment. Actually I'm confused. $\endgroup$
    – Sebastiano
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ Well -- without specific examples, it's hard to help clarify why is happening. However, we have a very different view from Math.SE on problems that ask to check work or that ask to help derive things. Questions that only ask about math, even if it is from a physics problem, aren't always on-topic here. Questions that try to link math to the underlying physics could be on-topic, though. $\endgroup$
    – tpg2114
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 21:06
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    $\begingroup$ There is no requirement on 'homogeneity of views' between different SE sites. They function the same, but each is a separate community, with values having evolved specific to each one. By your rep it would seem you've figured out a good chunk of it already. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ @tpg2114 I'm doing just that, connecting physics with math. Dear moderator, did you see that most of the questions are about mathematics? For the definition of own acceleration I had a downvote, for this recent also. I don't want votes but that someone appreciates my efforts. Look at my profile. I am making a superhuman effort. I thank you so much for your kindness. $\endgroup$
    – Sebastiano
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 21:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If you provide links to the questions you are referring to, I could take a look and maybe see if there is something unusual happening. But, I can't go through all your questions to find the ones to which you are referring in the comments. However, in general, it doesn't look like you are getting an unusual number of downvotes. For example, looking at your latest question on quantum-mechanics, less than half of the approximately 17700 questions asked about it have >= 2 votes. Not every question attracts a lot of attention. $\endgroup$
    – tpg2114
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ @tpg2114 For now, there are two requests for closure with my question which does not ask for any demonstration of the Heisemberg principle. I totally agree with you. My effort, I assure you, is not underestimable, on subjects that I have never studied and that I am resuming for research. I finished my university studies 20 years ago. $\endgroup$
    – Sebastiano
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 21:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And it takes 5 to actually close it -- one of the close votes was for a duplicate, and you pointed out why your question is not a duplicate of that. It will take 3 other people to vote to close it. The other close vote is because it is a homework-like question and therefore needs to follow our homework policy. From the comments on that question, it seems like you put in a lot of math and explanation and it isn't clear what, exactly, your question is. $\endgroup$
    – tpg2114
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ The edits you made after that comment may have helped, and so it's possible there are no further issues and no more close votes will appear. Or, maybe others will still see issues that need improving. $\endgroup$
    – tpg2114
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ @tpg2114 It would be right and proper for users to write down what doesn't work in my questions and don't hide. I on TeX.SE in almost 3 years I have given only 5 negative votes. $\endgroup$
    – Sebastiano
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 21:28
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Every site works differently and there is no (and will never be) an obligation for people to explain their votes. That's just how it is going to be. Maybe TeX.SE works differently, but as Jon Custer mentioned above -- every site within StackExchange works a little bit differently and so Physics.SE may not work the same as everybody else. $\endgroup$
    – tpg2114
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 21:30
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    $\begingroup$ One issue behind some downvotes (not by me) may be your dependence on a translation engine (since you are not an English speaker) that produces very bad translations. Another may the fact that you sometimes post scans from Italian textbooks. This site operates exclusively in English, and scans even of English text are strongly discouraged. Finally, in two questions you asked us to help you decipher handwritten notes which you had misunderstood. This kind of thing is of zero interest to others. $\endgroup$
    – G. Smith
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 2:23
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I’m not sure I understand the question... $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 12:11
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    $\begingroup$ This question with the recent edit is still very unclear to me. What sort of "coherence" are you expecting between Math.SE and Physics.SE that you aren't currently seeing? $\endgroup$
    – JMac
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 16:30
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ "But some users of Mathematics.SE ask me, instead, to write questions about physics, although they contain mathematical aspects, that they are not welcome on the site Physics.SE" -- this is ungrammatical English and, in its current incarnation, makes no sense at all. Please clarify further what you mean here. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 21:07

3 Answers 3


This is a "border case" problem, i.e. if your question is partially math, partially physics. Math is possible without Physics, but practically all Physics use Math.

Unfortunately, the topicality of the sites is decided by their communities, independently from other sites. Thus, there might be questions which are ontopic on both sites, and also questions which are offtopic on both (while they should be ontopic on at least one of them).

Recently the MathSE got a far more closed direction. The PSE was always restrictive, but at least consequent (with an exception). The good thing is that there are not too many such "blind spots", i.e. topics which are offtopic on both sites. The bad thing is that the visible cross-site cooperation to solve these "blind spots" is little or non-existent.

The important thing is: if you ask a question on the MathSE, it is a Math question from that moment. So less non-mathematical content has it, so better is it. Similarly, if you ask a PSE question, commit everything to not look it a MathSE question in physics disguise.

It is also very important, your questions can be closed on many reasons. Carefully watch all the feedbacks you get, and follow them even if they look hairsplitting. Because it happens often, that the comments are wanting meaningless "improvements". Don't argue them, follow them. Note: they could vote you down/close even without a comment. So it is better to follow them. Furthermore, help them to understand, that you know, what are you asking about, and that you would understand also the answers (links, references, own research). Make the mis-interpretation of your question so hard as it is possible. If you get the comments and answers, react everything and be cooperative with everybody, even if they are clearly visibly.... well, not very useful comments.

If a question is a border-case off-topic, its chance is much better if it is HQ in all other sense.


Some suggestions:

  1. Stop using your "student" notes as a reference. We do not care where your question comes from, and unintelligible scribbles from a student are of no use to us.

  2. Stop using books/webpages in Italian as a reference. This webpage operates in English, and if that does not work for you, you'll have to find some Italian physics community somewhere online. A screenshot of your book, with a rectangle around an equation, is even more useless the equation itself (cf. pictures vs mathjax).

  3. Stop playing the victim; stop using the pathetic argument (in the formal sense of the word). We judge posts, not users. If your posts are bad, they'll get downvoted/VTCd. Learn from your mistakes and move on.


Your question is currently extremely unclear (potentially because you're over-relying on unreliable machine translation?), but the three initial versions of the text contain some kind of version of the following,

In my view there is no homogeneity of views between one site and another.

Why is there no coherence between the two web-sites?

as well as the (currently utterly unclear)

But some users of Mathematics.SE ask me, instead, to write questions about physics, although they contain mathematical aspects, that they are not welcome on the site Physics.SE. Why?

and, while this might not reflect what you actually wanted to ask, there's enough here to address a key point:

  • There is no requirement of a cohesive policy between the Physics and Mathematics sites.

They are run by separate communities, serving different audiences for different topics and in different environments, with vastly different histories. We're bound by the (very loose) framework of the Stack Exchange ethos and overall rules, but anything above and beyond that is a bonus. In particular, this means that the fact that a certain type of question is on-topic at the Maths site does not guarantee that it will be on-topic here, or vice versa.

There also isn't a clear delimiting line that says "questions on this side go to Physics and questions on this side go to Maths", in any shape or form. Some questions might be on-topic on both sides, while some questions might not be on-topic on either site. In other words: "this question is too physicsy for Maths SE" does not guarantee that it will be on-topic on Physics, or vice versa. If that's what's bothering you, then I'm sorry, but this site does not aim to be all things to all people, and it's entirely possible that we're not what you're looking for, and that you'll need to find that elsewhere.

Now, it can happen that someone on Physics will tell you something like

this question is too mathsy for Physics SE, you should try asking it on the Maths site

but that your question then gets a bad reception on Maths. (Let's leave aside, for now, the (entirely real) possibility that the bad reception is due to, say, a bad use of language on your part.) If this is the case, you should not interpret those comments on PSE as being "guarantees" that MSE will work out: instead, they're clear indicators that the question is too mathsy for our scope, but (unless the user in question is demonstrably a frequent user of MSE) only tentative pointers of other places to try. And again: the fact that it's too mathsy for PSE does not guarantee, in any way, that it will be on-topic at Maths.

And finally: Language Matters. If your questions use unclear language, then they are more likely to be closed as Unclear What You're Asking, and they are more likely to be downvoted.

  • We close unclear questions because they direct answerer attention from other questions which do provide sufficient clarity to have unambiguous answers.
  • We downvote unclear questions because they are not useful to future visitors, so they should be ranked lower when search results are presented.

Those are core, integral parts of how the SE Q&A engine works, and they're one of the key reasons why SE shines in providing good-quality content. If these aspects bother you, then you should look for other platforms that don't have content quality as a key tenet.

The same holds for text that is not in English: the language of this site is English, and including crucial parts of your question in other languages is going to lead to a bad reception, from downvotes to closevotes to comments telling you not to do that. If you want to avoid that bad reception, then post only in English, and only include other languages when absolutely crucial and accompanied with a suitable, high-quality translation. To be clear: machine translation is generally not of sufficient quality to be posted directly, particularly on technical subjects like physics. You are responsible for the clarity of the language that you post here, and if it's unclear enough to merit downvotes or closevotes, then edit it to clarify it, or accept the response. Downvotes are not a personal indictment against you, they are indicators about the content of the post.

Similarly, on this site there is a very strong consensus that screenshots of text are off-limits here, which means that posts with such screenshots are similarly subject to a bad reception. If you don't want that bad reception, then follow the site consensus.

And finally: same as with Maths SE, there is no requirement of a cohesive policy with TeX SE. Some things might fly on TeX SE that are not OK here -- in which case, good for TeX SE! but that still doesn't mean that they can fly here. Your text might be clearer on TeX SE (where posts are generally aided by the fact that they contain code, which is much more unambiguous that technical text on physics), but that doesn't mean that text of similar quality passes the standard clarity bar here.


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