I have a thought that this question is off-topic. But...

From the day I joined here, I was active (though I had low-quality answers, I was still actively answering) for almost 8 months. Then, I had a vacation (can't use internet that much) when I stopped answering. I (am) still visited (visiting) each day, read & voted a lot of posts. Once I came back, I can't participate actively like I did before. A few days later, I had another vacation when internet was sufficiently available. At that time, I can't control myself from answering questions. So, I started again.

Now, I had a terrible 1 month (diffusely avail. internet) vacation, when I stopped answering again. I don't know why I'm getting tired (bored) of answering stuff.

I still read many interesting Q&As, vote many posts, edit & review a few things, etc. But, I can't get back into the lane of answering questions. Does this happen to users often? or, Am I spending more time starring at these font over-and-over again which got me bored? (I can't figure this out)

I have an opinion: For the first few months, I was giving utmost priority to rep. score, visiting the users list many time finding my position in the list (pardon me, but I did do that). Maybe that's why I answered a lot. Now, I don't even care to look at the "just-another-number" in my profile. I had figured out (at the start of this year) that rep. isn't determining how much knowledge someone has. Maybe, that could be a reason why I stopped answering. But, I do feel guilty for stopping my answers. I'm very much aware that no one is gonna worry for someone stopping answering questions. Still, I can't find a reason.

This is just a discussion. I need a few opinions and advice from users.

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Glad to hear it's not just me. Could be your body cycles. I recently plotted my daily reputation gain and analyzed the frequency spectrum of it (was really bored). There was naturally the 7 day week cycle, but there was also a semi-monthly and a quarterly cycle. It actually almost perfectly matched my reputation gains (barring exceptions like vacations, etc). You could be on a yearly low or something. $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 14:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Find a good book on physics/math. That will give you questions to ask and research. $\endgroup$
    – Dale
    Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 20:21

4 Answers 4


It's not just boredom. My participation tends to ebb and flow with my research workload, and in particular the way I participate depends on what other work I have to do.

Waiting for something to compile? I'll edit or flag questions.

Waiting for some files to transfer? I'll look around for questions I can comment on to help either figure out what the person is asking or to help list out what I think would make a good answer.

Avoiding working all together because I have so much it's overwhelming? I'll hop into the chat, edit a whole bunch of tag wikis, and answer questions (ie. the past week).

Ultimately your participation is up to you. We each have an objective in participation. For some it's to learn; others to teach. I personally would like to get enough rep to cast close and reopen votes to help relieve some of the moderators' workload. I most often only have time to help moderate and improve posts rather than contributing original content, but right now I can only do that by flagging (and until recently, I could only suggest edits). I'm not a fan of pushing my work onto others to act on and would rather be able to do it directly. But getting the rep is hard because I don't have the time to generate original content.

C'est la vie.

But the point is, don't feel guilty, don't feel like you're obligated to participate one way or another. You do what you want to do, what you have time for, and what you enjoy.

  • $\begingroup$ Ahh... A nice one. But, I didn't really expect you. Anyways, thanks for stopping by ;-) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 15:51

I think many (most?) people here approach the participation like I do, namely as a hobby. Like all hobbies, sometimes you have a lot of time for it, sometimes not, so your participation/enthusiasm naturally changes with time.

The rep thing is just a bit of fun. It doesn't earn you any more money and it won't influence your chances of getting an academic post. So not to be taken too seriously.

  • 13
    $\begingroup$ What? Rep can't be exchanged for money? MY WHOLE LIFE IS A LIEEEE!!! :P $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 19:46
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ No money & academic posts??!! I quit now..! And, I should spam something before I quit ;-) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 1:38
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    $\begingroup$ Can profile views be changed into rep and this then into monay ...? For some reasons I have much more profile views than rep, dont know why this is :-D $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 9:39
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    $\begingroup$ Gosh @Dilaton you have lots of profile views? Nope, I've no idea why that can be - I mean it's not like you ever voice strong opinions is it? :) $\endgroup$
    – twistor59
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 11:05
  • $\begingroup$ Ha ha, I have no idea what you mean :-P ... If I could convert my (mainpage) profiles views to rep I would currently have 4014rep :-D. Maybe I should ask a feature request on MSO next April 1. :-) $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 11:16
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    $\begingroup$ What?? I was banking on this to get tenure! NOOOO!!! $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 12:02

I actually experience something remarkably similar to what you describe here, and i have found a few points that may be worth keeping in mind.

My most important point is Don't do anything differently!

I first noticed i sometimes dropped off a lot, being reclusive to just the chat but still reviewing and answering only in bursts on The Workplace.

I tried analyzing what i answered to find out if i only answered specific questions or questions about specific problems, i found some false positives (mainly because i tend to only answer thing i know about so that correlation was due to my knowledge, not to my activity)

After spotting this i realized a pattern, it fit almost perfectly into the way i play games, read books or watch TV. In bursts, sporadically, when the fancy takes me.

Arming myself with this knowledge i noticed that you don't need to be answering constantly, it is a creative process, trying to force yourself into always answering wont work, this isn't a job that you need to work at 24/7. You don't need to answer every question, that's why this is a community, we work together to achieve what one person couldn't.

I wouldn't say its because it has 'become boring' or because the quality is changing or the community is changing, it seems perfectly natural, and is something i've seen happen to hundreds of users on just about every one of these sites.

So yes, it is true that physics get bored often, but it is also true for Stack Overflow, The Workplace, Academia, Gamedev...etc. Because answering questions in an informative manner is a creative process its like painting, or writing a book, you don't do it 100% of the time your entire life, you go where your creativity takes you and accept that you sometimes need downtime to try other things


There are many things that make me uncomfortable.

First I would like to have more exchanges, but with email, not chat. I want time to think. Exchanging through comments is very inconvenient, and answers are not meant for that. But email seems a no for most people, even when I give mine. Once a problem is sorted out, it can go online.

Second, the systems discourages repeating questions. Why not. But the problem is old questions hardly interest anyone. I spent considerable time answering old questions (not so much on physics) on which I do have expertise. I consider myself lucky when I have one reader. Workng with no feed back is discouraging.

Then one can get lots of rep with fast answers. But that is no way to work decently. But if I try to pursue a topic that did attract much interest, to get something out of it, the heat is down and I find myself alone.

Then there are answers that get upvoted though they include serious mistakes. I do not even see the point of downvoting. I do point out the mistake though, with little effect. I make mistakes too, but I do correct (visibly if useful) any mistake I am aware of.

I do learn some stuff, and it can be fun, even though I am not a physicist. I do what I can ... from what memories I have left. And I like to understand and explain. But I get tired of useless efforts for serious contributions.

Maybe I am responsible and not listening enough. I wonder.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi babou. I don't want to take this as a discussion. But, this doesn't look reasonable to me. Roughly, are you saying that the system & the people around are making you getting-bored-often? 1) You don't quite get the point of my post 2) You don't understand how SE actually works... $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 2:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Cra I was simply candid about what made me uncomfortable using PSE. I am certainly not judging the people. There is little reason to assume they are different from any other crowd except for the fact they use SE. Many seem very dedicated, and I did appreciate their patience with me. They do not bore me. Regarding your post, rep is indeed intended to motivate at first. Then other motivations should take over. But I am uneasy about it. For me, technical work is creation, and we do not all follow the same creative path. SE may lack flexibiliy ?? Trying to understand it was my initial motivation. $\endgroup$
    – babou
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 8:59
  • $\begingroup$ @CrazyBuddy In what way do you think I do not understand how SE actually works ? Maybe you are right, and your view of it can help. $\endgroup$
    – babou
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ If you've come here to learn & share, why are you expecting others to motivate you? They up, down, or don't encourage you (with many ups), what do you care? Just keep on contributing. If you see posts having wrong stuff, just indicate them (why do you have the comments privilege for?). You say fast answers generate lot of reps (I think it's very rare). I've experienced many times (when I post a fast answer), another guy posts a nice well-written amazing answer which throws my answer away, and finally, I end up deleting it. And, there are a lots more I wanted to indicate in your post ;-) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ @CrazyBuddy I am not expecting others to motivate me, but I do expect to be motivated. And I wonder whether the work and energy spent here is usefully spent. I do not mean just mine. I do not see where all that is going in the long term. Many texts are interesting but half baked, with no incentive for improvement, and isolated without any perspective for consolidation. Is it really useful or ultimately futile? Somehow, I feel the next step is missing. Do not ask me to be more precise, I am trying to understand. I may be expecting more than I should ? - - [as I said, I do comment wrong stuff] $\endgroup$
    – babou
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ Ahh... Now, I get it. First, we all post stuff not for nothing, there should be something useful. And, don't worry about others. You continue your contribution. I actually required advice. But, now I feel like advising. Anyways, thanks for stopping by ;-) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 1:42
  • $\begingroup$ @CrazyBuddy Regarding quick answers, wrong answers, meaningless answers, here is my latest example: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/71467. I just got upvoted for the first time, after 24 hours. Do not vote on this cue: I am observing what is happening. But your comments here are welcome. It is not the only example I have. As I told you, I am trying to understand, both the site and its users. And I am sure there are different types of users, but I have no real means of knowing what kind is visiting. I am also trying to understand approximations in answers. $\endgroup$
    – babou
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 13:01

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