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My highest voted question on this site involves the skipping of rocks here. It sits at 11 up votes.

My second most up voted question actually has multiple candidates. However, in the spirit of fairness, I choose this one. It had a bounty, and was a question involving the derivation of a probability amplitude in QFT. It stands at 2 up votes.

I also have this candidate. It involves a more intuitive question about the stress tensor on a surface. It also has two up votes.

I personally prefer to get answers over up votes/comments. From my own experience on this site however, most of the attention given to answering questions goes to questions that involve little to no advanced mathematics.

For instance in my first question, a moderator informed me that it'd be best if I hadn't asked about the physical validity of the mathematical model I had constructed. After removing this from my question, I lost interest in having it answered on this site. This was because the question was no longer about the model I had guessed. It was now about why rocks skip across water, with an addendum showing my guess work. Still a good question, but not at all what I had intended.

In my other examples, I ask inherently mathematical questions about physical processes. However, I receive little to no attention in these questions. For instance, in the QFT question, I had to place a bounty to get an answer.

The Point:

Is this a site good for asking semi-technical questions about the mathematics involved behind physics?

I'm under the opinion that this is not the case. I believe that this site has a bias towards questions that can be answered without mathematics, and involve pictures and other diagrams in the answers.

If my premise is correct, how do we fix this? It seems odd to have a physics site where you can't directly discuss things such as the validity and improvement of physical model, i.e. the skipping rocks question.

If this is not correct, what should I change about how I ask questions, to get better answers?

Note on meaning:

When I say that this site has a bias towards not using mathematics, I mean that questions and answers rarely make mathematical/logical arguments towards a solution. Instead, they will only reference mathematical properties and describe things in "every-day" language.

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    $\begingroup$ I think your opinion is unfounded: " I mean that questions and answers rarely make mathematical/logical arguments towards a solution. Instead, they will only reference mathematical properties and describe things in "every-day" language.". I'd like to some evidence for this claim. Have you been looking at popular (i.e. the reviled "hot network") questions? Those tend to be pretty crap, yet garner the most upvotes. Such is life. $\endgroup$ – Danu Sep 14 '15 at 17:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Danu How is my opinion unfounded if it's true?? I just decide not to sum up this occurrence to beyond fixing. Btw I presented evidence in my question, see the links and compare upvotes. $\endgroup$ – Zach466920 Sep 14 '15 at 19:41
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    $\begingroup$ To clarify: I think your evidence is insufficient, and that it's not true that this site has a bias towards "non-mathematical" questions. Bernard's answer gives a plausible explanation as to why you may get this impression. $\endgroup$ – Danu Sep 14 '15 at 19:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Danu But, if questions without mathematical content get more up votes, that means there's a bias... $\endgroup$ – Zach466920 Sep 14 '15 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ Related: meta.physics.stackexchange.com/q/5922/2451 $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Sep 14 '15 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ Concerning upvotes vs level, see various meta posts, e.g. meta.physics.stackexchange.com/q/5283/2451 , meta.physics.stackexchange.com/q/5826/2451 , meta.physics.stackexchange.com/q/6303/2451 , meta.physics.stackexchange.com/q/6549/2451 $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Sep 14 '15 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ "It seems odd to have a physics site where you can't directly discuss things" - but this isn't a discussion site at all. There are plenty of discussion sites already aren't there? The intent and scope of this site isn't difficult to grasp is it? $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Sep 14 '15 at 23:09
  • $\begingroup$ I have a bone to pick: "a moderator informed me that it'd be best if I hadn't asked about the physical validity of the mathematical model I had constructed" is almost totally unrelated to what I actually told you. My comment on your question was pointing out that we don't like questions where you just ask us to work out a problem for you, or just ask us to check your work. $\endgroup$ – David Z Sep 15 '15 at 6:34
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    $\begingroup$ You said "...for example, 'what would be the equation that accounts for multiple skips?', as well as questions where you ask for someone to check your work, are off topic here. Accordingly, I removed your last paragraph..." and I'll repeat my self here, if I showed all of my work, I'd expect someone to help by telling me what kind of physical effects am I missing, or what term did I misuse in the equation. $\endgroup$ – Zach466920 Sep 15 '15 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ @AlfredCentauri Uhm, yes, but that's completely out of context. The main point of the post is asking if you're allowed to ask a specific kind of question, not whether or not you're allowed to discuss things... $\endgroup$ – Zach466920 Sep 17 '15 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Zach466920, I quoted you directly and addressed that quote directly. It seems odd that you think it "completely out of context". $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Sep 17 '15 at 22:51
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Is this site primarily for asking mathmatical physics questions, questions on intuition, or something else?

I don't think there is a preference for most users. All questions that fit within the rules are more than welcome.

I believe that this site has a bias towards questions that can be answered without mathematics, and involve pictures and other diagrams in the answers.

I think there is an obvious reason why some questions attract (much) more attention. The more people understand the question, the more upvotes it will get. Questions that I do not really understand, I will routinely skip, and of course not upvote. "Easier" question has a much larger potential base of users who can answer the question, and thus will quickly attract some answers. If you are in a rare outskirt of physics, your question may be easily overlooked by the few expert, because there are many question.

If my premise is correct, how do we fix this? It seems odd to have a physics site where you can't directly discuss things such as the validity and improvement of physical model, i.e. the skipping rocks question.

Why do we need to fix this? StackExchange is a question and answer site, not a discussion platform. So if you want an extensive discussion on your model, you can go to the chatroom, but the site itself does not offer the right platform.

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    $\begingroup$ "Why do we need to fix this? StackExchange is a question and answer site, not a discussion platform" That is true, but why can't we answer a question about the validity and construction of a mathematical model? It might not be a discussion, but it's still against the rules, as I've experienced them. $\endgroup$ – Zach466920 Sep 14 '15 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Zach466920, rules are just, well, rules. You can ask such questions but be an adult and know that, in this imperfect world with imperfect beings, on some days they may be well received and, on others, not. Either this works for you or it doesn't. $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Sep 14 '15 at 23:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Zach466920 see also my comment on the question, but I think you've rather severely misinterpreted the rules. Asking about the validity of a mathematical model for a physical situation is, notwithstanding other restrictions, a very good question for this site. $\endgroup$ – David Z Sep 15 '15 at 6:35
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZ It's good to know that, perhaps I'll try asking another question along those lines. $\endgroup$ – Zach466920 Sep 15 '15 at 15:24
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    $\begingroup$ @AlfredCentauri Once again you missed the general point of my post. I present evidence saying that all of my questions, except ones that are low-level physics questions, are not well received. This isn't me throwing a tantrum, it's just a vague annoyance with the collection of people on this site who insist that having a site that answers mathematical physics questions efficiently is some kind of utopian delusion. $\endgroup$ – Zach466920 Sep 17 '15 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Zach466920, I think you missed my very specific point about being an adult. $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Sep 17 '15 at 22:52
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Site members are free to answer whatever questions they want. The answers that give me most satisfaction are detailed quantitative answers to hard questions (typically about GR) but those are a lot of work. By a lot of work I mean it can take me an hour before I'm satisfied with an answer. That's a long time for people who have to work to pay for a living. By contrast a simple answer can be dashed off in a few seconds, and (there being no justice) can often accumulate far more rep than a hard answer.

Any time management expert will warn strongly against doing the quick easy tasks first and neglecting the long hard ones, but we're only human and none of us are being paid for this. I frequently succumb to the temptation to dash off an easy answer, and given the manifest lack of god-like forebearance on the part of the other frequent answerers I'm sure they do the same.

So the point is that if you post a hard mathematical physics question I will look at it but there's a far chance that either it's outside my area of expertise or I don't have the time to do it justice. Hopefully someone will respond, but inevitably only a small fraction of the site members will have the knowledge to answer a hard question, and they too may not have the free time at that moment. You can always put a bounty on the question if you want to attract more attention to it.

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