I am a student in the field of High Performance Computing and when I am reading anything relevant, I seem to generate a million doubts per second. Many of these die out through quick google searches but some linger around. These are StackExchange type questions with definite answers (maybe answerable through experience but constructive and objective). My question is: How many questions are "bearable" per user (Assuming that the questions are objective, constructive and on topic)?

While I love trying to find out things on my own, sometimes, it is not possible. And on "one-of-those-days", I am left with 10 different things I can't understand for which I have a strong urge to type in 10 questions in SciComp.

Also, its a little shameful to be asking all the time without being able to help. Maybe in the future I will be able to but as of now I feel like a leech. Asking 10 questions at once will make me feel like the world's biggest leech.

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    $\begingroup$ Well, we are now at 3.5 questions per day, so... what are you waiting for? :) $\endgroup$ – astrojuanlu Feb 16 '12 at 7:35

As Juanlu001 said, there is really no such thing as too many questions, as long as they are good questions.

However, as you probably know, on Stack Exchange we expect people to do some research before asking a question. Research usually entails searching Google (and/or Bing, Yahoo, etc.), reading documentation, checking mailing list archives, searching SciComp.SE and Stack Overflow for relevant questions that have already been asked, and even tinkering around with code a bit. The point is that asking a good question for an SE site takes some preparation, and you can't ask all that many questions if you're really putting in the effort to research each one.

On the main trilogy sites (Stack Overflow, Server Fault, Super User, and Meta Stack Overflow), users are limited to 6 questions per day. That limit doesn't apply to this site, so there's nothing stopping you from posting 10 or 15 questions in a day. But if you reach that point, it does make people start to wonder whether you're really doing your prior research, and more importantly, it should make you wonder whether you're really doing your prior research (or whether you have no life and are spending all your time on Stack Exchange :-P).

The other thing to keep an eye on is what kind of a response your questions are getting. There is a quality filter which prevents users who ask many bad questions (as indicated by downvotes and deletions) from posting further questions until they improve the quality of their contributions. Your question quality is high enough that you're in no danger of tripping this filter (unless you've asked a ton of deleted questions that I'm not seeing), so don't worry about being banned, but do keep the spirit of the filter in mind, which is that if your contributions are not being well received by the community, you should take a step back and think about how to improve them.

But essentially, the main point is that as long as (1) you are putting the work in to make your questions good, and (2) the community agrees that they are good questions, the more the better!

P.S. Another thing I meant to mention but forgot to write at first: making this site a useful resource requires good questions, just as much as it requires good answers. So as long as your questions are good, you are contributing to improving the site, and you shouldn't feel like a leech for doing so.

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    $\begingroup$ I can assure you that every question I ask will be well researched and non-trivial. Also, "...or whether you have no life and are spending all your time on Stack Exchange :-P..." Touche ! $\endgroup$ – Inquest Feb 15 '12 at 12:45

I am certainly not an expert in Q&A sites, but asuming that the questions are objective, constructive and on topic, and specially if they are useful, I'd say there is no "too many questions". Maybe some of them can be grouped in certain way, or having answers to one may give interesting information to solve another, but I don't think we should impose any (psychological) limits on the number of objective, constructive, on topic and useful questions. Besides, they can be very helpful to launch the site now it's in its public beta stage.


As a frequent asker myself, I feel inclined to comment on this particular subject.

At times, I too feel that inclination to ask tons of questions because I am so curious about so many different computational topics. I also feel sometimes that I'm taking more than I give back... Many people's questions, however, are beyond my current knowledge base and I feel that I cannot contribute intelligently to the discussion.

Regardless, I feel that the feedback I receive from fellow computational scientists on my questions is invaluable, both to my general knowledge and to my specific research. Knowing this, I feel it my duty and responsibility not to abuse it by pandering on every little question I come up with... I try (maybe not always successfully) to put a lot of thought into my questions and provide a good caliber question.

More than anything, I am truly amazed by the community's willingness to respond both quickly and qualitatively. As I gain computational knowledge, I feel more compelled to share my knowledge with the community by answering whatever questions I can.

As David Zaslavsky already suggested, it's not the quantity that really matters... It's the quality of what you give to the community, both questions and answers, that is most valued.


I agree with what DavidZaslavsky's said.

We will give you feedback about your questions. I mean, that's the point, right? If the questions aren't good, we'll let you know.

The idea is to put some effort into searching for the answer before you come to us. As a first hack at describing that barrier, using Google makes sense. The problem with Google is that it requires you to know the right keywords to use when searching Google. I just spent the last three hours working on what was probably a really basic SCons configuration question, for instance, trying all manner of keywords. Finally, I settled on just going through a lot of examples and staring at the user manual for a while before settling on a solution. My "easily Google-able question" or RTFM question is someone else's "I've been stuck for three hours trying to figure it out" question. As far as computational science goes, I think we should welcome novice computational scientists who are still learning how to become a little more self-sufficient, provided their questions are about computational science.

I think Paul is a good case study in asking questions (he's asked 39, as of this writing, to my 7), if you're interested in seeing how frequently one can ask questions, and how the community reacts to it. Reaction's mostly been positive, I think, aside from maybe one or two questions on PETSc (see Problems running a PETSc example in parallel, for instance). In that case, users more familiar with PETSc pointed out the PETSc mailing lists as an appropriate forum, and the overall vote score was +4 / -1 (as of this writing), which is pretty good, despite the comment chain.


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