All FAQs posted in: alt.algebra.help

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Archive-name: math/algebra-help/guidelines-FAQ Posting-Frequency: every 2 weeks Last-modified: September 5, 2011 URL: http://aah.darrellryan.com/ Copyright: (c) 2002-2011 Darrell Ryan

Welcome to alt.algebra.help. The complete posting guidelines and answers to frequently asked questions can be found at: http://aah.darrellryan.com. PDF and DVI formats can be found at: http://aah.darrellryan.com/aah.pdf http://aah.darrellryan.com/aah.dvi. Below are some general guidelines from the main document to help you get started immediately. These guidelines are not intended to be formal rules that in any way govern the newsgroup. They serve only to identify what have come to be accepted as norms. In this spirit, it will be nice if you attempt to follow these guidelines. Doing so may result in a more enjoyable visit. Not doing so may result in a less enjoyable visit, that's all. ************************************************************ Q1. Who should use alt.algebra.help? Q2. What can be discussed on alt.algebra.help? Q3. What general format should my article adhere to? Q4. Can I post the same question to other newsgroups in addition to alt.algebra.help? Q5. Can I get (or provide) help with a homework assignment? Q6. Can I include binary files? ************************************************************* Q1. Who should use alt.algebra.help? Anyone seeking (or providing) help with any topic related to algebra. This may include students, parents, tutors, teachers, or anyone else having an interest in algebra. This newsgroup is not moderated, so various others who have no business here (e.g. spammers,) will also post articles asking for help of a different kind. Ignore them, killfile them, report them to a proper authority, do whatever you wish with them--but please do not respond to them in the newsgroup. Doing so only further decreases the signal-to-noise ratio. Q2. What can be discussed on alt.algebra.help? As the name implies, alt.algebra.help exists primarily for the purpose of seeking help with algebra. Anything remotely related to algebra in some form or fashion is usually welcome here. Specific topics suitable for discussion include, but are not limited to, anything covered in a jr. high school, middle school, high school, or undergraduate algebra course, or their equivalent in countries other than the U.S. This does not necessarily mean that only "algebra" in the high school sense of the word is discussed. Other areas of mathematics are also discussed with varying frequency, e.g. geometry, trigonometry, calculus, probability and statistics, linear algebra, abstract algebra, and number theory, just to name a few. Educators also share teaching practices and experiences. Discussions concerning calculators and their (ab)use also occur with some regularity. These are just some of the topics that are suitable for discussion here. While some areas of these subjects (or other higher mathematics) may be better suited for other newsgroups, as a general rule if there is someone listening here who can help you with your question, chances are they will. And, usually there is someone listening. Q3. What general format should my article adhere to? For best overall results and readability, try to use a simple fixed-width font (e.g. Courier New). Also ensure your newsreader is configured to post in plain text, not HTML. Don't ask questions that are too broad, e.g. "Can someone help me with algebra?" Try to narrow your question to the particular topic or process you are concerned with, e.g. "Can someone explain to me the process for solving a quadratic equation by factoring?" Use a descriptive subject line. Readers will have a general idea of what your message pertains to prior to downloading (and having to read) the message body. Don't do: Subject: HELP! Do: Subject: Solving quadratic equations by factoring Clearly explain the problem and include specific instructions, whether they be to solve, simplify, etc. If possible, try to reproduce the instructions to the problem exactly as they were given to you. Also, consider telling the group the level of math you are at. There may be (err...will be) different methods of approaching your problem, so if the group knows your particular competency level (grade, course, etc.,) they can formulate a response suitable for that level. Place math expressions on a single line if possible. Your expression may not "line up" the same way on all newsreaders, especially after being quoted multiple times. These problems can be minimized by placing your expressions on a single line. Don't do: x+3 ----- 2 Do: (x+3)/2 If you need to use multiple lines (e.g. a passage showing the individual steps of solving an equation, listing a matrix, etc.) be sure to always begin each line of the object or passage at the beginning of the "line" in your editor (no preceding spaces,) and end each line with a hard return. In general, anywhere there is a math expression on a line by itself, that line should end with a hard return. Use "in-line" expressions sparingly (math expressions that are side-by-side or interspersed with normal text,) and only for very short expressions that can survive line-wrapping and quoting with minimal distraction to the reader. Don't do: Here's how I proceeded in solving this equation: x2 + 5x + 7 = 1, x2 + 5x + 6 = 0 ...got 0 on one side, (x+2) (x+3) = 0 ...factored, x = 2, 3. The answer key says the correct answers are x = -2, -3. Where did I go wrong? Do: Here's how I proceeded in solving this equation: x2 + 5x + 7 = 1 x2 + 5x + 6 = 0 ...got 0 on one side (x+2)(x+3) = 0 ...factored x = 2, 3 The answer key says the correct answers are x = -2, -3. Where did I go wrong? Be sure to explain the specific step(s) you are having trouble with and include your attempt(s), even if you know they are wrong. You will receive more useful help if you do this. Use plenty of parentheses, brackets, etc. if an expression may otherwise be interpreted in more than one way. Don't do: x+3/2 Do: (x+3)/2 or x+(3/2) Don't Do: x^3c+7 Do: x^(3c) + 7 or x^(3c+7) For more information, see the section on importance of parentheses at http://aah.darrellryan.com/node22.html. Q4. Can I post the same question to other newsgroups in addition to alt.algebra.help? Of course, assuming the subject matter is on-topic for the other newsgroups (consult the FAQ or charter for the other newsgroups to see.) There is, however, a right way and a wrong way to go about it. The wrong way is to send separate posts to each newsgroup. The right way is to "cross-post," meaning to include all the newsgroups on the Newsgroups: line of a single post. By cross-posting, replies in one newsgroup will automatically be sent by default to all the other newsgroups the original post was addressed to. If you don't cross-post but instead send separate posts to each newsgroup, a reply in one newsgroup is posted just to that newsgroup and not the others. This is considered poor netiquette, so please don't do it. Although it may not bother the original poster, it can be a big inconvenience for those replying to the post. It can be very frustrating taking the time and effort to post a detailed response, only to learn later the question has already been answered basically the same way in another newsgroup (perhaps the person does not subscribe to all the newsgroups). This situation can be avoided by properly cross-posting your question. It's better for the original poster too, since he need follow only one of the newsgroups to see the responses from all of the newsgroups. Also, you should cross-post to only a very few newsgroups (say, two or three.) Addressing too many newsgroups may result in the post being filtered out by way of a personal killfile or similar mechanism (for instance, a spam filter at the server level). Q5. Can I get (or provide) help with a homework assignment? If you are a student you can get excellent assistance here, but don't expect too much if you just want someone to do your homework for you. If you post something like "I need answers to these problems...NOW" or the like, you will rarely get what you ask for. Several regular contributors are either professional educators, or at the very least "concerned others" who enjoy helping others while keeping the muscle between the ears limber. Most would rather help you understand a process, as opposed to just cranking out an answer to your problem. Don't get the wrong impression from the above paragraph. If you are having trouble with a problem on an assignment, or any other algebra problem for that matter, don't hesitate to ask for help. This is what the group is for. However, you are more likely to receive useful responses if you explain specifically what you do not understand about the problem, include your attempt at solving it, and ask for specific guidance with the process for arriving at the answer. This indicates to potential responders that you have a sincere interest in knowing how to do the problem, as opposed to giving the possible impression that all you want is the answer. Additionally, letting others know specifically where you are having trouble will probably lead to a more useful response that is tailored to your needs. If you follow these guidelines, who knows, you might just get the answer as well. Ultimately, it is a decision made by the people responding to your inquiry as to how much detail they provide. Some prefer providing just enough detail to steer you in the right direction, for very good reason. Others may offer more detail, which may or may not include the answer to the problem. Even if someone does give you the answer, it is the process you are expected to focus on. Giving an answer without also giving some explanation of the process certainly does not "help," and is rarely seen here. When it does occur it is usually frowned upon, so please think twice before giving an answer without any explanation how it was arrived at. Q6. Can I include binary files? This is a "plain text only" newsgroup. Please do not attach binaries. If you want to show the group a graphic, HTML document, or other type of richly formatted content, consider placing it on your web server and providing the URL within your article. Don't do: Consider the attached bitmap of the graph of f(x). Do: Consider the graph of f(x) at http://www.yourisp.net/~username/graph.bmp. The complete document includes specific examples of how to type various mathematical expressions, answers to frequently asked questions, a reference section for common facts and formulas, and more. The complete document can be found at: http://aah.darrellryan.com/. Contributions/suggestions are welcome at aah@darrellryan.com. -- Darrell Ryan