What is required for a question about earth sciences question?

That is, what guidelines are there for writing a question so that it is well received, and gets a good response, including minimal tangential arguments, and excellent answers?

It might be good to have a separate answer for common problems that bad questions exhibit, and maybe another one that includes some examples of good questions, and bad questions, and point out what they did right and wrong.

  • $\begingroup$ Earth sciences are so broad, so an answer to this would be extremely broad as well. $\endgroup$ – Gimelist Mar 2 '16 at 9:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Michael: I think there are definitely patterns seen in good questions that cut across disciplines (all disciplines, not just science), and there are also patterns that are more specific to science and earth sciences. I have already answered this question on stats.SE, but I wanted to give someone else a chance, to make sure my bias was avoided. Some points from that answer could be copied across verbatim, some would not fit. $\endgroup$ – naught101 Mar 2 '16 at 23:12

I don't know about others but for me personally many of the questions that I asked are real problems from my research. Many of them are technical and require in depth knowledge of problems in that specific (sub)discipline. If one were to assume a casual approach i.e. let me ask a question for asking a question then obviously the question will not be well received. Also I am looking somewhere to find a fellow researcher who maybe having a similar problem. I do that investigation online prior to asking that question here. In other words the question should be fairly important in that specific area. The use of proper references enhances that idea and gives credence to your question. Even with all spadework it could still be down voted but there is a mental satisfaction from my side that I have done what it takes to ask a question here.


I don't know how to ask good questions. I'd like to think that I know how to answer good questions.

Unfortunately, this part of the SE network does not get very many good questions. I just went through the last 45 questions asked at this site. Very few were what I would qualify as "good" (let alone great). This is why this site is struggling.

Also unfortunately, we don't have a lot of professional experts at this site yet. (Obviously we have some, but not very many.) That means that what would be a great technical question asked and answered quickly at, for example, physics.stackexchange.com, will instead sit unanswered and unvoted at this site. The questions here have to be somewhat simplistic until the site gets a broader following.

But please, "Help me identify this rock!" is (at least to me) overly mundane.

  • $\begingroup$ This is exactly my impression of the site as well, having joined recently. $\endgroup$ – bon May 22 '16 at 8:40

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