So You Want to Ask a Question...
My webpage prompts lots of questions about math and physics.
If you have a question,
instead of emailing me about it,
I hope you post it to a usenet newsgroup, like:
or, for more advanced questions, these:
There are various reasons:
If you ask your question on that newsgroup, more people will answer it.
You won't just get my answer: you'll probably get answers
from lots of people!
If you ask your question on that newsgroup, more people will see the
Not only you will learn stuff: everyone reading the newsgroup
Newsgroups are communities of people
who like to discuss various specific topis. If you ask your
questions there, instead of emailing someone,
you help build those communities!
I answered physics questions by email, it would soon become a full-time
job. Right now I'm trying to find time to write a
A usenet newsgroup
is not a mailing list, and you don't subscribe to it.
A good internet service provider will make it easy to read and
post articles to usenet newsgroups. But you can
also do it using the web. Perhaps the easiest way is to use
There are probably
lots of other companies that provide this service for free, too.
For general information on usenet, try
If you mainly want
to read newsgroup articles, this
is the quickest way.
If you want to look smart, there are a couple of things you
can do before posting your question to a newsgroup:
Try reading the Physics FAQ and
to see if your question has already been answered there. It's
surprisingly likely, unless you're a real expert.
Then try looking at the
sci.physics.research archive, or
this even more complete database,
and this similar database for
These form an immense repository of wisdom. Almost everything you can
imagine asking about
math and physics has already been answered here! Of course, this shouldn't
keep you from asking again. But it's good to see what people have
© 2006 John Baez