Channel Rules

Table of contents

Quick Overview

Use English and normal ASCII. No color, no bold, no blink, no high ASCII. If just plain english will not do, use Mathematica or TeX notation to describe your problem. This channel is for the discussion of mathematics. No warez, $$$ ads, etc. Please keep all discussion in channel. The ops do not want to be messaged, and we do not want to give private tutoring. Do not set "auto-join after kick" or you will be banned not warned.

Topics of interest include math, math puzzles, number theory, abstract algebra, analysis, etc. Topics of only cursory interest are math software (maple, mupad, mathematica, TeX, etc.), math teaching, mathematical logic, statistics, chess, piano, etc. Topics of little to no interest include: physics homework, chemistry homework, computer science, programming questions, poker, mathematical philosophy. Illegal activities, even if somehow related to math, are not welcome.

Stay On Topic

Within reason, stick to discussion of mathematics.

Many people are under the unfortunate impression that #math is a channel devoted to homework enthusiasts, and that any homework (chemistry labs, physics problem sets, computer programs, even English essays) is worthy of discussion. This is not the case.

Different channel operators ("ops") will react differently to off-topic discussion at different times. Various reactions might be:

Since this is a sensitive topic with a lot of people more should be said about it. Factors that affect the reaction of the ops are:

Despite this long and fascist-sounding list, most #math ops are generally sane people and if you make even a minimal effort to respect their sensibilities you will probably not be kicked or banned for anything.

Don't Ask to Ask

When people join the channel, they often ask whether or not they can ask a question, for example:

Although this might seem like the polite thing to do, it is important to keep in mind:

Things run more smoothly when people don't ask to ask and just state their questions. It is not impolite to do this on #math! Don't Ask Vague Questions

People often ask general questions whose purpose is to find an audience for their more specific questions. These often sound as if somebody is taking a survey or looking for one-on-one help, for example:

These seem like logical questions to ask, but consider the following:

So ask a specific question.

Don't "Challenge" the Channel

Some people feel that their question is more likely to be answered if they pose their question as a challenge, for example:

When this is ignored, these people often elaborate on why nobody has answered their challenge:

This is idiotic, tends to prompt responses from the more clueless members of the channel, and wastes everybody's time--- especially if you do it with a question that you already know the answer to. Don't do it.

Enthusiasm for mathematics and enthusiasm for puzzles/contests/quizzes/challenges are very different things.

Ask Complete Questions

A question can be incomplete in a lot of ways:

Mention What You've Done

If you have tried working on a problem and a particular method didn't work, let the channel know. There are many reasons for doing this:

We're Not You, We're Not At Your School

Consider the following questions:

The answers to all of these questions depend to some extent on who you are and where you are. The odds are that we are not you and we are not where you are.

What your school calls "Calc 3" may be called "Math 145" at another school. What another school calls "Calc 3" may not even be offered at your school. Unless your question is "Has anybody ever taken a class that went by the name of Calc 3 or studied material that you might think of as appropriate for a class with Calc 3 as a name," you are not likely to get useful answers. Even more specific course titles, such as "multivariable calculus" or "mathematical analysis," take on different meanings depending on where you are.

Differential equations might be hard, or they might not be hard. This is a highly personal matter, influenced by the professor or TA you might have, the attitudes of your fellow students, the books you might or might not be reading, and your own feeling of how relevant differential equations are to your life. Most people who ask "is differential equations hard?" do not want this kind of answer but this is the only honest answer one can give. More specific questions ("Is Prof. Smith easy to deal with?", "If I've taken Math 119 will I know enough to take Math 156?") might have more specific answers but the odds that somebody on the channel will know what you are talking about are slim to none.

Here are some other consequences of the fact that we are not you:

People are Often Busy

Most regulars on the channel are not glued to their IRC screens. Many are also engaged in other activities (doing their own work, writing email, watching TV, listening to music, drinking, etc) and glance at IRC only occasionally. It is important to be sensitive to this when you ask a question. Bear in mind:

People are Often Idiotic

If you are on the channel a long time, you may develop a sense of which people are a regular visitors to the channel and which people aren't, which people tend to know what they are talking about and which people don't, and so forth.

If you are new to the channel, you probably don't have a good sense of these things, and so it is important to bear in mind the following.

If you ask a question and get an incoherent answer from somebody, it is important to think critically about the experience. It would be a mistake to conclude any of the following things:

If necessary, ask other questions, at other times, to other people on the channel.

On Exams

EFNet #math will not discuss or provide any assistance or hints on exam questions, take home or otherwise, except when provided with written proof that this is acceptable. In such case, users are at their own risk in doing so, and #math shall not be held responsible for any answers or hints provided.

A sample policy about academic honesty follows:

"You may only use notes and the selected references outlined in the course. You may not use outside resources (people) or consult any other person in the course regarding the exam. All questions regarding the exam should be directed to the examiner. Failure to comply with any of these stipulations constitutes academic dishonesty."

Sufficient proof to the contrary may include the following:

Other proof may or may not be accepted.

Failure to abide by academic honesty rules will result in an automatic ban. Please note that even when provided with such evidence or proof, #math may still be hostile to helping someone on an examination, based on their ethical judgment. Please do so at your own risk. Remember, #math is a volunteer run channel, and we all have different standards.