Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of questions can I ask here?

Operations Research questions, of course! As long as your question is:

  • detailed and specific
  • written clearly and simply
  • of interest to at least one other person somewhere

... it is welcome here. No question is too trivial or too "newbie". Oh yes, and it should be about Operations Research.

Please look around to see if your question has already been asked (and maybe even answered!) before you ask. If you end up asking a question that has been asked before, that is OK and deliberately allowed. Other users will hopefully edit in links to related or similar questions to help future visitors find their way.

It's also perfectly fine to ask and answer your own question, but pretend you're on Jeopardy: phrase it in the form of a question.

What kind of questions should I not ask here?

No homework questions! And, yes, we can tell.

Avoid asking questions that are subjective, argumentative, or require extended discussion. This is not a discussion board, this is a place for questions that can be answered!

Be nice.

Treat others with the same respect you'd want them to treat you. We're all here to learn together. Be tolerant of others who may not know everything you know. Bring your sense of humor.

Be honest.

Above all, be honest. If you see misinformation, vote it down. Insert comments indicating what, specifically, is wrong. Even better — edit and improve the information! Provide stronger, faster, superior answers of your own!

Do I have to log in or create an account?

Yes. Anonymous posting is currently not supported, but it's easy to register.

What is reputation?

Reputation is completely optional. Normal use of or-exchange — that is, asking and answering questions — does not require any reputation whatsoever.

Remember, or-exchange is run by you! If you want to help us run the site, you'll need reputation first. Reputation is a (very) rough measurement of how much the operations research community trusts you. Reputation is never given, it is earned by convincing other users that you know what you're talking about.

Here's how it works: if you post a good question or helpful answer, it will be voted up by your peers: you gain 10 reputation points. If you post something that's off topic or incorrect, it will be voted down: you lose 2 reputation points. You can earn up to 200 reputation per day, but no more. (Note that votes for any posts marked "community wiki" do not generate reputation.)

Amass enough reputation points and we'll allow you to go beyond simply asking and answering questions:

15Vote up
15Flag offensive
50Leave comments
100Vote down (costs 1 rep), edit community wiki posts
200Reduced advertising
250Vote to close or reopen your questions, create new tags
500Retag questions
2000Edit other people's posts
3000Vote to close or reopen any questions
10000Delete closed questions, access to moderation tools

At the high end of this reputation spectrum there is little difference between users with high reputation and moderators. That is very much intentional. We don't run or-exchange. The community does.

How and why should I "accept" answer

If you get a response to your question that answers the question to your satisfaction, click the big green checkmark next to the answer. Doing so gives the respondent reputation points, and allows following readers to hone in on the most appropriate response.

What if I don't get a good answer?

In order to get good answers, you have to put some effort into the question. Edit your question to provide status and progress updates. Document your own continued efforts to answer your question. This will naturally bump your question and get more people interested in it.

If, after two days, you still don't have an answer you like, you can offer a bounty. Slice off a bit of your own hard-earned reputation -- anywhere from 50 to 500 -- and attach it to the question as a bounty. We'll even throw in 50 reputation to sweeten the deal. The bountied question will appear with a special icon in all question lists, and it will also be visible on the home page Featured tab.

Once initiated, the bounty period lasts seven days. If you mark an accepted answer, your bounty is awarded to the answerer (do note that accepted bounty answers are permanent and cannot be changed). If you do not accept an answer in seven days, the top voted answer will automatically become the accepted answer, and half your bounty will be awarded to that answer. You will always give up the amount of reputation specified in the bounty, so if you start a bounty, be sure to follow up and accept the best answer!

Of course, bounty awards, like all accepted answers, are immune to the daily reputation cap and community wiki mode.

Other people can edit my stuff?!

Like Wikipedia, this site is collaboratively edited. If you are not comfortable with the idea of your questions and answers being edited by other trusted users, this may not be the site for you.

Hey, How do I get that fancy math stuff?

We have MathJax installed. Use latex between pairs of "$" for display math and backslash-backslash-( and backslash-backslash-) for inline math. Within latex, all backslashes must be doubled.

Who are you really?

This was started by Michael Trick, but is now owned by the community, and currently sponsored by INFORMS

OR-Exchange! Your site for questions, answers, and announcements about operations research.