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Ask Dr. Math: The Math Doctors' Newsletter

by Ian Underwood

November, 2000


To: All Dr. Math Doctors
From: Ian Underwood 
Subject: Ask Dr. Math in November

Hi Math Doctors,

I just finished compiling the statistics for November, and they look
like this:

                         Nov   Oct   Sep   
                         ----  ----  ----  
   Questions asked:      8253  9023  8330  
   Questions answered:   3082  2447  1821  
   Percent answered:     37.3  27.1  21.0  

We averaged over 100 answers per day!  Which means that -- even with
the distractions of a major holiday and a derailed presidential
election -- a student who sent in a question during November had
better than one chance in three of receiving an answer.

This is amazing.  I don't know what else to say about it, except
thanks, and I hope we can keep this up.  


Special thanks
--------------

As always, thanks go to every doctor who answered even one question
during November.  But I'd like to extend a special thank-you this month
to the following doctors:

  * Drs. Alicia and Ezra for averaging one or more answers per day;

  ** Drs. Jackpo and Shawn for averaging two or more answers per day;

  *** Drs. Anthony, Floor, Jeremiah, and Jerry for averaging three or
      more answers per day; 

  **** Drs. Fenton and Rick for averaging four or more answers per day;

  ***** Drs. Aileen, Douglas, Greenie, Mitteldorf, and Schwa for 
        averaging five or more answers per day!

  ******** Dr. Rob for averaging eight or more answers per day; and

  ********** Drs. Peterson and Robert for averaging ten or more answers 
             per day!

Also, I'd like to share with you the following message, which came
into triage today:

  DEAR DR MATH,

  WHEN ONLINE I TRY TO FIND SPECIFIC SITES TO HELP ME WITH MY HOME WORK 
  YOU'RE SITE HAS BEEN THE BEST SO FAR BECAUSE INSTEAD OF JUST GIVING 
  ME THE ANSWER LIKE OTHER SITES YOU TAKE ME THROUGH THE PROBLEM STEP 
  BY STEP SO I WILL UNDERSTAND IT. MY COUSIN  KRISTEN 
  HAS SENT A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS IN HER MATH LESSON 
  AND YOU AND YOU'RE FRIENDS HELPED HER THROUGH IT STEP BY STEP.

  THANKS~! FROM BRANDY,KRISTEN, AND MELISSA!

Of course, we get lots of thank-you messages every month, some to
individual doctors, some to the service as a whole.  But I think this
one nicely sums up the crucial difference between Dr. Math and the
various homework help and 'content' sites around the web -- we're not
just handing out fish, so to speak.  Instead, we're helping kids learn
to catch their own.


Kudos
-----

Congratulations to Dr. Shawn on receiving tenure. 

Congratulation to Dr. Jackpo on being promoted from intern to resident. 

Welcome to new residents Dr. Alicia and Dr. Roy, who are already in
high gear, having answered more than 140 questions between them!



Canned responses
----------------

By now, all of you know about the list of 'canned responses' located
just below the 'Send Answer' button in the operating room.  

I've made a couple of changes to the way that these answers are used.
The first change is that now, when you apply a canned answer to a
question, the answer appears between the question and the signature,
like any other answer that you would write.  (Canned answers used to
be inserted at the top of the response window.)

The second change is that I've removed the answers to content
questions (like 'What is 0^0?'), since there doesn't seem to be any
special reason to elevate some of those questions over others. 

In their place, I've added four 'administrative' responses, which can
be used in the following situations:

  1. The question is more appropriate to Teacher2Teacher than to
     Ask Dr. Math (because it deals with math education rather 
     than math content). 

  2. The question itself is missing or was truncated during
     transmission, and must be resubmitted if the student still
     wants an answer. 

  3. You found the answer to the question by searching the 
     Dr. Math archives on one or more keywords.  (Spaces are
     provided for the URL and the keywords used in the search.)

  4. You found the answer to the question by browsing the 
     Dr. Math FAQ.  (Space is provided for the URL.)

All of the answers provide a space for you to include the name of the
person who submitted the question in the greeting.  

Answers 3 and 4 will be of special interest to interns, but may be
used by anyone who wants to save 20-60 seconds of typing time when
fielding a question that has already been asked and answered. 

I hope that these can save everyone a little time.  If you would like
to see the wording changed, or if you would like to suggest additional
canned responses that should be included in the list, please let me
know. 


That's all the news for November.  Go forth, be fruitful, and teach
kids to multiply...

Dr. Ian
Attending Physician
Ask Dr. Math
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