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Ask Dr. Math: The Math Doctors' Newsletter

by Ian Underwood

October, 2000


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


Hi Math Doctors,

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

                              October     September     August
                              -------     ---------     ------
    Questions asked:           9023          8330        3929
    Questions answered:        2447          1821        1810
    Percent answered:          27.1%         21.0%       46.0%

The number of questions coming in jumped up another notch, but you
responded with an even bigger jump (34%) in the number of questions
answered!  

I'm amazed and excited about this development.  I hope it doesn't turn
out to be an anomaly!  :^D


Kudos
-----

Congratulations to Drs. Greenie and Fenton on receiving tenure.

Congratulation to Drs. Tony and Wolfson on being promoted from intern
to resident. 

Welcome to new interns Shawn, Jackpo, Zhuang, Dmitriy, Cheryll, and
Dep, and Tisher. 


Search tip
----------

The process of searching the archives and FAQs certainly needs to be
souped up somewhat.  But one alternative you can try is to leave a
browser window open to www.google.com, with the phrase "Dr. Math" (in
quotes) in the search field.

Then, when you want to search on a set of keywords, you enter them at
the end of the window, and click on "Google Search". 

Obviously, this won't find answers that haven't been archived yet, but
it is often much faster than our own search engine, and because of the
way that Google rates pages, the highest-quality hits are the ones
that are most likely to appear near the top of the list. 

It's a band-aid, not a cure, but sometimes a band-aid is enough. 


Helping the interns
-------------------

Much of the fun of being a math doctor comes from writing original
answers to questions, but an awful lot of the questions that we
receive each month have been asked and answered before.

The initial stage in the new tenuring process is internship.  In order
to give them a chance to develop some familiarity with the contents of
the archives and the FAQs, interns are strongly encouraged to field
only questions that can be handled by referring to those resources.

I've been quite pleased (and I hope that y'all have been helped) with
the way that y'all have been making use of the memo functionality to
clarify subject lines.  I'm wondering if the same functionality might
be used to identify 'intern' questions.

That is, if you've opened a question, and you're sure that an answer
for it already exists in the archives or FAQs, you might consider
flagging it with a memo whose subject line is simply 'Intern?'.
Interns, in turn (ha, ha), can look for these first, before poking
around in the questions that aren't so marked. 

(At the same time, anyone who feels like looking up answers instead of
writing new ones should feel free to handle these as well.)


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

Of course, thanks go to every doctor who answered even one question
during October.  But I'd like to extend a special thanks this month to
the following doctors:

* Drs. Fenton, Mitteldorf, Tony, and Toughy for averaging one or more
  answers per day;

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

***** Drs. Aileen, Douglas, Greenie, Jeremiah, Peterson, Rob, and Robert
      for averaging five or more answers per day!

I'd also like to extend an extra-special thank you to Dr. Aileen, not
only for bumping up her own activity, but for recruiting several new
doctors, some of whom have already made significant contributions.

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

Dr. Ian
Attending Physician
Ask Dr. Math
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