**October, 2002**

BACK TO CONTENTSTo: All Dr. Math Doctors From: Ian Underwood Subject: Ask Dr. Math in October Hi Math Doctors, October is traditionally one of our busiest months. Compared to last month, we received about 20 more questions per day. However, we answered questions at about the same rate as last month. The raw numbers: Asked Ans'd Pct +--------------------------- August | 3525 2042 58% September | 7052 3541 50% October | 7655 3680 48% More than 30 math doctors contributed answers in October, with more than half averaging more than a question per day: 20/day | | | Peterson | | 15/day | | | | | 10/day | | | | Greenie, Rick | Anthony, Fenton, Robert, Mitteldorf 5/day | | | Roy, Schwa | Achilles, Jeremiah, Paul, Rob, Shawn, Wilkinson 1/day | Floor, Jerry, Nitrogen / 1/wk | Douglas, Guido, Mike, Pepper, Pete, Ricca, White, Wilson Congratulations to newly tenured Dr. Nitrogen! And welcome to new intern Dr. Wigton. Updating the Submissions Page ----------------------------- I'd like to make some changes to the submission page, but before I do I'd like to get your input on a couple of things. 1. I'd like to add a set of radio buttons that a patient can use to indicate a general category for his question. I think this will address a few goals: a. It would, I hope, encourage people to provide more substantive subject lines. b. It would allow the clinic page to be updated to show (or hide) questions in certain categories. c. It would make it easier for us to generate statistics characterizing the kinds of questions that are being asked and answered. The categories I have in mind are: ( ) Arithmetic/Early Math ( ) Probability/Statistics ( ) History/Biography Calculus Algebra ( ) Single Variable ( ) Basic ( ) Multivariate ( ) Linear ( ) Differential Equations ( ) Modern ( ) Analysis ( ) Geometry ( ) Logic ( ) Basic ( ) Euclidean ( ) Other ( ) Real World ( ) Trigonometry (*) Other/Don't Know 2. For those who haven't looked at it lately, the submission page contains the following set of instructions, above a single text area: Write your question below. Tell us how you've tried to answer it yourself. If you're stuck, please let us know where so that we can help you without doing parts you've already figured out. Occasionally, people actually get past the first sentence! But not very often. Which means that in many cases, we have to guess what the source of the difficulty might be, something we wouldn't have to do if we could get patients to 'articulate their stuckness' a little better than they do now. So I'd like to try breaking the input up into a few different boxes, e.g.: Write your question below. If possible, provide a specific example of a problem that you're having trouble solving. +---------------------------------------------------+ | | / / | | +---------------------------------------------------+ What is it about the question that you find most difficult or confusing? +---------------------------------------------------+ | | / / | | +---------------------------------------------------+ What steps have you taken to try to answer the question on your own? +---------------------------------------------------+ | | / / | | +---------------------------------------------------+ What thoughts do you have about what the answer might (or can't) be? +---------------------------------------------------+ | | / / | | +---------------------------------------------------+ If you tried looking in our archives, where did you browse? What keywords did you search for? +---------------------------------------------------+ | | / / | | +---------------------------------------------------+ [ Send your question! ] So here's what I'd like to hear from all y'all: 1. Do you see potential problems with either of these changes? 2. Which categories should (or should not) be included in the category menu? 3. Which questions do you think would be most helpful in eliciting additional information from patients? 4. Is there additional information that would be useful (and easy) for patients to provide when submitting questions? I'm going to try to make the changes in the next week or so, so if you have suggestions, please try to get them to me as soon as possible. That's it for October! Go forth, be fruitful, and teach kids to multiply... Dr. Ian Attending Physician Ask Dr. Math