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I've just signed up to ZSN - why can't I submit a link/URL?

A new member can only add comments to other submissions. Submission rights are granted after 10 comments and a S/N score > 2. This is designed to allow a new user time to become involved with the community and ensures that by the time they are submitting links they will have a good idea of what the community values.

Note: You can add more than 10 comments and still not generate enough Signal to qualify for submissions! Make sure your initial comments are well thought out and informative.

Also note: if your comments are continually off-topic or impolite, your sponsor will be contacted in the first instance and if there is no change in behaviour, your account will be de-activated.

Why can I only submit 1 or 2 links per day?

As your S/N score grows, you are allowed to contribute more links. Again, this is designed to allow new users a gradual learning curve and to protect the community from a potential influx of enthusiastic new users.

Once your noise passes 20, you are considered a veteran user and may make multiple submissions depending on your S/N score:
S/N > 1: two submissions per day
S/N > 2: unlimited submissions

On the other hand, if your S/N drops to 0.5 or less, you will be blocked from making submissions or comments.

Why does an 'Ask ZSN' submission add 5 Noise points to my S/N ratio?

An 'Ask ZSN' or conversation submission is asking for input from the community - using the community in this way is encouraged but it cannot be done repeatedly without cost. The right to ask open- ended questions of the community has to be earned by previously contributing to the community (ie, other people have upvoted your previous submissions/comments).

Why do I need a sponsor to sign up?

Again, this is a mechanism to allow the community to grow but not get swamped by new members. In addition, if a new user is consistently acting to disrupt the conversation, the administrator will contact their sponsor in the first instance.

NB. sponsoring multiple new users that disrupt the community will be detrimental to the sponsor's S/N ratio - it would be wise to make sure your sponsored members aren't constantly posting lolcats photo links!

Why Mathematica?

You have to choose something and so I chose this. Some background on my blog. Note to self: figure out how to jump straight to the right entry on a webpage.

By and large, all the commercial packages are much of a muchness and professionals use all of them - in that sense, any choice is not a limiting factor so pick one and be done with it.

I like Python and I'm excited about the Jupyter notebook but it looks like it is following the commercial packages which is all good but when commercial package price points are now a couple hundred dollars for personal use (they were $1000s in the 90s) why quibble? just go with one and if it doesn't float your boat, you're only out a couple hundred bucks. Your next decision will now be an informed one (which is BTW a very positive outcome).

Besides, if you ever do post-graduate work or move out of academia you'll almost certainly be forced to work with whatever software stack they have in place so you'll be learning new languages constantly in your career.

The critical thing is: be able to use software so that you can get @#$@# done. The less time you spend faffing around learning to use a computer during your degree, the more time you can spend learning about all the new conceptual stuff they'll be throwing at you.

BTW I'm not interested in why [my language] is better than Mathematica or why [my language] can do the same calculation in 12 lines of code vs your 22 lines.

Researchers are normally worried about getting any solution at all - I typically spend 99% of my time wondering how to get any answer whatsoever, the difference 30 extra sec of typing makes is irrelevent. And any answer that pops out the other end in the time it takes for me to get a cup of coffee, stretch and look out the window is so close to instantaneous i don't bother worrying about it. Move on, there are better questions that need to be asked.

Why is this website so crap?

Well in all fairness, the videos are awful as well.
The main reason is that science and technology have very steep learning curves - the aim of Z School is to get a minimum level of achievement as fast as possible. STEM skills can be developed using some very basic ideas and concepts if they are learned well. Polish and sophistication will come with time.
With web sites, we get the concept of webpages, html, hosting, URL and a paragraph tag as the starting point. Believe it or not, in the mid-90s this level of knowledge would have probably gotten you a job! ;-)
Just think about how powerful this set of tools is already - sure you won't win any design prizes but you can write something, get it on the web and anyone in the world can read it. That's a pretty powerful set of skills to develop in an hour or two - think what you could do after 100 hours!