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Contacting Evan

The two best ways to reach me are

  • by email to $\text{evan}\texttt{@}\text{evanchen}{.}\text{cc}$ for private inquiries;
  • via my personal Discord for math advice or questions (see below).

Although I do my best to respond to as much as I can, I admit that I am not able to respond to everything. (Also, my replies are often terse. Please don’t be offended if so; I am just trying to be efficient.)

You might want to skim some parts of the website to see if it’s already answered, e.g. coaching page for OTIS questions, contest resource recommendations, and the propaganda section FAQ.

Note there are special instructions if you are asking about:

Public Discord is preferable, private Discord DM’s suck#

If your inquiry is not private (for example, looking for advice on textbooks), you could consider asking questions on my personal Discord server rather than emailing it privately. There are a few benefits to doing so:

  • Anyone can answer the question, so you may get faster responses or multiple responses.
  • Anyone can see the answers provided, so it is more valuable to the community this way.
  • It is easier to go back-and-forth in real time over Discord than over email.

Discord direct messages to me are worse than emails; they do not have any of the above benefits, and I am slower with them. I do my best with Discord DM’s, but I’ve been known to miss them sometimes. Email is more reliable.

Some notes for emails#

Here are some hints:

  • Don’t be too shy. I actually enjoy helping people (if that’s not obvious).
    (Examples of good requests: specific math query, something I wrote is unclear, found a typo, follow-up questions, permission requests, questions on my experiences, etc. I’m sure there’s more.)
  • Comments, thanks, or suggestions on my writing are always appreciated! This includes any typos you find, no matter how trivial.
  • Specific queries get faster and better responses. So “can you explain this line of your solution to USAMO 20XY/Z?” will usually be answered pretty swiftly. Conversely, “how do i geo” will get at best a link to the FAQ. In any case, please be patient.
  • Proper syntax, English, capitalization, etc is appreciated. (I know some of you are not native English speakers, so I try to overlook this when I can.)

Special instructions for particular problems#

If you need help with an olympiad problem, you are better off asking on a forum like AOPS.

If you send me a problem, usually I will at least read it. If I have seen it before or can quickly see how to do it, I will generally be nice enough to write back and outline or link the solution. But otherwise I will likely be too embarrassed to admit I don’t have time to work on every problem that students send me, and simply archive your message.

Either way, if you do ask about a math problem:

  • Please state where the problem is from, and link it if possible.
  • Please describe what you’ve already tried on the problem.

As mentioned above, you will get faster answers from asking in my personal Discord server than emailing me directly.

Special instructions for study advice#

First, read the Contest FAQ if you haven’t already.

If you are asking a question along the lines of “how do I improve at math contests”, it is helpful to include as much specific information as possible1. This usually means mentioning examples of problems you could not solve. It’s also helpful to talk about what you have already tried in terms of preparation.

If you are able to, please pick 3–10 examples of recent problems that you tried but could not solve. For each problem, reproduce the statement, and then describe your thought process and what you tried. This helps me understand how you think and where you are at.

This is an example of a well-thought question. It focuses on a specific topic, describes what the asker’s mindset is, names specific examples of problems and how the asker tried the problem, and mentions what resources the asker has already tried. Because of this, the replies are informative and targeted.

As mentioned above, you will get more answers from asking in my personal Discord server than from emailing me directly.

Tech help#

First, at the risk of stating the obvious, try search engines. If that fails, there are a couple channels in my personal Discord where you might get responses.

If you do have a question for me or my Discord, note two important guidelines:

  • You must include a minimal working example (MWE).

    • For LaTeX, this means: post a complete file, starting from \documentclass and ending with \end{document}, that shows the issue. This way I can compile the code myself and then try to edit it.
    • For Linux issues, show the commands you typed and their output.
    • Similarly for other languages; provide a full self-contained example.
  • You should send the code as text or pastebin so that I can copy it. Do not use a screenshot.

  1. To draw an analogy, when people ask for advice in StarCraft, they are usually required to link a few recent replays, so the advice-giver can watch how they play and point out mistakes. 

Updated Sun 3 Dec 2023, 19:23:15 UTC by 832b941b74d7