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I am from a school in a city in Dallas, Texas and an math olympiad enthusiast, but unfortunately no friend of mine in my school/city is really interested in maths. And going to any math club is not feasible for me due to I having a weird timing slot.

So I did what most math olympiad enthusiasts do - join a site called Art of Problem Solving. People like me usually make friends and discuss about math with people who are also math olympiad enthusiasts from that site, but how to do that ?

I can't simply private message some user whom I don't know and ask "Hey do you want to be my friend so that we can work on some olympiad problems together online and discuss them", because that may be simply count as stalking.

Also, some guys make friends on that site by discussing problems and sending each other problems to work on, but I don't think that may be a good idea, because if I send a person X a problem/discuss alternative ways of solving something with X regarding some of his solution on some problem, then if he finds it interesting, then OK. But if X doesn't finds it interesting but he finds it too rude to mention that "I don't find the stuff you're talking to interesting", then it can go in the opposite direction.

How do I develop online friends that share my interest?

  • Hello OP! Your title asks about a good interpersonal skill (making friends) but your question at the end is out of scope for Interpersonal Skills. I'd suggest reading through the Help Center and seeing what kinds of questions are in scope here. As it stands, this question will be closed as being a "what should I do?" question. – baldPrussian Apr 29 '18 at 17:51
  • @baldPrussian Thaks for your edit - is it still off topic now ? – user17309 Apr 29 '18 at 18:14
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The first step toward making friends is interacting with people. You are right that e-mails out of the blue would be a little off-putting to the people you are trying to reach and I agree that asking your question would be seen as creepy, especially if that crosses gender lines.

I look a look at AOPS and noticed there that it has a community. I'd start there. Post online and see who responds. Then base your responses on people who respond to you. You may find people who think like you and have the same issues you do. You'll possibly run into some trolls, who you can safely ignore. The important thing is to not try to force things too quickly. Post, respond, and let things develop in a way that all feel comfortable with.

I'd suggest never asking "do you want to be my friend" as that comes across as desperate. But you can definitely develop communications and post/response dialogues with a lot of people from all over.

With respect to posting online, I'd also suggest staying out of news sites. I lose all hope in humanity when I read some of those posts. Stay within this particular AOPS community and you should be able to connect with people from all over who share your interests.

  • Thanks for answering :). " I'd start there. Post online and see who responds. Then base your responses on people who respond to you. " I already have 600+ posts in High School Olympiad forum and using it since last year. Also AoPS is troll free as far I noticed. Can you elaborate your last para regarding starting out of news sites ? Also you didn't address the issue in my questions fourth para. Thanks. – user17309 Apr 30 '18 at 3:43
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People like me usually make friends and discuss about math with people who are also math olympiad enthusiasts from that site, but how to do that ?

My initial thought is that you got this backwards. Some people are friends IRL with an interest in maths and if one of them finds a site like AoPS they'll tell the other so they can both explore it together.

Also, some guys make friends on that site by discussing problems and sending each other problems to work on

How do you know this? As far as I could tell at first glance the entire site is based on posting interesting questions on the forum and let people post answers to them there. That doesn't look like it's an easy way to start friendships.

It does sound like a really good way to fullfil that craving for interesting math problems. Similarly to how I'm interested in finding out about interpersonal issues and how to deal with those (which brings me here).


Since the more logical step to make math-friends would be to start IRL I was a bit confused about your first couple of sentences:

but unfortunately no friend of mine in my school/city is really interested in maths.

From this I conclude you do have some friends with some common interest, just other than the math. Since you can satisfy your math craving on that site, aren't those friends enough?

If they're not, then I still find this statement a bit odd:

And going to any math club is not feasible for me due to I having a weird timing slot.

How is it possible for the other people in that math club but not for you? If you're really only interested in math, how could it be so hard to make time to join such a club? Since that is exactly the place where you want to be (based on your question here).


Let's finally assume that I'm wrong in the previous parts and that you really do want to find an online friend via that site. Try looking at it this way then:

You're sure that (based on which sub forum you're looking at) you and the other people replying to your questions (/ you replying to theirs) are having a common interest. How can you go wrong with sending them a personal message like this one:

Hi < future friends name >, I noticed you've been answering a couple of my math questions and I've had fun solving yours as well. I'm looking for someone to have some more direct discussions with about these kinds of math problems. Are you interested as well? Hope to hear from you soon, Alex K Chen

If they're interested they'll probably respond soon after seeing your message (i.e. within a couple of days). If they're not they'll just ignore the message altogether.

Just look through a couple of your questions/answers to see if you start to recognise some recurring names of other math-enthusiasts there and send them a message like this one :) Who knows you might prove me wrong and make a great friend online like that.


Last remark: the questions I ask you in this answer are purely rhetorical. Their purpose is to make you think about it yourself rather than answer them to me.

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