I have some free time over the next month, and I was thinking of reviewing some material on Hilbert spaces and eventually learning about the associated spectral theory. (I never got to this when I initially learned about functional analysis.) To this end, I was thinking about posting and answering a large amount of questions on Hilbert spaces and spectral theory. This benefits me because I am studying independently and the M.SE community is very good about spotting errors.

One of the purposes of M.SE is to provide a repository of answered mathematical questions. This is why the option to answer your own questions exists. I feel these questions would benefit the community by providing many worked examples. However, I realize such a deluge of questions might be annoying to some, and that the questions might be downvoted or closed. I am posting this to solicit opinions on this plan and ask permission before going through with it.

Question: Would you object to me self-answering a large number of textbook questions?

(Specifically, my goal would be to do 2 or 3 a day, depending on the difficulty of the questions I choose, and to keep this up for at least a month. I would almost certainly hit the monthly question limit. They would be from a graduate-level functional analysis book.)

Update: I have started posting questions. In an effort to be somewhat thorough in my studies, I'm going to make sure to do a few questions from each section and not skip any. Unfortunately, the problems in the first section are annoyingly trivial. I have posted some anyway, but please understand that my questions will get more interesting soon.

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    $\begingroup$ I think what joriki said in his answer here is right on target. It seems that most annoyance there was generated by repeated bumps of self-answered questions, not by their quantity. So, I think posting 2-3 self-answered questions is not going to be a problem. $\endgroup$
    – 40 votes
    Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 23:22
  • $\begingroup$ Last time I've heard, the question limits were 6/day, 50/month. So you might be limited by the second one if you go over a month. Other than that, 2 or 3 a day sounds reasonable to me. $\endgroup$
    – Julien
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 0:34
  • $\begingroup$ @40votes Do you have a citation for that? I've never heard of that rule before, but I'd be happy to change it if you could provide more information. $\endgroup$
    – Potato
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 3:31
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    $\begingroup$ A user with somewhat similar plan asked this: Centralized solutions to textbook problems considered harmful? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 6:07
  • $\begingroup$ Linguist, @40 votes. At your first comment, do you mean posting 2-3 daily, or altogether? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 29, 2013 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ I saw that there is an exercises tag added recently. This would be a natural application. Maybe a textbook-exercises tag would be useful as a subdividsion. $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 22:38
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    $\begingroup$ If you are doing a large number of these, consider starting your own blog. $\endgroup$
    – GEdgar
    Commented Mar 23, 2015 at 13:59

3 Answers 3


It will be more useful if each question identifies the book, edition, and problem/page number.

This helps in detecting duplicates, improves the accuracy of the Related questions list, and makes the textbooks more valuable to people learning from them.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the comment. I will make sure to do this. $\endgroup$
    – Potato
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ On the other hand, this would also make it extremely easy to find answers to homework assignments based on those questions. $\endgroup$
    – Zach L.
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 22:14
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    $\begingroup$ @ZachL. Good point, but many textbooks have solution books anyway, which can often be accessed by students. Because Potato's answers are accessible to anybody who can use the internet, they are just as easily found by lecturers who want to set homework on them than by students. Seeing that Potato's answers are contained in a particular period of time, lecturers are able to be aware that his answers exist online. $\endgroup$
    – ahorn
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 18:31
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    $\begingroup$ @ZachL., you say that as though it were a bad thing. It is considered improper in many places to assign marks based on homework because that is unreliable and often unfair as a method of assessment. One reason for that, which was true before the Internet existed, is that homework can be outsourced. $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 18:40

I would not object to this. Perhaps you could post the questions several hours apart and wait a few hours to post your answers. Posting questions several hours apart avoids an initial clump of questions. Waiting a few hours to post your answers gives others a chance answer the question without the aid of your posted answer.

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    $\begingroup$ Remark: if an answer to the question is already known at the time of posting, I'd appreciate having an indication of that in the question. $\endgroup$
    – 40 votes
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 0:52
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    $\begingroup$ ^that, or just have the answer ready to be pasted and submitted, so anyone reading the question will see that it has been answered. In any case, just don't do what MK did and I'm sure no one will notice/care! $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:28
  • $\begingroup$ I think you made a nice point, but at the same time, will this discourage people who write answers for whom actually need it? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 29, 2013 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ When a question is posted and the OP intends on posting an answer perhaps the OP could include a sentence along the lines of "I intend to post a solution that is based on blah, blah." That way others, if they so choose, could post answers based on some other method. $\endgroup$
    – Jay
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ Why do others need 'a chance to answer the question'? Isn't the purpose of SE to generate answered questions rather than unanswered questions? $\endgroup$
    – jwg
    Commented Sep 20, 2013 at 15:00

Nice Potato. It is greatly welcomed. Personally, I have been greatly benefited from answers to previous questions.

I planed to do so, and I am sort of doing so (see my small collection titled "GP *"), which are exercises on Guillemin and Pollack's Differential Topology. Then I didn't stick to exercises on GP simply because there are questions from other source I have to look at. But I am still trying to attach a complete answer for all questions I asked.

In short, great idea, and thanks for doing so.


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