Recently I posted this question. It was immediately put on hold. They say because it lacks context or effort. I didn't write how I tried to solve it, because I thought I knew the answer. So here's my question.

QUESTION If the asker thinks he/she knows the answer to a question, how should he/she ask it to avoid the closure?

Personally I'd rather not to say I think I know the answer when I post a question.

Nov. 3, 2013 I edited the question in the main adopting Mr. Alexander Gruber's suggestions in his comment. No change for the negative downvotes so far.

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    $\begingroup$ Why the hell did you ask "Is the following proposition correct? If yes, how do we prove it?", if you knew the answer already?!?!? $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Nov 2 '13 at 1:08
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker Because I may be wrong. And I want to know other members' answers. There are usually several different proofs of a problem. $\endgroup$ – Makoto Kato Nov 2 '13 at 1:11
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    $\begingroup$ Then you didn't know the answer. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Nov 2 '13 at 1:13
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    $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato You could ask for an alternative proof, with the alternative-proof tag. You may want to consider including your attempt at a proof in a >! box if you wish to allow readers to try the problem free of bias. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Gruber Nov 2 '13 at 1:20
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    $\begingroup$ Btw: I think this should be closed as a duplicate of meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/9362/… $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Nov 2 '13 at 1:22
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker I edited my question. $\endgroup$ – Makoto Kato Nov 2 '13 at 1:22
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker The meta question you indicated had been posted before the new guideline for closing a question which lacks context or effort was introduced. $\endgroup$ – Makoto Kato Nov 2 '13 at 1:39
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker Why the hell a moderator would use the phrase "why the hell?" $\endgroup$ – Lord Soth Nov 4 '13 at 0:30
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    $\begingroup$ @LordSoth ''Pragmatically, "the hell" functions as an intensifier, usually indicating at least surprise, and often unpleasant surprise, and there is almost always another word in the sentence that receives contrastive stress to indicate that it is the focus of the surprise. Co-occurence of other interjections and topic particles like "well" is also common. The idea seems to be to mark the sentence strongly, iconic with the strength of the emotion to be expressed.'' - Source - This is exactly how I intended it. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Nov 4 '13 at 0:41

While not lying to those reading a question, it's certainly disingenuous to not state clearly in a question the intent of posting that question. One of the core reasons people answer questions on this site is to help people who are trying to understand new concepts, and can often exhibit huge amounts of effort into helping people understand difficult ideas.

If a question asker already understands a concept and just wants to see a possibly nicer approach to a problem, then they should say so before someone wastes their time explaining basic concepts, when they're really preaching to the choir. If you have a solution and want the proof checked, write the proof, state so, and use the tag. If you have a proof but want to see a proof requiring less machinery, more abstract concepts, or more succinct arguments, write your proof, state so and use the tag.

Closing for the reason of no context means just that - a question should be given sufficient context so that the answerer knows how to frame their answer, at what level of mathematical maturity, at what sufficient level of detail, and how much effort should be spent on finding a novel/aesthetically pleasing proof.

Help us help you.

  • $\begingroup$ My intent of posting the question is as follows. 1. To use the result myself to answer other questions in this site. 2. To provide a useful result which can be used by the users to answer other questions in this site. 3. To have as many full proofs of the result as possible, each of which can be understood by the users who have elementary knowledge of algebra. $\endgroup$ – Makoto Kato Nov 2 '13 at 5:56
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    $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato I think my objection to your posts can be summed up in two parts: One, (as Daniel Rust has stated) is that it seems dishonest to misrepresent your knowledge of the subject. Two, this is a Q and A site - not a compendium of proofs. If you want to just write a list of proofs for future users to read, then proofwiki or Wikipedia are perfect for that, in my always-to-be-humbled opinion. $\endgroup$ – user61527 Nov 2 '13 at 8:01
  • $\begingroup$ @T.Bongers There are some reasons why I didn't say I knew one of the answers. 1. I didn't want to discourage people to answer my question. 2. It's generally fun to solve a mathematical problem. I don't want to spoil the fun. 3. If I showed my answer, people might lose interest in my question so that they would not post other possibly interesting proofs. 4. I was not 100% sure that my proof was correct. $\endgroup$ – Makoto Kato Nov 2 '13 at 8:40
  • $\begingroup$ @T.Bongers Continued. As for your last point, [if you’d like to document it in public so others (including yourself) can find it later, it is OK to ask, and answer, your own question on a relevant Stack Exchange site. it is not merely OK to ask and answer your own question, it is explicitly encouraged.] blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/07/… $\endgroup$ – Makoto Kato Nov 2 '13 at 8:40
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    $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato I have a feeling I'm not the only one to translate "I didn't want to discourage people to answer my question." to "I don't want people to make an informed decision". $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Nov 2 '13 at 11:53
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker Your translation is not correct. $\endgroup$ – Makoto Kato Nov 2 '13 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato You have been told, by several people; I agree with Alexander Gruber's suggestions about tagging and using spoiler boxes. My objection is not that you know the answer and are asking the question; my objection is that your questions frequently misrepresent your understanding of the question, in my opinion. $\endgroup$ – user61527 Nov 2 '13 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato Yes, if you were to represent your knowledge and understanding of the question honestly, then I don't think I'd have a problem with your recent questions. $\endgroup$ – user61527 Nov 2 '13 at 20:09
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    $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato I would not consider that statement to be enough, personally. $\endgroup$ – user61527 Nov 2 '13 at 20:50
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    $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato I suspect it is possible that some might have downvoted for the following reasons: "No effort shown. no context shown, no response to a comment which asks if he has considered a particular (and very obvious approach), no response to a comment asking for his thoughts on the problem, ... not to mention the fact that this result is contained in pretty much every textbook covering quadratic forms. " $\endgroup$ – Old John Nov 2 '13 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato You seem to expect that the rest of us are psychic. The mouseover text on the downvote button also says something about no effort shown, not no effort made... $\endgroup$ – user61527 Nov 2 '13 at 21:28
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    $\begingroup$ Davenport (The Higher Arithmetic), Alan Baker (A Concise Introduction to the Theory of Numbers), and several others. I also knew no such thing (I am not psychic), and I think it is perfectly reasonable to downvote based on the other comments I made above, comments which you seem to be assiduously avoiding answering. $\endgroup$ – Old John Nov 2 '13 at 21:36
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    $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato I think it's tremendously arrogant to automatically assume that we should all know that you know the answers already, while you're simultaneously trying to withhold information from the readers considering your posts. I think that downvotes are a reasonable response to many of your questions; every community has its own norms and standards, and the community seems to object to your posting habits. $\endgroup$ – user61527 Nov 2 '13 at 22:09
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    $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato Since you seem to be absolutely determined to avoid confronting the major issues I have raised, I see no further point in continuing this discussion. I will not add anything further to this thread. $\endgroup$ – Old John Nov 2 '13 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato You seem to be willfully ignoring other users' comments and votes. Furthering this conversation isn't a good use of my time. $\endgroup$ – user61527 Nov 2 '13 at 22:37

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