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The width of the question box is fixed. But what's the best fitting length? Long questions make people scroll up and down. I want to try to shirk this possible inconvenience in my questions. How long can the question box be before scrolling happen?

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    $\begingroup$ Wouldn't that be device-dependent? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Dec 25 '13 at 5:52
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    $\begingroup$ I would recommend staying between one line and two thousand lines. Questions with fewer than two words are likely to be closed as "unclear what you're asking", while questions over a million lines long are likely to be closed as "too broad". $\endgroup$ – dfeuer Dec 25 '13 at 7:55
  • $\begingroup$ @dfeuer There's a built-in length limit of either 30000 or 40000 characters (meta.SO gives contradictory information), so it's not going to get to 2000 lines (unless they lines are very very short). $\endgroup$ – Post No Bulls Dec 25 '13 at 8:06
  • $\begingroup$ @PostNoBills, is that a challenge :-? Also note that some MathJax can make things big, and of course images can easily do so. $\endgroup$ – dfeuer Dec 25 '13 at 8:07
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Don't worry about how your question fits the reader's screen; worry about how it fits their brain.

Very short questions (1-2 lines) are almost universally bad (I exclude "evaluate this expression" questions). They tend to generate a stream of comments: in what sense do you use term A? What is the domain of operator B? What is the source/context of this dubious claim you find confusing? Etc.

On the other hand, long-winded questions run the risk of readers never finding out what the question actually is. Not everyone wants to read paragraphs of prose without knowing whether the question is something they like to engage with.

My suggestion: make it as long as you want, but

clearly isolate the actual question,

state it early on, and separate it from additional information (definitions, motivation, partial results)


like this.

(Formatting preferences vary; there are more than one way to achieve such effects.)

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  • $\begingroup$ I think you've nailed the most important consideration, presenting a concise setup needed to pose the actual question, the Question itself (stated in a way that makes what is required by an Answer reasonably clear), and then some good words about motivations, approaches tried, and/or difficulties encountered/overcome. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Dec 25 '13 at 16:05

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