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I just started trying to read through Lectures on the Hyperreals: An Introduction to Nonstandard Analysis, by Robert Goldblatt. I expect to be asking a bunch of questions, including verification of some of my answers to exercises in the book. This is entirely a self-study adventure. How much of this background should I include in the questions themselves? Is there a convenient tag I can use for this?

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    $\begingroup$ I think that after half a dozen questions most of the community will know what you're doing. What I would do is to type a description of the endeavor into the profile and include the source of the questions just in the first few question. $\endgroup$ – Git Gud Jun 6 '14 at 11:14
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Yes, you should include in each question what the background is. A question should always be as self-contained as possible. You can't assume that everyone knows what you have been studying.

That said, you don't have to include all the work you have done leading up to your question. You just want to make sure that the question doesn't assume familiarity with your other questions. If it does, you should link to the relevant questions.

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  • $\begingroup$ Would this be taken care of by including the source as described in the answer from "GRY"? Or, are you recommending that I provide a little more information about the specific topic I'm trying to deal with at the time? Such as, I'm going through the intro section on filters. $\endgroup$ – Mitchell Kaplan Jun 5 '14 at 19:41
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    $\begingroup$ GRY says that including the source "would be nice", but that's not all you need to do. If you just ask: "I am studying filters, but I don't understand why blah... blah (this statement is from pg 23 of Book X)," that is not a very good question, especially if the statement contains many technical terminology. Furthermore, note that for many mathematical subjects there can be different presentations of the same material: different authors may take different "equivalent" characterisations as definitions, and prove the other characterisations as theorems. So especially for introductory material... $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jun 6 '14 at 8:00
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    $\begingroup$ ... one should strive to include definitions, as sometimes what you want to prove is in fact "true by definition" from the point of view of another user/author. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jun 6 '14 at 8:01
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Including source at the end of the question would be nice, both for attribution of material and for future readers. It can be separated from the rest of the question by a horizontal line, entered as --- in the editor. You can copy-paste the author/title and add the relevant problem number.

There is no proper reference syntax in the editor. If desired, smaller font can be achieved with <sub>text</sub>

A special tag is not needed. Tag names are limited to 25 characters, which is not enough to map book author/titles to tag names in a readable way. Also, tags should describe the content of the question, not its source1.

Some users even put the book in the title of the question, which I don't like: it sticks out too much, and takes up room that could be better used for describing the question.


(1) I dislike meta tags such as "homework", "self-study", etc.; but I may be in minority on this.

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    $\begingroup$ You are not in a minority on the meta-tags front. In fact, it's official policy that "meta-tagging is explicitly discouraged." $\endgroup$ – wchargin Jun 6 '14 at 4:42
  • $\begingroup$ The existing meta tags are mostly inherited from a time bygone, and we keep it because it is too much work to remove them. But we shouldn't make new ones. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jun 6 '14 at 7:57
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    $\begingroup$ @WillieWong Well, "we" are not just keeping the tags around (which I understand), "we" also tell new users to add them to their questions. I think "we" should stop doing that, for some value of "we". (And this is a minority viewpoint, I believe.) $\endgroup$ – user147263 Jun 6 '14 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ @wordsthatendinGRY: can I ask you to be a bit more transparent? I just read your comment three times and I still don't think I understand your point. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jun 10 '14 at 7:53
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    $\begingroup$ @WillieWong Three is the right number of times: that's how many votes the comment has. My attempt at transparency is here. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Jun 10 '14 at 20:40
  • $\begingroup$ I see. Thanks, and you make some good points there. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jun 11 '14 at 7:23

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