Occasionally I see a question (e.g. Are Disjoint Set Assertions Commutative?) where the OP has very little background in math or is a troll.

The accepted answer to this question is very straightforward but probably assumes more math than the OP has mastered (given the question).

Should we try to explain basic definitions?

  • $\begingroup$ If the question was verifiably not asked in good faith (and you are sure of this), it probably should not be answered at all? $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Jan 20 '11 at 1:22
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    $\begingroup$ I don't see any reason to think this particular question was asked in bad faith, and it is also not clear to me that the answer wouldn't make sense to the OP. As surely most people have experienced when studying mathematics, it is much easier to understand an explanation using certain terms and ideas than to come up with such an explanation oneself. $\endgroup$ – Matt E Jan 20 '11 at 1:31
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    $\begingroup$ Since the OP has quickly accepted this answer, the operational assumption would seem to be that he was satisfied with it. And I see nothing in particular that was trollish in the question. People can ask very easy questions in good faith! $\endgroup$ – Pete L. Clark Jan 20 '11 at 7:50

I completely agree with Matt E's and Pete L. Clark's comments. My general answer to "Should we try to explain basic definitions?" is "Yes", or at least we can help direct people to basic definitions, in cases like this where those are what is required to answer their questions. The OP is always free to ask for elaboration in case the initial responses are unclear.


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