I think this question should have been on hold until OP had shown he/she has put some efforts. All they have done is ask to math.SE instead of trying to solve it. I am appalled that many people have answered it step-by-step (for internet points?)

My question: What should be done now that some people have already answered it? Delete their answers?

  • $\begingroup$ What is your question? Ironically, this will probably get placed "on hold" until you explain why this is different from all the other questions about showing effort and closure. $\endgroup$ – apnorton Jul 23 '14 at 3:39
  • $\begingroup$ @anorton I have added my question now. $\endgroup$ – user13107 Jul 23 '14 at 4:09
  • $\begingroup$ @user13107: There's nothing to be done. I mean, in my ideal world, the authors would delete their answers, but (fortunately) we don't live in that world, and we have to work with the tools we have. And we don't have many tools in this regard. You can't flag it; there's nothing wrong. You can't delete it; it's not yours. You can't edit it out of existence; that's vandalism. You can downvote it and comment, but do this too much and you become that guy (not that there's anything inherently wrong with being that guy, but it's not consequence-free). I have eventually decided to just move on. $\endgroup$ – Eric Stucky Jul 23 '14 at 4:15
  • $\begingroup$ Also, as a side point, I disagree that the linked question is a particularly good example of this phenomenon. It strikes me as an honest question, if only because the scenario is so contrived that you'd be crazy to have just made it up in a desperate search for context. $\endgroup$ – Eric Stucky Jul 23 '14 at 4:18
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    $\begingroup$ @EricStucky You went over (1) flag; (2) delete; (3) edit; (4) downvote and comment, but missed the most scalable option: (5) downvote and not comment. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Jul 23 '14 at 6:45
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    $\begingroup$ @healthier: Yeah, I'm not really into (5) because random downvoting is a thing and IMO a person cannot really read into a downvote made without comment, unless accompanied by another downvote with a comment. So if you're downvoting to send a message, then it's not really working :/ $\endgroup$ – Eric Stucky Jul 23 '14 at 9:42
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    $\begingroup$ @EricStucky It's not necessary to read into voter's motives to learn that one thing leads to another. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_conditioning $\endgroup$ – user147263 Jul 23 '14 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ @This: I guess that's why whenever someone downvotes I get hungry. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 23 '14 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila ...for blood! for vengeance! Actually, it looks like nobody downvotes on this site anymore (except me of course). I haven't gotten a single downvote in two weeks. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Jul 23 '14 at 21:58
  • $\begingroup$ @This: To quote Bon Scott, if you want blood... $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 23 '14 at 22:06

I think this question should have been on hold until OP had shown he/she has put some efforts.

Then by all means flag the question with one of the standard close options:

flag to close

Doing so will place the question in the Close Votes review queue, where users with the vote to close/reopen privilege will decide whether the question should be placed on hold or not. Once you gain 3000 reputation you will be able to cast close votes yourself.

  • $\begingroup$ thanks, but what if people have already answered it? can a question still be closed for lack of effort? $\endgroup$ – user13107 Jul 23 '14 at 5:26
  • $\begingroup$ @user13107: The only time a question cannot be closed is when it is locked or there is an active bounty (or when it is already closed/on-hold, I guess). If others have already answered it, there is very little to be done. You could try to petition the community to delete the answers, but I highly doubt that would go over well. And the moderators won't provide this service except in more egregious circumstances (e.g., the question is from an active contest or exam), and then the deletions are almost always temporary. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Jul 23 '14 at 5:32

I am appalled that many people have answered it step-by-step (for internet points?)

Or for the fun of solving a puzzle. Yeah, that's more likely.

The OP of that question put nontrivial effort into presentation of the problem. Then even added a "bonus puzzle" after getting answers. In the process, the question got over 5000 views.

Other questions by same OP show creativity and high level of engagement with the problems. And by the way, the OP has answered as many questions as s/he asked.

Sharing puzzles for the fun of it is quite different from dumping one's homework (abstractly duplicated many times all over the Internet) onto the site. My only concern with such questions is the frequent lack of attribution: own creation? from a book? from a contest? But I guess the mentioning of father/math teacher as the source of the problem can be taken at face value, as long as we have no evidence to the contrary.

  • $\begingroup$ Why does OP Q/A history matter? What if it was his first question? $\endgroup$ – user13107 Jul 23 '14 at 5:10
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    $\begingroup$ @user13107 It matters to me, because it does. I'm not saying it should matter to you. If it was the first question, it's still be a decent one, as far as puzzles go. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Jul 23 '14 at 5:20
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    $\begingroup$ @user13107: Of course it matters. Exactly for the same reason we have the notion of "prior offense" in our legal systems, and why we let those without priors off with an easier punishment for misdemeanor offenses. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 23 '14 at 7:31
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila IMO forums need to be run in a markov chain fashion. $\endgroup$ – user13107 Jul 23 '14 at 7:36
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    $\begingroup$ @user13107: If someone posts one low quality answer, fine that's not a huge deal. If someone posts consistently just low quality answers, why should he be allowed to continue and do that? I agree that for the most part a post should be considered solely on its content, but the aggregated contribution of the user cannot be ignored. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jul 23 '14 at 7:42
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    $\begingroup$ I tend to downvote and/or vote to close "puzzles" - in my experience this site is intended for mathematical questions that users have encountered, not for mathematical questions that users have intentionally concocted to test others. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Jul 23 '14 at 10:56

Another possibility, that some have advocated ... (I have not done this, myself). Downvote such answers, with a comment explaining your reason. I imagine if that happens often enough, some over-eager answerers may get the message. But, unfortunately, there is a steady supply of new over-eager-beavers.


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