My perhaps overly obvious suggestion is that requests for proof verification should be limited to proof actually given in the Question statement.

This was prompted by a recently re-opened Question, but the issue has appeared in other check-my-proof requests, including a recent Meta thread (now deleted, I believe) asking about copyright protection and posting proofs (presumably to be checked).

If link-only Answers are bad, what could possibly make a link-only Question worthwhile?

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Screw copyright issues (which are still a problem), the real issue is link rot. Any link you wouldn't put in a paper bibliography is automatically an issue. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 17:06
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I agree that something has to be done. Occasionally, there is good reason for a question to be essentially link only. But if examination shows that posting the question explicitly is feasible, then OP should be asked to do so. If after a reasonable amount of time (a day?) this has not been done, that could be reason for putting the question on hold. But then again, if the question is interesting, $\dots$. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 19:46
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ $\ldots$ then someone interested might want to edit the post for them. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 21:54
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ And that "someone interested" can risk their computer getting a virus from an unknown site, thank you very much. ;) I don't just follow through whatever link someone gives. $\endgroup$
    – apnorton
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 2:31
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Here is a link that discusses whether you can get infected by clicking a link. (Beware of clicking!) $\endgroup$
    – hrkrshnn
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 4:58

2 Answers 2


In similarity to posters of link-only answers, users who post questions which rely on familiarity with or access to a specific external source to be understood and answered should be urged to include as much relevant information from the source so as to make the question self-contained (roughly meaning intelligible to an "expert" without familiarity with or access to the source, for suitably loose definitions of "expert").

Leaving appropriate comments and downvoting are clearly part of this urging, but one should also consider voting to close the question, where either "unclear what you're asking" or "missing context or other details" seem appropriate.

In extreme situations, you can also attempt to edit this information in yourself.

This should apply to all questions, not just those of the variety. It should also apply equally to all kinds of external sources.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ +1 While the general objection to over-reliance on an external link or other source is relevant, I'm inclined to hold the proof-verification Questions to a slightly elevated standard. The post I linked to above as an example was initially revised to have a brief sketch of the approach taken, and for most closed-as-off-topic-qua-missing-context cases, that would have been sufficient. But the request to examine a proof for correctness, esp. a lengthy critique, begs for a fuller disclosure. Link rot encompasses not merely links going 404, but any external editing (of a blog in this case). $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 1:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1 for "In extreme situations, you can also attempt to edit this information in yourself." I've done this once, and fairly extensively, in math.stackexchange.com/revisions/404175/5, the extreme situation being that I was deep in that same proof at the same time, and I had struggled similarly with it. That question was originally closed as "unclear what you're asking". $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 11:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MarnixKlooster Except that I'd replace "In extreme situations" by "When practical". $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 11:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MarnixKlooster: "In extreme circumstances..." is more tongue in cheek than anything else, and includes "I want to answer this question, but in its current state it's not worth keeping." $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 13:50

Generally, I would be opposed to "check my proof" questions even if the link is to a permanent place like the ArXiV.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .