Are 'Yes' and 'No' answers to questions (that ask only for a yes or no answer, even if that's a bad type of questions according to the SE model) without any explanations acceptable?

  • 14
    $\begingroup$ No.${}{}{}{}{}$ $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Jan 9, 2015 at 13:10
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ Yes, if you think this answer is helpful. $\endgroup$
    – robjohn Mod
    Jan 9, 2015 at 13:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ for example this one math.stackexchange.com/a/1095126/153330 $\endgroup$
    – user153330
    Jan 9, 2015 at 13:28
  • 10
    $\begingroup$ IMO the real question is whether a question that can be answered Yes/No is on-topic. And even if it is on-topic, whether it is something we want to have. In general It depends. $\endgroup$ Jan 9, 2015 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen and for that example ? $\endgroup$
    – user153330
    Jan 9, 2015 at 13:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GrigoryM That just makes it a poorly worded or poor question. User may as well have received a "yes" and "no", what then? $\endgroup$
    – user153330
    Jan 9, 2015 at 13:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @user153330 Sorry, I haven't noticed this part of your question; one might argue that than "yes" and "no" will have different number of upvotes etc. IMO the problem is mainly the question, not the answer(s). I'm surprised that this particular question is not only open but also is heavily upvoted. $\endgroup$
    – Grigory M
    Jan 9, 2015 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ @GrigoryM but then You'll notice the upvotes in favor of "no" or "yes" garnered around the best explained answers, as they would on any healthy SE site, and the answers without explanations would be deleted. $\endgroup$
    – user153330
    Jan 9, 2015 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ The question asks "is it immature" ... to the (doubtful) extent that the question is on-topic, then the one-word opinion is an answer. $\endgroup$
    – GEdgar
    Jan 9, 2015 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. $ \ \ \ \ \ $ $\endgroup$ Jan 9, 2015 at 18:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ As the on-topicness of the specific question gets questioned, while I am biased, I would still like to record that the underlying question what is up with or why is there such a noticeable switch in the notation of vectors seems quite reasonable to me. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Jan 10, 2015 at 6:01

2 Answers 2


Whether or not something is (technically) a yes/no question is quite often nothing but a stylistic choice. This choice, when made, might not be optimal for the medium, but I still think we should try to minimize "literal" answers in such cases.

  • Could you give me some references? Yes!

  • Is this argument valid? No!

  • Is this or something related known? Yes!

I actually do believe in educating users to make quite explicit what they expect as an answer. However, they way to do this is not via giving yes/no answers, in any case not as answer-posts.

  • $\begingroup$ Those are good examples where answering just "yes" or "no" would not be good. However, "Is this argument valid? Yes!" is trickier. If there is a great argument with a request for verification, with no further specific question, it might be worth answering "yes" without saying anything else. (It would be better if the questioner would say what about their argument they're not sure of, so one could address a specific question and give reasons, but "why is this proof valid" could be "too broad".) $\endgroup$ Jan 26, 2015 at 4:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ First I agree with your final parenthetical remark. Still, I think also a pure "yes!" is not a good answer (it might be reasonable as a quick comment). The point is the answer does in itself not add anything whatsoever. Really the only value of it seems who wrote it and the trust we might have into their judgement. Granted, this can be actually useful in some case, but it still does not really qualify as an answer. Even if the argument is correct and there is no specific question it is typically possible to say something meaningful beyond yes. And, this better should be done. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Jan 26, 2015 at 17:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I agree I think. I felt compelled to mention this because the examples in the answer seemed perhaps too obviously bad, and I see the case I call "trickier" come up with mixed reactions. E.g. I have sympathy for user7530's comment on dustin's answer, but also think such answers are not very good. (And I came to this thread because I saw a "yes that's a great proof" type answer recommended for deletion in the low quality queue, which in context seemed too much to me (i.e., the recommendation of deletion), even though I would not answer in this way, and sometimes would downvote such answers.) $\endgroup$ Jan 26, 2015 at 17:49

Even if the question solicits a yes/no answer, the answerer should be able to generate something of substance to add to their response of yes/no. For instance, take the following question on a Laplace transform:

Find the laplace transform of $u(-t+a)$, u is the step function

The OP asked if they were doing it correctly. Well the answer is yes, but I was to able to add something of value. If someone is really just going to write yes/no, it might as well be a comment.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ (-1) If someone asks "is this proof correct?" and the answer is yes, I would much rather have "Yes" as an answer, than "Yes" as a comment and an "unanswered" question in the queue. $\endgroup$
    – user7530
    Jan 10, 2015 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ @user7530 you could say yes and present an alternate method or approach. $\endgroup$
    – dustin
    Jan 10, 2015 at 20:59

You must log in to answer this question.

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