It seems that we at M.SE have developed a rather large repertoire of definitions of the word "context". Looking at the questions in the close vote queue for "missing context", one will see many comments addressing this fault - and these will range from asking only about what they've attempted, to asking about the literal context (i.e. what textbook) the question comes from - and each of these comments implies some definition of context. Some users seem to put substantial effort into outlining an idea of what would be acceptable context for new users, while others seem perfectly content with leaving a fairly useless comment of "What have you tried?" to every such question.

Given that "missing context" is almost certainly the most common reason for closing questions, we ought to discuss the following:

What is context? What sorts of context should the author of a question consider including?

A canonical answer to this question may be used to cut down on the number of "What have you tried" comments (i.e. to instead direct new users to a better reference - since it must be frustrating to have a question on which you have no idea and have it closed with no mention of what "context" actually is) and to give new users a better idea of our expectations (without spending unnecessary effort explaining the same thing to all such users).

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    $\begingroup$ A starting point is this answer. $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 22:46
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    $\begingroup$ Related link: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/9956/… and $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 22:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Lord_Farin: thanks for linking to that. The close message for "lack of context" links to that exact page, and so the premise in the question that a question could be closed for lacking context with no mention of what "context" means is not quite right. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ And if you want to know why we want context, look at this comment (I should turn it into an answer to something sometime, it's the second time I direct someone to it). The whole thread is full of discussions about context too. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 12:55


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