I came across a question by a new user where he had asked a question and answered it himself right away (since he had read the guidelines that says that this is encouraged).

The question which was a very basic geometry question was quickly closed as off-topic (it only said "Prove this: (theorem)").

OP asked how to get it reopened so I'm asking it here. My questions are:

What should OP do to get the question reopened in this case? Normally I would ask OP to add his/her own approach to the problem, but asking OP to do this seems a bit artificial when he has already answered it.

Should questions that are asked and answered at the same time be closed as off-topic even if they are on the homework-form?

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    $\begingroup$ Some guidelines for self-answering ones questions were outlined here, "Is it not allowed to answer ones own question?". $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Sep 29, 2015 at 2:38
  • $\begingroup$ I do think "seriously Pedro, you do some dumb-ass things" when a question that's been answered is closed. $\endgroup$
    – Alec Teal
    Oct 9, 2015 at 10:27

3 Answers 3


If the questions was closed for lack of context (or "lack of shown effort", although this is not an official name for a close reason), then I think it should not have been closed in this case. The problem is simply that the users who voted to close did not notice the self-answer. (It is especially easy to miss when voting from the review queue.)

In my opinion, the best thing would be if the OP adds to their question something like:

  • I will post my own solution as an answer. I am interested to see whether there are some other solutions.
  • I will post my own solution as an answer. I would be glad if somebody can tell me whether my approach is correct.

In the second case, tagging the question or would be appropriate. It is worth mentioning that some users recommend self-answer as the ideal way to ask this type of questions. Although there is no clear consensus about this.

If the user does this already when posting the questions, it might help to prevent the post from being closed for the lack of context. Of course, it will still be closed if there are some other issues with the post.

It can help even if the OP does this now. (Or even somebody else, if the OP's intentions are clear from the comments.) The first edit after a question was put on hold moves the question into reopen review queue.

If this does not help either, the either the OP or somebody else can ask in the designated thread. (But this should be done only if the review queue does not work.) Here is the link to the current version: http://meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/19042/requests-for-reopen-undeletion-votes-etc-volume-01-2015-current-versio Asking in this chat room, (which was created specifically for issues related to closing, reopening, deleting, undeleting) might also be an option.

I will add that similar problems have also been recently discussed in comments to this question: http://meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/21537/do-proof-verification-questions-fit-the-website-evade-duplicate-tag-sometimes

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    $\begingroup$ For the specific question which sparked your question, it has already been through the review queue. (At least if I correctly guessed which question you have in mind.) But I guess that it got there after somebody cast a reopen vote. So editing might still help. As you can read in the post I linked: "A question will only be enqueued once per closure via editing." $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2015 at 5:34
  • $\begingroup$ It seems that I was wrong in my previous comment. The last part seems to be important here: "It will be enqueued once per reopen vote as long as there are no outstanding reopen votes that've already triggered a review." $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2015 at 10:31
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, you are right that was the question. Thanks for a good answer, I will use this as a reference in the future! $\endgroup$
    – Winther
    Sep 29, 2015 at 13:42
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    $\begingroup$ I think that self-answered questions have a higher standard to meet, in terms of context, rather than a lower one. $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2015 at 17:52

What should OP do to get the question reopened in this case?

Demonstrate that their question & answer pair adds value to the site.

Sure, users are encouraged to ask and answer their own question. They are also encouraged to maintain the site by downvoting, closing and deleting useless content.

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    $\begingroup$ However, even if the post does not add value to the site, closing it for lack of context would probably not the correct choice of the close reason. (Winther does not mention the close reason in the question, but from the circumstances missing context seems as the most probable candidate.) $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2015 at 6:33
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    $\begingroup$ If the question "lacks context", the reason applies. Doesn't matter who wrote answers to it. It's the question being evaluated, not answers. $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Sep 29, 2015 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ It is generally agreed that one way of adding context is showing OP's own attempt. Which happened in the situation described in this question. What the OP should have done was to clearly point out in the question that they are posting their attempt as an answer (thus adding the context). $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2015 at 13:37
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    $\begingroup$ Main point I am trying to make is that "missing context" and "no added value" are two completely different close reasons. (Although I admit that my comments might have been a bit unclear.) $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2015 at 13:39

All the routine suggestions for improving the Question would seem to be in play here. From the Help Center Tour front page:

Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do.

Unless the OP really encountered some difficulty solving the posed problem, posting a self-answer seems more calculated to garner reputation from unwary Readers than to help "build a library of detailed answers to every question about math."

That said, the Question could be made eligible for reopening as desired by editing (by anyone) to add some context to motivate the Question. A lecturer or author would typically do something of this kind before revealing a solution, but here my standards for sufficient context are minimal (often met by a Comment from the OP explaining the difficulty or interest of a problem).

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    $\begingroup$ It's hard for me to see how "include details about what hou have tried" and "build a library of detailed answers to every question about math" are at all compatible. $\endgroup$ Oct 8, 2015 at 7:59
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    $\begingroup$ The first is something we can do when asking a Question, while the second is dependent on having both good questions and good answers. Details "about what you have tried" are one aspect of motivating a question. Providing motivation for questions improves the library. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Oct 8, 2015 at 11:51
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    $\begingroup$ That's exactly my point: I don't see how questions of the form [Easy Calculus exercise] --[what I tried: half wrong attempt] make a library better. $\endgroup$ Oct 8, 2015 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinArgerami You're looking at it the wrong way. Both versions (with and without the attempt) are almost as equally useless in building a "library of detailed answers to every question about math", for reasons that have been outlined many times now (searchability, knowing what lead to a question, similar questions...). But some users are not experienced enough to see the big picture and know what to say to provide proper context for their questions. So they can at least provide what they tried, or that they know some definition or other, and their questions won't get closed. [cont.] $\endgroup$ Oct 8, 2015 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ This context can be helpful for later editors who want to add context to questions, because the contexts for "solve this analysis problem, I don't know what a limit is", "solve this analysis problem, I tried the IVT but it didn't work" and "solve this analysis problem, I tried using some complex analysis technique but it didn't work" may not necessarily be the same. Similar questions where the techniques mentioned work, etc, will differ. Of course, all this hinges on the fact that math.SE is not a free "do my homework" service with no investment from the OP, but feel free to disagree. $\endgroup$ Oct 8, 2015 at 15:13

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