Lately I have been noticing a phenomenon where a user asks a question which is beyond their ability to understand. It becomes apparent when, for example, someone posts a totally reasonable answer and the OP comments that they don't understand the response, or that the response is confusing when it appears to be clearly worded.

This is difficult because it is sometimes hard to determine the level of rigor and explanation a user is requesting. For a specific example, I saw a question lately which asked for a proof to show that a function is surjective. A user posted an answer, but the original poster complained that the answer was overly confusing, when it probably wasn't, as long as the poster knew some basic facts about surjectivity.

What should we do in these cases? It seems unfair to just close the question, and it also seems unfair to expect anyone to write a lecture worth of information.

  • $\begingroup$ I feel this was brought up some years ago on meta. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Nov 8 '15 at 11:06
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ IMO the site benefits from having answers at various levels. Remember that the answers are also to the future visitors of that read. Therefore my advice is that you can write an answer you feel most comfortable with yourself. The voters will vote whichever way they see fit, but there is room for answers targetting different audiences. If none of the answers helped the asker much, it is a sign that they need to strengthen their background. General pointers in comments are then probably best. $\endgroup$ Nov 8 '15 at 11:07
  • $\begingroup$ Possible. I didn't find it after a quick search. M $\endgroup$
    – Elliot G
    Nov 8 '15 at 11:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Insisting on proper questions helps to address the problem. Often, somebody not qualified to understand the answer to a question will also not be able to ask a well-motivated and well-phrased question. To be more to the point: if the question does not match the sites standards on how questions should be presented, there is no problem with closing it. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Nov 8 '15 at 11:52

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