I've run across a few fun problems I want to share. Some are just fun problems with quick/clever answers. I want to share them on here, but I don't really know how to do so without people (rightfully) closing my question as off-topic missing context or other details.

I can put an answer in the question, or self answer, but sometimes I want others to come up with solutions. I posted one question where I had an ugly solution, and there were certainly better ones.

I can't show my attempts/thoughts because those would be a complete solution!

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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Closed as off-topic after asking and answering own question $\endgroup$ Dec 27, 2015 at 8:43
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    $\begingroup$ Let me add that context is more than just "one's attempt at the question". Defining some of the terms in the question, links to similar questions, explaining why the problem is interesting (since you want to share your solution to the problem, surely you have thoughts on that), where you found the problem, what kind of tools one can expect to use to solve it... All in all, someone's attempt at a question is probably the least useful type of context, I think (cf. this previous discussion in the comments). $\endgroup$ Dec 27, 2015 at 8:46
  • $\begingroup$ someone's attempt at a question is probably the least useful type of context. I'd say it has negative utility unless the attempt creates some progress toward a solution or analysis. Partial results, calculation of special cases, graphs of the function, useful observations --- good! Cluttering the question with things none of the answerers use (except to correct the errors in it) --- somewhat bad. OP's attempts belong in comments or a self-answer or a different solution-verification question. Or a different site devoted to attempt correction and tutoring. @NajibIdrissi $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Dec 28, 2015 at 20:18
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    $\begingroup$ @zyx It just needs to be clearly separated from the question... It's not very hard to start a new paragraph and write "Here's my attempt". It doesn't belong in comments, which are intended to be ephemeral and to, I quote, "reply to other users or notify them of changes. If you are adding new information, edit your post instead". And it certainly doesn't belong in a self-answer (answers are for... answers...). And have you read the discussion I linked? Attempts can be useful beyond just making progress towards the question. It also helps fine-tune answers to the OP for example. $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2015 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ The goal of this site, in general, is to ask questions that you'd like others to help you with. This is a Q&A site - the goal isn't to share math in general, or to show math to others. For those purposes, consider using a personal blog. $\endgroup$ Dec 29, 2015 at 2:55
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    $\begingroup$ @CarlMummert Then why is self answering very explicitly encouraged? I don't think your goal is widely held. $\endgroup$
    – user223391
    Dec 29, 2015 at 2:56
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    $\begingroup$ The sites are for relevant and useful information, or at the very least interesting, in a mathematical sense. If you have something that seems useful (to others) that you want to share in a Q&A format this is fine. Just write it up really well, with context and motivation, good formatting and all. If you want to share brain-teasers, puzzles, or IQ-test style question that's off-topic, essentially regardless the self-answer aspect. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Dec 29, 2015 at 8:04

1 Answer 1


For "puzzle questions" you can try it with a preface as in this example of mine: Evaluation of a continued fraction


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