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Very often here when a post does not show any work gets down voted to hell, this question is getting upvoted +5 without having shown any work.

I have seen others people's post get downvoted severely with more work than the mentioned question, why the double standard?

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    $\begingroup$ Somewhat similar question: Inconsistent voting of questions with no effort from the OP. You will probably be able to find a few more related discussions if you search a bit or simply browse the questions tagged voting. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jan 14 '16 at 10:29
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    $\begingroup$ It would be a double standard if everybody voted on every post, but since this is not the case, it is simply inevitable. Also, some people will naturally be more lenient with questions they are very interested in. To all appearances, what you ar describing can simply never be eradicated entirely. $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Jan 14 '16 at 11:18
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I have other reasons not to upvote that question, but I would not downvote or vote to close it either.

The official reason for closing many a question is "off-topic -> missing context". Some users mistakenly equate "missing context" with "missing work/effort shown".

The linked question gives context on the first line - it is from an Iranian math contest. I didn't read further, but if the contest question is worth its salt, it follows that 90%+ of our users will be clueless about how to solve it. Therefore it is pointless to demand that the asker would show their own work. This is in sharp contrast to questions about calculus/elementary number theory (or below), when 90%+ of our users can solve the question without breaking a sweat. In those cases the demand for other kind of context is essential for the purposes of gauging what kind of an answer would be helpful - and also to enforce the community norm against outsourced homework assignments.

[taking off the moderator hat]

  1. I am somewhat in favor of various subcommunities, say, those forming around selected tags, within Math.SE developing their own norms. Enforcing such norms will mostly be up to the subcommunities themselves. It is good to have some common standards (enforced for example via our common review queues), but IMO the keen followers of a tag are best placed to judge many cases. A good example of such a subcommunity is the one built around those tough definite integrals discussed recently.
  2. I am biased in the sense that IMO the higher level questions should be given some slack (in terms of how much effort needs to be shown). Partly because such askers may more often be in self study mode, and usually already know the basics anyway. Against that is (as pointed out to me by a fellow moderator, I think it was Arthur, but I'm not 100%) that such users really should know better than to copy/paste a homework problem - possible foreign language obstacles notwithstanding. So, let's be reasonable :-)
  3. It makes me angry, when a user who has earned their rep doing trigonometry and (pre)calculus suddenly feels qualified to judge that this question on, say, elliptic curves, "does not show any effort". IMO ideally anyone casting a "no effort" -close vote should be able to solve the problem themself. I am aware that the policy I suggested may place too high a burden to the first close-voter. That's where that ideally came from.
  4. This would lead to a certain kind of expertocracy. Call me an elitist pig, if you want to.
  5. I do practice this myself as much as I can. For example, I will skip all the questions in review queues when I don't feel qualified to judge the merits of a post for the above reasons. This applies to questions about for example stochastic processes, set theory, logic, functional analysis,..., you name it (after taking a peek at my profile). Of course, I could just copy, say, Did's close vote about a post in probability theory, but such a vote would not carry the weight of my INFORMED opinion, so it is surely best that I abstain from voting on such a question. Now that my votes are immediately binding this point has additional weight.
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, but you're my favorite elitist pig. You're damned straight that I avoid making judgments on the many topics here for which I have offered few or no answers. And OTOH, I feel it is right that I should have certain heavily-weighted voting powers in tags for which I hold a gold badge. Maybe that is the solution to the problem you pose - tag-based privileges. $\endgroup$ – Ron Gordon Jan 14 '16 at 11:44
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    $\begingroup$ Do you have rage issues where you turn into a giant juggernaut fueled by the power cosmic? If you don't, then what cause do people have not to make you angry? :-P $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 14 '16 at 12:05
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    $\begingroup$ Well. The question was deleted by its poster. Not the first time this happens with that user. Go figure? My answer is kinda pointless now. Except that I got a chance to claim the soapbox for a moment:-/ $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jan 14 '16 at 21:11
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Whatever its advantages or disadvantages in other categories, the "work and effort" question closure movement never made any sense for postings in the (contest-math) tag. Where there are downvotes or close votes on tagged contest questions it is mainly the result of believers in the work-effort-context philosophy voting to enforce that philosophy where it does not fit. If you see an absence of down/close voting on a bare contest problem, the system is working properly.

Some of the reasons the closures never made sense on contest problems:

  • There is no connection between contest problems, and the homework or (supposedly) "low quality" postings that were given as the justification for closing questions.

  • The rate of appearance of contest problems is modest, and the argument that the site will be flooded if those posts are not limited does not apply.

  • It has never been the tradition in the contest problem community to provide more than the question, and a source for the problem/solution where known. The latter are the only form of context that is considered relevant, and are not always available. One effect of posting without that context is that people who recognize the source can add it.

  • Contest problems help to draw and retain high ability users who can also participate in other areas.

Compared to other sites, MSE has a large number of problem specialists, and it is of interest to give them free rein to share problems. If it is not possible to post bare contest problems without hassle then the (contest-math) tag should be split off as its own site where problem solvers can operate freely by the norms that prevail in that community.

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    $\begingroup$ I decided to upvote this, because I agree with more or less everything you say about contest questions on our site. I just want to remark that I don't agree with what you say about what you call the work and effort closure movement. I am not sure that bringing that up is a good thing in the context of this discussion. I do agree and acknowledge that it coming up is inevitable. And that users attitudes towards this close reason in general will surely reflect on how they vote in this thread. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jan 16 '16 at 8:26
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    $\begingroup$ "Contest math" is a marginal subject on this site. I doubt that contest math is a particular incentive to many users, given the existence of say AoPS that serves that community well. Then, the relative scarcity of "contest math" might be an incentive too. Indeed, it is for me. [To be clear, by "contest math" I mean sharing problems and related activities. If somebody has a mathematical question on or around a contest problem that's fine.] $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 16 '16 at 12:42
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    $\begingroup$ The first point is also highly questionable. But this was discussed to no end already. In brief, your paraphrase is just not correct. (It may have been somewhat correct years ago, but it is not by now.) $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 16 '16 at 12:49
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    $\begingroup$ I'm a bit tired of this attitude. If a world renowned expert barged into a numerical analysis conference and gave a subpar talk on algebraic geometry (or whatever), people wouldn't be happy. Even assuming that contest questions draw in "high ability users" as you claim (debatable), there is still a certain amount of rules that one must follow to use this website, and that these "high ability users" condescend to bestow their knowledge upon us mere mortals, doesn't give them a free pass to ignore them all. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Jan 16 '16 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ @quid, "contest math" (counting stray (inequality) etc) is lately getting more traffic than algebraic geometry. The smaller number of tagged questions reflects the facts that contest-oriented user population arrived here later, and that many questions contain words like contest, olympiad, Putnam, China/Russia without the tag (contest-math). I estimate 4-5000 as a lower bound for number of contest postings based on searches for those and the number of posts in the (inequality) tag. As to incentives, I think splitting contests to a separate site is an optimal solution. $\endgroup$ – zyx Jan 16 '16 at 19:51
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    $\begingroup$ AoPS has a useless interface compared to MSE and is not comparable in the depth of the pool of solvers. Ghetto-ing the contest problems there is not a good solution. @quid $\endgroup$ – zyx Jan 16 '16 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ That'd be about 1%. I call this marginal. I agree regarding the optimal solution, which is why I think we should be strict towards them here. Catering to contests on this site, might well run counter to achieving this optimal solution. I have no in-depth knowledge about the user base of AoPS, but I do know of some very strong users there. $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 16 '16 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ Most/all very strong users at AoPS are on MSE, Math Overflow, or both. @quid $\endgroup$ – zyx Jan 16 '16 at 20:03
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    $\begingroup$ I take your word for it. But it seems not very relevant to me. By analogy, most users of MESE are also on math.SE and/or MO and there are many more in addition on those latter two sites, still I am convinced MESE is a better place to get answers to a certain type of question. $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 16 '16 at 20:08
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    $\begingroup$ @quid: It sounds like you to some extent want to declare contest questions off-topic? Or bury them in AOPS, which amounts to the same thing. Well, I just disagree. Totally. I am here for those questions, where an element of creativity is required (as opposed to dull annotated book knowledge). My mind no longer has the combination of agility/stamina that working on contest problems requires, but I warmly welcome them. Admittedly I am running some small scale contests myself, so I peruse the tag for contest problem ideas. Getting rid of contest problems would thus inconvenience me greatly. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jan 17 '16 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen I said explicitly "If somebody has a mathematical question on or around a contest problem that's fine." What I am against are questions as contests or also challenges (this was discussed earlier). Moreover, the question asked should still be a genuine question, not a mere reproduction, as always, whether somebody copies the problem from their calculus homework or an IMO, Putnam etc problem list is irrelevant to me. In the specific case, given that the source is given, an only slightly more coherent final sentence would have made the question alright in my opinion. $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 17 '16 at 17:50
  • $\begingroup$ Ok. Understood. I do agree that the poster of that question (and their alter egos) has a very terse style. I have badgered him about it. At least once they pleaded to problems using English. But, anyway, rereading what you write made me reconsider. Basically you seem to want contest questions held to the same standards as homework questions. I don't have serious qualms with that. But, I may judge this type of questions more leniently myself. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jan 17 '16 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ Leaving everything else aside I think it is just not feasible to have widely varying standards on at least superficially similar questions, but sometimes they are not even only superficially similar but quite literally (certain types of contest problems can well double as more challenging HW). Moreover, some (and I think that includes you) are quite concerned about providing solutions to ongoing contest. Having a practice that admits contest-like questions without any additional information facilitates this though. @JyrkiLahtonen $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 17 '16 at 17:59
  • $\begingroup$ The above comment was written before having read your reply. Yes, but I also am more lenient against questions that seem interesting or unusual in some way, contest or otherwise. @JyrkiLahtonen $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 17 '16 at 18:02
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    $\begingroup$ AoPS has a useless interface compared to MSE and is not comparable in the depth of the pool of solvers. I can't help but be reminded of these times when a successful company is bought out by a bigger company, they make changes to the product to save money / tackle on ads / whatever and then wonder why the customers go away. You see something successful, think "I can make use of that!" and don't consider that by using it like that you perhaps destroy what made it successful in the first place. If this website became a contest-math-fest, I would leave and I wouldn't be alone, I think. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Jan 18 '16 at 9:25

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