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This question already has an answer here:

After collecting little experience in MSE, it appears to me that the demand for context might be overemphasised. That has two bad consequences: (1) If you are not only allowed but even required to describe the context in detail it can prevent from a precise mathematical statement of the question. As I see it a precisely stated question stands for itself and no context is required, otherwise it would not be precisely stated. (2) It invites others to "chicken-out" from the actual question and start a meta-discussion about the context. I have observed both patterns quite often. Of course I also think that context might be extremely useful for both the OP and those attempting an answer but I think about if in the end it wouldn't pay out more if OPs should get more authority in what context they want to give or not.

A kind of worst-case scenario is, that there is a perfectly well stated and defined question, which gets closed because no context is given. And OP is not aware if it's encouraged and how to re-state the question. As far as I see in such a case (of re-statement of the question) it's mandatory to link to the closed question, such a restated questions will have then very likely a bad start, by the fact alone that it will be very similar to the closed question.

I would be interested in the opinion of the experienced users here about this issue:

Do we really need to impose strict rules on the amount of context, or can it even be counter-productive?


EDIT

Note carefully: This question does not address the necessity, or usefulness of the section about the own trials of solution. It's simply two completely different things.

I do see, that misuse of MSE as "homework done for me by others" is an important issue since these things are observed increasingly. Still this question does not address the advantages of claiming context, but purely the possible unintended bad side-effects of overemphasising the importance of "context". It might be regraded as "unethical" as well to introduce a knockout criteria "missing context" if actually "no homework" is meant, eg.

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marked as duplicate by Namaste, Shailesh, user223391, Saad, José Carlos Santos Apr 5 '18 at 15:38

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    $\begingroup$ If we don't make people include context, we have no way of knowing what an appropriate answer would be. Most questions asked here about showing that a group with certain properties is not simple could be answered with "follows from the classification of finite simple groups", but unless the OP is doing research on the topic, this is unlikely to be helpful (and an appropriate answer might range from using purely elementary stuff to using Sylow to more advanced material depending on precisely the context). Similar situations happen for other areas. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Apr 5 '18 at 10:40
  • $\begingroup$ Re-posting is not the recommended way to fix a question. Editing the question is. Sometimes I suppose there might be a good reason to repost, but still, it's not the main idea. Editing the question is in the best interests of the user for a) fixing their record; b) avoiding close votes from the original close voters, if they earn reopening; c) avoiding appearances of dodging the system by avoiding engagement with improving the old question $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Apr 5 '18 at 10:41
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    $\begingroup$ It can be counterproductive. But it is very useful (see Tobias' comment). Not only because we also need a mechanism to weed out "do-my-calculus-homework"-questions, and this is the best compromise we have come up with so far. Not that the answering machines necessarily abide by it. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Apr 5 '18 at 10:43
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    $\begingroup$ @rschwieb: OK I was not aware, that closed questions can be edited, thank you! $\endgroup$ – Rudi_Birnbaum Apr 5 '18 at 10:45
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know how well this translates to other countries, but in the US there are/used to be signs in public establishments saying "No shirt, no shoes: no service!" I've always felt like providing context was a little like this: a bare minimum of decor and hygiene that's in everyone's best interest. That's not a justification, of course, but the justifications are given above, basically. $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Apr 5 '18 at 10:48
  • $\begingroup$ @TobiasKildetoft: My question was not about forbidding context, otherwise I see your point, but I would not agree to full 100% (maybe a bit less since: if OP cannot understand the answer its either wrong or OP has to learn more on it, I'd say (to some little extent)). $\endgroup$ – Rudi_Birnbaum Apr 5 '18 at 10:51
  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure what you mean by 100% here. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Apr 5 '18 at 10:53
  • $\begingroup$ @ I agree that in most cases your perception is constructive but not in all. Sometimes I would be more happy about a concise correct answer, that I still will have to learn to understand, than a about a "deconstruction" of my context/motivation. For such cases I do not agree. So I do not agree fully (100%) but almost. $\endgroup$ – Rudi_Birnbaum Apr 5 '18 at 10:57
  • $\begingroup$ @rschwieb: Not all countries are blessed with so good weather, I suppose. $\endgroup$ – Rudi_Birnbaum Apr 5 '18 at 10:59
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps the worst-case scenario is: math.se becomes a "do my homework for me" site. $\endgroup$ – GEdgar Apr 5 '18 at 11:13
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    $\begingroup$ @GEdgar I'm pretty sure that worst case scenario is reality. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Apr 5 '18 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ @amWhy: I think the "context"/"motivation" is something different as the "own trials of solving" the question. $\endgroup$ – Rudi_Birnbaum Apr 5 '18 at 12:13
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    $\begingroup$ See also: can we stop the show the work craze, and Guideline for using "lack of context" as a close reason. The latter question is older, when we still also had a "homework today", posted shortly after "lack of context" became a menu choice under "off-topic". $\endgroup$ – Namaste Apr 5 '18 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ @R_Berger: posting or summarizing ones "own trials of solving", along with one's question is providing context. $\endgroup$ – Namaste Apr 5 '18 at 12:19
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy: Oh sorry, I do not intend to make this impression, it simply feels that my question is misunderstood, and I try to clarify it. Maybe I am struggling over language? $\endgroup$ – Rudi_Birnbaum Apr 5 '18 at 12:27
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Firstly, I would say that you probably did not read the FAQ called How to Ask a Good Question. It basically tells you what "context" means as well as how to provide it. It is also shown to every new asker (and it is their responsibility to read it).

After collecting little experience in MSE, it appears to me that the demand for context might be overemphasised.

Likely false. Rather, it appears statistically to be the case that questions without context are much more often given full answers than closed. If you want evidence, just take a sample of 100 consecutive questions during the school semester.

That has two bad consequences: (1) If you are not only allowed but even required to describe the context in detail it can prevent from a precise mathematical statement of the question.

Absolutely false. You can easily present the precise mathematical statement first before you give its context. It makes no sense to claim that you cannot do so.

As I see it a precisely stated question stands for itself and no context is required, otherwise it would not be precisely stated.

Math SE is not a free-for-all Q&A site; see the linked FAQ.

(2) It invites others to "chicken-out" from the actual question and start a meta-discussion about the context. I have observed both patterns quite often.

Feel free to flag for moderator attention if you think some comments are out of place. But I recommend you do not use words that 'suggest' people are scared chickens or something.

Of course I also think that context might be extremely useful for both the OP and those attempting an answer but I think about if in the end it wouldn't pay out more if OPs should get more authority in what context they want to give or not.

So you agree that context makes the question better. Then as I stated above, state the precise question and then briefly sketch the context next. Issue resolved. And again, the FAQ makes it clear what is the expectation here.

A kind of worst-case scenario is, that there is a perfectly well stated and defined question, which gets closed because no context is given. And OP is not aware if its encouraged and how to re-state the question.

Ahem; the close-banner links directly to the FAQ. Did you notice that?

As far as I see in such a case (of re-statement of the question) its mandatory to link to the closed question, such a restated questions will have then very likely a bad start, by the fact alone that it will be very similar to the closed question.

Again, this is explicitly addressed in the close-banner. In case you do not want to bother to read the close-banner here is the message for "lack of context" closure:

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question is missing context or other details: Please improve the question by providing additional context, which ideally includes your thoughts on the problem and any attempts you have made to solve it. This information helps others identify where you have difficulties and helps them write answers appropriate to your experience level."

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Notice how it even provides a shiny hyperlink to editing the closed question that the asker can easily click on to improve his/her question.

It might be regraded as "unethical" as well to introduce a knockout criteria "missing context" if actually "no homework" is meant, eg.

Please for the sake of meaningful discussion do not attempt to label something you do not like as "unethical" when you do not actually have an ethical objection to it. Also, in the past there was a huge debate about "homework questions" and in the end it was kind of decided that it was too difficult to determine whether a question was a homework question or not, not to say justify what to do with homework questions that were not tagged , and hence the homework tag was completely removed. Finally, we can determine easily whether a question is lacking context or not. If users disagree on that, that is precisely what the close-voting is for. At least 5 users need to agree that the question is lacking context before it can be closed, and the same number of users who see a closed question can re-open it if they disagree with the closure.

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