According to its comment (which may be a joke, but I assume not), this answer was posted in response to a bounty offered to the best answer that does not contain the letter "e". I think that these kind of bounties should be strongly discouraged - does the community agree? I appreciate clever wordplay as much as anyone else, but imposing these kind of arbitrary constraints on the form of the answer simply results in answers that aren't as clear as they could be, and I think that clarity and completeness should always be the primary goals for a site like this. (Respectfully, the answer in question is okay but not great in terms of clarity of content, and in my opinion its clarity suffers noticeably from having to jump through unnecessary linguistic hoops.)

To be clear, I'm fine with questions like "Is it possible to prove result $X$ without using mathematical technique $Y$?", as they can certainly have intrinsic mathematical interest - I'm just objecting to constraints on the answers that have nothing to do with mathematics. (And even in this case, where the restrictions are must less arbitrary, I'm not sure how I feel about them being imposed by a bounty - I think they really deserve a separate question rather than being tacked onto an existing one.)

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    $\begingroup$ I can't figure out when the bounty was posted, but the answer that was awarded the bounty was posted in 2012, so I assume the bounty was posted before that. So, we have one example, from six years ago, of the kind of bounty you want to discourage. Sometimes it's better to let sleeping dogs lie. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 7:10
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    $\begingroup$ @tparker That question you linked to was recently merged, and its original (from where the answers come from) is actually years old. This is relevant, if you were not aware of the fact. $\endgroup$
    – Aloizio Macedo Mod
    Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 7:15
  • $\begingroup$ My historical follow-up to that post was not said with any thought on my part of its sounding humorous or jocular; nor was it any sort of untruth. $\endgroup$
    – MJD
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 4:07

1 Answer 1


I would not want such things to occur too much. If all posts had such a bounty, it would turn into chaos. But I don't think anything is wrong if you do this on occasion. I don't want to say that all must act grim and unhumorous to do math.

Did this particular bounty bring about a solution with no flaws? Probably not. But did it hurt anything? Not in my opinion, no. (A normal solution was also on hand.) And possibly it was ground for authors who'd normally avoid such a post to put out a solution, or for junior pupils to follow along and pick up a bit of cool math.

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    $\begingroup$ Your post is, in my opinion, an outstanding communication of judicious thought and profound wisdom. I fully concur with your thinking in this affair. $\endgroup$
    – MJD
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ I told the full history of this post on my blog. $\endgroup$
    – MJD
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 1:25
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    $\begingroup$ @MJD, your first is a boon, but its follow-up should not contain that thing. $\endgroup$
    – LSpice
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ Whoops! It's so hard to do right, without any off-limits symbols. $\endgroup$
    – MJD
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ @MJD, I concur. My own login falls afoul. $\endgroup$
    – LSpice
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 22:24

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