I think that people here is sometimes too keen on closing question deeming them “problem statement questions”.

Here's today example: indications equation $a^x=x+2$

Check the original question, which I report the entire code of

a^x=x+2 has two real solutions.I need to find a values.
A) (1, infinity)
B) (0,1)
C) (1/e , e)
D) (1/(e^e), e^e)
E) (e^(1/e), infinity)
I tried to solve and I did it   but I don't understand some things.
I let a picture below to see.
First, I need to know if there's other way to solve this kind of exercise.I would be happy if I would get some ideas.
Also, from my solution, I don't understand why from that table results just one solution and from the graphic results two solutions.Usually, to see the number of solutions I use this kind of table.
For a>1 f decrease from infinity to -1, then increase from -1 to infinity.I'm really confused.Need some indications here.
Thank you! [how I solved this exercise picture][1]

  [1]: https://i.stack.imgur.com/j1pfb.jpg

It's quite evident after clicking the link that a full (albeit wrong) solution is presented.

After receiving a (now deleted) comment from user The Great Duck, I just added a ! in front of the link (and reorganized the paragraph surrounding it for readability) and got accused of “trying to frame my opinion in a better light”.

I refuse this. The OP provided his/her attempt at a solution, I just made it visible to people who are too much in a hurry of closing without even bothering to check the link.


I got back to the question just to see that user The Great Duck had filed an edit suggestion consisting in removing the image and its link, when the image was there from the beginning. Everybody knows that very low rep users cannot directly add images. I possibly was hasty in not editing the question to add the ! when I answered and apologize to the OP.

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    $\begingroup$ I fully agree with you: this is not a PSQ. $\endgroup$ – José Carlos Santos Dec 30 '18 at 23:09
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    $\begingroup$ It seems that you are mostly interested in this one particular situation - which means that (specific-question) would be a suitable tag here. (If the linked question serves merely as an example and you want to discuss a more general issue, then probably this needs a better explanation what this question is about.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Dec 31 '18 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak Possibly. However, I noticed some hasty closures for “missing context”, when the context was given. This is a prominent example, where who voted for closure didn't take their time to read the whole question. Another very similar is math.stackexchange.com/questions/3057518 which has two close votes ATM. $\endgroup$ – egreg Dec 31 '18 at 14:04
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    $\begingroup$ I won't consider this a PSQ although I personally don't prefer images of handwritten work. $\endgroup$ – Paramanand Singh Jan 1 '19 at 3:45
  • $\begingroup$ @egreg The one you linked in the previous comment did quite well in the review queue. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jan 1 '19 at 5:40

I think there are two separate issues:

  1. The complaint about your edit is of course unsubstantiated. If you face such a situation, please feel free to flag. (Flagging the post can be preferable to flagging in chat, as chat flags go to all network mods, while post flags stay on the site.) I was in the chat room when the comment was posted but had not (yet) clicked through as I was in another exchange.

  2. The question is not a PSQ in the way I understand it. However, one might still think that it is not "good enough". For example, text should not be posted as images. For a new user this might be a lot to ask, or maybe not. Opinions on this are mixed.

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    $\begingroup$ I think that the OP would have a hard time writing down everything in their attempt, particularly the diagram. Being a “new contributor”, their question should have been considered with more attention than just pushing the close button. $\endgroup$ – egreg Dec 30 '18 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ @egreg unfortunately it is the opposite from my experience. The higher rep users (not myself) tend to come down harder on newer users. That could also just be because newer users are more likely to post once and abandon their account as well though. $\endgroup$ – user64742 Dec 30 '18 at 23:54
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    $\begingroup$ @egreg I agree that there are worse posts. I also think that the original post was not a good post. A closure is nothing definitive either. I think there is also some value in the cycle playing out. I assume for the asker the situation is a mixed bag. They got an answer, so that's good. They got negative feedback on the post, so they know they should try harder next time. Maybe that's not that bad an outcome. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 31 '18 at 0:07
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    $\begingroup$ @quid worth pointing out though that unless one has used Latex before coming to this site that comments saying "please use mathjax" are hardly helpful to a new user. To compare, it's like asking someone to rewrite their C code in C++ on SO. If they have no experience in the latter tutorials might make it possible but also a significant waste of time (upwards of 30 minutes for some) considering that most experienced users can edit it in within a matter of minutes. Maybe a poor excuse but it's certainly worth considering. $\endgroup$ – user64742 Jan 4 '19 at 4:27
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    $\begingroup$ @TheGreatDuck the analogy is quite off. A more correct analogy would be that some on SO is asked to use correct formatting for their code. Anyway, MJ formatting is orthogonal. $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 4 '19 at 13:13
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    $\begingroup$ @quid Wow that's odd. For some reason when I read this thread the first time I could've sworn someone had said them posting their attempt using a photo led partially to the closure or that it was at least an issue. Now I don't see it. I guess just... Ignore that comment? I must have posted on the wrong post on this page or read something wrong. That or someone deleted a comment. I suppose MJ is relevant if or when an argument for formatting being wrong comes up... $\endgroup$ – user64742 Jan 5 '19 at 6:07
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    $\begingroup$ @quid though to elaborate on the analogy for clarification and future readers the reason I think it is less than just formatting is because most of the world will not learn how to use proper formatting for things like fractions or math symbols. Maybe they'll figure out basic arithmetic but it's still not going to look nice if someone has no clue how to write that stuff. I get that it's orthogonal in the conversation here but apparently that's where the discussion landed. :-/ Feel free to ignore unless the subject goes in that direction. $\endgroup$ – user64742 Jan 5 '19 at 6:09

NOTE My answer is an attempt to answer the asker's title question: "What's a PSQ?". A few days later, @HenningMalcolm took it upon himself to edit the title to ask: "Was this question a PSQ?" I believe that edit was inappropriate, after having received at least two answers addressing "what is a PSQ."

To answer your title question: "What's a problem statement question?", a "PSQ" is the acronym of "problem statement question". It includes only questions in which virtually all of the "question" reads like an imperative, typically a transcription of an exercise from a text or a problem sheet.

E.g. "Solve x+y+z = 12, given fee, foo, and fum". Other common imperatives are such a statement, but instead of the command to "Solve", they are commands to "Prove...", or "Evaluate...," or "Simplify...". There might also be the words: "Please help me!" or "I have no clue!" or other such vacuous statements. But that's it: a problem statement as written in a textbook + maybe a vacuous, non-information plea for help. Nothing substantive whatsoever.

Now that I've answered your question: "What's a 'PSQ'?", you need to be careful in your over-generalizations such as "I think that people here is sometimes too keen on closing question deeming them “problem statement questions”."

In the case of the one question you think exemplifies a "problem statement question" (which in fact, is not a problem statement question), note that only one single user labeled it as a "problem statement question." Please don't judge all users who work to weed out the worst of the worse and address "PSQ's" which I've defined here, because one user abused the term.

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    $\begingroup$ I surely don't want to generalize. But you were the second to vote for closing the question for “missing context”. You could have added that you apologize for having being hasty in so judging that question. $\endgroup$ – egreg Dec 31 '18 at 23:54
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    $\begingroup$ I voted to close the question, yes, for its lack of context, not because it was a PSQ. I agree with quid's answer, that the question was not a PSQ, but it was sub-par, and lacked appropriate context. Hence, my downvote. Please stop overgeneralizing, @egreg. $\endgroup$ – Namaste Jan 4 '19 at 0:02
  • $\begingroup$ @amWhy am I incorrect in understanding that PSQ is synonymous with lack of context? I always thought they were used interchangeably here? Or is one merely a subset of the other. Now I'm confused. Also here's an upvote cause this is a great explanation. $\endgroup$ – user64742 Jan 4 '19 at 4:23
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    $\begingroup$ @TheGreatDuck yes you are incorrect. But others are incorrect too, so it is correct that one can see some use it interchangeably. $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 4 '19 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ @quid I feel like that somehow clarifies while not clarifying but I suspect that is the best this sort of thing can ask for. I understand now. $\endgroup$ – user64742 Jan 5 '19 at 6:02

The edit request and post on the CRUDE discussion had already been made before the user explained that the image was previously in a link. I did not see the link and so I figured like one naturally would figure that the image was of their own creation. Once the user explained that it was posted via a link, I let it go and moved on.

The post was originally posted in the official CRUDE discussion forum as a problem statement question and while such a thing is not currently on the books it is currently considered improper to answer such questions. Whenever I see one being reported there I usually take a moment to alert users not to answer such questions. This isn't to imply they should delete the post or to even imply that they violated a rule. It is merely an alert to let them know they should try to improve their screening of what they answer as it is a well known issue that answering such questions cycles back into the horrible feedback loop that encourages them to be posted on the site in the first place.


The user requested that I remove the comments since it was a misunderstanding. This has been done. I also accidentally clicked delete on the comment asking to not post on PSQs but since comments are like leaves in the wind or some weird analogy like linking to it's probably no big deal in the grand scheme of things.

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    $\begingroup$ Posting a link on CRUDE is just telling your opinion about a post; as you can see, at least two people share my opinion the post is not a PSQ. $\endgroup$ – egreg Dec 31 '18 at 0:08
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    $\begingroup$ You posted the link to the question. $\endgroup$ – egreg Dec 31 '18 at 0:19
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    $\begingroup$ "CRUDE is an official moderation chat" No it is not. It is a community effort by some regulars and some more casual visitors. I personally think it is a good thing that it exists, but it is not official in any way. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 31 '18 at 0:45
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    $\begingroup$ Who (when, where) told you that "if you close a post or vote to close a post that you are required to report it there"? $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 31 '18 at 1:13
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    $\begingroup$ @quid multiple users. It was quite a while ago, around when I first joined the site. $\endgroup$ – user64742 Dec 31 '18 at 1:22
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    $\begingroup$ @TheGreatDuck You appear to make a lot of unsubstantiated claims: that CRUDE would be official in some sense, a ludicrous statement if ever there was some; such and such characterization of the behaviour of high rep users that you are the only one to imagine and do not bother to substantiate by any concrete fact, whatever the definition of high rep user could be; others previously. I am not posting this comment in the hope that you would slow down on these, just to mention the fact to passersby, who could get some false impressions about the site by reading you. $\endgroup$ – Did Dec 31 '18 at 11:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Did so basically, you're calling me a liar. Fair enough. $\endgroup$ – user64742 Dec 31 '18 at 11:19
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    $\begingroup$ @TheGreatDuck As hinted at above, I do not wish to engage in endless arguments with you. Your last comment, squarely misrepresenting what I wrote, is a good example of the reason why. $\endgroup$ – Did Dec 31 '18 at 11:24
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    $\begingroup$ @The, if I wrote, "the Riemann Hypothesis is true," that would be an unsubstantiated claim; if I wrote, "my proof of the Riemann Hypothesis has been accepted for publication in the Annals", that would be a lie. There is a difference. Did didn't call you a liar. Please show that you understand this. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jan 1 '19 at 3:56
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I was reading between the lines and it sounded accusatory in tone. Though I do somewhat actively point out that I am definitely not in touch with the politics of this site. I usually only get involved because it seems like one kind of has to around here - not anything anyone has said. It just seems like it is unavoidable that one gets pulled in. $\endgroup$ – user64742 Jan 1 '19 at 6:20
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    $\begingroup$ @The, politics has nothing to do with this. Did's comment was accusatory, but was not accusing you of lying. Let me again encourage you to acknowledge this. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jan 1 '19 at 14:30
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson It cannot be accusatory if it's saying I simply fail to understand the site. An accusation implies an intention to cause harm. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accusation And yeah politics do relate here. My lack of understanding is in how everyone is going about trying to maintain the site, which is politics. $\endgroup$ – user64742 Jan 2 '19 at 1:38
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    $\begingroup$ @The, OK, you win, it wasn't accusatory at all. Now can you finally accept that you were not being accused of lying? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jan 2 '19 at 3:44
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I already accepted that before when I replied to you the first time. I was just clarifying that my reading of accusatory was a bit extreme and not well placed. $\endgroup$ – user64742 Jan 4 '19 at 1:11
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I think the conversation was over a long time ago dude. $\endgroup$ – user64742 Jan 4 '19 at 2:57

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