I have answered geometry question about 3 times, each time got some situation.

It is either an on-going competition question, this happens twice,and I was told after my answer has been there for a few days, so I just delete them.

But this third time, after I post my answer, the one who asked the question just delete it very quickly.


Above is the third question, and I cannot find two earlier questions.

What I want to ask is: Do these guys have no shame asking ongoing competition questions? Do they just think SE as a problem-solver? And should I keep answering these questions?

I really start to think answering questions for some people is a total waste of time.

  • $\begingroup$ Minor note: the question you linked has been deleted $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2019 at 0:23
  • $\begingroup$ @EeveeTrainer Yeah,you are right.I was providing a useless link. $\endgroup$
    – StAKmod
    Feb 18, 2019 at 0:30
  • $\begingroup$ Oh my bad, I misread it anyhow. :p $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2019 at 0:31
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    $\begingroup$ The link you gave was to a classic "context-free" question. You shouldn't answer those. If you're keen enough, you could type some keyphrase from the question into your favorite search engine to see whether it comes up as an active contest problem. $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2019 at 3:30
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson Thanks for the advice, I will do that next time. $\endgroup$
    – StAKmod
    Feb 18, 2019 at 15:25

2 Answers 2


Do these guys have no shame asking ongoing competition qustions?

Some people simply don't. Whatever it takes to get ahead, I guess. Cheating has always been a thing in any form of competition - athletic, academic, what-have-you. Really not surprising when you think about it.

Do they just think SE as a problem-solver?

Some people do indeed treat MSE as such a thing, as you can immediately tell by the number of questions in which people post PSQs without even so much as a "please" or "thank you" (or more relevant, showing their attempts at the work or a desire to learn).

And should I keep answering these qustions?

At least at this time, no. Maybe after the competition has passed you could answer the questions. For the time being, the main thing you should do:

  • Post a comment on the question, stating that this is a question from an ongoing contest. Include any relevant links or info you can - name of the contest, location, the list of questions, whatever will make it clear to people. This will signal to them "hey don't answer this question, they're trying to get outside help." Those with sufficient rep could also vote to close the question as a result, which will prevent answers from getting through.

  • Flag the question. I'm not sure which flag to use is most appropriate, but I'd use the "in need of moderator intervention" option and explain basically what you did in the comment. Hopefully this should result in the closure, the locking or the deletion of the question.

  • If there is a particular rash of these questions being asked, a meta post such as this (again with the relevant info) might be appropriate to warn users in general, but I'm still a relative newbie here so I wouldn't know the proper procedure. All I know is I recall such threads being made in the past.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer, but when I was asking"should I keep answering these questions?" I mean that I do not know if this is a ongoing competition qustion, and usually when I noticed, it is already too late. SO maybe I should ask them where the problem comes from first, as you said. $\endgroup$
    – StAKmod
    Feb 18, 2019 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, I see. Well I get where you're coming from with that assumption - it's unusual for the same question to be asked multiple times. Generally in my experience it's someone deleting and reposting their question because they don't like that their lack of an attempt is netting them downvotes, or because it's a competition question. You could always do a search of your own for the question - it's not like people will be inclined to be honest if it's a competition they're trying to cheat on, y'know? $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2019 at 0:37
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    $\begingroup$ That is true, I guess next time I will just figure what is going on here berfore posting anything. And thank you again. $\endgroup$
    – StAKmod
    Feb 18, 2019 at 0:40
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    $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, please and thank you in the body of a question are discouraged as noise on SE. $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2019 at 1:09
  • $\begingroup$ I'm saying that more in the idiomatic than the literal sense. $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2019 at 1:22
  • $\begingroup$ @StAKmod you might also be interested in checking meta posts tagged with contests to see if there are any active contests. $\endgroup$
    – Andrew T.
    Feb 18, 2019 at 11:12
  • $\begingroup$ @AndrewT. Thank you, that is a good advice, but still, it is likely impossible that I have time to look at each question on the ongoing contest, you know, some of them contains hundreds of questions. $\endgroup$
    – StAKmod
    Feb 18, 2019 at 15:26

While "it is likely impossible that [you] have time to look at each question on the ongoing contest," I recommend picking the Questions you choose to invest in with consideration of the following:

(1) Assigned exercises (and contest problems in particular) are likely to be mathematically sound and interesting (they are intended to be challenging, at least to the extent of reinforcing course lessons). People who post these assignments with the intention of cheating will nearly always quote the problem statement carefully without surrounding context. Your linked (self-deleted) Question is a good illustration. The OP showed no "digestion" of the problem's meaning or difficulty.

(2) You may have unintentionally frustrated the OP's hopes of having a solution that could be cut-and-pasted to turn in as if it were their own work. For one thing you changed notation ("my notation is not as you stated, but this is not important").

(3) The website displays a message "New contributor" just below the OP's name and reputation stats. The black "hand" icon is meant as a warning, not only to be nice but also to be wary of someone unaware of (or uncommitted to) Math.SE's goals of collecting and curating excellent content.

(4) Finally one might reflect on whether your efforts benefitted your own learning, regardless of bad faith by a rogue user or the failure to retain good content for the Community. [Often the Questions that I find most rewarding, from the perspective of my own learning, are drawn from "real world" applications and have a very different gestalt from the "pass through" assignments that cheaters will post.] So if you got an intellectual reward from tackling that challenge, I'd say you made a good choice.

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    $\begingroup$ Of course, you can get that intellectual reward, and then refrain from posting an answer. $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2019 at 22:05

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