By PSQ, I mean problem statement questions that have some background but show no attempt to answer the question.

I'm aware that posting PSQ's is a direct violation of the MSE guidelines. I would also like to bring up the point that answering one's own question is explicitly encouraged. Sharing your knowledge Q&A style isn't so bad. I see no harm in posting PSQ's as long as one's trying to share their knowledge with the community(By answering the question themselves). When someone answers a PSQ themselves, we can also be sure that no one is trying to get their homework done by a stranger on the internet.

In reference to this comment, I would like to mention, that I'm talking about questions of the sort that I've come across on my completed tests, or some that I've designed myself and have found the answer to.

So can we do it?

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    $\begingroup$ For self-answered PSQs (that are genuinely interesting questions in and of themselves and all that), I personally don't see an issue with them. Perhaps just include a footnote of some sort where you explain that you found this question interesting, why you had this question, and that it was not elsewhere on the site, so you felt it worthwhile to answer it yourself. (Though I feel at that point it's not even a PSQ, since that addendum provides sufficient context in my opinion to not be a PSQ.) $\endgroup$ Aug 8, 2020 at 2:45
  • $\begingroup$ @EeveeTrainer yes, it won't be a PSQ anymore. Which is why I defined a PSQ as a question with no efforts to solve the problem but having sufficient background $\endgroup$
    – sai-kartik
    Aug 8, 2020 at 2:47
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    $\begingroup$ @sai-kartik another thing to add is to be sure it does it already duplicate another question, too. $\endgroup$
    – rschwieb
    Aug 8, 2020 at 2:53
  • $\begingroup$ @rschwieb yes, of course. But those type of questions are gonna be closed anyway, so I don't think it's much of a problem $\endgroup$
    – sai-kartik
    Aug 8, 2020 at 2:57
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    $\begingroup$ The requirement for questions on Math SE is that they give context. An attempt at a solution is one kind of context, but it is not the be all and end all of context---indeed, I find "an attempt" to be one of the least compelling forms of context. If you are giving some background and motivation, then you are providing context, and your question is not a PSQ. Moreover, if you are planning on self-answering, then your answer may further justify inclusion of the question on Math SE (assuming that your answer describes some principle, rather than yet another rote computation). $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Aug 8, 2020 at 3:03
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    $\begingroup$ Related: Is self-answer considered as adding sufficient context? $\endgroup$ Aug 8, 2020 at 4:56
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    $\begingroup$ In general when self answering your question should indicate about the self answer and contain reasonable context to make it interesting for other people. I have asked a few such questions and have made my answer CW (this is not really necessary but it avoids the issue of rep hunt). $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Aug 8, 2020 at 11:35
  • $\begingroup$ @ParamanandSingh Correct me if I'm wrong: I would need to mention in the question that "this question is self-answered" ? I can take care about the context part. That won't be an issue. $\endgroup$
    – sai-kartik
    Aug 8, 2020 at 13:37
  • $\begingroup$ @sai-kartik: mentioning about self answer helps other users to look at your answer instead of probably discovering and posting an answer based on same idea. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Aug 8, 2020 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ I have also faced a scenario where I found a problem difficult enough (so as not to get a solution) but deeply interesting that I post it here to find some magical answer but later I discover the answer myself and post it. Such a thing may give a semblance of posting self answered questions intentionally and should be handled with care. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Aug 8, 2020 at 14:35
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    $\begingroup$ So indicating about self answer upfront at least helps to distinguish the unintentional self answer described in last comment. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Aug 8, 2020 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ @ParamanandSingh Okay! I'll keep that in mind ! $\endgroup$
    – sai-kartik
    Aug 8, 2020 at 15:25

1 Answer 1


The rationale behind the context requirements is, ultimately, that we want well-written questions.

I understand what you're getting at: if you post a simple one line PSQ and a follow it up with an answer, then one might be inclined to think the answer could serve in some sense as context, especially if it is nice and detailed.

But structuring things in that way isn't a good idea. It's much like when a math book ploughs through theorem, proof, theorem, proof, with no exposition on what connects the theorems-- without placing them in any context. Even if it is coherent, it is frustrating for the reader in all but the most encyclopediac of reference books. In general, it's bad writing. It doesn't take long to introduce a topic before getting into the fine details.

If you're going to the trouble of writing a question and answer, you almost surely have an understanding of the motivation behind the question. Motivation is arguably the best form of context, and it should be included as part of the question, rather than waiting for the answer. Your question (and answer!) will be better off with it.

  • $\begingroup$ So if I do something like this: post the question including background and all that necessary stuff, and answer with the computation and logic behind the question, that should do right? $\endgroup$
    – sai-kartik
    Aug 8, 2020 at 3:40
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    $\begingroup$ @sai-kartik Sounds about right. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander Gruber Mod
    Aug 8, 2020 at 3:49
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    $\begingroup$ Your explanation of context reminds me of a line in Gromov's paper Random Walks in Random Groups: "A reader may find it amusing to play the game (of) reducing the present paper to seven pages of formal statements and proofs." The paper in question is 74 pages. $\endgroup$
    – user1729
    Aug 9, 2020 at 9:34
  • $\begingroup$ @user1729 you have a doi link handy? $\endgroup$
    – sai-kartik
    Aug 9, 2020 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ @sai-kartik doi, but Gromov has a pdf on his website. $\endgroup$
    – user1729
    Aug 9, 2020 at 18:18

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