I have seen some questions in the last few days in which the OP request exclusively solutions which can be done by hand. This is fine as a practice, but I think such questions should be segregated from where the analysis can be done using graphing tools, paper and coding etc because underlying goal of the question is itself is different. Like, the question basically asks "guide me how to solve this under $X$ constraints" instead of just straight up requesting mathematics help.

A similarish kind of issue is when OP's ask for problems to be solved without standard technique see here

So, I think we should have a tag for segregating out questions like these from the regular questions.

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    $\begingroup$ See for instance, the tag limits-without-lhopital. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Feb 11, 2021 at 1:15
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    $\begingroup$ Well there is the tag -altenative proof' It might help to some extent $\endgroup$ Feb 11, 2021 at 2:25
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you , that looks around the lines of what I was looking for @hardmath $\endgroup$
    – Babu
    Feb 11, 2021 at 10:04
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    $\begingroup$ "exclusively solutions which can be done by hand is a constraint that I take for granted for every question on MSE. A solution that would rely on software (CAS or numerical software) should not be acceptable, except for problems that ask explicitly for such an approach. I mean, a question on a definite integral can often be computed with Maple, but just posting Maple's answer without further explanation is of no mathematical value. $\endgroup$ Feb 11, 2021 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Jean-Claude Arbaut: I also found the comment "instead of just straight up requesting mathematics help" strange. I would typically assume this meant mathematics, not calculator usage and such, but apparently "straight up" here means something akin to "by any means". $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2021 at 10:08
  • $\begingroup$ What do you comment on the value of the posts by this user? @Jean-ClaudeArbaut $\endgroup$
    – Babu
    Feb 19, 2021 at 10:12
  • $\begingroup$ on the value of --- Interesting. When I looked at the answer I assumed this was a one-time (or at least an infrequent) answer of this type by the user. But looking at this user's other answers shows that a large majority of them (perhaps all; I didn't see an exception, but I also didn't look at every answer) are like this. FYI, my approach . . . $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2021 at 10:28
  • $\begingroup$ Leaving aside the original topic, I have to say, I am stunned in awe by the length and thought put into that answer. @DaveL.Renfro $\endgroup$
    – Babu
    Feb 19, 2021 at 10:33
  • $\begingroup$ As I mention in a comment to the 2nd (final) part, I was between contract jobs and had about 2 weeks free from work, so I decided to do something I've been wanting to do for at least 20 years, which is to carefully go through how one reduces elliptic integrals to elliptic standard forms. There's also this 3-part answer, something I also took a couple of weeks or so off to play with. And see this if you want something more computational. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2021 at 10:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Buraian As Carl Mummert commented, it's not an answer. The author is either clever and didn't bother to write the details, or has a clever CAS at hand. Either way, we don't know and we can't check whether it's correct, apart from doing it from scratch. A useless answer. $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2021 at 10:48
  • $\begingroup$ I second @Jean-ClaudeArbaut about getting solutions by hand. Computer is supposed to help us in doing math and not instead do the math for us. Sadly a lot of research (read modular forms) is nowadays being done using math software and people aren't even trying to do it by hand. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Feb 20, 2021 at 8:23
  • $\begingroup$ @ParamanandSingh Well, my opinion is about MSE and the kind of question that we have here, and that are not supposed to be research-level. There are a few theorems that have not yet been proved by hand, though there is a computer proof (the four colour theorem is maybe the most famous). Even here, for instance, some "easy" integrations by partial fraction are a chore by hand, but in an answer I would not object to a little computer help, provided the method is explained in depth (if that's what you mean by helping us, I agree). $\endgroup$ Feb 20, 2021 at 19:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Jean-ClaudeArbaut: yes, that's what I meant by helping us. Also the example of four color theorem is a good one. But I don't like people using WA to evaluate limits (even routine ones). That really makes us handicapped in a sense. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Feb 21, 2021 at 0:25

1 Answer 1


While there are Questions posted that place explicit restrictions on techniques allowed (and indeed we ask users to give some indication of their backgrounds, so Answers can be tailored to the right level of study), tags are not generally an effective way of "segregating" posts with such restrictions. Even if there were a specific enough tag to accommodate that constraint in one post, it would not take the place of describing the limitation in the body of the Question.

Tags serve to facilitate searching for posts, but should not be a crutch for abbreviating a problem's statement and context.

With that understanding it may turn out, as with , a significant number of posts can be usefully tied together for search purposes by some similar tag. This helps with identifying duplicates, a step of research we expect all users to perform before asking here. See the current year tag management thread if you have a very specific proposal on those lines.


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