For questions about the formulation of a proof. This tag should not be the only tag for a question and should not be used to ask for a proof of a statement.
Questions with this tag are about the presentation of a mathematical proof. Questions might include:
- Should I include [x-mathematical detail] at [y-part of this proof]?
- Is the following a sufficient proof of [x-mathematical tidbit]?
- I have written the following proof, could I somehow improve it, does it have good flow/can I improve readability?
The usage guidance goes on to say:
But this tag is not for asking someone else to write a proof for you, or for how to answer some question. Questions such as: My professor asked me to prove the Pythagorean theorem and I don't know how to begin are not to have this tag.
Browsing through the questions tagged proof-writing and not tagged solution-verification, I see that the earliest questions are indeed about how to structure a proof well, and how an attempted proof can be improved (that is, following the first and last bullet point above).
However, most1 (if not all) of the newer questions seem to instead be asking:
- how to begin attacking a problem, or how to continue an argument forward after getting stuck; or
- whether there is a proof of some statement that uses specific ideas or tools.
It seems to me that the proof-writing tag is not meant for either of these use cases. The few questions that I found that are not of the above kind are those that ask:
- whether an attempted proof is valid,
and it seems to me that the solution-verification tag is sufficient for the above case, though this is also mentioned as a valid use case in the second bullet point in the usage guidance.
Question. Based on the current usage of the proof-writing tag, is there a need to either revise its usage guidance, or to retag many of the questions that currently use it?
Of course, differing points of view are also appreciated, so the answer could very well be "Neither, the usage is fine and here's why …".
1For clarity, my assertion about "most" of the recent questions being of this kind comes from the following: I filtered the questions to contain the tag proof-writing and not contain the tag solution-verification, sorted by "newest", and set each page to show 30 questions. Then, every 50 pages I viewed 10 randomly selected questions on that page. Almost all the questions I chose were of the kind I described above, until the last page.