The term "PSQ" is frequently used on Mathematics Stack Exchange, both on the main site and meta. For the benefit of users unfamiliar with this term, I thought that it would be a good idea to ask here:

  1. What is a PSQ?
  2. Why are PSQs damaging to Mathematics Stack Exchange?
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ Plugging PSQ in the meta search bar turns up 179 hits: math.meta.stackexchange.com/search?q=PSQ. Some times we have to trust folks to take the initiative to search creating yet another duplicate question. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jul 9, 2021 at 23:05
  • 32
    $\begingroup$ 1) The definition of 'PSQ' belongs in the FAQ. 2) I've never been able to find a FAQ. 3) I searched for 'PSQ' in the 'Help' section and turned up no results. 4) Four out of the top five results in the search link suggested do not tell you what a PSQ is. 5) I agree that this question is a dupe, but you have to really want to get involved in this site to wrestle with the poor search tools. 6) Until we can dismiss this question with "It's in the FAQ" this question will be asked periodically. $\endgroup$ Jul 10, 2021 at 1:19
  • 22
    $\begingroup$ I declared this post as a FAQ on this subject. I think it is a good candidate for this as the question is clear and to the point. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Jul 11, 2021 at 12:10

1 Answer 1


To answer the first question, the acronym (or some might prefer initialism) PSQ, is derived from Problem Statement Question.

In its purest form it is a question post that only contains the statement of a problem, in a form that is frequently found in exercise sections of textbooks, assignments and alike, e.g.:

Prove that $\sum_{i=1}^n i= \frac{n+n^2}{2}$ for each $n \in \mathbb{N}$.

This is, grammatically, not even a question. By extension the term PSQ is used to name questions that are very reduced and lack all context, e.g.:

How can one prove that $\sum_{i=1}^n i= \frac{n+n^2}{2}$ for each $n \in \mathbb{N}$?

To answer the second question, a problem with this type of question is that they are poorly scoped. It is not clear what answer is sought. The default assumption is that a poster wants a solution that makes sense in the context in which such a problem usually comes up. However, this is inherently vague and actually not always the case.

For the example I gave most will assume (and to be sure they will be right many times) that a proof with reasonable detail showing the equality by induction will be a good answer.

However, it is also possible that the poster does not even know what the symbol $\sum$ means. This is not at all unrealistic, especially if they did not type it correctly in MathJax but instead posted a screen-capture.

There are other problems with this type of question-posts and this has been discussed frequently in the past. The expectation is that question-posts contain context as described in How to ask a good question.

More broadly, the intent is to have questions more in line with How to ask a good question.

A more clear name might be QLC, that is, Questions Lacking Context. Sometimes the very broad term of Low Quality Question is used, but that has its own set of problems to it.

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Jul 18, 2021 at 12:51

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