I recently encountered a low-quality question that I am interested in. I'm not going to link to the question because I don't want to single out the author or attract attention to it and cause it to be closed more quickly than it would otherwise be.
This question appears to be a fairly typical problem set question without supporting work to show what the asker has done already or specific details about what they don't understand.
For me, specifically, as someone learning math as a hobby outside of school, problem-set-style questions that I can solve in an inefficient way or can understand but not solve are very interesting since they are in my zone of proximal development.
For the purposes of this discussion, let's assume that the problem set question is not a duplicate of any previous question or a duplicate-via-specialization of a more general question.
The problem that I run into is this:
- You can't answer a low-quality question. This encourages low-quality questions.
- Questions are not supposed to be a community effort, so you can't insert enough supporting work or context to make the question stand on its own. A question, at least a basic one, is supposed to come from the mind of a single person. Fixing a question yourself too aggressively also skews the incentives since it gives an initially-bad question a path to getting an answer.
What I usually do now is just follow the question and watch to see if the hints that knowledgeable people give to help the asker improve the question are consistent with what I think the solution method is. And if they are not, I look up the keywords they use to try to understand what they are talking about.
However, a more-or-less complete question and answer for that problem set question would have been more valuable to me, and potentially to others in a similar situation to me.
I'm curious if there's another path here, like, for example, waiting two weeks, asking the question yourself and linking to the old question and asking the old question to be duped forward into your own.