I have a question posted here which is relatively unanswered. It's understandable as I have really been trying to figure out a way to phrase a question in a subject area I know next to nothing about.

Based on the only comment there, I feel like I could possibly ask something like: "Are all equations developed from modelling natural phenomenon?" and clarify further within the question but this too seems fairly broad and I didn't want to muddy the community water with another ambiguous question and have the other one left open as well.

Is best practice to delete the original Q and post a new one, or ask the new one, and if I get an answer - post a link back to the answer?

In this type of a situation, how do I ask / discuss the topic enough to develop a question? Is the meta a more appropriate place to ask "How would I ask a question about X" ?

Thank you in advance for your consideration and feedback!


PS - I know this has been answered here - but it was from a decade ago and I wanted to make sure this was still an accurate guideline and whether or not there was more specific feedback to my particular case.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've been here for years, and I'm still unclear on what basis one should decide between "close and start over" and "edit previous question". I'm curious to see what answers this question will get. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Nov 15, 2023 at 0:18
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    $\begingroup$ Personally I would prefer to edit a question if it needs more context which may be helpful to potential answerers. And unless the core mathematical problem changes it is better to edit the original question to add more information. A new question is preferable if you modify the problem in a significant way (say like altering hypotheses). This is more important if there are existing answers. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    Nov 15, 2023 at 2:19
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    $\begingroup$ @ParamanandSingh - The issue is I need discussion to generate a question. For someone versed in math they can ask a precise Q - in my case - I need help on how to formulate my wonder into a Q - that's the 'Q' that's out there now. Adding more context to that I feel like will be muddy unless I am able to change the title and body together. Maybe seeing my starting point and the resultant Q is helpful - that's why I asked here because it could go both ways really so I want to defer to community best practice if that makes sense. $\endgroup$
    – A L
    Nov 15, 2023 at 2:41
  • $\begingroup$ I know it's been a while (and your question on the main site is actually closed now, making this kind of moot with respect to that specific question), but if you need discussion, it's probably best to start in a place like Mathematics Chat. The idea is that once a question is actually posted on Mathematics, it shouldn't need discussion, it should need an answer and be written in a way that accepts an answer. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Nov 28, 2023 at 2:39
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZ - Thank you! That's awesome feedback man! Do you want to propose an answer to that effect so I can mark it as such? I think that would be very helpful for people wondering how they go about refining a concept before submitting an official question (if it's not already posted somewhere and I just missed it). Either way - thank you! -AL $\endgroup$
    – A L
    Dec 18, 2023 at 6:11
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I didn't think I was really answering your question here, but sure, if you think that would be a satisfactory answer I'm happy to add it. I'll do that now. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Dec 18, 2023 at 6:43

1 Answer 1


As I post this your question is closed, so it's a bit of a moot point for your specific case. But in the interest of helping other people who may come across this (or future you, if you decide to improve your question and it gets reopened)....

The way things are supposed to work on Stack Exchange sites is that you post a question, then someone posts an answer to that question, and that's that. The question you post is not supposed to require any discussion in order for it to be answerable, and similarly, the answer someone posts is not supposed to require back-and-forth discussion in order to be an answer to your question. Of course, it often happens that you post a question that you think is ready, but in reality it's not quite ready, it needs some clarification or something, and that's okay - some amount of that can be handled with comments and edits. But you shouldn't go into it expecting to use comments and edits to fine-tune your question. They make the experience more confusing for readers, so it's best to minimize those.

If you have a question where you expect to need some back-and-forth discussion to make it ready, the place to handle that would be on the chat site. That site is specifically targeted at discussion, unlike the main site, and you should be able to get help improving your question there. (Just make sure to pick an appropriate chat room.)

In your specific case, if your original question hadn't already been closed, I would probably suggest deleting it if you know that you need some discussion to develop it. Save the link to the question first, since once the discussion is concluded, you might be able to undelete it and edit it to be in its final form. (If you can't, or if you lose the link, no harm in posting a new one after the original is deleted.) However, it's never your responsibility to delete your own question. It would be a valid option to just leave it up, and if the community thinks it shouldn't be there, it's up to them to close it.


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