I enjoy writing well-written questions that provide plenty of context, but I'm becoming worried that it may be too much. When asking questions, is it good to provide context to your question, or should I just get to the point when asking it?

A good example is the most recent question I asked here. I would appreciate your thoughts.

Much Thanks.

  • 9
    $\begingroup$ If in doubt, err on the side of providing too much context. No amount of context you can write as a single user can possibly do anything but bring the average amount of motivation in all MSE questions closer to optimal. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Apr 21 '12 at 23:16
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ We have quite the dearth of people who provide context for their questions; it would be vastly refreshing for the lot of us to see people explain why they're asking their questions to begin with! What you think might be "too much" that you shared might turn out to have the pieces most useful to us to explain things to you properly. $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Apr 22 '12 at 0:36
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Adding context helps in so many ways. For example, it improves our accuracy in gauging/guessing the desired level of an eventual answer. In particular, experts on fields other than math should spend more time giving some context when asking here. They may have tried to translate their problem into mathematical language in an attempt to make it brief and to the point. If they succeeded in that, then all is well, but often something goes wrong. The extra context will then help us figure out, what the OP really wanted to ask! $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Apr 22 '12 at 11:30

If you're worried that the context you want to provide is too long and might bore people away before they get to your actual question, you can use the following style:

Concise introduction to the setting of the problem

The question

Motivation: Multiple paragraphs of lengthy explanation that lead eventually to the question

  • $\begingroup$ This is actually what I tend to do with questions. Thanks, I'll keep this in mind. :} $\endgroup$ – Zolani13 Apr 22 '12 at 2:32
  • $\begingroup$ I also try to do this. Keep in mind though that you still have to be very explicit with everything, and even then might still have to trim things down, or at least this has been my experience. $\endgroup$ – Chill2Macht Aug 8 '16 at 2:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .