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T.. suggested as a comment on this question that we use a solution-request tag for certain questions. The resulting conversation has been transferred here:

This site needs tags like problem, exercise, etc (separate from puzzle, which has other connotations) but I can't think of a canonical name. In this particular case, solution-request fits but a more general tag for posing problems would be useful. --T..

@T..: I would interpret any question not tagged homework, reference-request, big-list, or soft-question as a solution-request. If you or someone else who agrees on the need for such a tag can collect a list of fitting questions, and a brief explanation why, please put it on meta. --Kaestur Hakarl

Posting a specific mathematical exercise, with a request to display a solution (a calculation, proof, or reference to such), is a "solution request". The majority of MO/math.SE questions are more open-ended and do not request such definite answers. Examples: "how do I compute De Rham cohomology", "could P=NP be unprovable", "how to see field extensions as covering spaces", etc. –- T..

I've made this community wiki so that someone who supports the addition of such a tag can add a list of questions it belongs on.
I also want to point out that during the beta, I think users should feel free to create tags for questions when they feel it is appropriate, but when there is disagreement, it's better to have a discussion on meta to avoid a ton of meta-y comments on the main site diluting the math. Since the comments have been reproduced here, I've deleted them on the original question.

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  • $\begingroup$ thank you for moving the discussion on meta $\endgroup$ – Grigory M Aug 5 '10 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ @T: Looks like I got timing wrong. Please accept my apologies. $\endgroup$ – Grigory M Aug 5 '10 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks (and no need for an apology!) but could we just delete the last two comments in the excerpt, as they are mainly just about the then-hypothetical possibility of discussing on meta? $\endgroup$ – T.. Aug 8 '10 at 7:21
  • $\begingroup$ @T..: I've removed them now. I wanted to err on the side of preserving as much as possible initially, since it all got deleted from the original question. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Aug 8 '10 at 12:45
  • $\begingroup$ I edited the title to reflect the original concern, which was not about solution-request per se but about ways of identifying problem/exercise postings in general, in addition to the specific sub-type that I called solution requests (and tried to define in the excerpt). $\endgroup$ – T.. Aug 8 '10 at 19:13
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I don't know if this is the general opinion on the subject, but I feel that tags should be about the subject or mathematical field of the question (like calculus or number-theory) rather than about the form of the question. If I see a question in a field that interests me, I might be willing to answer it. I won't click on a question just because it's tagged reference-request.

With this in mind (of course, it's only my opinion), a solution-request tag is really useless. Other tags like reference-request or puzzle at least hint about the type of question. solution-request, on the other hand, can really be anything.

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    $\begingroup$ This idea is echoed in a recent post in the official blog, The Death of Meta Tags. $\endgroup$ – Isaac Aug 8 '10 at 9:46
  • $\begingroup$ the death-of-metatags is about subjective or author-dependent tags ([beginner], etc). Neither of those are true for tags like [exercise], [olympiad], [textbook-problem], [solution-request], [hint-request], [computation-request], [verification-request] or others in the problem/exercise (or query/response) genre. Tags of this type provide objective information about the query and the universe of relevant responses. $\endgroup$ – T.. Aug 8 '10 at 20:09
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No. It encourages bad questions and intellectual laziness. I think that posting for a [solution-request] should be a bannable/suspendable offense. It's an obnoxious waste of time.

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    $\begingroup$ Eh? You're saying that questions that ask for solutions are obnoxious and should lead to the user being banned? (like Qiaochu's question linked above)? $\endgroup$ – ShreevatsaR Aug 5 '10 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ Qiaochu's question is interesting in its own right, and the fact that it is a solution request is only somewhat related to the question. My point is that we don't want solution requests for problems that don't require proofs. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Aug 5 '10 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ I would agree with that, but where does that enter the discussion? No one (as far as I can tell) was talking about solution requests for problems that don't require proofs. In fact Kaestur's argument against the tag [solution-request] is that every question is an implicit "solution request" unless a tag indicates it's something else. Anyway, since there seems to be so much confusion on what the tag should mean, it's clearly not a good idea. :-) $\endgroup$ – ShreevatsaR Aug 5 '10 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ @97832123: Before jumping into insults, could you actually clarify what you think a solution-request tag would mean? Half the reason I raised this question is because I don't know. As ShreevatsaR says, I think nearly every question is an implicit solution-request. Also, I doubt you'll get many people to support the idea of banning Qiaochu. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Aug 5 '10 at 17:24
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    $\begingroup$ Solution-request seems like someone looking for "solution sets to problems in a book", which I think would be something really bad. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Aug 5 '10 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand the objection to solutions that don't require proofs. A farmer may want to dig a well with a given volume and radius, and want to know how deep to dig. Do you object in principle to answering such a question? $\endgroup$ – Matt E Aug 5 '10 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Matt E: Yes. That's exactly the sort of thing we don't want to answer. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Aug 5 '10 at 23:32
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand why. It is simple, useful, and I'm sure there are many people reading the site who would be happy to do it. And I don't anticipate a flood of farmers swamping the site. (Maybe you think that these kinds of questions will be indistinguishable from homework, so that allowing one invites a flood of the other; but I'm not convinced by this. I think in practice it may not be so hard to tell the difference between an honest person out of their mathematical depth asking for help, and someone cheating on homework. But perhaps I'm wrong?) $\endgroup$ – Matt E Aug 6 '10 at 0:34
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    $\begingroup$ See this question for a less forced example that does not look like homework to me. $\endgroup$ – Larry Wang Aug 6 '10 at 9:53
  • $\begingroup$ 978, what is "really bad" about looking for solutions to problems in a book? If this is in fact an issue, why not add [textbook-problem] as a tag so that those who seek it can find, and those wanting to avoid can also do so? $\endgroup$ – T.. Aug 8 '10 at 7:54
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, I agree with Matt E. We don't want to encourage homework, but if someone actually is a farmer looking for help with a simple mathematical problem, then that fits the site and should stay open. (My guess is that a student trying to get help who chooses to pose as a farmer will be a somewhat unlikely occurrence.) $\endgroup$ – Akhil Mathew Aug 8 '10 at 14:00

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