Hot answers tagged

62

Avoid "no clue" questions Too many questions begin or end with "I don't even know how to begin with this problem". While this may be true (you may genuinely have no idea how to approach the problem), it is still not a valid reason to limit your post to the statement of the problem without any mention of your own thoughts. Such questions ...


43

Formatting and writing This is not some random internet forum. We strive for well-composed questions and answers of lasting value -- so keep in mind that your question can be of interest to others as well. Posing a well-formatted question Use proper English to the best of your ability The use of proper spelling, grammar and punctuation makes your question ...


37

Isn't this just a form of gatekeeping, where you only get to ask a question about mathematics if you've already learnt enough of mathematics to rigorously formulate your problem? This question seems to be built on some rather binary thinking: either (the question asserts) a question remains open and the asker is helped when people post answers, or the ...


36

I largely agree with this sentiment. The "work" done by an asker generally detracts from questions in numerous ways. It obfuscates what the asked question actually is. It prompts users to not answer the question asked, but instead show why that particular line of reasoning doesn't/won't work. It can make it more difficult for others with the same literal ...


26

For the specific question, the context seems completely clear. The question reads: How deep is the liquid in a half-full hemisphere? I have a baking recipe that calls for 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract, but I only have a 1 tsp measuring spoon available, since the dishwasher is running. The measuring spoon is very nearly a perfect hemisphere. My question is, to ...


22

"Missing context" is a bit of a catch-all term, but basically it's a request for you to motivate the question (why do you want to solve this? Why is it interesting for you, and for people who might help you with it?) and to show some effort (there's a $\sqrt{2}$ there that suggests there's a substitution that might work -- what have you tried? Where did it ...


21

It is considered, by not few though certainly not all, as a requirement for a questioner to provide context for the question asked. This context can take many forms, one of them is their work on the problem. When "someone finds an interesting problem" there most always will be some story to this finding. Recounting this story can serve as context. While I ...


21

To edit posts to improve them is appropriate. However, one should make sure to respect the author's intent. Moreover, I recommend to focus such activities on questions that one actually finds worthwhile.


21

I think there are two separate issues: The complaint about your edit is of course unsubstantiated. If you face such a situation, please feel free to flag. (Flagging the post can be preferable to flagging in chat, as chat flags go to all network mods, while post flags stay on the site.) I was in the chat room when the comment was posted but had not (yet) ...


20

It can be taken into account but in general it is not sufficient. For example, if the question is difficult to understand due to missing explanations of the notation, then this is not (usually) adequately addressed by providing an answer that continues to use the unexplained notation. Further, as you nicely point out yourself there can be rather ...


19

Pare question to its basics Pare your problem down to the minimum core problem. Instead of asking for $$\frac{\sin 2 k \sqrt{3 + q^3}}{b! (b-2)!} \int\limits_{x=0}^{\infty} \frac{e^{-x^2/(2 \sigma^2)} \cos \sqrt{3 + \sqrt{y}}}{\sqrt[3]{2 - 1/g}}\ dx$$ for constant $k$, $b$, $\sigma$, $y$, and $g$, eliminate all constants and ask about $$\int\limits_{x=0}^\...


19

(What follows is my personal opinion. The mod team has not discussed this internally at length.) You say that "[you]'d like to explicate our community norms/policies about what sort of edits to add context are appropriate". So I'll attempt to give my POV regarding that. Edits to add context, in the general sense of context, can be very frequently ...


18

Sorry about being late to weigh in - I was busy last weekend. Why I support this feature-request? The norm re context that we have developed means that new questions at varying levels of mathematical sophistication often get put on hold for falling short of that standard. That is all well. But, the fact that the message This question is missing context or ...


15

I think I understand your concern, but I feel like adding a few words of consolation. I am quite content with the way the processes available to our core users work in cases like these. The close/reopen cycles converge the way they should in most cases (not talking about the rare c/r/u/d wars). In particular, the self-correcting mechanisms we have ...


15

Use Approach0 Use Approach0 to search for any possible duplicates of your question before asking. We get hundreds of questions every day. If your question is about arithmetic, geometry, algebra-precalculus, combinatorics, probability / statistics (first-year university or below), calculus (first-year university or below, such as Calculus I and II), or from a ...


15

If the question you want to ask appeared in a Math contest (or contest training), then You should make it clear that the question is from a contest. Adding the contest-math tag is a good way of achieving that, but I recommend that you also make this explicit in either the question body or the title, because this affects how many users approach the question (...


15

Actually, apart from the fact that you don't make the question clear in the title, it's well phrased and I disagree with the commentor. According to the question's edit history the context has been there from the start, and the major issue was with the MathJax. But: "range of $y=f(x)$" is not a question. I think you mean "What is the range of $y=f(x)$?", ...


15

About the first part of your question (about low effort posts) - this is exactly what the "missing context" close reason is for. (Of course, context is wider than just effort - there are also other ways to include context than just own attempts at the problem. A reasonable explanation what is meant by context can be found in the "Provide ...


14

Include source / motivation for your question According to recent discussions on this Meta post-Is it a good idea to include source from where a question is taken? , and by the responses of many experienced users we have decided to make it into a good practice to include the source or motivation of a question. For eg. in contest questions, citing the ...


12

The problem (most of) those comments are addressing are not related to posts from people who have interesting problems that they can't solve, but rather students who copy-and-paste their homework assignments and demand answers. Those problems are not interesting and have no inherent value aside from helping the student get a higher grade on his homework ...


12

(A new answer instead of editing Willie Wong's because of the long comment thread there.) There has been introduced a new standard close reason: This question is missing context or other details: Please improve the question by providing additional context, which ideally includes your thoughts on the problem and any attempts you have made to solve it. ...


12

No, it is not unreasonable. In fact, it is recommended to do so. Countless times a question has been made comprehensible/answerable even for simple matters such as correcting typos. The above is the response in general. For this case in particular, the question is absolutely incomprehensible. The contents lead me to believe that indeed there is no reference ...


11

After some discussion among the mod team, we've come to the proposal of changing the wording of the "off-topic: missing context" close reason. We plan to update the message to: This question is missing context or other details: Please provide additional context, which ideally explains why the question is relevant to you and our community. Some forms ...


11

I would say as long as you make the question easily discoverable and self-contained, extra background (within reason) is harmless and usually helpful. In general, I would recommend putting the question at the very top, clearly marked, and preceded only by any context that is necessary to understand the question. Further, the additional background, etc. ...


11

I will repeat that the full text of the banner displayed after the question is put on hold looks like this: This question is missing context or other details: Please improve the question by providing additional context, which ideally includes your thoughts on the problem and any attempts you have made to solve it. This information helps others identify ...


11

I believe that this issue of what and what's not on-topic, or what counts as a question deserving closure has cropped up too many times in MSE. Is it the standing policy of this community to allow a question only if they meet every single one of these requirements? First of all, let's go through all the reasons for closure. Duplicate: this may not have ...


10

Firstly, I would say that you probably did not read the FAQ called How to Ask a Good Question. It basically tells you what "context" means as well as how to provide it. It is also shown to every new asker (and it is their responsibility to read it). After collecting little experience in MSE, it appears to me that the demand for context might be ...


10

As Asaf alludes to in his comments, the question is closed because enough users have voted to close it. It's rather like trial-by-jury: if a sufficient number of people are convinced, a verdict is pronounced. You might not like that, but it is a way of approaching things that at least attempts to be democratic. Also, similarly to trial-by-jury, you can ...


10

[Promoted from comment to answer, by popular demand] It means that teachers like to formulate their answers to meet the needs of individual students, and can't do that if we don't know anything about the student. If a question just asks, "what's the integral of $\rm{sech}^2x$?" then we don't know whether the student's problem is not knowing what $\rm{sech}^...


9

Reading the question it is entirely unclear what the asker knows and does not know. For instance: do they know what $\mathbb{Z}/3\mathbb{Z}$ is? If you read the comments under your answer, it would seem like they do, but nowhere does the question reflect this. Do they know what $R[x]$ means when $R$ is a ring? Do they think that $3[x]$ is an ideal? What do ...


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