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12:38 AM
Unclear if this is the right place. I want all on mathSE (even newbies) to be able to read the answers given to math.stackexchange.com/questions/3876263/…. If newbies can read the answers of closed queries, then sufficient to (somehow) ensure that query never deleted. Otherwise, need to have query re-opened. In my opinion, two of the answers serve as contrasting models of how similar problems should be attacked.
 
12:50 AM
@user2661923 Questions need to be judged on their own merits. That is a very poor question, which consists of little more than a problem statement, a vague reference to stars-and-bars, and a demand that the question be answered at a 5 year old's level. I see no reason to reopen it.
The quality of the answers may argue in favor of not deleting the question, but I am not sure that I see any compelling reason why we should reopen that question and invite further interation.
 
1:23 AM
 
to xander henderson i absolutely agree with you about the query being low quality and deserving to be closed. my only interest is in people having access to the answers that the query received. please consider my previous comment in that light.
 
@user2661923 Until you brought up the question here, it was in no danger of being deleted.
Even now, I don't think that it is in any danger of being deleted.
It should not be reopened.
If you are really worried that the question might be deleted, I suggest that you read over the rewrite policy.
 
does this mean that low rep newbies can read the answers?
 
Why would low reputation newbies be unable to read the answers? Nothing has been deleted.
Closing a question only prevents new answers from being posted.
 
i wasn't sure. i have seen messages re closed queries indicating that the query was available IF you had a high enough rep. i was worried whether that also applied to answers.
For the specific query, i am referring to the specific message that i am copy/pasting here: "(Viewable by the post author and users with the close/reopen votes privilege)"
 
1:41 AM
That refers to the close message only.
A low rep user will just see an indication that the question has been closed.
 
okay -- my bad, so i got paranoid for nothing. thanks for the explanation.
 
Someone without an account will see:
 
right, i misinterpreted the situation.
thanks again
 
 
12 hours later…
 
2 hours later…
4:11 PM
@user2661923 In the future, when you link a question in a meta post or in a chat that you answered , please disclose the fact that you answered it. In which case you may have a vested interest it preventing deletion of your answer. First and foremost, please refrain from answering question of very low quality, like the one you link.
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4:32 PM
I was new to CURED, so oversight that I didn't mention that I was one of the people who provided an answer. As far as answering a low quality query, while I think there is some controversy on this point, my mathSE perspective has evolved to the point that today, I would not answer such a question.
 
@user2661923 Not a problem; I did not catch that the question you linked was from nearly five months ago. I wish you the best.
 
The controversy that I am referring to is reflected in the comment that I recently left in the query. Beyond this, unclear what you mean by vested interest - do you mean the 10-20 Rep pts? My interest is that since a generating function approach was also given, and since Stars and Bars or generating functions are the only two ways of attacking the problem, the combination of answers makes this a very informative article.
It is probably worth briefly focusing on the query. I am not alone in thinking that the rule that the OP must show work is not a one-size-fits-all policy. From reactions to comments that I have left, others agree that it is reasonable to consider both the background of the poster as well as the relative difficulty of the query. I generally prefer to avoid controvery, so even if I think that the rule should be relaxed in a certain spot, I will still not answer.
 
@user2661923 There are regularly better questions to "show your stuff" other than a lazy, unmotivated, "do it for me" question. An example to others, and that asker, "you don't need to do nothing to get an answer! go to math.stackexchange.com/"; And the user would be correct wrt to users like you.
 
We may have to agree to disagree. In my opinion, if the OP has no hope of ever being able to answer the question, that is relevant. Again, I am not alone in this opinion.
However, as I say, I prefer to avoid controversy. Therefore, even in situations like that, I no longer answer.
 
@user2661923 You stand to lose 35 rep points if the post is deleted, a bit less than 5% of your current rep.
@user2661923 I should be deleted, instead of you enabling their homework or exam success. It is hardly a unique question on math.se.
 
4:47 PM
Sorry I caused the conflict. I have to sign off now. I emphasize that I have stopped answering questions in such situations.
 
So please spend time searching for duplicates, and stop believing that you can answer better than anyone else, and that's good for the site.
 
@user2661923 There is no rule which states that an asker must show work.
There is a policy that askers must show context.
Showing one's work is one of many ways in which an asker can show context. Personally, I don't think that it is a very good form of context, as questions are supposed to be of general interest, and the stumbling blocks brought to light by showing one's work are unlikely to be of very broad interest.
I would rather that askers provide context in other ways. For example, cite the text from which a problem is drawn, or give an outline of the relevant definitions and theorems which might be relevant. Explain where the problem comes from, and why anyone would care about the answer.
 
5:04 PM
@XanderHenderson I sort of agree, but for a good many answerers, they can't even understand why anyone would care about the answer, except to hand in as their own work. Users with the insight you ask for: relevant theorems and definitions, who believe the question and any answer to it is worth anyone to care about, aren't typically apt to need to ask questions here. But according to your preference, we'd rarely see anyone, even those who are confused and did the best they could in their posted effort
@Xander, we'd have only math majors and math grad students. Which sort of defies the audience which math.se ostensibly is thought to serve.
So I really get sick of you dismissing or minimize the efforts some users include in their post. We should aim to help such users improve how they approach problems, but shutting them out because their "context isn't good enough" strikes me a bit as an arrogant perspective coming from someone who thinks everyone can think like they do.
5 mins ago, by amWhy
@XanderHenderson I sort of agree, but for a good many answerers, they can't even understand why anyone would care about the answer, except to hand in as their own work. Users with the insight you ask for: relevant theorems and definitions, who believe the question and any answer to it is worth anyone to care about, aren't typically apt to need to ask questions here. But according to your preference, we'd rarely see anyone, even those who are confused and did the best they could in their posted effort
^^^ In the first line, I meant to write "askers" and not "answerers"
It's okay, @Xander, you can ignore me. In an ideal world I agree with you, just as in Ideal world our elected officials would collectively work to improve this nation, and not put Party before the Public.
 
5:23 PM
@amWhy I don't think that I am dismissing anyone. Even someone with no mathematical knowledge ought to be able to say "This problem is homework from [text]. We are currently learning about [topic]. Our instructor just told us about [theorem]."
This, I think, is far more useful context than "Here is my attempt."
I will also note that I was specifically replying to the assertion that the community demands that users "show work".
The community makes no such demand. The community demands that users give context.
Showing one's work is a way of providing context. Nothing I said contradicts that.
 
5:52 PM
@XanderHenderson But it's also formulaic, so someone could say "This problem is from baby Rudin, and we are currently covering Chapter 2: set-point topology. Please solve question 10 for me. It's due tomorrow." Sorry, that doesn't, alone, make it a good question.
Or, "This question is from the 2019 IMO. Tell be how to solve ".............................". Thanks!! :-)
2
 
@amWhy I don't think that I said that would be a good question. The "do it by 10 am" is pointless, and my formulation asked that the user provide some more detailed context, e.g. "our instructor just introduced [theorem]."
 
 
As a matter of opinion, I do think that is a better question. Lots of people read Rudin, hence knowing that the problem is from Rudin is very useful context.
Also, please recall that the discussion was prompted by the comment that users must show an attempt.
The point is that an attempt is one of many forms of context.
 
 
5:57 PM
It is not a necessary form of context.
 
Finally, @amWhy, we obviously disagree about what constitutes "good" context or "better" context. I wish that we could disagree without resorting to insults. I do not appreciate being called "arrogant" because I believe that there are better forms of context than "an attempt" or "work shown".
 
@XanderHenderson I don't think the examples using your criteria, and what this would permit.
@Xander: I will never approve of any questions that explicitly imply that we should "do" all their work for them. That's what you seem to condone.
 
6:21 PM
@amWhy My understanding is that the goal of Math SE is to provide a repository of high quality questions and answers. I am not terribly concerned about policing students who are trying to cheat on their homework---because it is basically impossible to tell if a student is cheating, or if someone is self-studying, I don't think that we should be policing that. Thus I am not terribly upset if answers end up doing all of the mathematical work required to answer an exercise.
However, I do think that standard homework exercises are poor questions because they are unlikely to be of much global interest, i.e. they are too local.
My opinion is that problem statements with an attempt are not a lot better as questions than simple problem statements.
I would rather that some other kind of context is provided. In particular, if an asker is capable of providing some other form of context, I think they should.
Frankly, I think that the best kind of context is some form of motivation (and "I have to get this assignment done by 10 am" is not motivation; by motivation, I mean mathematical motivation).
"Work shown" is context; a summary of relevant results and a citation is good context; mathematical motivation is better context.
In my opinion.
In any event, I was responding to this specific statement:
2 hours ago, by user2661923
It is probably worth briefly focusing on the query. I am not alone in thinking that the rule that the OP must show work is not a one-size-fits-all policy. From reactions to comments that I have left, others agree that it is reasonable to consider both the background of the poster as well as the relative difficulty of the query. I generally prefer to avoid controvery, so even if I think that the rule should be relaxed in a certain spot, I will still not answer.
 
@XanderHenderson I don't disagree, but we need flexibility in the contexts allowed for questions. I would like to see more variation than "just" "this is what I tried", absolutely. But to denigrate such context in all questions goes to far, in my opinion.
 
@amWhy I did not denigrate such content.
I said that, in my opinion, "work shown" is not very good context, because the errors of a single user are unlikely to be of more global interest.
 
@XanderHenderson Well you sort of did when you said questions with effort are not better than blatant PSQs. **In my opinion, that's an unfair comparison. And some posts, as I've illustrated you use context you idealize, but end with "Please solve "blah blah bleat bleeb diddly do? for me"
 
I said that they are not a lot better.
And, frankly, if someone can provide well reasoned motivation for a problem, I don't care if they are trying to cheat.
 
Hey, "solve the Riemann Hypothesis, please" might be of interest globally, among mathematicians, in terms of their interest in the topic, but it makes a close and delete worthy PSQ
3
 
6:32 PM
I think that we overemphasize "effort" in the form of an attempt.
@amWhy This is a non-sequitor. I don't think anything I have said suggests that such a question would be acceptable.
In any event, I have meetings to attend.
 
@XanderHenderson I have to agree to disagree. I want no part in enabling cheating. In my opinion, enabling cheating on this site discredits this site of any value this site may hold. If a professor supervises 4 PhD candidates, who are later found to have committed plagiarism, that prof, and the institution will, rightly suffer a decreas in repute.
@XanderHenderson Nice timing, but of course, please attend to your responsibilities. You know I consider you a buddy; I meant nothing personal, and I apologize for considering what you said "arrogant". Meetings related to the President selection?
 
 
2 hours later…
8:30 PM
@rschwieb I had already downvoted and voted to close when you posted this request; but I'll certainly check back, after the final close vote, to act further on the question. Only one more close vote needed.
 
8:45 PM
@amWhy I should rephrase. I was late for a meeting, and didn't articulate my point very well.
I don't think that Math SE should be enabling cheaters.
However, we don't have the tools to adjudicate accusations of cheating.
Instead, I think that we need to focus on the questions themselves, and not the proximate motivation for the question.
 
@XanderHenderson No problem. And, yes, I understand that aside from finding other reasons to close, given the lack of tools, we're really "stuck".
 
An excellent question might be asked by a student who is attempting to cheat on an exam, and a terrible question might be asked by someone who is working in isolation out of a hard-to-read text.
I don't think that it serves the purposes of the site to make an attempt to get into the asker's head.
Rather, we should demand that askers provide context which demonstrates that the question itself is a good fit for Math SE (note: this does not mean that a question is good or bad---a great question might not be a good fit for Math SE because it is "too local", or "too researchy", or similar).
 
I agree with that. But any time a question is a PSQ, I won't hesitate to close it. I'd be happy if they included any sort of context.
 
Absolutely. PSQs should be shut down.
 
@XanderHenderson I like the way you phrased that. I'm going to pin it!
 
8:50 PM
 
So saying that I don't care if a question is an attempt to cheat isn't quite right. I think that the better statement is that I can't care (because "don't cheat" isn't a site policy, and, even if it were, we don't have the tools to adjudicate).
 
@XanderHenderson Understood, and I agree.
 
And with that said, I have more meetings in 5 minutes. :\
:'(
 
@XanderHenderson Take care, you!
 
the more awkward case is contest problems
there's not really any ambiguity to "someone is posting this problem when the contest told them not to"
but...is that an issue for MSE, or for the contest organizers
 
8:57 PM
@Semiclassical (last comment before I go) My preference is that this be made an issue for the contest organizers. However, we do have a policy which indicates that if one can prove that a problem is from an active competition, we'll lock that question. Frankly, I think that it would be better to simply delete most such questions (because they get locked, and then no one can ever delete them). But that isn't the policy. :\
 
so it goes
 
 
1 hour later…
 
1 hour later…
11:45 PM
Hi Ethan Cohen, aka @user238279.
 

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