We have recently had this question and this one.

Both questions practically contain an answer within the question and ask "is this correct". Assuming the answer they give is correct (like in the example above), what should we do?

  1. answer it with "your solution is correct"
  2. close as "not a real question/too localized"?
  3. leave it open, with no answers?
A possible 4th option where appropriate (not great for the two examples though) would be to edit the question and make the answer component an actual answer. –  Luke Mathieson Feb 18 '13 at 6:18
Yes, we even have check-my-proof. –  Raphael Feb 18 '13 at 9:11
See also this older, related question. –  Raphael Apr 30 '13 at 8:38

1 Answer 1

Such questions as you reference are almost always bad, but it can be hard to nail down why. It sometimes seems as if you have to know the answer before you can know whether the question is a good one.

Here is what definitely works for SE:

  1. A question that states a problem, a proposal for solving it and a focused question about a specific aspect of the proposal that is unclear.
  2. A pair of question and answer that are of general nature and thus likely to help others.

If neither applies, we usually have some variant of "this is my attempt on the latest exercise, please check it before the TA so I can get maximum points!" (assumption on my part). This is bad, although the problem is subtle.

  • If the attempt is wrong good answers can be given, pointing out the mistake and proposing (hints for) fixes.
  • If the attempt is correct, nothing can be said but "yes, it's correct".

The second case is a problem. Even if the OP can not know the case applies, they could have phrased the question so that it can not occur. Therefore, I suggest we shoot down all questions that are not 1. or 2. without hesitation (as NARQ).

If a questioner wants their work checked, they should be able to pinpoint their doubt and providing a question that allows meaty answers either way (i.e. for "yes" and "no" answers). This, for example, would be okay:

So I got exercise problem A. Here is my attempt: [...]

I am unsure about step (*). It seems to hold because of X, but how do I take care of Y?

Whether the attempt is correct does not matter, answers have explaining to do either way.

+1 I think too localized is more suitable as closing reason: "This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, see the FAQ." –  Kaveh Apr 23 '13 at 4:46
General check my solution/answer type question definitely fall in this category, they are unlikely to be helpful to any other person. Another way to fix these questions can be to remove OP's own answer and ask the OP to post it as an answer not in the question. –  Kaveh Apr 23 '13 at 4:47
@Kaveh Right, "too localized" applies. I'm not sure about telling people to post as answer as a general rule; I feel like that should only be done if the proposed answer is apparently correct (at least not obviously flawed) and the question is not too localized in itself (e.g. the 233th "build an NFA for this language" question without any distinctive features). –  Raphael Apr 23 '13 at 6:49

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