I am aware that it is probably better not to have too many meta-tags such as , , or . Despite of this I'd like to ask other MSE users, whether they would consider tag of "check my proof" questions useful.

We have a lot of such questions and they are - to some extent - different from questions asking about some mathematical fact. In these questions the answerers are expected to say whether the proof provided by OP is correct and suggest improvements related to both mathematics and writing style.

I can imagine that some users don't like answering such questions (since reading long proofs of other people might sometime be boring, especially if the proof is written in rather unclear manner); and probably there are some users which enjoy answering them (since the OP has shown some work and this seems to be a very straightforward way how to help them improve proof-writing abilities).

This might also help avoiding premature closures of questions. (I believe that a question asking whether a proof posted by OP is correct should not be closed as a duplicate of another question asking about a proof of the same result. I would be careful about closing questions in the other direction, too.)

On the other hand - as I wrote before - I don't like the idea of increasing the number of meta-tags.

So probably the best thing to do is to ask what is opinion of other users.

EDIT: And in case you think it would be useful, perhaps you could suggest the name of the tags and perhaps also places, where some information about this tag should be added. (If we create such tag, it might be added to the post about meta-tags I linked above and perhaps a comment template could be created...?)

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Don't we already have proof-writing and proof-strategy? –  Asaf Karagila Nov 24 '12 at 13:35
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When I check the tag-wiki for proof-writing, it seems that this tag could be used in this way. –  Martin Sleziak Nov 24 '12 at 13:42

4 Answers 4

up vote 36 down vote accepted

If for no other reason than to filter out such questions for those who don't want to take the time to analyze a proof, I think this is a good idea. When someone has some time and feels like reviewing and critiquing, this tag should be just right.

I think that this tag would be useful.

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I'll add a suggestion from Asaf's comment as an answer - so that people can upvote/downvote/comment.

We already have , which can be used this way. The tag-wiki says:

Questions with the (proof-writing) tag are about the presentation of a mathematical proof. Questions might include:

  • Should I include [x-mathematical detail] at [y-part of this proof]?
  • Here is a proof about [x-mathematical idea]. How can it be improved?
  • Is the following a sufficient proof of [x-mathematical tidbit]?

But this tag is not for asking someone else to write a proof for you, or for how to answer some question. Questions such as: My professor asked me to prove the Pythagorean theorem and I don't know how to begin are not to have this tag.

This tag is intended for use along with other, more "mathematical" tags. A question about the writing of a proof in abstract algebra, for example, should have the (abstract-algebra) tag as well.

Tag-excerpt says:

For questions about the writing of proofs. But instead of focusing the mathematics behind the proof, these questions ask about the details and implementation of the proof.

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I should mention that in another discussion Dominic Michaelis posted an answer indicating that this is not correct use of the proof-writing tag. It has 6 upvotes (as of this moment), so it seems that several users agree with him. –  Martin Sleziak Jun 13 '13 at 7:22

A tag called has been created recently. Judging by the number of upvotes that robjohn's answer has received, it seems that several users support existence of a tag for this purpose.

So we might simply keep this newly created tag and use it for this purpose.

I've created short tag-excerpt, if you have good ideas what to put into tag-wiki/tag-excerpt, please do so.

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Here are some thought on "check my proof" style questions (this seems to be the most recent meta-discussion of this subject).

In my opinion, such questions are not a very good fit for MSE at all. There are two reasons for this:

First, almost all such questions are too localized. There is almost no chance that anyone but the OP will benefit from the question or answers.

Second, unless the objective is purely for the OP to end up with a correct proof, the sort of help needed in these cases will require a lot of back and forth communication to pinpoint why the OP is unsure the proof is correct and to explain exactly why some given part of the proof is or is not correct. Such lengthy discussion is discouraged by the site, and is anyway better suited for other places.

My suggestion to anyone with such a question would be to write up the proof to be checked on mathbin.net or similar and then post that link along with the concerns in a chatroom for mathematics. One can either use the one on this site or the #math room on one of the major IRC servers (both EFNet and Freenode have very active ones).

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There is almost no chance that anyone but the OP will benefit from the question or answers. Well, sometimes this might contribute to having a more-or-less complete proof available here at MSE, which is a good thing. –  Martin Sleziak Jan 2 '13 at 16:34
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I think that it is lengthy discussions in comments that are discouraged. The integration of chat provides a convenient way to have such a discussion elsewhere and then come back to main with a correct proof, posted as an answer. Other users learning to write proofs may benefit from comparing the "before" and 'after" (hopefully, the 'after" version will be written by the OP and posted as an accepted answer). For one thing, they may see what kind of flaws make a seemingly natural argument invalid. Textbooks usually do not include examples of wrong or incomplete proofs, or a critique of them. –  user53153 Jan 2 '13 at 19:16
    
There is almost no chance that anyone but the OP will benefit from the question or answers. This is clearly false if the submitted proof has enough problems to warrant an extended answer. –  Brian M. Scott Jun 13 '13 at 10:22

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