What should one do when having a short question to which one can't find the answer? With short questions I mean question which generally can be answered with 'no' or 'yes', a simple example, a simple hint, so on and so forth. Are we allowed to ask such short questions or not?

Ask away! ${}{}{}{}$ – mixedmath Dec 17 '12 at 22:28
@mixedmath: How could you have missed the irony in posting that comment as an answer? Tsk tsk tsk. :-) – Asaf Karagila Dec 17 '12 at 23:31
Wow, an unequivocal yes!I was wondering because sometimes when I ask short and simple questions if feel they're not up to the site's standard. – JohnPhteven Dec 18 '12 at 8:01
ZafarS, most people just agree -- but others couldn't skip the opportunity to post a short answer to your question. :-) – Asaf Karagila Dec 18 '12 at 9:05

Yes. $ $

I enjoy that this answer has an edit history. – Emily Dec 18 '12 at 18:37

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Feel free to ask! Most questions on the site (not all mind you) have answers which aren't that long, only a few lines, and of these, almost all can have the main ideas of the answer summed up nicely with a short, one or two line hint (or a simple example/counterexample).

There's no problem with asking short/easy questions, although if there isn't much indication in the question that the asker has done any work towards the answer the most likely response is a comment saying "what have you tried" (and rightly so, in my opinion). Provided there is some form of working in the question, I can't imagine there are any objections that people could possibly have.

A good example of this type of question that has sprung up recently is the "check my proof" type questions, which provide a problem and a complete, or nearly complete proof where the actual question is just "is this proof correct?". Correct proofs usually get a comment saying something along the lines of "seems fine" and I've seen incorrect ones get quite good fixes for the given proof, and/or potentially better methods of doing it. No-one seems to mind these questions, and asking them appears to be very helpful.

And often even when a question could be answered very briefly, more illumination may come from a user who chooses to elaborate to help provide an all-around better understanding of the situation than would be given by "'no' or 'yes', a simple example, a simple hint, so on and so forth." – Jonas Meyer Dec 18 '12 at 19:17
Very true, there are many questions that would benefit from this kind of answer. On the other hand, sometimes I think some questions are better off being answered with only a small hint (or perhaps a series of small hints) so that the asker thinks the question out for herself. Of course, it depends entirely on the context, type and difficulty of the question! – Tom Oldfield Dec 18 '12 at 21:39

Go ahead.${}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}$


Yes, you are most welcome to ask such questions. In general, don't worry too much about how you think the answer might be. If you have a legitimate question, then just ask.

Even though an answer might just be 'yes', the answerer might still be able to point out some background. In my limited experience, if a person asks a simple question that simple 'yes' or 'no' answer, the question usually reveals something deeper that the questioner might have missed or misunderstood. A good answer might also point out how something simple is actually part of a bigger theory.


"Can $a^n + b^n = c^n$ be satisfied for integers $a$, $b$, and $c$ for $n>2$?"


Conclusion: people do not study math to find terse answers to complex questions. I am hopeful that most answerers on this site will understand this and elaborate where it is warranted.


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