This question is motivated by the following two examples: one two.

Both questions asked about the correctness of their solution to some problem (in these cases, recurrences). Despite one being slightly more "fleshed-out" than the other, neither seem well suited to the CS.SE site. This may be due to the fact that if the solution is correct a simple "yes" answer suffices. This results in no real discussion, as it is clearly not necessary. However, if the solution is incorrect, answers may nudge the OP in the correct direction.

Is there a way to massage these questions into a form more suitable for CS.SE? It not, what (online) avenues should be taken to check this work?

Personally, communication with classmates by the time I get home isn't the most effective. Hence asking on CS.SE.

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    $\begingroup$ Don't you have teachers for such questions? In my experience, sleeping over it and talking live with a board or sheet of paper is much more effective (and efficient) for such questions than SE. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Commented Aug 29, 2012 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Raphael Many people self-learn, so they have no teachers or classmates to ask. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 7:04
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    $\begingroup$ @RobertS.Barnes That's fair, but I don't think it applies to most of the questions we get. The comment about sleeping over it still applies, though. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 8:37

1 Answer 1


Yes, that's an inherent problem of questions: wrong approaches can lead to interesting answers, correct one do only rarely (answerers may point out alternative approaches, which the OP may or may not be interested in). In essence, they can be good questions with boring answers (which are of no use to anybody else).

The only policy I can imagine is this: any question of the form "Is X correct?" is closed (as too localized, I would imagine) if

  • the answer is clearly "yes",
  • the answer is "no" and the mistake is trivial (arithmetics, copy&past mistake, ...) or
  • any other closing reason applies (poor form, duplicate, ...).

If, on the other hand,

  • the answer is "yes" but there is a non-trivial argument involved or
  • the answer is "no" and the mistake is of conceptual nature

the question can remain open.

This has two problems.

  1. The asker has no idea what case applies.
  2. The decision may be subjective.

Nevertheless, I think it could be implemented, provided we took care to explain the policy carefully, especially to newcomers.

Another idea (not really a policy) would be to encourage people with such questions to post their attempt as an answer so we can let voting, comments and conflicting answers establish correctness of or problems with the solution.

  • $\begingroup$ It is difficult. For example, I am unsure how to "proceed" with my own question. The answer is merely a comment. Should it be closed? Should comment be moved to answer? I like the concept of answering one's own question. However, it may be best to try and avoid posting such questions for now. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 5:43
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    $\begingroup$ For the record, I think Yuval's approach of posting the boring answer as short CW answer in order to get the question "out of the system" is a good compromise. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 7:21
  • $\begingroup$ What is the current status of these check-my-proof / solution type questions? Is there an official guideline in the site FAQ? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 7:12
  • $\begingroup$ There is no fixed policy yet, but note this more recent related discussion. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 8:38

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