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How to ask for help in solving a particular problem

We've noticed many people asking for help in solving a particular problem, most of which are posted as notes, or as comments in solutions. Here are some guidelines for what information to convey when requesting for help from others:

  1. Provide context for how you came across the problem: Knowing that the problem was from an Olympiad training book with a chapter on polynomials, would result in a different initial response than if the problem was from a grade 9 textbook.

  2. Explain what you have tried: State what you know, what your initial thoughts are, and what your concerns are. Sometimes you are on the right track, but just need the reassurance to go further.

  3. Explain where you are stuck: Clearly state what hypothesis / guess you are trying to show. If you are stuck on an irrelevant (or even wrong) point, that could often mean that you are going down the wrong path.

  4. Do not simply demand an answer: Do not randomly message / mention people to solve your problems without indicating any work done.

Feel free to link back to this note, to help others understand the etiquette for asking for help.

Note by Calvin Lin
8 months, 3 weeks ago

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