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I am asking this in relation to confirmation of assumption types questions from self study people only, with no access to formal teaching resources.

If I ask a question, and the answer is either yes or no, is this allowed under the rules of the site? If it is not, then I accept that as valid but I am left confused by some of the answers I see.

My point is, that the range of answers provided to what initially seems like a simple confirmation type question can help to teach self study students the following:

a. That their assumption is correct and provide confidence to carry on self studying. It can also help clarify the particular point in the self student's mind as he/she is writing it.

b. The range of answers provided can also provide additional assistance to the self study student by referring to additional resources or areas to study.

c. I have seen that often a simple question from a person with little background in the subject can produce lots of answers, ranging from the low level to the higher level.

imo, this site greatly benefits from the range of answers given and these answers are the backbone of the site.

Finally, my question: should I, given the points listed above, refrain from
looking for confirmation even though to me, it is a perfectly valid question.

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you have an example question? I am not sure I understand the type of question to which you are referring. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Apr 5 '15 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ I'm absolutely thrilled that I've been quoted with the read ourselves type thing. But for the record, I was talking about us regular users. Whatever works for you though. $\endgroup$ – Jim Apr 8 '15 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ that's newbies for you...still learning for sure.....but if you like i will delete the comment...I certainly didn't intend any offence to you, I couldn't remember the source, only the line stuck in my head....nuance is difficult to get across, as i saw written elsewhere on this site $\endgroup$ – user74893 Apr 8 '15 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ Awesome question: very relevant to many people here, highly relevant to the now with so many people learning from the Internet. $\endgroup$ – WetSavannaAnimal Apr 13 '15 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ @WetSavannaAnimalakaRodVance thanks, I made a completely wrong negative assumption (Stupidly I took it personally and didn't count to ten :) about a perfectly correct response in the comments of one of my OPs. Every time I see an OP looking for yes/no answer I refer them to this post, it helped me a lot, hopefully it will help other newbies too. regards $\endgroup$ – user74893 Apr 13 '15 at 14:05
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The danger in such questions is exactly what ACuriousMind pointed out -- if the answer is simply "Yup, you're right" then it really isn't a good fit for our site. On the other hand, if the answer is "No, here's where your thinking is flawed and the physics/concepts/math behind the right answer" then it is useful to the site.

Unfortunately, it's not a great policy to wait for an answer to make a question good/on-topic or bad/off-topic. There needs to be a way to express a question such that no matter what the answer is, the question and answer are useful to others.

In some ways, it is just a matter of rephrasing the question. Rather than asking "Am I correct in these assumptions?" one could ask "What are the assumptions that make this correct?" In that way, if what you think is correct, you'll see an answer that explains what you were thinking anyway. And if you are wrong, you'll see an answer that explains what the right answer is. And then you could even make follow-up questions where you say "Here's what I thought, but this answer says otherwise, why am I wrong?" and we end up with a much better body of knowledge.

So don't post questions that could just be answered by "Yes" or "No." Always look to rephrase them so you get what you want (a "yes" or "no" that you are right), but that no matter the outcome there is an answer that has technical content that benefits everybody.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thats a thoughtful answer and I do sincerely appreciate it. In this particular case, I was wrong, as the answer pointed out, in that I completely ignored experimental errors. I will phrase any future questions in line with your comments regards $\endgroup$ – user74893 Apr 5 '15 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ I would be hesitant to ask a 'What are the assumptions that make this correct?' type question over an 'Am I correct in these assumptions?' type question, as the latter would demonstrate I've put effort into trying to reach an answer myself. I would fear that the former question would be closed/downvoted due to lack of proof that I did any prior research. Is this fear justified? $\endgroup$ – user3949312 Apr 11 '15 at 6:02
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If the question is literally asking for a yes/no answer, then

  1. I'd downvote because it's a terrible question. Beyond the fact that answers have a minimum character count (meaning the answer ought to be more than "Yes" or "No"), there is no added benefit to the collection of questions & answers to this site for that type of question and answer.

  2. I'd vote to close because check my work problems are considered off-topic.

However, this type of question is easily molded into an appropriate question for this site. For example, rather than saying, Am I right?, you could say, Why is this the case? or Under what conditions does this not work? I think that doing something like this will both confirm and extend your understanding.

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  • $\begingroup$ yes, I do agree with each point you make (and the more I look at your answer, the more I would do exactly the same). I have learned a lot, not just from the question, but from how to ask questions...I admit I kinda rushed into the question a bit too fast, much appreciated $\endgroup$ – user74893 Apr 5 '15 at 15:37

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