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I'm in the situation of having a long answer but no question.

regarding this question

I can discard the answer so nobody has any benefit from it and the time I spent writing it is deemed wasted. Or I could post that answer somehow.

I did the later, asking for verification of my answer. It got put on hold, because it should:

  • should ask about a specific physics concept, which it does: a height
  • show some effort, which is plain wrong and a bit of an insult

In an attempt to explain these unfitting probably predefined statements, I receive this comment from Emilio Pisanty:

check-my-work questions are not really on topic

Thank for the clarification Emilio, it is appreciated.

Ok, I get it. If the source of a question is stigmatised with the possibility of being homework, treat it differently as discussed here.

That leaves me wondering what I should have been doing differently.

The whole point of posting the answer was that I thought that there could be some value for the community in it. Being told to be unspecific, lacking effort and off topic as a response is not exactly encouraging to create exhaustive answers in the future and provide such to this community.

What should I do in a situation like that?

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm curious that this has attracted three downvotes. I agree that in this particular case the question and answer are homework-like and shouldn't have been posted. However in general the Physics SE not only supports but encourages the asking of canonical questions and answers. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Apr 29 '15 at 6:52
  • $\begingroup$ "and the time I spent writing it is deemed wasted" -- this is a textbook example of the sunk cost fallacy. $\endgroup$ – user10851 Apr 29 '15 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisWhite in this world, being deemed irrational by economists feels like an honor. $\endgroup$ – Name Apr 29 '15 at 18:44
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I would reinforce what Emilio says. In this particular case the answer is unlikely to be a valuable long term resource for the site. However, to provide a more general answer to the question: exactly the same thing happened to me, and my response was basically the same as yours i.e. I posted a fresh question:

How does the Hubble parameter change with the age of the universe?

then posted the answer I'd spent all that time writing. The Physics SE supports, and indeed encourages, the posting of canonical questions and answers where these will be helpful to the Physics community. You'll note that when you're posting a new question there is a tick box labelled Answer your own question with a link to explain the principles involved.

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  • $\begingroup$ That sounds like a good thing to do. It fits better into the system and the question can be treated like any other. $\endgroup$ – Name Apr 29 '15 at 12:07
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    $\begingroup$ Note that you've left out one of the more essential aspects of the Canonical Q&A: the idea is to use those to cover the essential points of questions that come up frequently. (emphasis mine). OPs question does not seem to fit this particular characterization, so it really doesn't seem worth mentioning, at least in my opinion. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Apr 29 '15 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos: yes, and I agree that the example Name cites would not make a good canonical Q/A. But then I said that in my answer. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Apr 30 '15 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ I think you made too passing of a statement about it. It's quite hidden in the first sentence and everything else seems to imply quite the opposite (cf Name's comment above). It's have been better if you made more abundantly clear the case for the CQ&A and why Name's case doesn't fit, and then make the general statement. But that's just one man's opinion. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Apr 30 '15 at 21:05
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The problem with this type of question is that it is very unlikely to be helpful to anyone who has not been staring for half an hour at the precise same problem that you have. The problem itself is pretty artificial and the only reason to care about that height is because you saw it in a book.

(In addition, your working is extremely hard to read and is unlikely to be helpful even to someone with the same problem, as it takes a good bit of decoding. It is never enough to just provide a long list of equations that sort of go somewhere; you need to provide some connecting tissue to tell the reader what you're doing.)

Please don't be offended at the 'show some effort' bit. This is an automatic message that needs to cover a wide range of cases. Its purpose is to give users a sense of what's wrong with their question and redirect them to more detailed information - which you did find.

The problem with this is that it is not a conceptual question. Saying that it is about "a height" is not enough - all questions include concepts, but this does not equate to be asking about them. The problem in your question is a routine calculation with no conceptual content. For more information, please read our guidelines carefully. To get a more detailed breakdown of this community's attitudes towards homework(-like) questions, see the Bite-sizing homework thread.

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  • $\begingroup$ I certainly did not want to spoon feed the answer, so I chose to write it in this way, transforming each part of the question into a part of the answer. But when you say that this is not (very) helpful and not as much of an conceptual answer as I thought it was that's good to know and I'm ok with it. $\endgroup$ – Name Apr 28 '15 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know who downvoted this answer, but it is accurate. I looked at the question and it was completely a stating and solving of a homework exercise with a follow up of "Is this correct?". This answer effectively says why those are off-topic for the site. +1 $\endgroup$ – Jim Apr 28 '15 at 14:01

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