For example:

In the book ABC there is the derivation of SOMETHING as follows:


I think argument XY is wrong, do you agree?

If this kind of question is okay, would you mention the title of the book in the question title?


2 Answers 2


It depends. Generally speaking, yes, you can ask about what you think is an error in a book (or paper), but make sure you're asking an actual answerable question, rather than just looking for people to agree with you. The way you phrased the quote in your question, it falls under a couple of the prohibitions in our FAQ. In fact, as a rule guideline, any question that ends with "do you agree?" is probably not a good fit for this site.

If you phrase it more like this, however:

Book ABC contains this derivation of XXXXX:


This doesn't seem to be correct because XXXXX. Is there an error in the book? If so, what is it?

then it should be fine. In particular, make sure you ask something more substantial than just whether you are right in identifying the error or not. If you know that the proof is wrong but can't identify why, you could ask what the error is, as I did in this example; or if you know what the error is, you could ask for a proof that doesn't exhibit the error. Or something like that.

And yes, if you're asking about a particular argument in a particular book (or paper), you should definitely give a specific reference somewhere in the question. Exactly which details you need to include depend on the reference, but usually it'll be something like the title, author(s), publication date, edition, and page number - basically enough information for someone else to look up the exact passage you're talking about if they need to. Those details don't necessarily need to be in the title of the question, though.


While I think that such questions are probably OK (modulo the kinds of changes to the text that David suggests) when there is an error, I hate to have a bunch of them cluttering up the site when the argument was correct.

I'd suggest

  1. Searching the internet for errata
  2. asking in chat

before you commit yourself.

When you are going to post I think that the title and version of the books are necessary, but that you should carefully transcribe the argument into the text of the question (including referenced equations from earlier in the book) so that it is not necessary for user to find the actual book before they can help you.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ +1 Good points. (Interesting that without this parenthetical addition, the comment would be exactly the minimum length) $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Jun 27, 2011 at 22:15

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