The purpose of the tag
Let me begin by explaining what I see as the primary value of the
Let us imagine that we were in an ideal world where OP's always read the help, and the tag wiki and used the tag as we would wish. Then:
When first answering a question, the tag acts a signal to answerers that the question is actually asking "Can you offer me guidance on how to approach a problem like this" -- so the correct answer is one that helps guide OP's to answering such questions themselves.
However, this is not really the purpose of a tag; that aspect could be handled instead by asking OP's to signal at the start of their question is of this kind.
The purpose of a tag is for later readers, searching for particular classes of answer. In this case the tag serves the next honest OP who also has a self-study question and wants to get hints, not complete answers.
By adding the
self-study tag to a search, they should not see any complete answers in their search, even if they exist on site. This means that the honest student gets what they want, assistance, without missing out on the value of solving their own problem.
That is*, I think self-study posts should generally avoid giving fully-complete answers (except perhaps where posted by the OP) -- the answers serve best that give clear, solid guidance on how to approach them.
* (and my thoughts on this have progressed from when I first started answering them, as I came to understand the purpose of tags better)
The ongoing value of a self-study question
This way, self-study questions have ongoing value beyond the immediate question, and are able to serve a series of more-or-less puzzled students.
It also suggests that stronger hints should appear later in the answer (so that a reader need only read as far as required to get over their hurdle)
Indeed, if you wish, you can add spoiler markup (start each line with
>!) so that
readers must mouse over
to see the strongest hints
[If we do answer self-study questions fully we'll eventually end up with a repository of complete, detailed answers to almost any reasonable question that might be set for a statistics student. We'd have questions set by experts (mostly) and solved by experts (mostly), without any of the practice passing through the minds of the students the work was intended to benefit.
Imagine the state of music performance of students who -- instead of actually practicing playing -- could send in videos of someone else performing the pieces they were supposed to learn!]
self-studyeither but I doubt the term is the main issue). The tension is between a general goal of wanting to help those able and willing to help themselves and specific goals of (a) not wanting to support the idle and clueless (arguably in their own best interests too) (b) not wanting a forum to be swamped by elementary or trivial questions (c) not wanting to collude in or condone, however unwittingly, plagiarism or collusion, which are offences (NB) in any respectable university or equivalent. $\endgroup$