UPDATE: This is a historical discussion. Here is the adopted homework questions policy.

We don't have this problem yet, but given time I'm sure that we will. Do we want to allow homework questions on our site? If so, do we want to enforce specific policies on them?

Physics.SE has a specific policy that allows homework questions under certain circumstances and requires they be appropriately tagged as homework.

Is this a model we would be interested in following, or would we prefer a blanket ban on homework, or something else? Again, this isn't a current problem, but I'd like to start discussing our policy so we can eventually include it in our help center "what to post" and "what not to post" page.

  • $\begingroup$ Given the number of folk who agree about using the Physics.SE one, is there anything to stop us copy/pasting it here as a community wiki and then getting to work modifying it to suit? (at the very least, different examples will be needed). Any copyright issue? Would it be polite for one of our mods to ask somebody over there first? $\endgroup$ – Semidiurnal Simon May 5 '14 at 7:38
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    $\begingroup$ @SimonW Copying a policy document from another SE site sounds perfectly appropriate. See my more-detailed response under Can I copy a tag wiki from another SE site? $\endgroup$ – Robert Cartaino Sep 9 '14 at 16:28

I think we should allow Homework questions as long as:

  1. There is clear attempt at a solution beforehand by the asker.
  2. Answers are given in a responsible way (IE showing instead of doing).

Both are harder in practice.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree with this and it seems the Physics.SE model is a good one we could adopt. $\endgroup$ – casey Apr 24 '14 at 15:25

I suggest adopting the physics.SE policy on homework as it is written, and not attempt to revise or relax it for earth science. They have expended a lot of effort on it. It is not a blanket ban on homework questions, but it discourages them.

  • $\begingroup$ Having just had a look at the Physics policy, I have to agree. I also think that most of it comes naturally out of discouraging questions that are too specific, or questions that show little evidence of research effort. $\endgroup$ – Semidiurnal Simon May 4 '14 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe we should just copy the policy into this answer now? $\endgroup$ – naught101 May 5 '14 at 3:23

A blanket ban on homework wouldn't be appropriate, unless we use a very specific and narrow definition of the word "homework" and make such a definition clear to all users. I think that homework questions that are suitable for SE in every other way should not be off-topic merely because they are homework questions. Most typical homework questions will not be suitable for SE already, without an additional no homework policy, but some homework questions that are well thought out and tackle specific misconceptions should be on-topic. I think the top answer on physics.SE is a good reference for our site also.


Physics appears to have a very good policy toward homework questions (linked in the question). I suggest that we adopt it, or something close to it.


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