I found a question with one up and one down vote, and a comment that read only "Homework problem?" I had gotten the idea that it would be bad if this were only a homework problem, but after a quick search I can't find any written discussion of this in meta either way.

In Physics SE there are:

for example, and a lot more, and in Astronomy SE there are:

Question: Does this site have anything like a homework policy, de facto or stated? Is there some generally accepted advice to give OPs who post what looks like a homework question?

EDIT: There's just been another question suggested to be a homework question a comment suggesting a Stack Overflow meta answer is "our homework policy." That question was subsequently closed and possibly some close voters were swayed by the statement that that question in some way violated "our policy".

Considering that the nature of Stack Overflow is somewhat different than this site, we may not be able to hold the truth as self-evident that our policy is identical to SO's. Why not propose one specifically for this site? It could be based on SO's since that one seems well though out and measured. Alternatively one could propose to point directly to that as an answer here which could then be voted on.

note: I'm not asking what you think it should be, although that might be an excellent follow-up question for someone else to ask. I'm just curious if there is some general practice or thought on this already, and an extension of that might be if one thinks there needs to be or not.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble I've just asked... $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 12:58
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I guess the answer is no? Really, my opinion is hold all answers to the same standard--if so-called homework problems are able to meet that standard, then so be it. The problem with the question you referenced above is that it didn't show any prior effort to solve the problem. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 18:05
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ My personal policy is that if it looks like a homework problem, I'll answer it differently than if it's another kind of question. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 5:38

2 Answers 2


All right, since no one's jumping in. I'm going to declare by mod fiat. No, we do not have a homework policy. As usual, my mod fiat can be overruled by the community. If this post nets a negative score, then perhaps we do have one, though I would suggest we need a follow-up question to define clearly what it is.

I'll go ahead and repeat my comment here for further info:

I guess the answer is no? Really, my opinion is hold all answers to the same standard--if so-called homework problems are able to meet that standard, then so be it. The problem with the question you referenced above is that it didn't show any prior effort to solve the problem.

Oh, and since you mentioned another question, my opinion is that the problem with that question is that it is unclear what exactly the OP hopes to achieve.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer! I think "same standard" is an excellent top-level guideline. I've link to additional comments below @KimHolder's answer rather than copy them here. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 1:27

The policy that Stack Overflow has adopted is one I quite like, balanced and fair. I had thought it was part of Meta Stack Exchange and thus applied to all daughter sites, but I was mistaken - my bad. The policy is in a community wiki answer that has been worked on by several people. It is a thorough look at the issue, I'll just put a snippet here and recommend reading the whole thing.

  • It is okay to ask about homework. For one, it would be impossible to stop it all even if we wanted to. Stack Overflow exists to help programmers learn and provide a standard repository for programming problems, both simple and complex, and this includes helping students.

  • Providing an answer that doesn't help a student learn is not in the student's own best interest. Therefore you might choose to treat homework questions differently than other questions.

When I mentioned this policy in a recent question, it was largely because the user seemed new to Stack Exchange, and so I thought it would be useful for them to review the issue in general. Also, it is a lot easier to point to a good brief treatment of the matter than try to politely explain it in comments.

This really seems like a matter that needs to be handled on a case by case basis. For someone who responds to comments and seems committed to their question, it could be good for them to look at that policy statement. I think it applies to Space Exploration too, with some minor adjustments.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer! Having some point-at-abe guidelines handy is a good thing, if for no other reason that it promotes the feeling of fairness, and that's why your pointing to some well written and considered guidelines is a very good thing and why "I roped you in" here so to speak. There's one line there that I would modify though; Admit that the question is homework. Trying to hide it will just get the question closed faster. "Admit" sounds a bit accusatory, and "closed faster" implies some prejudgement - sounds like "if you admit your crime, we will close your question less quickly." $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ Besides the feeling of fairness, having some kind of local point-at-abe guidelines is potentially handy if a new user comes along, senses a homework-like question, and spontaneously develops their own policy and writes something like "I'm voting to close this question as it appears to be homework" because they feel that that's what they do on another site. If we had said local point-at-abe guidelines the user might quickly search and find them in meta here. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 1:23
  • $\begingroup$ The thing about developing a homework policy specifically for Space.SE is that there isn't enough interest in doing so. Asking about that has gotten only one vote, and called2voyage's comment that we don't have one and hold all questions to the same standard has 5 votes. So, in our young community the feeling seems to be that we don't need one. $\endgroup$
    – kim holder
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ Except that you are already on record saying that we have one, so... why not make it official? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, but that was a mistake... The comment is still possibly relevant (to the OP) so i've left it for now. $\endgroup$
    – kim holder
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 14:43

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