An answer of mine was recently deleted because it was decided AFTER my answer was posted and accepted that the question was off topic. I thought putting a question on hold simply prevented any further answers from being posted. By why delete an answer already accepted before the on hold decision was made. I have answered other questions that were subsequently put on hold, but it did not result in deletion of my already posted answer. This is very frustrating.

  • $\begingroup$ For users with <10k rep, can you add a screenshot of your answer? It's difficult for us to judge whether what you wrote was against the homework policy without being able to look at it. I'm sure you know that only some answers to such off-topic questions survive through giving only conceptual suggestions. $\endgroup$
    – user191954
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Chair Never mind. David A added a comment that I did not at first see explaining the reason- my answer was apparently too complete. $\endgroup$
    – Bob D
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ Related meta discussions: physics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/9890 physics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/7166 and probably 50 other relevant ones. $\endgroup$
    – JMac
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 15:33

2 Answers 2


The very last comment by @DavidZ is self-explanatory and absolutely appropriate:

I'm temporarily deleting this in accordance with our homework policy. Please don't post complete answers to the underlying problem in homework-like questions.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Yep. For what it's worth, we (mods) understand that a poster might not have known about the policy, or might not have known that it applied to that question, at the time they posted the answer, so these deletions are generally not formally tracked and there is no punishment for having posted the answer (unless you count the loss of reputation, which in my experience is usually 25 or less). $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ can someone help me understand the criteria one uses to filter out homework questions? I have run afoul of this several times and would prefer avoiding the wrath of the moderators- but this requires that I know how to detect and not answer that type of question. Please note that I am NOT challenging the "no-homework" rule and am happy to comply with it. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 7:46
  • $\begingroup$ @nielsnielsen Hm... especially in light of the comment I posted right before yours, describing it as "wrath" seems like a mischaracterization. (At least that's my opinion, admittedly biased.) $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ @davidz, I was intending to be semi-sarcastic. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 0:29
  • $\begingroup$ @nielsnielsen Ah, sorry I wasn't clear on that. These things often don't come across well in text. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 2:45
  • $\begingroup$ @nielsnielsen Here's the way I look at it: if the question is the kind of thing multiple people could possibly ask, or if there seems to be a possibility that it would show up in a Google search by a confused person, then it's probably on-topic. But nobody really bothers if you get it wrong a couple of times and end up answering a closed question. $\endgroup$
    – user191954
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 6:11
  • $\begingroup$ @nielsnielsen usually the homework & exercises tag is a giveaway. Aside from that, if it looks like someone is just asking for "what to do next" in a calc or "where to start" or something akin to those, it's very likely off-topic. Additionally, if you see downvotes and/or close votes, it's probably off-topic. $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 15:00

Zero's already explained the bulk of it, but it's worth drilling down a bit:

Your answer was removed because it is considered by the community to be harmful to the site.

This is explained in depth in the meta thread that explains the homework policy and which is linked in the closure banner of the question. This is the kind of guidance that we expect experienced users to read before coming to meta with complaints.

The question you answered is absolutely terrible, and its presence (and that of other questions like it) on the site accomplishes two things: to make this site look like a dump of undigested homework questions where lazy students can get others to do their work for them, and then, because of that, to make it much harder for this site to retain expert users who can answer the truly valuable questions.

By giving that user the complete answer that they wanted, you just encouraged them (and any friends that they might talk with) to post similar questions in the future. This is why those answers are routinely removed on sight by the moderators, as stated explicitly in the site policy that's always linked on homework-closed questions.

  • $\begingroup$ I've already acknowledged this. Mea culpa, mea culpa. No need to beat up on me. $\endgroup$
    – Bob D
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ @BobD I don't think this is a "beat up". Keep in mind that these answers are for the benefit of all. Emilio is just giving more context for others who could possibly be looking into a similar issue. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ @AaronStevens Sure felt like one, but, ok, I understand $\endgroup$
    – Bob D
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 20:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Bob What Aaron said, basically. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ @BobD If anything this is a "beat up" against the OP of the question and any others who post similar questions. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 22:42
  • $\begingroup$ @AaronStevens No - there is definitely a component of deterrence against posting answers to harmful questions, which wasn't delineated clearly enough in the existing answer and comments and which OP didn't really seem to have grasped at the time I posted this. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ Emilio, I was just talking about the "beat up" aspect, saying that if one were to take your answer personally, it should be people who post "do my homework" questions. I understand the intent of this answer was for people who attempt to answer questions like these, but I was just talking about whether or not your answer is an attack (which I do not think it is an attack) $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 16:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @AaronStevens It's not an attack. It's just making clear the reasons behind the community consensus against certain types of answers. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 17:05

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