8
$\begingroup$

After an extended debate that lasted several years, our community seems to have settled into a pretty consistent treatment of homework-like questions. When such a question is closed, a banner appears under the question which currently says,

Homework-like questions should ask about a specific physics concept and show some effort to work through the problem. We want our questions to be useful to the broader community, and to future users. See our meta site for more guidance on how to edit your question to make it better.

However, this guidance is frequently misleading to new users, because it suggests that editing a non-conceptual question to show some minimal mathematical effort might make it on-topic. The community has been quite clear that check-my-work questions are not on topic, but some new users who attempt to follow our guidance don't seem to understand this.

The purpose of this Meta discussion is emphatically not to propose any change to the way that we process homework and homework-like questions, but to propose changing the close reason to better document what our community actually does for the benefit of outsiders and newcomers.

I suggest that "answers" to this question contain alternative messages to include in the banner for closed homework-like questions, to be voted up or down based on their suitability. (Please avoid suggestions that exceed the 500-character maximum length.)

Let's plan on coming to a consensus this month, and making any changes around the beginning of November.

$\endgroup$
8
$\begingroup$

This is based on a canned comment frequently posted by ACuriousMind, but with an additional sentence to remind readers that answering homework-like questions may also be a poor use of everyone's time.

Please note that homework-like questions and check-my-work questions are generally considered off-topic here. We intend our questions to be potentially useful to a broader set of users than just the one asking, and prefer conceptual questions over those just asking for a specific computation. Likewise, complete but non-conceptual answers to homework-like questions may be removed.

(character count: 482/500)

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I might suggest removing "complete but," since we also remove nearly complete answers, and it detracts from the main point that both questions and answers should be about the concepts. $\endgroup$ – Chris Oct 8 at 23:13
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I am not sure that the last sentence is warranted for the close banner, considering it'd be posted on a question instead of an answer. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Oct 8 at 23:38
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think it is a problem that the first link takes the new member to a page that states “As a general rule, we do not discourage homework questions.” $\endgroup$ – G. Smith Oct 9 at 0:36
  • $\begingroup$ @G.Smith The link qualifies that statement though, and it's true. The community only discourages posting homework problems that are not conceptual and are really just looking for a solution or work to be checked. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Stevens Oct 9 at 4:37
  • $\begingroup$ I propose that we define a “homework-like” problem as one that asks to calculate or derive a specific quantity, expression, or equation at the level of a high-school, undergraduate, or graduate course, and make all such questions completely off-topic. Then explain that conceptual questions are fine, even if they were assigned as homework. However, such a change goes well beyond the close message. $\endgroup$ – G. Smith Oct 9 at 4:48
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @G.Smith we've had numerous discussions on the policy itself, and such a proposal probably has been made. It's also explicitly out of scope of the current question $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Oct 9 at 10:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos As one of the frequent deleters of answers to homework-like questions, I'd like the statement about the likely fate of homework-like answers to be spread around more outside the confines of meta discussions and comments on deleted posts. But if you propose an alternate wording, I'll make a trivial edit here so that folks can change their votes on this one. $\endgroup$ – rob Oct 9 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ I'd pick on the last sentence to say that even conceptual answers to homework questions would also be removed if they are complete (in the sense of answering the underlying question). Otherwise people might think that the fact that an answer doesn't include any math or numerical values is justification that it shouldn't be deleted, and that's not the case. $\endgroup$ – David Z 14 hours ago
-2
$\begingroup$

My time machine took me back 6 years and found this alternate wording (updated to include the same check-my-work link and slightly changed to fit character limits):

Homework-like questions should ask about a specific physics concept and show some effort to understand the problem. The question must be about understanding the concept; questions that just ask us to check your work are off topic. We want our questions to be useful to the broader community, and to future users. See our meta site for more guidance on how to improve your question.

(Character count: 480/500)

This is an alternate wording that communicates similar messages. It is almost a hybrid of the existing close message and one of the proposed new close reasons.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I think the issue with this one is that it still has the "show some effort" part, which it seems like one of the things your post is considering removing. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Stevens Oct 9 at 4:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Sure, I agree with that. I prefer rob's also. But, I think it is good to have another option to consider that has already had some discussion just in case somebody really likes the original message and wants something closer to it. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Oct 9 at 13:59
-3
$\begingroup$

If you think that everything is fine how it is now, and we shouldn't change the wording of the close banner that appears under closed homework-like questions, you might upvote this answer to record that sentiment.

$\endgroup$

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .