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On a recent question, there was some discussion in the comments about "homework-like" and "check-my-work". With regard to the latter, the OP pointed out that "check-my-work" is not apparently defined to be off-topic in the sites help. I think that some here would argue, perhaps, that it's a sub-case of "homework-like" and therefore covered. This particular exchange, however, reflects an OP that seemed aware of the site's nominal guidance in help and came to a defensible conclusion that "check-my-work" is within the published guidelines.

Of course in review, "homework-like" and "check-my-work" are two legs of one of the site-specific closure reasons.

(I get that there's multiple discussions of this in meta, but I think it's beyond the usual expectation that a new user would have to search meta to determine the topicality of their question. Usually that's the role of the corresponding section of help.)

So two related questions:

  1. Is it somewhere stated in the help that "check-my-work" questions are explicitly off-topic?
  2. If not, could we add that to help with and addition example?

This was the question (with comments under) that motivated my post here: What are the equations of motion for this simple system?

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    $\begingroup$ True! It should be made more explicit in the help center. $\endgroup$ – user258881 Aug 20 at 16:58
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Yes, it should be.

The site's Help pages do a lot to define the scope of what can and cannot be asked here. New users who take the trouble to go to the on-topic help should expect a reasonably-complete description of the main guidelines.

That said, the Help pages already link directly to the guidelines on meta, and if OP can't be bothered to follow the link then they have a thin case to claim to be surprised by policies they were unaware of. Moreover, the core homework-policy question on meta already includes language explicitly ruling out check-my-work as off-topic:

It's not enough to just show your work and ask where you went wrong. If you just need someone to check your work, you can always seek out a friend, classmate, or teacher. As a rule of thumb, a good conceptual question should be useful even to someone who isn't looking at the problem you happen to be working on. Of course, it's still good to include the text of your problem, just in case (more on that a few paragraphs down).

... but I would argue that this should be clearer. Thus, I would suggest editing point 2 in that list to something like the following:

  1. Ask about the specific concept that gives you trouble

    We expect you to narrow down the problem to the particular concept that's giving you trouble and ask about that specifically. That produces a question that is more relevant to others who might be having the same problem, as well as probably more interesting to answer. As a side effect it shows that you're not just being lazy and trying to get us to do your work for you.

    The best way to produce a focused, specific question is to show your work and your current understanding. Explain what you've been able to figure out so far and how you did it. Showing your work will help us gauge where you are having problems: if it is a technical thing near the end, a short to the point answer will suffice; if it is some fundamental problem with understanding the subject, somebody will then write a longer, more detailed response. It will also prevent people from spending a lot of time going over ground that you have already covered or understand well already.

  2. It is not enough to just show your work

    Questions which only show your attempt at a solution and ask us to check your calculation are also off-topic: it is not enough to just show your work and ask where you went wrong. If you just need someone to check your work, you can always seek out a friend, classmate, or teacher. As a rule of thumb, a good conceptual question should be useful even to someone who isn't looking at the problem you happen to be working on. Of course, it's still good to include the text of your problem, just in case (more on that a few paragraphs down).

  3. Don't just copy the exact problem from your homework assignment or textbook

    In particular, when you are asking for help, writing in imperative mode ("Show that...", "Compute...", or "Prove or find a counterexample: ...") is at the very least impolite: you are, after all, trying to ask a question, not give an assignment. It also turns many people off.

  4. Reference the source

And also, for good measure, it should be included in the Help Center as well:

Physics - Stack Exchange is not a homework help site. If you have a question about a homework problem, or any problem of an educational nature, narrow it down to the specific concept that is giving you trouble and ask about that. You can find more information about acceptable homework questions as well as check-my-work questions on our meta site.

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    $\begingroup$ "you can always seek out a friend, classmate, or teacher" . Always ? 50 years old persons like me, studying physics as hobby, we are not at any class, we have no teachers and no friends with enough knoledgment in quantum physics. Mainly, we have only wiki and stack exchange. $\endgroup$ – pasaba por aqui Sep 6 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @pasaba That language exists already - please address it in its source post or in a new thread. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Sep 7 at 5:04
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I think the links given in the close banner for closing homework like questions and check my work questions give sufficient information.

These links aren't visible in the actual close banner for users who cannot vote to close questions and are not the OP. The first link is accessible through the help center. I'm looking for the second, but the first link still discusses check my work questions.

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    $\begingroup$ The point made by the OP, which I think is right, is that a new user never sees that close banner until their question is closed. The information should be readily available before the question is asked. The help center is the right place for it, I think. $\endgroup$ – Brick Aug 20 at 20:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Brick I feel like if a user is actually inclined to look through the help center, then they will find out how to correctly make homework questions anyway. $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Aug 20 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Brick That information is available in the help center, on the page about what is on topic, which links to the same meta page linked in the banner. $\endgroup$ – Chris Aug 21 at 8:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Chris Yes, sorry if that wasn't made clear in my answer here. $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Aug 21 at 11:26
  • $\begingroup$ @BioPhysicist It's perfectly clear. I must have just misread something earlier ;) $\endgroup$ – Chris Aug 21 at 11:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Chris The help page only explicitly talks about blatant, zero-effort HW questions. It doesn't really explicitly discourage check my work questions, where the OP has at least done some work. I would not be surprised if some new users might not be able to understand the difference, and end up (mis)understanding that check my work questions are allowed on this site. I suggest/request to make the off-topic-ness of check my work questions more explicit. Even adding a line of the sort: [contd.] $\endgroup$ – user258881 Aug 21 at 17:44
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    $\begingroup$ [Contd.] "Check-my-work questions are also off-topic here. Thus, it is not enough to show your work and ask us to find the mistake. To see what should constitute a good HW-like/check-my-work question, see this meta post." $\endgroup$ – user258881 Aug 21 at 17:44

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