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The first two sentences of the Homework close reason are:

Homework-like questions and check-my-work questions are considered off-topic here, particularly when asking about specific computations instead of underlying physics concepts. Homework questions can be on-topic when they are useful to a broader audience.

If I remove a few grammatically non-essential phrases it reduces to

Homework-like questions are off-topic here. Homework questions can be on-topic.

This is self-contradicting and confusing. The problem is really in the first sentence, because everything including and after "particularly" is not a modifier of the stuff before "particularly", so the first sentence says that homework questions are off topic. That being the case, the second sentence contradicts the first by reformulating the boundaries. The first sentence should probably say "...usually off topic" or "...often off topic".

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    $\begingroup$ So what is your question here? Are you asking someone to explain more? Are you asking for a rewording to be established? etc. $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Aug 28 at 15:16
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    $\begingroup$ Hi @BioPhysicist. Are you familiar with the long history and wealth of meta questions and chat discussions surrounding this topic? $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Aug 28 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ I think so? But I am just asking about your post here. It is not clear what you are expecting from this, what answers you want, etc. $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Aug 28 at 15:19
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    $\begingroup$ How did the specifying clause "when they are useful to a broader audience" get deemed grammatically non-essential? If it's only a strict grammar test, then I suppose it could be "Homework questions that are useful to a broader audience can be on-topic" since the clarifying phrase with "that" can't be severed... $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Aug 28 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ Even in your reduced version, I think it is clear that the reason is trying to establish that "Homework-like questions" (as discussed in the linked meta posts) are not the same as "homework questions", i.e. those that arise as homework. You might think it does so badly, or that the distinction is not one you want to make, but I don't think it is ridiculous without further elaboration. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Aug 28 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ @tpg2114 The problem is really in the first sentence, because everything including and after "particularly" is not a modifier of the stuff before "particularly". So the first sentence says flat out that homework questions are off topic. That being the case, the second sentence contradicts it by reformulating the boundaries. The first sentence should probably say "...usually off topic" or "...often off topic". $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Aug 28 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ @ACuriousMind I had not appreciated the distinction between "homework-like" and "homework". Perhaps, as I've been on this site for a long, long time, we can imagine that this distinction is also confusing to new users. $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Aug 28 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ For reference, this is where this particular wording was introduced $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Aug 28 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ @BioPhysicist As a normal users, suggesting changes to the homework policy is demonstrably useless on this site. I've tried. Others have tried. It was a waste of time. I made this post simply to bring the self-contradiction to the attention of those who might actually have the ability to make a change. $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Aug 28 at 15:24
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    $\begingroup$ @DanielSank Okay -- well, your comment should probably be edited into the question because it makes it clear what your objection is and offers a potentially actionable remedy. I can kind of see the point I guess, but "considered" to me provides the wiggle room to allow some (by considering them, given the requirements of the second sentence), which makes it not grammatically useless/severable. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Aug 28 at 15:24
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    $\begingroup$ @tpg2114 done. Thanks for the comments. $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Aug 28 at 15:25
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    $\begingroup$ That should be clear in your post then so people can actually make answers. $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Aug 28 at 15:31
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These are more like comments than answers, but I expect they'll raise replies and discussion, so I'm putting them in an answer to make the comment replies more manageable.

  • The current close reason was developed using community input over the course of about a month, last October.

  • The 500-character limit is tough, especially if we want to have two separate links to the homework-like and check-my-work FAQ pages. In fact, I vaguely remember that the verbiage in the top-voted answer, claimed at 448/500 characters, actually came in slightly over the limit because the answer editor moved the links from the blockquoted text to the endnotes. My memory is of rather frantically trying to come up with a appropriately trivial edit to bring the text under the limit, because the feedback I got from the site suggested that no one could cast homework-like close votes while I was editing.

  • I think that if the first sentence were changed from "are considered off-topic" to "are usually considered off-topic," the message would be at exactly 500 characters.

  • Shortly after our community changed the homework-like close reason, Stack Exchange made a network-wide change to the way those banners are displayed, which changed who sees the close banner and under what circumstances. This probably would have changed our discussion if we had known about it, but there didn't seem to be strong community interest in having another discussion so soon.

  • I didn't realize this until I started looking at the close reasons just now, but the new structure allows us to specify close-reason guidance in five distinct contexts. Below is the guidance in the close-reason editor.

    1. Close dialog option: Brief description. "Briefly describe why this question is being closed" (< 100 characters).
    2. Close dialog option: Usage guidance. "Give the user guidance as to when they should select this option" (< 500 characters). I think this is what close voters would see when they choose "close for a site-specific reason."
    3. Post notice: Close description. "When a post is close with a single community-specific close reason, this will [sic] message will be displayed publicly above any private guidance." (< 500 characters)
    4. Post notice: Post owner guidance. "Provide meaningful actions a user can take to either get their question reopened or have a more favorable outcome in the future." (< 500 characters)
    5. Post notice: Privileged user guidance. "Provide guidance for users with the reopen privilege so they can constructively engage the post owner and reopen the question if appropriate." (< 500 characters)

    To see how these actually for a custom reason, there are some screenshots in this non-question.

    If there is community support for clarifying the way we handle homework-like questions, we could take the opportunity to use the new structure to our advantage.

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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, the biggest annoyance for me when SE changed who could view the close banner right after we changed the homework close banner was that the clause talking about deleting answers to homework problems became somewhat pointless. Taking that part out would definitely give more words to be clearer on other aspects though. $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Aug 28 at 17:31
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    $\begingroup$ you can always use “are usually deemed off-topic” to save a few characters. $\endgroup$ – ZeroTheHero Aug 29 at 14:58
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    $\begingroup$ Or just "are usually off-topic". $\endgroup$ – Michael Seifert Sep 4 at 11:35

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