-2
$\begingroup$

On this question by Kashmiri, here, it was originally posted without the "homework-and-exercises" tag. And if you look at the question itself, nothing about it seems homework-type. Later the question was edited by another user - where the homework-and-exercises (H&AE) tag was added - then the question was closed due to it being a "homework-type" question.

Apart from the fact that the actual question does not appear to be a homework (HW) type question - indeed the OP sets up a hypothetical scenario from which a conceptual question is asked, is it even considered ethical to edit-tag a question as a HW type question, to then close it as a HW type question - to give others impetus to also close it as a HW type when they see the tag?

I don't think people other than the OP should add HW&E tags, especially in cases where it is not really clear if it is HW&E since it may lead to unfair closing, as happened in the case above (OP is adamant the original question is not HW&E). For obvious HW type questions, OK. But not in such cases. What do you think?

$\endgroup$
9
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ Whether or not OP says that the question is homework-and-exercises is irrelevant, since our policy does not actually care if any given question is actual homework or just looks like it, so I'm confused why adding the tag should be restricted. (Of course, people may add the tag in error, but that can happen with every tag, and it's not the tag that causes closure, but people voting to close the question) $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Mar 3 at 9:39
  • $\begingroup$ In this particular case a mistake has been made, and I believe similar mistakes have, and will continue, to happen. I was more hoping for some additional measure to prevent this. The voting process is not going to reopen this unfairly closed question- I’m almost certain of that. $\endgroup$ – joseph h Mar 3 at 10:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I would like to say I don't ask questions that are homework because I don't have any teacher that can give me homework. Furthermore if my question was read properly it would be clear that it was no homework, I wonder why then was it closed. Hopefully such things won't occur in future because it tarnishes this sites appeal. $\endgroup$ – Kashmiri Mar 3 at 10:35
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Kashmiri we have a chat room where you can ask anything, homework or not. The chat room also allows more flexibility since we can have a discussion and not just a single answer. The h bar is the main chatroom though for homework questions please use the Problem Solving Strategies room instead. If you will have to give the JEE you may find the Problem Solving Strategies room very useful. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Mar 3 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ I think it is more likely that homework which is not tagged homework will be closed, since then also people who filter the tag will see it. $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch Mar 3 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ @NorbertSchuch It depends on how many users have that set up $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Mar 3 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ @BioPhysicist Well, I am certainly much more likely to vote to close non-tagged homework, and this would be the same even if I had not blacklisted it. Also, it more likely depends on how many users who don't like to see (bad) homework on this site have set this up. I can certainly say that filtering content which I don't want to see makes the site a better experience. $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch Mar 3 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ If I am allowed to ask, if you don't have a teacher for guidance , are you self studying physics for self interest? @Kashmiri $\endgroup$ – Buraian Mar 4 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Buraian, yes partly for self interest and partly to get admission in some good university and partly so that I can earn a living. $\endgroup$ – Kashmiri Mar 4 at 14:56
8
$\begingroup$

I was the one who edited in the homework and exercises tag. I did so on the grounds this seemed like an exercise i.e. it was just calculating the orbital velocity at the surface of the planet.

I guess it is debatable whether the tag is appropriate, but my view is that if I am in doubt I will edit in the tag then leave it to the other members of the site to decide on closure. Remember that adding the tag does not close the question. It takes close votes from five site members to close the question.

Your question suggests that the site members will cast a knee jerk vote to close when they see the homework and exercises tag. I trust this is not the case. The tag exists only to draw attention to the question, and a vote to close should be cast only after reading the question and deciding whether the close vote is appropriate. In this case the close votes were all cast by experienced members of the site so I believe it unlikely that they voted without reading the question first.

For what it is worth, the first close vote was mine and I stand by that decision. If it's the consensus view that the question be reopened I will respect that decision, but I still consider my close vote justified.

$\endgroup$
6
  • $\begingroup$ I Understand all this, it was your decision at the time. But we all know that the OP was not asking a homework question (forget that the actual question does not at all resemble a HW quest) - there doesn’t seem to be a way to ensure this cannot happen more than we’d like? Well one thing is for sure, I will be more careful with close-votes and hope that a lot of members read this page too. Thanks John. $\endgroup$ – joseph h Mar 3 at 12:11
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "The tag exists only to draw attention to the question" -- Not only, it also removed attention of those who don't like to see homework from the question. $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch Mar 3 at 16:32
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @josephh we all know that the OP was not asking a homework question That is completely irrelevant. $\endgroup$ – G. Smith Mar 3 at 18:28
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @josephh the fact that the OP is not asking the question in the context of a homework does not mean it is not a HW-type question. $\endgroup$ – ZeroTheHero Mar 3 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeroTheHero Yep. My understanding of what truly constitutes a HWT question is changed significantly. But I really am very happy that a lot of our members have joined this discussion. $\endgroup$ – joseph h Mar 3 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ "Your question suggests that the site members will cast a knee jerk vote to close when they see the homework and exercises tag. I trust this is not the case." - this can be tested, at least partially, on SEDE. This query shows recent close reviews of (non-deleted) homework-tagged questions; threads without a ClosedDate (and which are old enough) were not closed. If there is a nontrivial fraction of homework-tagged questions which were knee-jerk closed, they will be linked there and can be searched for manually. (CC @josephh) $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Mar 4 at 11:06
8
$\begingroup$

In the concrete case, it indeed seems to be a conceptional question rather than a typical HW-like question where the HW tag applies.

That said, in general, whether a question is HW-like or on-topic is determinded by the Phys.SE community (partly via close & reopen votes), and its conclusion should in principle be independent of whether the HW&E tag is applied or not.

There seems to be no need to introduce a Phys.SE policy on when specific tags can be added, partly because such policy would complicate day-to-day operations and be difficult to administrate.

$\endgroup$
8
  • $\begingroup$ In this particular case a mistake has been made, and I believe similar mistakes have, and will continue, to happen. I was more hoping for some additional measure to prevent this. The voting process is not going to reopen this unfairly closed question- I’m almost certain of that. $\endgroup$ – joseph h Mar 3 at 10:11
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @josephh Based on how the site works, if the question is voted to be closed by users and is not reopened, then the question was not closed unfairly. You might disagree with the decision, but nothing was done unfairly. $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Mar 3 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ At the end of the day, a question that was not a HWT question was tagged incorrectly as a HWT question, then was closed as a HWT question. These are the facts. I don’t think this is fair at all, but can see how it could happen. This site is very democratic. I am merely pointing out an anomaly, hoping that there could be a remedy, but that is not logistically possible, it appears. $\endgroup$ – joseph h Mar 3 at 12:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @josephh Not all users think it was incorrect. The order of events is fact, but your perception of them is not. $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Mar 3 at 12:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @josephh - to be clear, as one of the close voters, the presence or absence of the HW tag is irrelevant to my vote. Reading the question is. Generally I ignore tags. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Mar 3 at 16:13
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If five members vote that it is homework-like, then it’s homework-like whether you agree or not. When I vote to close as homework-like, the homework-and-exercises tag is irrelevant. $\endgroup$ – G. Smith Mar 3 at 18:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @josephh I disagree with your evaluation: I think it is rightly tagged. The HW tag is not a death sentence, and lots of question not tagged as HW still do get closed. $\endgroup$ – ZeroTheHero Mar 3 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ My understanding of what a HWT question is changed significantly. But I really am very happy that many of our members have joined this discussion. $\endgroup$ – joseph h Mar 3 at 21:03
4
$\begingroup$

I'll start by just making sure we are on the same page. The HW&E tag (which I'll just call the homework tag) and the closure using the "homework-like" reason are

  1. two distinct things, and
  2. not reserved only for questions that were explicitly assigned as homework.

I point this out mainly for the comment of "I would like to say I don't ask questions that are homework because I don't have any teacher that can give me homework."

Onto addressing this post then.

And if you look at the question itself, nothing about it seems homework-type.

Not necessarily... I have worked out problems similar to this before. I would argue the question isn't asking about understanding a physics concept; rather, it is asking how to prove something about a physics concept. In other words, it looks like the OP wants someone to do the work on this for them rather than understand something like "what is the appropriate conditions for a trajectory that is an orbit to be made?". It's borderline, but I wouldn't go as strong as to say there is nothing homework-like at all.

indeed the OP sets up a hypothetical scenario from which a conceptual question is asked

This is debatable. If someone posted a question that was something like, "Let's hypothetically say we have a box sliding on a table with friction. Would it be possible for the box to stay on the table? I'm not asking for any computation, it is just a theoretical query if something can happen.", then the question would probably be closed as well. This is because in order to answer the question you still have to show the work of whether or not the box can stay on the table. The post in question is more involved than my example, but the idea is the same. It's not an explicit call to work out the problem... but really the question is still, "hey can you work this out for me?"

I will note that just saying "This question doesn't call for any computation, it is just a theoretical query if something can happen." doesn't mean the question is now safe from being closed as a homework-like question. The intent of the question does not (or at least should not) play a role in whether or not it should be open or closed. A post should be judged on its own independent of what the OP says, their background, etc.

is it even considered ethical to edit-tag a question as a HW type question, to then close it as a HW type question - to give others impetus to also close it as a HW type when they see the tag?

Yes, that is ethical. It's how the site works. Users (with enough reputation) can edit questions how they see fit, and they can vote to close questions. While many questions with the homework tag get closed, getting the tag does not mean "close this question". Ideally, if users understood the site better before posting questions that deserve the homework tag, then actually none of them would be closed, since it is possible to post a question with this tag that is also on-topic for this site. The tag isn't the reason for the closure, nor is it an explicit signal to other users saying, "hey, close this question".

I don't think people other than the OP should add HW&E tags, especially in cases where it is not really clear if it is HW&E since it may lead to unfair closing, as happened in the case above (OP is adamant the original question is not HW&E). For obvious HW type questions, OK. But not in such cases. What do you think?

Something that is unclear to one user may be clear to another. I'm not sure how one would implement a system that lets you change tags only when it is "obvious enough". A hard "other users cannot add the homework tag" is a horrible idea, as it prevents the proper classification of questions in the case where the OP has not (or will not) properly classified it.

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ I’m really happy that a few people have contributed to this discussion! This is the best way to find solutions. $\endgroup$ – joseph h Mar 3 at 12:30
2
$\begingroup$

I don't really have a direct answer to the question, but I'd like to add some thoughts on the working of the site. So, the ability to close vote is a privilege awarded at 3k rep and these are the only people who can call judgement to close vote or not.

Now, to reach 3k rep, you must have given quite a lot of valuable contributions with some being superior than to equivalent contributions by other members of the site (that is if you want to reach it in <300 questions and answers).

I think this system does make sense that the people who have contributed the most are the people who can decide the fate of questions posted on the site. However, it is also bothersome as I see some members becoming a bit more negative over questions over the years. As in, the ideals of what they find acceptable fluctuates as time passes.

As per the homework tag, I think homework and exercises usually means that the question sounds more like a homework to the person who is trying to help than if the question is actually homework or not. In the sense that, there are questions which will force the answerer to think a bit outside what they usually do vs run through some routine procedures. While I personally don't think closing questions such as Kashmiri asked is a good idea, I understand why a close vote would be put by someone who has answered over hundreds of questions.

Hope my opinion laid some insight on the matter.

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ "However, it is also bothersome as I see some members becoming a bit more negative over questions over the years. As in, the ideals of what they find acceptable fluctuates as time passes." Is it the user becoming "more negative", or is it the user just being more familiar with the site policies? $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Mar 4 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ @BioPhysicist Site policies I think are subject to change and really reliant on what the average 'active' user thinks on this site (having some reasonable rep or so). I think there are points when people just get 'tired' of seeing something again and again $\endgroup$ – Buraian Mar 4 at 15:39

You must log in to answer this question.

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