I asked a question: Formula to calculate round-trip travel time based on current distance to far-away galaxy.

In my opinion, it was very well and clearly defined and answerable. In fact, it received an upvote before being closed.

It was closed for being a homework-like question.

What really got to me was that it was closed with no comments and no answers.

I understand that it would be a waste of time for there to be answers to infinite variations of the same question.

E.g., a mass of _ and an acceleration of _. What is the force?

Often, my pattern will be that someone will give me an answer/comment that will lead to me to find the right answer and then I can post it as answer and accept it.

Closing questions for being homework-like leaves no room for someone to answer their own question if they find the answer based on a comment.

This part of the homework-like policy stuck out to me though:

Homework questions can be on-topic when they are useful to a broader audience.

To me, my question seemed like it was relevant to broader audience. I did some searching and was unable to find something similar that had been answered.

For example, I searched this and there was not anything remotely accessible to me on the first page of results.

For someone who is it at a lower level of physics such as myself, such a question being answered would (in my opinion) be a blessing.

Do we too easily close homework-like questions? Could we more welcoming to new users and those with lower physics levels?

  • $\begingroup$ BTW, this question was not actually homework. It was actually inspired by this question: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/588745/… $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 17:39
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    $\begingroup$ Just a comment to say that I closed that question unilaterally, and if the community consensus winds up being to reopen, that's useful for me to know about. I think it's absolutely an interesting question, and there's probably a way to edit it so that it fits with our conceptual-first guidance. But in its current form (v3) the question seems to be "what is the formula for this neat thing," and questions of that form usually get closed here. $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ Another question is would this be more relevant on the space exploration stack exchange. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 18:52
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    $\begingroup$ If you want to ask it on another site, that's fine. (It's polite to be up-front that it's a cross-posted question, with links to its other iterations.) My experience of Space Exploration is that they are more about the nuts and bolts of getting around within the solar system. Your question invites questions about cosmology, because many galaxies lie outside of our "communication horizon": we can see them, but the accelerating expansion of the universe means we can no longer send new messages to them. See e.g. here. $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ @ZeroTheHero, I changed it back. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ @trinalbadger587 Physics is not about "knowing the formula" to answer specific questions like this one. (But I admit, if you are just starting to learn physics and working through endless questions about projectile motion using the SUVAT equations, you might reach a different conclusion.) Often, "wanting to know a formula for everything" is a sign of a poor student, not a good one. $\endgroup$
    – alephzero
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 11:12

1 Answer 1


I would have closed this particular question as too broad, but it has elements of HW and opinion-based. You're asking for someone to give you a specific model of the universe and do this calculation for you. It's not clear what concept(s) confuse you, and it reads straight up like you want someone to do this work for you given concepts you seem to already understand (HW-like). Beyond that, it's not clear how or why any specific model should be chosen (opinion-based to some degree), and the amount of work that would be required to answer this questions, depending on the model, might be quite large (too broad).

When I read it the first time, I did think it was interesting, but being interesting and being on topic here are not the same thing.

  • $\begingroup$ As I said in a comment on this meta, this was originally asked based on another open question with 5 upvotes. My question asked for a general formula that could solve that one among many others. physics.stackexchange.com/questions/588745/… $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ The other question probably should be closed too. I'm not sure what your point is regarding the other question. Votes on a question are not indicative of whether it's on topic or not. The other question doesn't have any valid answers - probably in part for the same reasons that I've listed. Even if we accept the other question as on topic, it seems at best you're arguing that yours is a duplicate. @trinalbadger587 $\endgroup$
    – Brick
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ That question wasn't closed though. I think there is a difference between noone knowing how to/bothering to answer a question and it being closed as being off-topic. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 18:27
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    $\begingroup$ The question wasn't closed yet. It only had 175 views in 9 months, and the comments indicate that multiple close votes were cast. My guess is that now that you've draw attention to it, it will be closed. We'll see. @trinalbadger587 $\endgroup$
    – Brick
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ bad idea to ask for a formula… Lots of assignment questions are just “apply this formula” so as pitched the question looks like homework. Why not ask for the conceptual basis to compute such a distance, given a fixed set of assumptions? Plus: physics isn’t about formulas, but about models… $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Brick by my reading it’s been closed for 19hrs… $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ @ZeroTheHero The 9 month number referred to the time that earlier question that the OP keeps using a precedent has been posted, not to his own, recent post on the main site. $\endgroup$
    – Brick
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Brick I don’t follow. Indeed the question by OP was posted yesterday and (rightly IMO) promptly closed. ‘doesn’t matter much I suppose but I see not link to a 9-month-old question… $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ The old question is in the comments - first under my answer and also under the meta question. OP keeps mentioning that the new question is inspired by the old question and asking why the old one is open by the new one was closed. @ZeroTheHero Explicitly the old question is this one: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/588745/… $\endgroup$
    – Brick
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Brick right I see now. Thanks. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 20:20

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