I'm confused as to why the question Falling to Earth from orbit was closed as a "homework-like" question. I don't know whether the OP found our advice about asking homework(-like) questions before posting; but if they had, they would have found the following advice:

  • "[N]arrow down the problem to the particular concept that's giving you trouble and ask about that specifically." The OP did that: they realized that the needed to integrate the force with respect to time, but that the force itself depended on the position, and they couldn't see how to address that.

  • "The best way to produce a focused, specific question is to show your work." The OP provided their work up that had led to their point of confusion.

  • "Reference the source". There's no source referenced, but this seems to be a question that occurred to the OP on their own, so this may be moot.

  • "Use the tag." Fair enough, they didn't do that; it was edited in later. I doubt this was the reason for closure, though.

In other words, this seems to fulfill the criteria listed there. I'm not sure that the OP could have asked the question much better than they did (except for the braggy "top-20 university" stuff at the top, but hopefully we can let that slide.)

More broadly speaking, it seems to me that any question that looks the least bit homework-like is quickly closed, even if it asks about conceptual problems and is more than just a PSQ. This doesn't seem to be consistent with our stated policies around such questions, which imply that there is a good way to ask such questions. Have these policies changed? Should our close reason be updated accordingly?

I don't mean to poke the bear here. I'll admit I'm something of a noob around here compared to many users, and that there was plenty of discussion about the homework policy predating my time here. And I'm definitely mindful of the problems that would arise if we let pure PSQs get answered as a matter of course. But at the same time, it is frustrating to see people who come to this site asking interesting, thoughtful questions getting shut down summarily.

  • $\begingroup$ I completely agree Michael. You have given a great answer to the question and I have voted to reopen. $\endgroup$
    – gandalf61
    Jan 4, 2022 at 10:02
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    $\begingroup$ @gandalf61 It is fine to think the question shouldn't be closed. Just keep in mind the potential/presence of great answers should not be a criterion for whether or not a question should be open/closed. $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2022 at 12:25

1 Answer 1


This answer was made for version 2 of the question on the main site, which is what I made my close vote decision on.

I voted to close because it looks like "check my work", and the only question they ask is "Any advice/the answer?" They also tack on "If there's a cool equation using relativity instead of Newtonian mechanics, I would appreciate that as well." So even if it doesn't follow the current close reason, the question is still pretty vague as to what they actually are asking for here.

It also might be a duplicate of the question linked in the comments: The Time That 2 Masses Will Collide Due To Newtonian Gravity

For version 3, in my opinion "Any advice on how to proceed?" is still fairly vague. It still just seems like the OP knows the physics already, and the question is just "help me do this calculation".

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    $\begingroup$ That's fair, although perhaps "needs more detail" or "needs more focus" might have been a better close reason in those cases. (And perhaps that's how you voted, and the system is just displaying the "homework" reason.) As an aside, I always thought that "check-my-work" questions were those that have something resembling a complete derivation, which this one didn't — but perhaps I've been misinterpreting things. $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2022 at 2:49
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    $\begingroup$ For future readers: I took the liberty of rewriting the last two sentences of the question, but the original wording should still be visible in the edit history. $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2022 at 2:53
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelSeifert Thanks for the heads up on the question edit. I have specified that I am referring to the previous version, which is what my vote to close was based on. $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2022 at 3:40
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelSeifert Even with the edit it still seems like the question is just "how do I do this calculation?" It looks like the OP already has all of the physics down. $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2022 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ I would love for this down voting to explain why. Then we can all learn more about site policy $\endgroup$ Jan 5, 2022 at 20:07

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