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I have very recently started participating in SE, and I have (embarrassingly) answered some the HW questions. After seeing some the meta posts of the more experienced users and mods, I now feel pretty bad about answering HW questions (Sorry!!). I have never posted any HW questions either.

So my question is who is the worst offender, the asker or the answerer? I am assuming it's the answerer because they are presumably more experienced and should know better than to do it.

PS I have stopped answering HW questions.

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    $\begingroup$ It's not really important who the "worst offender" is. Don't worry yourself too much about it, what matters is that you stopped :) $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Mar 5 '14 at 9:22
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the reply! I guess your right it does not matter who is worse, as long as it is minimized. $\endgroup$ – jerk_dadt Mar 5 '14 at 9:31
  • $\begingroup$ What is "HW"? Computer hardware only? Or does it also e.g. cover seismographs? $\endgroup$ – Peter Mortensen Mar 28 '18 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ @PeterMortensen HW= Homework I think. $\endgroup$ – Shing Mar 28 '18 at 20:35
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There is no objective way of answering that, and I see little point in apportioning, and much less measuring, blame over homework questions. You shouldn't really be seeing either as 'offenders', and they cannot be compared to each other.

That said, answering homework questions does indeed actively do damage to the level of the site. Every homework question that a new user gets answered encourages them to post another one; every homework question that a new user sees with an answer encourages them to sign up and post their own.

I can understand the impulse to answer, but it is important that off-topic questions remain operationally off-topic, and that means that they not get answered in the few hours before they get closed.

So: don't feel you're "worse" than homework askers - just stop answering.

Finally, this is a perfectly fine question to bring up on meta. This part of the site is for discussing the site itself and for clarifying any questions you have about it and the community. Another viable venue is the chat room, but for a question like this, where a more permanent record is helpful to more people, meta is the recommended choice.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for the thoughtful reply. I have definitely stopped answering HW questions. It is fun answering them, but not worth the damage to the OP, future users, and SE's objective/mission. Onward and upward! $\endgroup$ – jerk_dadt Mar 5 '14 at 21:22
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Both are bad, the answerers are probably worse. But it's not always completely clear where to draw the line, to me at least, where homework ends where "proper" questions start. (I'm not quite sure if that your question here is a real question suited for the meta board either.)

It's good if you feel bad for a while as it will prevent you from doing it again.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. Where should I have posted this question? $\endgroup$ – jerk_dadt Mar 5 '14 at 9:25
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    $\begingroup$ @jerk_dadt: The point is that I don't think that the information to "who is the worst offender" has any practical value, not even for yourself. It's like you go on a cooking forum and ask if a tomato scauce tastes worse with mustard of with coffee - you already know that you don't want to try either. Apart from the main board there is a the chat, that might be a place, but there isn't too much trafic (on the physics board at last, on the math board there is slighly more talk). / Why the downvote? Because I've said he feeling bad will prevent him form doing it again? That's just science, yo. $\endgroup$ – Nikolaj-K Mar 5 '14 at 9:31
  • $\begingroup$ ah ok. Yea I guess it is a bit silly, I just felt really bad, and wanted some opinions on if my feeling is justified or not. Apparently all that matters is that I stop. Stop dwelling on the past. $\endgroup$ – jerk_dadt Mar 5 '14 at 9:34
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    $\begingroup$ @jerk_dadt: I'm also not sure to what extend you should answer a question if you just have a feeling for what's right and don't know for sure. There are some conflicting interests among the users on what SE should be about and what the level of questions and answers should be. $\endgroup$ – Nikolaj-K Mar 5 '14 at 9:47
  • $\begingroup$ I mean you have answered my question. It was just whose the worst offender in the eyes of SE. You answered that. PS I did not down vote you. $\endgroup$ – jerk_dadt Mar 5 '14 at 9:54
  • $\begingroup$ @jerk_dadt: yeah, I know. $\endgroup$ – Nikolaj-K Mar 5 '14 at 10:00
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    $\begingroup$ This question was definitely a good one to ask here on meta. cc @jerk_dadt $\endgroup$ – David Z Mar 5 '14 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZ: 0kay, good to know. $\endgroup$ – Nikolaj-K Mar 5 '14 at 18:33

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