Sometimes there are questions in one's mind which he needs answering but those are just confusion in his own mind not any homework question or any question he read in a book. But to explain the question better that person uses diagrams and examples, and all of the community declares it a homework question.

I suggest there should be a simple rule to decide if that question is acceptable or not.

  1. If the questions gives a problem to the community and asks others to solve it for him it is unacceptable and considered as homework.
  2. If the question asks explanation of the underlying physics in a case and the user makes an effort by himself to understand it is considered a "physics problem" not a "homework question".


  1. Velocity of satellites greater than required velocity
    This question discusses a case in which velocity of satellites gets greater than required velocity and asks what happens and why?
    This question is definitely not a homework question.
  2. A problem of thermodynamics
    The text of the question goes like this:

    A rigid tank contains a hot fluid that is cooled while being stirred by a paddle wheel. Initially the internal energy of the fluid is 800KJ, during the cooling process, the >fluid loses 500KJ of heat, and the paddle wheel does 100KJ of work on the fluid: >determine the final internal energy of the fluid, neglect the energy stored in the paddle >wheel Can you help me solve this?

    In this question the user asks a physics problem from book or somewhere else and expects an answer which is worked solution and calculation.
    It is clearly a homework question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ We already have a pretty clear boundary, if a question is clearly asking for conceptual help, it is not homework. The name "homework" is misleading, though. Also, the policy explains how closed questions can be improved to be conceptual -- closing is not the end of the line for a question, just a pit stop. $\endgroup$ Sep 25, 2014 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ I have read the policy before posting this. Does the meta discussion ever change policy? $\endgroup$
    – Suchal
    Sep 25, 2014 at 13:43
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, it does, but this is a policy that has had months of debate and improvements put into it, so there's very little chance of it changing without much more discussion to back the change. (Other meta threads like the one Jim linked to are doing this now) $\endgroup$ Sep 25, 2014 at 16:43

2 Answers 2


The tag really just signifies that the question is useful for studying the basics of physics either through solving problems and exercises, examining derivations, or understanding the concepts behind a solution. It does not mean something that necessarily is homework, just examples or problems that are useful for supplementing what one learns in a classroom, which includes questions from someone learning physics in their spare time; homework-like questions. We realize how misleading the name of the tag is; the featured post on meta right now is actually discussing changing the name of the tag to avoid the confusion.

As for deciding if a question is acceptable, the homework policy lays it out very clearly. Now, that doesn't mean we don't ever change our minds if we think it doesn't work as well as it could. The homework policy is probably the most re-examined, re-evaluated, and even re-written policy on this site. One of our recently featured meta threads was specifically about defining the homework policy in small chunks and allowing everyone to vote on what it should be.


We already have this rule in place, or something very much like it. It's encapsulated in our homework policy and the close reason used on unacceptable homework-like questions. So as far as I can tell, it's a good idea but it's not anything new.


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