I want to start this meta question as place where people can put links to well asked homework-like questions.

The point is that if not so good questions are asked then we will have a meta question to point people to - so they can go and see well asked questions. Qmechanic, Jim and others are very good at highlighting well asked questions, but I found it hard to search for them - so I thought we could add links here...

Kyle provided a useful link to homework and excercise questions that have been voted up the most on Physics SE.

The answers below have links to well asked homework and exercise questions.

NB: Only one link per answer please!

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    $\begingroup$ Wow, I can't believe I was listed with Qmechanic. What an honour. $\endgroup$ – Jim Jan 14 '15 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ Why one link per answer? $\endgroup$ – JamalS Jan 14 '15 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ @JamalS one link per answer means that people can check the link and vote on the answer... in reality we vote on how well asked the linked homework type question is - in that way the top answers will have the very best examples of how to ask homework questions so that they will be at the top of the list of answers and anyone looking at this metaquestion will find the best questions first from the top answers. - Does that make sense? $\endgroup$ – tom Jan 14 '15 at 19:47
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    $\begingroup$ This seems like a duplication of effort - granted it's not exactly the same, but searching for questions tagged homework and sorting by votes will more or less trace the same thing that this meta question does... $\endgroup$ – Kyle Oman Jan 14 '15 at 21:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Kyle - good point I had not thought of that, I guessed this would be a good place to be able to point people to to give good examples - $\endgroup$ – tom Jan 14 '15 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ You could also just link this $\endgroup$ – Kyle Oman Jan 14 '15 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Kyle - thanks - I will put the link in the question - thanks for posting it as a comment - I did not know it was possible to have a link $\endgroup$ – tom Jan 15 '15 at 19:34

Here is a good example of a well asked question about mechanics.

It is good because of the work that the OP has put into the question and it is very clear exactly what is being asked and how far the OP has got working through it.

  • $\begingroup$ I think the key criterion should be how useful the answers are to other people. If the question is very specific then no matter how well presented it is the answers are likely to be of interest only to the person asking the question. That makes it a poor use of site resources. In this case I think there is an important principle involved, and the answers (particularly jinawee's answer) will be useful to lots of people. So I agree with your conclusion, though not with the argument you used to reach it. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Jan 15 '15 at 7:35
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    $\begingroup$ I would regard this as not being a homework question. It quotes a worked example as motivation, but then asks an original conceptual question. $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Jan 15 '15 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Nathaniel That's really what the best homework questions do. They use exercises as a basis and ask conceptual questions around them to supplement learning and understanding of the concepts $\endgroup$ – Jim Jan 15 '15 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Jim understood. But back when I proposed banning homework questions, my position was that the good homework questions are precisely the ones that are arguably not homework questions at all. So why not just close all the others and (eventually) get rid of the tag entirely? (The proposal was popular and I'd support it if anyone wanted to pick it up, but I'm not pushing for it any more myself.) $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Jan 18 '15 at 3:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Nathaniel Because homework-like questions are still okay and we actually do allow a not insignificant number of them. They can be used to study physics further than what simply solving the problem provides. It's a tough issue to paint with a broad brush. As such, homework can't just be eliminated; it has to be tackled on a case-by-case basis. And that is where the problem lies. Doing it this way leaves more room for human error. So, while necessary, the increased number of mistakes leads to misunderstandings and injustices. But we can't get rid of it because some HW questions are useful $\endgroup$ – Jim Jan 20 '15 at 14:57

The question Why is friction force negative in ice skater problem? is awesome. It gives the problem, what the OP did to solve it, and then it asks a conceptual question about something that didn't make sense to the OP. They got the answer correctly and the question shows a clear desire to learn more about the actual physics. This is the ideal we all look for.

  • $\begingroup$ great contribution Jimself! $\endgroup$ – tom Jul 23 '15 at 23:14

I am not normally considered a member of the homework question supporter's club, but I did decide to answer Problem regarding Archimedes Principle, or at least provide a partial answer.

I think it's good that the Physics SE has an educational role. This doesn't mean answering all homework questions, but every now and then I see a question that I think many aspiring young physicists would benefit from. In this case the question was about a thinly disguised simple harmonic oscillator. Every physics student is going to encounter a dozen questions about thinly disguised SHOs, and it's important they know how to recognise and approach them. In principle the same may happen during a research career, though I must admit I can't remember ever having to model one of the systems I studied as an SHO.

The question is now closed, and I'm not complaining about that since it's blatantly homework. It also doesn't have a terribly helpful title so I doubt many aspiring young physicists will ever read it, let alone take away valuable lessons about simple harmonic oscillators. Nevertheless this is the sort of question where an answer can be helpful to many people, and I don't regret the time taken to answer it.

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    $\begingroup$ Given that it was closed under the off-topic homework reason and given that you don't disagree with that judgement, how is it that you can stand by this as a well asked homework-like question? There seems to be a contradiction here. Or at least a paradoxical situation $\endgroup$ – Jim Jan 15 '15 at 15:03

This is a well asked question about mechanics and forces see determining-straining-force-and-reaction-forces-on-a-beam

What I particularly like about the question is that it is clearly laid out and it is possible to see the thought process of the person asking the question.

Edit arfter great comment from @KyleKanos....

.... The question is well laid out and clear, but narrowly focuses on one aspect of a problem so it may not be helpful to other people to look at.. Probably it is for this reason that the question has been closed now. Generally homework type questions should ask about particular concepts of physics that will be useful to other people in the future.

  • $\begingroup$ That's funny, I thought it was a bad question because (a) it will only benefit OP and (b) it's a check my work problem. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Apr 29 '15 at 3:03
  • $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos- - I see your point - and you are correct, it is check my work and it is probably only of benefit to OP.... my point is that it has been laid out with care and attention and shows the thought process. - Maybe we should say this question is well laid out, but has a very narrow focus... I saw also that the question has been closed.... ...I, myself, am still pretty new here and learning how things work. --- I have put an edit in about the points you raise -- also I take the point that this is not a homework site and that homework type problems are not what it is designed for. $\endgroup$ – tom Apr 29 '15 at 17:43

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