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Back when we sorted out the book recommendation and resource recommendation requests, we made it so there was a permanent banner instructing those answering to abide by our policies regarding the questions.

Since we get so many homework questions, can (or should) we have a similar banner for those? The arguments for why it is good here are the same as for why it was good on the book/reference request ones.

It will also potentially serve as a reminder to the OP to check the policies. Right now, Kyle Kanos is pretty good about posting a standard comment:

Welcome to Physics! Please note that Physics.StackExchange is not a homework help site. Please see this Meta post on asking homework questions and this Meta post for "check my work" problems – Kyle Kanos 1 hour ago

with appropriate links. This comment is directed only at OP, but our banner could include similar wording plus directions to those who answer about not actually providing the full answer.

Since it might seem unclear who exactly such a banner would be targeted towards, here is a link to an explanation that occurred in the chat room. I will try to summarize it here:

For good, properly posed homework questions, the OP doesn't need to be reminded about the policies. However, those who answer the question should be reminded. For instance, somebody can show an example problem, explain what concept they are stuck on, and ask for help understanding the concept. That's a great homework question.

Somebody can then come along and say "Here's how this concept works. And when you do that, you get the answer X."

In other words, the person who answered the question violated the HW policy by going too far in the explanation.

The banner would be targeted to the answerer more than the questioner, although the questioner (and future people who come to the site) will also see the banner and get links/information on the policy. Everybody wins.

Compare this to the book recommendation policy and banner. Somebody comes along an asks for a recommendation, perfectly on-topic and valid. We put the banner up reminding those who answer the question that recommendations must explain why it is appropriate and not just give a link.

Books banner tells people who answer that they need to provide more information to abide by the policy.

Homework banner tells people they should provide less information to abide by the policy.

I see them as equivalent and helpful.

Lastly, since adding a banner requires a moderator, it can sometimes be annoying. Although QMechanic does a pretty good job reviewing almost every question on the site for appropriate tags so it probably wouldn't be that hard to add the banner.

It would be great if we can ask the SE team to make it so questions tagged with get the banner automatically. And if the tag is removed, the banner is removed. Although that's something that probably isn't trivial and shouldn't affect whether we have the banner now or not.

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    $\begingroup$ For those curious/interested, my "standard comment" is a modification I've made to the standard StackApp AutoReviewComments. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Feb 6 '15 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ I feel that while the old homework policy was more focused on the answers, after the million discussions last year the current HW policy is more focused on making the question conceptual (in which case we don't care that much what the answerers do); and is best handled with closing since it's an issue with the question. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Feb 6 '15 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ It looks like the prevailing opinion will be against this. So I'll let it sit a bit longer in case somebody actually agrees. If nobody does, I'll accept the answer and move on. I'm not terribly committed to the idea! $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Feb 6 '15 at 22:30
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah. I'll just call this one done. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Feb 7 '15 at 3:57
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The comment is usually helpful only when questions are running foul of the homework policy, or pretty close to. As such, the banner would mostly be duplicating the work of the homework close reason.

Kyle's nice comment is useful because it can be added immediately without waiting for five close votes (thus giving the OP enough information to hopefully get them to fix their post before it's closed if that's possible) and because it has a personal touch with a direct way to respond which makes it less off-putting than the close message. An institutionalized banner with a canned message that needs to be added manually by a moderator would serve neither of those purposes.

Adding a banner automatically when the tag is applied would only serve to make the tag contentious again. The change from homework to homework-and-exercises has, I think, worked wonders in stopping newcomers from saying "this is not a homework question!" the minute the tag was applied. Having the tag automatically suggest to everyone, including those with on-topic HW questions, that they are unduly using the site as a homework help site - that does not seem constructive to me.

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  • $\begingroup$ I expanded my question to summarize the chat discussion and draw the parallels I was trying to make before. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Feb 6 '15 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ @tpg2114 I stand by my answer. What would be your proposed wording for the banner, anyway? $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Feb 6 '15 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ No problem on standing by it, I was just letting you know I clarified in case that would change anything. I have not thought through a proposed wording yet -- if people feel there is a need, then we can hash out the wording. But I think that's putting the cart before the horse $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Feb 6 '15 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, just thought I'd let you know. I do think the wording would help, as it makes it a lot clearer what you're talking about. And if it's hard to produce a wording that will produce the desired effect on all its viewers, then that's a sign the scheme won't work. In the end the policy is enacted by the wording, so in a sense it is the wording. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Feb 6 '15 at 19:39

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