Just joined a week ago and wondering how homework questions should be dealt with.

Maybe this is covered already but I noticed a sizeable amount of kids are getting sharp "don't bother me" type answers.

Basically I would like to see them treated better.

I know there are thousands of kid friendly physics sites but they are on SE now and we have to deal with that fact.

Any suggestions for one kid friendly page that provides links to more suitable sites for them.

Maybe this already exists but I can't find it. We don't want to lose the next potential Dirac Einstein etc because of a sharp retort or curt reply from a busy lecturer or teacher.

Not sure who will get this but could they tell me how SE deals with problems like this.

  • $\begingroup$ FYI, there is e.g. this meta post. $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic Mod
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 6:41
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    $\begingroup$ Did you search here on meta? We've been over the homework ground before, and I suspect people would appreciate if you actually addressed some of the issues that have been brought up previously. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 6:44
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    $\begingroup$ Sincere apologies for taking up your time with duplicated questions,still learning the ropes here, but as a self study person I got caught up in the excitement of firing off questions immediately rather than spending more time learning the structure. please bear with me a little longer. it's just so different from any other site I have used before, it was bewildering $\endgroup$
    – user74893
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 7:20
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    $\begingroup$ @irishphysics fair enough, we understand that SE sites are different from many other sites, but one thing all these sites have in common is the expectation that new participants make an effort to learn the basic etiquette before contributing. So I would suggest that your tendency to fire off questions rather than spending time learning the structure of the site is going to lead you to make a bad impression. (We're forgiving of such things as long as you do make an effort to learn the culture of this site - not even follow it, necessarily, but if you don't, make sure you have a good reason.) $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 8:15
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    $\begingroup$ "Basically I would like to see them treated better." That's a two way street. Those that actively participate in answering questions here can only stand only so many no-research or check my work - please please please! or copy and paste homework questions. This site is a community of individuals (volunteers) that need nourishment, in the form of interesting questions that are rewarding to answer, in order to flourish. Having said that, we must be on guard against becoming too unwelcoming. Like almost all systems, this one will oscillate around the mean. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ @AlfredCentauri that was not a well chosen remark by me and if I had counted to ten first I would not have written it. I had just come across a reply to a question that was admittedly easy for the student to research but the comment left for the student was IMHO very abrasive and curt for any child., esp in light of the "respect for others" type guidelines. That prompted me to write the above. I will go through the suggested solutions and see if I can contribute anything useful. I have given tutorials and often it's demanding parents that contribute to the students behavour $\endgroup$
    – user74893
    Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 1:41

1 Answer 1


To summarize the myriad of homework meta questions that dmckee linked to, as well as to editorialize a little, I think the issue that most of us have is with no-effort homework questions.

There is a help page on the main Physics.SE site that includes an explanation of what's considered on topic. That page briefly states that homework questions are off-topic, and then links to this more detailed meta post about what constitutes an acceptable homework question. Also, when you create a Physics.SE account, you have the option to take a very brief tour of the site, and IIRC it at least covers that list of what is on topic. As a result, if users aren't following the guidelines of what's on-topic, it's because they are ignoring information that was easily put in their reach.

Believe it or not, some of the best questions I've seen on this site have been tagged "homework-and-exercises", but they need to be asked the right way. In general, the two-prong test is that the question has to boil down to a specific conceptual question that would also be helpful to other uses, and the question has to include any attempted work. However, there are a lot of questions on here where the question text is just the homework question with no additional information or input from the user. On the other hand, other askers will ask their question, and then punctuate it with a "Due tomorrow" or "Show all work". This isn't just oblivious to the rules of the site, it's selfish and imposing. In the real world, all of these students will either continue in higher education or enter the world of work, and a life lesson that they should learn as soon as possible is that oftentimes, people want to help you (otherwise we wouldn't answer questions on here in the first place) but you have to be willing to put in the work yourself. The reality, it's academically dishonest for us to just do a kid's homework for him, who will no doubt claim it as his/her own. Additionally, students will likely get more out of the process of asking a question if they first spend some time analyzing what exactly they aren't understanding about a problem.

tl;dr: We welcome good homework questions here, but they have to follow certain guidelines, both for the good of the community and the OP. We hope you stick around to contribute to the site, but hopefully the more truly atrocious homework questions you see, the more you'll understand why there have to be guidelines in place.

  • $\begingroup$ no need to reply to this... from many kids POV, they are stuck for an answer (good/bad question - makes no difference), and under pressure, because his parents want him to win the Nobel prize, (as tutor I've seen this 1,000 times, maybe you have too). So he mooches around the web, goes onto SE but he's either not bothered by the guidlelines or he understands but, he's anonymous right? so he will keep going, nothing to lose. And he will take up some well meaning person's time. $\endgroup$
    – user74893
    Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 23:47
  • $\begingroup$ my point is without a 100% kid orientated information page, (say with links to kid centered science sites) that's going to continue to happen. just not sure how you would incorporate that into the site tho, especially if you come on without seeing the main page. $\endgroup$
    – user74893
    Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 23:47

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