A recent questioner (perhaps subconsciously) posted a homework-type question in the "physics forums" standard format, I.e equations used, attempt at a solution.

I think that if such questions are going to be asked anyway, why not include a format in the FAQ to see less poorly framed questions? I have nothing against Hw questions because they can be interesting if presented the right way

  • $\begingroup$ People will respond to your questions more readily when they aren't confused by them and don't have to work too hard to understand what they're saying. A few typos don't detract from a question, but in this case it was really very difficult for me to get your point due to typos and lack of punctuation. $\endgroup$ – Mark Eichenlaub May 1 '11 at 5:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark I blame the stupid touchscreen keyboard and autocorrect facility of the Ipad. Seriously. $\endgroup$ – yayu May 1 '11 at 18:55

I don't think we need a homework template here. The purpose of the template at Physics Forums is to try to enforce a bare minimum level of effort on the part of the questioner: basically it weeds out the equivalent of "plz-send-teh-codez" questions, where the poster is just trying to get someone to do the work for them. But here we have a somewhat stricter standard. We expect people asking about homework problems to narrow down the particular concept that is giving them trouble and ask about that specifically. That produces a question that is more relevant to others who might be having the same problem, as well as probably more interesting to answer, and as a side effect it shows that they're willing to put in the appropriate amount of effort.

Besides, once the questioner has identified the specific issue they're having trouble with, and phrased their question in terms of that, the question isn't so much a homework question anymore as it is a plain old physics question that happens to have arisen in the course of a homework assignment. So it shouldn't be treated that much differently than a normal question. The only significant difference would be that we would give a less complete answer than usual, so that we don't spoil the OP's chance to reason through it themselves (which is the value of doing homework).

  • $\begingroup$ I guess you're right. Moreover, on second thought, if this site acquires the reputation of a homework helper, then it might drive a lot of researchers away $\endgroup$ – yayu May 2 '11 at 17:58

I completely agree with David.

Personally, I would go further; I prefer such questions be closed as too localized. I want intro-to-physics level questions about pulleys, but I don't want to see twenty questions each with a slightly different combination of pulleys, inclined planes, scissors, floating balloons, bowling balls, cannons, cats and mice, magnifying glasses lighting candles, little alligators, etc.

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    $\begingroup$ PS - for those trying to manage their way through life without the benefit of my exact childhood experiences, the last sentence was a reference to The Incredible Machine en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Incredible_Machine_(series) $\endgroup$ – Mark Eichenlaub May 1 '11 at 5:25
  • $\begingroup$ Yep: many hw questions are a version of "can you help my solve this particular personal problem" and hold not general interest or value. $\endgroup$ – Sklivvz May 2 '11 at 18:26

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