I made a week-long list of all the questions closed due to the homework flag and tried to gauge whether they were showing any effort at all. This idea came up during a chat session when we were talking about the new physics Q&A site proposal and our homework policy. The hope is to give a few examples of questions that are discussion-worthy (and of questions that are definitely not) and to obtain a feeling for the relative amount of each of those.


During the chat session of November the first, the question of the homework policy (reformulation) came up again, especially with reference to the turned down new site proposal on SE and the newly opened help website. This led us to consider what kind of questions we would like to be answered there (but not here) and in what way this could affect this site here. (All quotes are from the chat protocol.)

David Z: I think it would be useful to have some examples of questions that would be considered good and on topic at the hypothetical new site, from those who are involved in setting it up. Better yet, to have examples of questions which would be on topic there and off topic here.

After a bit of searching I was not able to find many well written questions closed due to the homework reason and it was not only me:

John Rennie :Having gone through a few pages of the search I posted above it's striking how few questions do show significant effort by the OP. The vast majority just post the question and ask how do I do this?

Further down the conversation I asked whether the amount of questions which really showed effort but still get closed under the current site policy is that substantial at all. Questions of this form would e.g. be of the "did I do something wrong?"-kind or "I am stuck at this point in my solution attempt"-kind. David wanted to take that to the meta to discuss, but I wanted to collect a bit of data first.


From the 1st of November after the chat session until the 8th of November I regularly visited this site of newly closed questions on Physics SE, went through the last 24h and singled out all questions closed for homework reasons. I recorded them and for each of them I gave an estimate whether they could - maybe with a small bit of editing - be made into nice questions that do not fit in with our policy but do show effort at solution by the OP. I realise that a) questions get deleted sometimes rather quickly, so I might have easily missed some, b) this is all a bit subjective and c) a week is not that much time. But still, to me it seems like it will be nice to have a bit of a data-based feeling for what we are actually talking about when we are talking about redoing the homework policy.


From 87 questions that I recorded as closed due to homework-reasons, I would grade 64 as showing no effort at all. This is 74% of the questions closed for that reason, but still - 23 questions remain. This surprised me, to be honest, and in my mind it is a good reason to actually build up an alternative site for good, well-written "homework"-questions.
I would be happy about other people doing the same to obtain a bit more data :D I also hope this helps us to decide better when considering how and whether to modify the homework policy.

Appendix - List and Links of Questions

Questions I gauged as "showing effort" or "being salvagable through small edits"
How to prove that internal energy for a system whose temperature is negative is bounded between 1/2 and 1 (png)
Molecular simulation of ideal gas- descriptive statistical analysis (png 1, png 2)
Question about Galilean relativity
Find the charges on each Capacitor after a long time (png)
Work and kinetic energy on an incline?
A neutron (rest mass 940MeV/c 2 ) is measured in the lab to have energy 2GeV
work and change of kenetic energy
A block is pushed onto a conveyor belt (png)
Lagrangian for double Atwood machine (png)
Find the acceleration for a given mass and velocity (png)
Pully and Inclined Ramp
Uncertainty in the angle by using Heisenberg's uncertainty principle
Electric Field at Centre of Hemispherical Cup (png)
Oscillation of charge problem (png)
Find the time of movement if the maximal height is equal to the distance of fall (png)
Two flashes of light for two observers (png)
Finding the period of a system in simple harmonic motion
How to find the amount of work done against gravity from an object moving diagonally?
Propeller torque on the shaft when rotational speed and Thrust is given (png)
Moment of inertia, lab exercise (png)
Time needed for photon to reach the surface of a white dwarf 
Energy conservation … Basic qustion (png)
Quantitative Study of Mirage
Questions I gauged as "no effort shown"
Linear motion problem
Magnitude of the magnetic field of an electron moving with 0.99c?
What is expected from switch S?
Minimum velocity for a charged particle to go through all the magnetic field's zone
conservation of momentum and energy to find speed
Find the flux of a charge through a finite plane
Statistical physics
Calculate the velocity of the particle
a question of pulley and monkey
A projectile question
Classical Action
Oliver has a mass of 70.5kg and can throw a 542.0g rock with a speed of 10.4m/s. What would Oliver's recoil speed be if he were on an icy surface?
Parachutist jumps out of plane - Find work (parachute)
Damped harmonic oscillator differential equation
A question of projectile
How do I find distance if I have acceleration and time?
Calculate the equivalent resistance seen from the E6 generator
Eigenvalues of Hamiltonian
Deriving Bernoulli's equation from Navier-Stokes equation
state the different levels of stress and strain in a rigid body
Bosonic and Fermionic harmonic oscillators
Mechanics of system of particles
Electric field between three parallel plates
From special relativity to general relativity
How to prove the following Dirac matrices identity?
angular spread in the angle of refraction of the beam
minimum area of the disc to collect all light
Nutcracker problem
Quantum Physics Easy
By how much does the image move when the object is moved by 10cm in the given lens configuration?
What is the acceleration of point D and E when F = 125N?
Examination Question
How do I prove that a disk charge resembles a point charge if its radius shrinks to 0? 
How does the capacitance of a parallel plate capacitor vary as the length of the dielectric inside it changes?
How do I express this. If I use Lorenz transform, It depends on mc2
moving object - vectors
The classical theory of fields - Landau book problem
Calculating Magnitude of Force
What are the relationships between radius, velocity and centripetal force on an object?
Electrons during radioactive decay
Mechanics problem and confusion regarding reference frame calculation
An object that is not accelerating or decelerating has zero net force acting on it
Confusion on conservation of angular momentum
Rotational Imbalance Does a current-carrying solenoid exert force on itself 
Classical Mechanics
do you know why Q2 has negative sign?
Frame of reference and work done by pseudo force
Induced current in a circular loop
X and Y collide, find angle of Y
Related to torque generated, to find input and output torque
moment of inertia in beam
Converting from rectangular to polar and vice-versa 
What are Energy levels, Sublevels, and Orbitals?
Boundary layer flow directed radially towards a sink
Writing Fokker Planck equation for levy walker in a given potential
What is the kinetic energy possessed by a battle tank belt whose mass is m if the tank is moving with a constant velocity v?
Simple Harmonic Motion Question With Explanation Please! 
Find the height and the instant velocity of a geostationary satellite
What are the image formations at different positions for plano convex and plano concave lenses? 
Moment of inertia of semicircular disc
Poincare algebra
Finding gravitational force on a body of unit mass by other three bodies
Rotational mech

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ first of all, kudos on the effort! As you say, there are around 23 good hw questions per week. From area 51, "10 questions per day on average is a healthy beta, 5 questions or fewer per day needs some work.". Read this as you want, but 23 a week doesn't seem too good, right? $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2016 at 21:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well, it doesn't seem too good for launching another SE site, point taken. It does seem promising for a small side project if it was allowed to send people there. On the other hand, maybe it should be taken as a sign that we should just be more lenient (I am totally unsure about the average number of questions/week here) because it is a small number (even though it might grow if we start doing that)? In any case - there is a small demand. $\endgroup$
    – Sanya
    Nov 23, 2016 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ We get between 550 and 750 questions per week, fluctuating over the year (>20k (?) users can view such data here). $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Nov 23, 2016 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ 25k rep is needed to see @ACuriousMind's link $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Nov 23, 2016 at 23:33
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @AccidentalFourierTransform, good point, however, I might just point out that this is without homework questions being allowed. If they were allowed, even encouraged, then surely there would be more. If this many good questions are coming in as is, I think it is fair to say that a number close to a good amount could possibly come in with the homework policy encouraged. $\endgroup$
    – auden
    Nov 24, 2016 at 0:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For reference, here's our new questions page (on Physics Problems Q&A) and the closed/open questions should hopefully give an idea of what we allow and don't allow. $\endgroup$
    – auden
    Nov 24, 2016 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ So what is your question here? Perhaps this question should be closed because it is "unclear what you are asking"! $\endgroup$ Nov 24, 2016 at 5:15
  • $\begingroup$ @heather yes, I agree with that. $\endgroup$ Nov 24, 2016 at 10:46
  • $\begingroup$ I have put in an answer, but I take sammy gerbil's point that you might make the actual question more prominent. $\endgroup$
    – user108787
    Nov 24, 2016 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ "I would be happy about other people doing the same to obtain a bit more data". I doubt anyone will feel inclined to do so, when every question listed as "no effort" is deleted soon after, making it impossible to compare, or check whether any of the answers were useful. $\endgroup$
    – Previous
    Nov 30, 2016 at 4:51


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