When homework-and-exercises questions are voted off topic and put on hold then the OP should be directed to the Meta Question which offers a choice of alternative sites.

To put this proposal into effect, the notification box could be amended to read :

put on hold as off-topic by ...

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question. If you cannot do so, recommendations for alternative sites are given in My question was closed on Phys.SE. Can you recommend me another internet site where my question might be on-topic?


Originally I had thought of re-directing the OP to the offshoot site Physics Problems Q&A set up by heather and Mew, but this might give the impression of official approval of that site by the Stack Exchange community. See :
Physics Problem Solving Site
Ethics - Redirecting homework solution seeking questions to a website built for that purpose.


Most questions in this category are asking specifically for help in solving problems. Typically they include "Is this correct?", "What did I do wrong?", "How do I start?" or "What should I do next?" It is far from easy to turn such difficulties into a question of a conceptual nature which would be on topic here, whereas the question as it stands would probably be on topic at sites specifically set up for help with homework or problem-solving.

When a homework question is closed, the OP often either (i) asks for a recommendation of a website where the question might be suitable, or (ii) asks how the question can be edited to make it on topic, or (iii) argues that the question is not actually off topic. In the latter case the OP leaves the site having had a bad experience. Recommending where to get an answer will save effort in dealing with these 3 issues and increase the chances of the OP having a satisfactory experience of this site.

Please up-vote my question if you approve of my suggestion and would like to see it implemented, or down-vote if you disapprove.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree but also disagree. look at some of the closed homework questions. Some are definitely on-topic at Physics Problems Q&A, others, um...well, let's just say they'd get closed swiftly. We don't know what the rules of those other sites are. Do we really want to dump some of the worse questions on them? $\endgroup$ – karatechop Dec 7 '16 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ @heather is correct when saying that there should be an additional info along the lines of "you might want to check whether the question might be acceptable at these other websites", but in principle, I think it would add a very constructive note to homework-closure :) $\endgroup$ – Sanya Dec 7 '16 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @heather. "Dumping" sounds very negative. It would be the OP's choice which site to go to, not ours, so I don't think PSE could be accused of "dumping". Also, this would re-direct many good questions which are off topic here simply because they are not conceptual. $\endgroup$ – sammy gerbil Dec 7 '16 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ @sammygerbil, true, I think Sanya's note would make it better, but otherwise, I think I agree with your proposal. $\endgroup$ – karatechop Dec 7 '16 at 21:18

I have added the following paragraph to the existing homework policy:

Where else can I go?

If your question was closed as off-topic on this site, and you are unable to formulate it in the ways explained above, there are still other sites where you can ask for help. We keep a list on the thread My question was closed on Phys.SE. Can you recommend me another internet site where my question might be on-topic?.

Feel free to refine the language further if you want to. It's currently at the end but, to be honest, I don't see a clearer place further up where it could go.

In terms of changing the close reason, I don't think that that's really feasible. That middle paragraph is the only thing we can access, and it has some pretty strict length restrictions. It is currently highly optimized and you cannot add stuff without taking stuff that's already there.

I won't say any more about this eternal bone of contention, but let me assure you that I do understand where you're coming from - it's just for some reason a much more difficult problem to get movement on than we thought.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, Emilio. That is probably as much as I can hope for at this stage. $\endgroup$ – sammy gerbil Dec 8 '16 at 16:54

For now, it would probably make sense to link to the list of alternate sites in the homework policy. (Actually, I thought that link was already there, but now that I look it's only in a comment.)

When we develop new close reasons to replace the current "homework-like" close reason, we can consider incorporating the link directly into those close reasons. However, we don't have the ability to customize the close reason in the way you're suggesting. The only part we get to write is the middle paragraph,

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, linking from the homework policy would be a good solution - if the OP actually goes there and finds the link. Unless the link is prominent within that policy I think it will be overlooked. ... If you have the ability to customise the middle paragraph, then the link could be inserted in the middle paragraph, couldn't it? ... The homework policy has been under review for years, so it may be another few years before the link can be incorporated directly into the close reasons (whatever that means). $\endgroup$ – sammy gerbil Dec 8 '16 at 5:28

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