I've recently answered the question Find the vector position of a moving object. The question surely isn't well-stated and seems like a straight-forward homework question. Two problems:

1) What I don't understand is the strict "no homework questions" on this site. Firstly, Stack Exchange aims to be an archive of knowledge where questions are not only answered to benefit the person asking the question but to build up a database of knowledge. Of course questions have to be well-asked with a description where you are stuck and what you've already tried. Questions that aren't within the scope of the site (off-topic does not mean that the question isn't well-asked or a homework question, it simply means that the question isn't about physics) should be tried to be improved and not simply ignored / downvoted / whatsoever. Maybe the mods here should look at the homework policy over at Maths StackExchange, where it isn't as strict and leads to more question that can be helpful to people.

2) Why do you have to delete answers to homework questions? That's just childish behaviour and doesn't benefit anybody. What would be the reason to do so? The author of the question didn't ask a good question, sure. But deleting answers shows that you haven't understood what this site is all about. Not only the thread author is meant to benefit from such an answer, but anybody having the same problem. Improve questions like that (the edit/comment button is there for a reason and don't delete work of other people. My answer was deleted by the user "rob" who didn't do anything to improve the answer. No comment, no edit, nothing. If you are not willing to contribute meaningfully, then why delete answers? That's just childish.

The homework policy (1) on specific subsites of StackExchange is debatable and of course depends on individual opinion. Just deleting answers randomly (2) is not and doesn't improve anything.

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    $\begingroup$ I would note that the homework policy on this site was created by starting with the one they have on Mathematics and adapting it to our needs. So we have already looked at it, in detail, and the differences between ours and theirs are very much intentional. The reason for that is explained in the answers. $\endgroup$ – David Z May 26 '17 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZ I just don't think that the differences are productive and don't contribute to the goal of StackExchange. But of course that's my personal point of view. $\endgroup$ – Jannik Pitt May 26 '17 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ Sure, it's totally reasonable to bring that up. But as you're seeing, many of us who have been around this site for a long time have come to the opposite conclusion. $\endgroup$ – David Z May 26 '17 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ Just to correct one point of fact: I did comment when I removed your answer. The comment says "Please don't provide complete answers to homework questions. I'll delete this one." I don't know how comment notification works for deleted posts, and the comment is buried under the "see more comments" link, so perhaps you didn't notice it. I'll also try to word things better in the future. $\endgroup$ – rob May 27 '17 at 13:24

The reason we delete answers to homework questions is because we wish to deter the asking of such questions.

Someone who wants to cheat isn't going to care whether their answer gets downvoted or closed, or whether they get negative comments to it. They just want an answer that they can write into their homework. And as long as they keep getting answers they are going to keep coming back and asking homework questions. If you answer a homework question you encourage the asking of such questions and make this site a worse place for people who have a genuine interest in physics. That's why your answer got deleted.

There is endless debate about what constitutes homework and where to draw the boundary, and I'm generally pretty sympathetic if I think the OP is genuinely trying to learn. After all I have a gold badge awarded for 1,000 upvotes to answers tagged as homework-and-exercises so I can hardly be tarred as an anti-homework zealot.

However in this case I thought the question was a blatant example of the I can't be bothered with this school of homework cheat, so I voted to close it and I flagged your answer to the moderators as an answer to a homework question. Whether the OP saw your answer before it was deleted who knows. Oh well.

For what it's worth let me make clear this isn't a criticism of your answer, which I thought was very nicely explained. In your place I would keep that answer to hand as the issues involved are bound to come up again, and that answer would be a great help to someone genuinely trying to learn about vectors.

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    $\begingroup$ Fair enough I understand that. I still don't think that deleting single answers (another answer hasn't been deleted) is the right way to go (just remove the whole question). I'm just annoyed by the way "homework questions" are handled on this site because over at Maths StackExchange it works so much better. But a discussion about the issue just doesn't seem to be possible (there are really a countless amount of meta posts) but it seems that's just the way it is. Thanks for your comment! $\endgroup$ – Jannik Pitt May 26 '17 at 18:38
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    $\begingroup$ @JannikPitt As documented elsewhere on this meta (here and here being two recent examples among many), there are multiple factors that enable MSE to have that policy and not drown, which this site doesn't have. A discussion about this is possible, in an ongoing, grinding, slow, and painful way (latest installment here), but what doesn't really work is coming in guns blazing without reading up on why things are like they are. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty May 26 '17 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ @JannikPitt Regarding "another answer hasn't been deleted": The other answer was less complete than yours. Both were flagged for removal by users. I made the decision to remove yours for exactly the reasons given in this answer --- like John Rennie, I thought that your answer was very nice, but that the question wasn't appropriate for the site. Probably the question and the remaining answer will also be removed after a while, unless either is improved. $\endgroup$ – rob May 27 '17 at 13:17

Whether you agree with the homework policy or not, you have to accept that there is one: the community has decided that we/they don't want this kind of questions here. This is just how it is - you can either try to fight against the policy, learn to accept it, or leave the site.

That being said, and as long as the policy is in force, answers and hints to homework questions are against the rules, because they only serve to encourage this kind of questions. Therefore, the corresponding answers are typically downvoted/deleted. That is the correct - as far as the official policy is concerned - procedure to deal with homework posts.

Again, as long as this is an official policy, you'll have to live by it. If you don't like it, protest the policy itself or move on with your life. But you cannot/should not complain that a particular answer of yours was deleted, because that is the correct procedure to deal with homework posts.

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    $\begingroup$ Sure that's how it is handled on this site and you have to abide these rules. What I'm doing is argumenting why these rules are counter-productive and not contributing to achieving this site's goal. But looking at other meta posts here that's not possible - some people are always answering and saying "that's how it is deal with it" and there's no meaningful discussion. Either way, either delete the whole question if it doesn't suit you or try to improve it. Just deleting a single answer without trying to contribute is (in my opinion) not productive in any meaningful way. $\endgroup$ – Jannik Pitt May 26 '17 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ @JannikPitt please note that I tried to remain neutral here. I didnt want to convince you that the policy is a good one; just that one exists (and therefore, the moderators deletion was correct). If you want to do something about the policy, create a meta post about the policy itself. You came here asking why was your answer deleted, and I addressed that, no less and no more. Again, I'm not trying to be a policy advocate (nor a detractor). I'm just stating that there is one. $\endgroup$ – AccidentalFourierTransform May 26 '17 at 18:55

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