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The community won't become a free homework solving service. Furthermore, if homeworks would be allowed, they would be so many, and so LQ, that it would lead to a significant quality decrease of the whole site.

I think we can see enough well, if a question has the general quality to survive here or not, although our ideas about its exact rules differ too significantly to be easily codifiable. It results a half-legal situation where the overwhelming majority of the homework questions are closed, unfortunately with the few interesting and useful ones between them. Furthermore, our homework criteria can be at most decoded from many, often many year old meta posts, whose knowledge is obviously an irrational requirement from a lowrep user of the site.

My proposal would be to openly admit this half-legal state. It would result an essential simplification of the homework policy, around into this:

"Homework questions and exercises are mainly discouraged here, because: (...some reasons, we aren't a free hw solving service, etc...). Although some of them may be allowed if the majority of our voters find them enough interesting/useful to survive. You can improve its chance, if: (...many heuristical ideas, like ask for a specific concept, have a good general writing quality and so on...)

The overwhelming majority of the homeworks wouldn't pass this criteria. Thus, nothing would change significantly. What would change: the site rules and the actual vtc practice will clearly match.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand this proposal. Are you proposing an objective criterion for closing homework questions? (If so, what exactly is that criterion?) Or is it simply "people should VTC as homework-like if they feel like it"? If the latter, how do you propose to deal with responses of the sort "my question is really similar to X question over there and that one is still open"? $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 4 '17 at 15:21
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty My proposal is to objectively admit that it depends on the first 5-9 voters, and giving to the OPs clear heuristics to improve the chance of their positive decision. I think, in your example, the easiest answer is: "Then you can get your answer in question X." $\endgroup$ – user259412 Jun 4 '17 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty Of course in this case it may be better if the hw is closed as dupe as hw. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Jun 4 '17 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ @ peterh Perhaps I wasn't clear on the example response. What would you propose we say to OP if they said "question X over there, which is completely unrelated, is identical with respect to any objective measure of homework-ness, and yet it's open but you've closed mine"? That is, assuming that you are proposing to drop all objective criteria in the closing of questions - can you confirm that explicitly? $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 4 '17 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty I don't propose to drop them, I propose to convert them to what they are: to heuristics. The reason would be: all hw is offtopic, sometimes the voters can make an exception, if you want to let to solve your hw by us, be prepared that it probably won't be solved, and accept it before you invest effort into the post. I think, this, extended with the rough heuristics, is more fair as the current system. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Jun 4 '17 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty Btw, I think de facto this is the current system, the only difference is that so we would openly admit it. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Jun 4 '17 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand your comment. I think your reading of the current status quo is completely off base, but in any case it is not relevant. So, to be clear: what objective criteria, if any, are you proposing to use for the closure of questions as homework-like? $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 4 '17 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty That there is no objective criteria. Alternatively, the objective criteria is, you have to collect 5 "leave open" review decisions while you don't collect 5 close votes. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Jun 4 '17 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ Can you please edit your post to make that lack of objective criteria crystal clear? $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 4 '17 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty I think it is crystal clear already now. It is the essential part: to openly admit it. Instead masking it with complex, unknown, and for the newbies, unknowable, never really followed rules. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Jun 4 '17 at 16:21
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I think this is an absolutely terrible idea. What you're proposing is little more than a Wild West of question closure, where everybody votes to close or to reopen without any kind of objective criteria or even guidance on what is and is not OK.

This then makes it impossible for newcomers to know what they can and cannot post, and it makes for some remarkably unfair situations: two questions that are functionally identical may end up with one open and one closed just because of the set of reviewers that caught them, and there's very little that we could then say to the OP whose question got closed. That OP can rightfully complain that the open question is identical, so why should their question remain closed? Do we just tell them "yeah, the other person got lucky, but you didn't, so tough luck"? What does that makes us look like?

Because of that, this proposal isn't a step forward, it's more like two steps backwards. It doesn't functionally fix anything, it only makes a huge gray area where nobody can agree whether questions should be closed or not, it makes it impossible for newcomers to know what the response to their question will be, even if they take the trouble to go and look, and it will lead, with overwhelming likelihood, to a vast increase in complaints by people whose questions got closed.


That said, I will also take exception to your characterization of the existing status quo as entirely lacking in objective criteria. For one, there are some essentially objective criteria in the existing canonical thread. To be fair and honest, of course, these are only an imperfect representation of the actual practice on the site, which has drifted somewhat over the years. The challenge is to find a suitable text that expresses the actual practice, which does have objective (though, at the moment, relatively vague) criteria to guide it. Ditching that effort and throwing our hands up in surrender is not something I would consider positive or constructive.

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  • $\begingroup$ I doubt it would be a Wild West. People are voting roughly similarly in the most important point. Crap still wouldn't survive. Newcomers don't know what can they ask, because they should know the whole meta site before that. Similar questions, and any complaint could be avoided by the fact, that as the main rule, all hw is offtopic. They couldn't ask, why is there - in rare cases - some exception. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Jun 4 '17 at 21:07
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    $\begingroup$ @peterh That's a breathtakingly short-term view on site policy - what happens in a year, or two, when we have a fresh crop of 3k'ers who don't have any guidelines at all to refer to when voting to close? For someone who says that they have fairness as a priority this system, where some people are randomly trod into the mud and some people are randomly elevated, is completely in the wrong direction. However, history shows that your mind won't be changed by any kind of argument, so I'll stop here and let the voting show how people feel about this. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 4 '17 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ Don't take it so seriously - it was only an idea. Btw, if you can't trust the 3k voters, how can you want from rep1 s to follow the same rules? $\endgroup$ – user259412 Jun 4 '17 at 21:46
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    $\begingroup$ @peterh I think his point is that we can trust the 3k-er's currently. If we switched to an even less objective system, it would make it much worse, snowballing so that when the now rep1's become 3ker's, they would be clueless. $\endgroup$ – JMac Jun 5 '17 at 12:21
  • $\begingroup$ @JMac It is true! The Wild West would happen not now, rather as the current OPs grow up. Sad... it seemed so good idea at first :-) $\endgroup$ – user259412 Jun 5 '17 at 12:42
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    $\begingroup$ I've deleted some unconstructive comments that were taking the discussion in an inappropriate direction. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jun 7 '17 at 23:25

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