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Well, a new problem is upon us: the homework question. The first has been posted on our site.

What should our policy be for homework questions?

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  • $\begingroup$ I'd argue that this was the first and we now have two 'homework' questions $\endgroup$ – Mithrandir24601 Apr 15 '18 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Mithrandir24601 hmm, I seem to have missed that one. $\endgroup$ – heather Apr 15 '18 at 22:27
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I'd argue that the only restriction on homework questions should be effort. If there is a decent amount of effort, then they should be allowed. If it's just a picture out of a textbook, then that can be closed.


My reasoning partly comes from experience on Physics Stack Exchange, where I find the homework policy confusing, and where it has generated many an infuriating and pointless meta discussion. I think a simple put in effort and we'll help you out policy will remove bad questions from the site while still allowing the maximum amount of site traffic and discussion.

If in the future these questions become a problem we can revisit it, but for now, I'd argue we shouldn't go out of our way to narrow site scope.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I think this is also most of the communities and people are used to offer help: only if effort has been shown. $\endgroup$ – asdf Apr 15 '18 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with your reasoning. It is similar to the policy on cs.se, in the sense that a question being homework doesn't matter as long as the quality is good. Perhaps also interesting: a lot of users on Computer Science have the 'habit' to, in case the HW question is of low quality, give a short hint in the comments. The idea is to help the OP with a hint, while attempting not to encourage the behaviour by not answering the question normally. $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Apr 16 '18 at 8:22
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I think that trying to do something about 'homework' is a bad idea. That is, I suggest to not even attempt to see if some post is homework and simply judge it on its quality as it appears.

However, the question that likely prompted this discussion has another 'problem': it is a 'check-my-solution' question.

Such questions are potentially problematic, since we can only give an interesting answer if the solution is false! Otherwise, we cannot say more than 'yes' or repeat what was stated in the question. See here and here for more discussion on this.


What to do with them is rather tricky, however. I think the best approach is to suggest to the OP to rephrase the question such that it explicitly asks about the part in the solution that is unclear, with a comment similar to this:

We discourage "please check whether my answer is correct" questions, as only "yes/no" answers are possible, which won't help you or future visitors. Can you edit your post to ask about a specific conceptual issue you're uncertain about? As a rule of thumb, a good conceptual question should be useful even to someone who isn't looking at the problem you happen to be working on. If you just need someone to check your work, you might seek out a friend, classmate, or teacher.

(from https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/627/reference-templates-for-common-comments/722#722)


However, there are also sites in which these questions are considered fine. What we want to do with this is therefore up to us.

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I'd say that its most important for users to ask interesting questions. Their motivation behind it is not so important.

Homework problems can certainly be interesting, but I think it takes a little insight on the part of the questioner to phrase them in this way. Simply doing research and sharing the results should suffice.

'Check my answer' questions are a different matter. Unless the questioner can give some reason as to why they think their answer is incorrect, no-one will benefit but the asker and the answerer.

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Nothing

or at least nothing special


In extend to what Discrete Lizard said:

  • The information whether a question is a homework question or not is irrelevant regarding the quality of the question. Let us assume these two questions:

    Hello, i want to build a quantum computer. Can you help me?

    and

    Hello, i want to build a quantum computer. i need it, it is a home work. please!

    They are both of extreme low quality. But what is the difference? Only the last sentence that is extremely irrelevant to the original question.

  • If we divide questions in homework and non-homework questions this might lead to meta-tags. They are generally not liked, because they are against the design of the system.

    Why would this result in meta-tags?

    Maybe someone would create a tag like not-a-homework to prevent his question from being eventually, probably, maybe seen as homework question. If we say homework questions must show some effort this tag would look like THIS IS NOT A HOMEWORK QUESTION. Please forgive me my missing effort.

  • Do not be prejudiced against some type of questions. Of course it can be statistically proven that homework questions are more often not good accepted but this must not apply to the one question you have before you.

So what should we do?

You should treat homework questions like any other question you get:

  • It has been asked before -> close/flag as duplicate

    Hello, i need to understand what quantum gate teleportation is. i know what quantum state teleportation is and i need it for an homework. Please help me.
    duplicate of What is quantum gate teleportation?)

  • no-effort
    • just posting the question without some context -> close as unclear

      how do you perform some magic action on some magic qubits? I need it for an homework

    • not minimizing the problem / full question copy (without thinking) -> close as too-broad (if it is too-broad)

      I need it for an homework: How can I build a quantum computer. How?

  • it would require arguments/opinions -> close as primarily opinion based

    What is better a quantum computer or a classical computer. HELP ME PLEASE. I need it for an homework

  • it is an resource question violating our rules -> close as off-topic/custom "Questions asking us **to provide a list of resources** have to follow [strict rules specified by the community](https://quantumcomputing.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5/are-resource-request-questions-allowed) to be considered on-topic." (flagging: blatantly off-topic & comment)

Info: I am turning community wiki on for this post because I think 1) Everyone should be able to add more great arguments to this post (and suggested edits are not allowed in meta) and 2) I suppose I have made some spelling mistakes and I want more users to be able to correct them. I will rollback every edit that is trying to vandalize this post or that is against my original opinion.

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