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Recently, I realized that some users do not want to answer homework-like question. I would like to open a discussion on this issue. I understand that the forum should not serve as a place for solving somebody's homework without asker effort. But on the other hand quantum computing is more or less tricky business, therefore I would like to be benevolent and provide help as well.

What do you think, should we close questions that are homework-like?

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  • $\begingroup$ can you link to cases of these types of questions being closed? That would help the discussion $\endgroup$ – glS Mar 5 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ See for example this: quantumcomputing.stackexchange.com/questions/10029/…. The question was not actually closed but one of QC SE proposed that this is a homework-like. The issue is not actually closing question but the wiligness to answer them without further details from asker. I would like to establish unified approach to questions like that. $\endgroup$ – Martin Vesely Mar 5 at 9:54
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    $\begingroup$ I would favor a "homework" tag, similar to physics.SE. It would allow to filter those questions for those who are not interested in answering those. $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch May 7 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ @NorbertSchuch: Yes, that is a good idea. I am for. $\endgroup$ – Martin Vesely May 7 at 14:26
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    $\begingroup$ Ok, maybe I should ask a question ... (or if you want, go ahead). I think it would be good to choose a name carefully, in physics people sometimes get upset since they say it is not homework, the idea (in my eyes) would rather be to have a tag for exercise/educational problems. $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch May 7 at 15:05
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I would avoid having a policy that specifically addresses "homework-like questions". I don't think we should inquiry, nor particularly care about, the motivation behind a given post. The way I see it, a question should be judged exclusively by its content, regardless of who is asking it and why.

Many "homework-like questions" lack context and clarity, or are too specific to be useful to anybody else, and should be closed as such. Many non-homework-like questions are also like that, and should thus be treated the same way. At the same time, there might be "homework-like questions" about things that might be useful to cover on the site, and I think that those should be treated as valid questions.

There is one caveat to this argument: accepting homework-like questions might encourage people to ask more homework-like question and treat the site as a do-my-homework help forum. There might be legitimate concerns that this might lead to a lot of poor-quality content flooding the site. However, I don't think we should worry about that at this stage, as we just don't have that kind of volume of content.

Regardless of all of this, there is one thing that is natural and frankly unavoidable: poorly written questions will generally attract less activity. If people perceive that the asker didn't put any effort in asking or thinking about the question, they will be much less inclined to bother with writing an answer. This will always be the case, regardless of any guideline written on meta.

Taking as an example your linked question, I would say that the question is mostly fine, but the wording makes it sound like the asker didn't put any effort in writing the question and just wants someone to do their homework. This will make people less willing to bother even reading the question enough to understand it. Note that the actual intentions of the asker are irrelevant here. If you see a poorly written question that is nonetheless asking about something interesting, the best course of action is probably to edit the question, improving it so that people will be more likely to interact with it.

TL;DR: Whether a post has to do with homework is the wrong question. Questions should be judged solely by their content.

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