Speaking as a schoolteacher, I think we should not be so quick to shut down people who come asking for help with homework questions. Registering on this site and asking a question shows a level of initiative, greater than someone who only visited Wikipedia anyhow. Young people who do this are likely to have better things to do than swallow the FAQ before they post. Thoughts?


I'm not opposed to students asking for help on homework. But I do think that reading a reference (even Wikipedia) to learn for yourself, is in fact showing far more "initiative" than simply and lazily asking random strangers to answer their homework for them.

As far as I've seen, questions that get closed as "homework questions" are typically nothing more than a verbatim copy-paste of the actual essay topic with some variation of "halp" attached to the end. I can't say I see anything wrong with closing those. What we could do, and in many cases this is what members have done, is offer suggestions on how to approach their homework question.

Extending on this, we can supplement these by encouraging homework question posters to ask about individual specific facts in separate questions instead. I don't think this would really do much though. Based on what I have seen so far, people who asked in such a manner tend to not bother spending any more effort on here.

Ultimately, it is worth remembering that there are many other questions that have not been closed. Any of those could have also been asked by students. In fact, some explicitly are.

  • Yes, but at the moment we have an explicit rule against asking for help with homework, right? Is that helpful? I meant that asking here is better than wikipedia because a good student knows that wikipedia contains a dangerous mix of highly valuable information and total rubbish, and it's very hard to sort the two out. – Ne Mo Dec 20 '15 at 18:38
  • @NeMo There is no such rule as far as I'm aware. Your comment is the first time I've ever seen one invoked in the 555 days I've been here. I do believe Physics.SE has banned homework, but not here at History - if there ever was such a ban, it has long since fallen into desuetude. – Semaphore Dec 21 '15 at 4:30

Interesting point. I don't want to automatically repulse students.

I think we could do a better job of documenting why we don't want homework questions. In My Opinion: Homework questions are frequently phrased to be valuable to the teacher in assessing whether the student understood an instructional rubric. Without that rubric, the question is of limited value. People outside that class cannot fully understand the question.

Any arbitrary visitor to our site should be able to understand the question and the answer without reference to an classroom experience.

I must disagree with you on the FAQ. Everyone should be accountable for the material in the FAQ. The FAQ sets out the community standards and guidelines. Reading the FAQ indicates respect for community standards, ignoring the FAQ indicates a disregard for the time, attention and efforts of others.


To echo what Semaphore said, the problem with homework questions is that they invariably show no prior research and are simply students typing in a question from a problem set and hoping someone else will type back an answer they can copy. This is completely unacceptable and against the principles of the site, not to mention a violation of (Western) scholastic ethics and standards.

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