I know different sites have different rules for this, I'm only asking now because this is the first "homework" question I've come across.

Should we allow these types of questions? If so, under what – if any – conditions?

5 Answers 5



Though, the same standards need to apply - just like any other question on the site. Poorly worded questions, questions that don't fit the standard question criteria, etc should be closed accordingly.

  • 3
    +1. The problem SO have with homework questions is that they're often poor questions, very narrowly scoped and not useful for anybody else. I don't think it'll be a big problem here, as the example shows. I suppose, if I close a homework question it will be for the usual reasons. It being homework is pretty irrelevant. Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 8:10
  • 2
    Allowing this could go a long way in attracting new Ubuntu users to this forum. If you have a class of 50 or so students all Googling for an answer, and clicking a link to the answer on Ask Ubuntu, you'd pick up quite a few new users. I think this would be a good thing. If the questions are being worded by professors, they are probably going to be decent quality. Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 8:33
  • Why not? Sometimes it could be helpfull. but it depends on who asks the question, which has a bit of discretion, am I right?
    – maniat1k
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 9:38

Yes but ...

... we should not solve his assignment for them. We should only point them towards the necessary documentation and give them high-level concept explanations.

After all homework assignments are supposed to make you learn something.

  • that's what I meant: sometimes it's better to show the way, and maybe a little "how to".
    – maniat1k
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 9:41
  • I would go ahead and just edit this in, as it' makes sense :) Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 15:36


  • I learnt most by reading
  • I learned a ton by making mistakes and then solving them.
  • I learned a lot by solving other people's mistakes
  • Will you ever trust someone who's just good at googling canned answers to handle your sensitive personal data? (the person you're helping now will one day graduate)
  • Pure homework questions waste our time, the teacher's time, the student's time

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I don't know but...

I like the fact the OP explicitly stated it was a homework question.

Too many times I've suspected a question of being homework based and it annoys me how it's posted a "real life" problem when it really isn't.

I'm perhaps biased because my worst experience was in an on-line chatroom where some girl was asking me questions about MS-DOS which I unwittingly answered only to be told 1/2 hour later "Thanks I was writing an exam and you helped me with the answers". I felt so abused....



College has sure changed since I attended (Northeastern University) in the late 1960's.

"Back in the day", electronic calculators, which were insanely expensive, were verbotten in class. We worked out calculations on a sliderule or longhand on paper. The Professors wanted us to understand how to do the math, not just punch in some numbers into a machine and look at the answer that was given to us. As a result, we went off to be much better Engineers.

If students want to use this forum as a sort of CliffsNotes on steroids, more power to them. Far be it from me to snub my nose at shortcuts. However, using this site to research for information is a lot different than having someone else (us) do their homework for them. While I do enjoy the intellectual exercise of helping someone figure out an answer to their issue, it's not like I have unlimited time to do other people's work.

I generally do not look at homework related questions. They seem to usually be written by extremely lazy people who haven't even tried to figure out the problem on their own. Furthermore, like many assignments in academia, the problems these students are sent off to research typically bear little resemblance to anything a real Engineer might be faced with in the field.

I don't know that I'd go so far as to make a blanket policy that all homework questions should be declared off-topic. But they should certainly be liberally downvoted if the question and potential answers add little or no value to the site's knowledge base.

  • This answer was downvoted because why?
    – jones0610
    Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 12:50
  • On meta, downvoting is usually used to express disagreement, rather than a problem with the post. Maybe your statement about the writers of such questions comes across as judgemental (it wasn't me who downvoted though)
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jul 29, 2017 at 17:43
  • What's the difference between a slide ruler and a basic calculator. That's like telling an art student that they can only finger paint just because "they didn't used to have brushes".
    – mchid
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 3:16

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