A new user has just posted a couple of questions from a textbook, and then answered them Q&A-style:

How to solve with MATLAB Microwave Engineering - Pozar - Transmission Lines Theory chapter 2 problem 5

How to solve with MATLAB Microwave Engineering (Pozar) chapter 5 example 1 Impedance matching

The answers seem quite thorough, have nice illustrations, etc. But, at the same time, they are simply acting as a "solutions guide" to the textbook in question.

I predict more are coming :)

Is this acceptable? If not, perhaps they could be made acceptable by changing the titles to describe the actual content of the questions?

Or should this be stopped / discouraged?


In my view, these are off-topic. They lead to a precedent where it becomes ok to transcribe solution manuals into questions and answers. Other than farming reputation, I don’t see a rationale for doing so, and it could lead to people using EE.SE as their own personal notepad.

Specific end-chapter homework questions are rarely helpful to anyone other than the OP, which is why we flag them when there is no attempt at a solution. In fact, in this case, I actually flagged one as a “Homework question with no attempt at a solution” - but the flag was subsequently declined since the user had posted an answer about an hour later (after I flagged it, but before the moderator reviewed the flag).

In my opinion, a question should be flagged (or considered) separate from any of its answers, irrespective of whether or not the author of the question is the same as the author of its answer(s).


The same person posted a series of these a week ago or so... and had them flagged as inappropriate - warned by several to not do this as this was not an appropriate use of the site.

OP commented that he had contacted University of Sussex who, he said, thought the q & a were useful, but to post material like that should be on a course website with the rest of the material...

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    \$\begingroup\$ Strange: this current account was just created two days ago. Perhaps he thought a new account would give better results? \$\endgroup\$ – bitsmack Jul 25 '18 at 15:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @bitsmack must admit I can’t find any sign of my comments to those questions - and I did make a few...! \$\endgroup\$ – Solar Mike Jul 25 '18 at 15:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ It means the questions have been deleted. The only way to find them back now is to look in your browser history for EE.SE pages that lead to error 404 and give the links to people who have >10000 rep... But don't waste your time on that... \$\endgroup\$ – dim lost faith in SE Jul 25 '18 at 16:24

Homework questions are fine, as long as there is an attempt at a solution. There has been no attempt at a solution in any of these questions, and the user has made no attempt to edit the question to provide an attempt at a solution (but they do know how to edit) because they have edited the questions to provide more information.

VTC the questions, then bring it up with a diamond moderator if users repeatedly disregard and damage the site.


The OP did include the solutions but did so in a link, these should be contained in the answer so if the link goes down they are still available.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The OP did post solutions as answers to his own questions. But I'm not disagreeing with you - in fact, as mentioned in my answer, I flagged one of them as "homework w/ no solution", but my flag was declined since he posted answers himself. \$\endgroup\$ – Blair Fonville Jul 26 '18 at 21:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would disagree that the work has been posted as it shouldn't be posted in a link, it should be included in the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Voltage Spike Jul 26 '18 at 21:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, he actually posted the work/solution as an answer. He asked a question, then answered it himself. \$\endgroup\$ – Blair Fonville Jul 26 '18 at 22:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Which is why, in my answer, I discuss that a question should be critiqued based on its own merits, without regard to any subsequent answers. \$\endgroup\$ – Blair Fonville Jul 26 '18 at 22:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes and No, I agree that a question should be judged alone. But if a user repeatedly\blatantly ignores suggestions, then the sum total of their actions should be taken into consideration. If it gets really bad, put them in the penalty box stackoverflow.blog/2009/04/06/a-day-in-the-penalty-box \$\endgroup\$ – Voltage Spike Jul 26 '18 at 23:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I agree with that clarification. I don’t mean to suggest that a user’s history should not be taken into account where necessary. I only mean that an off-topic question does not become on-topic, just because it was replied to with an acceptable answer. With regard to the topic of this meta post, it sounds like we’re saying the same thing. Not sure why my answer was downvoted. \$\endgroup\$ – Blair Fonville Jul 26 '18 at 23:18

Notably, the EE site has added a custom on-topic page which doesn't forbid this kind of homework spam. This is unfortunate in my opinion. Looking at other sites such as Stack Overflow, they have a rule:

Questions asking for homework help must include a summary of the work you've done so far to solve the problem, and a description of the difficulty you are having solving it.

I don't see why EE shouldn't treat homework questions in the same way. In general, the on-topic page could do with an update.


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