I've just VTC a 'homework with no attempt' question, and another user has added a link to the Tour, perhaps thinking it was helpful. On reading it, it offers no guidance to our policy.

These are the lists from the 'do and don't ask' section of the Tour as it stands at 2021/07/28

Ask about...

  • a specific electronics design problem
  • the theory and simulation of electromagnetic forces
  • a communication scheme
  • the writing of firmware for bare-metal or RTOS applications

Don't ask about...

  • Shopping or buying recommendations
  • Consumer electronics such as media players, cell phones or smart phones, except when designing these products or modifying their electronics for other uses
  • Programming software for a PC
  • Anything else not directly related to electronics design
  • Questions that are primarily opinion-based
  • Questions with too many possible answers or that would require an extremely long answer

I'd like to add to these something along the lines of

  • don't ask for homework answers when you have made no attempt at a solution

  • do ask for help with homework when you have tried to solve it, you show your working, and indicate where you are stuck

... if of course this still sums up our current policy on homework.


4 Answers 4


We are working on updating the process for homework questions, specifically adding a "homework without an attempt" closure reason.

You are right that we need to get some guidance into the Help Center too, so that our stance on such questions isn't a surprise.

I know that some other SE sites already have a similar stance on "homework without an attempt" as we now have, so I'll look to see what guidance they give in their Help and see if that fits for us too. Your proposed text looks good, although I think we should also look for standardization across the SE sites if possible and I also expect that SE staff would want to be consulted on any changes.

So, thanks for the reminder! I'll put this work higher on my to-do list.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ How are these improvements coming along? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11, 2022 at 20:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ (unrelated) Why do we have only two SE communities as choices when voting to close a question because it belongs elsewhere? Many questions belong to the Arduino community, but Arduino is nowhere in the option, only 2 networks are listed: electronics.meta.stackexchange.com and superuser.com. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 20, 2023 at 13:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EdinFifić - Hi, My (imperfect) memory is that it's because SE only allow a limited number of choices in that menu. It has been hard (based on historical data) to prove which ones should be there. I believe the Meta site is always an option on other sites too, but I don't have the rep elsewhere to check. Please read this related previous Meta topic about migration as it gives some useful background. Be careful about words like "belong" - some questions are on-topic at both Arduino.SE & here, depending on specifics. Ask a new Q if needed. \$\endgroup\$
    – SamGibson Mod
    Apr 20, 2023 at 14:09

I would like to discourage questions along the lines of "Is my answer right?" if we can. I don't feel that such questions fall within the spirit of "indicate where you are stuck".

I am solidly behind any effort to help students understand difficult concepts and learn the craft. I don't think we should be checking their arithmetic or verifying their answers to an on-line exam.


For everyone raising a new question I'd add a "gate" to getting the question posted on the site. That "gate" would be something like this: -

"Is your question about homework?"

"Have you fully described where you are stuck?"

And, if the poster says "yes" and "no", then the whole question text is deleted automatically (before posting) and the good folk on stack exchange never see it.

If the poster says it isn't homework then, the question is allowed to be posted. Of course some folk will lie and there will be a trickle through but it should be less of a serious problem.

Kill the problem at source. Prevention is better than cure.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ "the whole question text is deleted automatically" seems a little drastic ;) ... Wouldn't disabling the 'Post your question' button be sufficient? \$\endgroup\$
    – brhans
    Aug 2, 2021 at 17:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK.... you have ten seconds to CTRL-C your question before it is permanently deleted then. Or better still, just immediate deletion (like I said). It'll soon wake folk up to what they have to do and leave the rest of us slumbering as if nothing ever happened @brhans \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Aug 2, 2021 at 19:03
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I would also suggest that the gate question be shown only to low rep users (101 or less). Most low effort homework questions seem to be from brand new users. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJN
    Aug 4, 2021 at 13:02

I have seen a number of questions that have the format "what is xxx" where xxx is something like "Ohm's Law", "Kirchoff's Law", "Boyle's Law", etc. and that is the entire question. I think it is safe to say that this is something that can be processed by Google quickly and efficiently. In fact, it can be answered quicker using Google that with the various parts of StackExchange. I always assume that these are people answering homework questions. In fact, it should be possible to get lists of named laws (Wikipedia has some lists that would be useful, e.g. "List of eponymous laws".) and simply have a canned response for questions which simply contain the name of the law with a phrase such as "What is ...", "What does ... mean", "Who discovered ...", "When was ... discovered", etc. The response could be as snarky or innocent as you wish. My personal choice would be "Stack Exchange is not meant as a substitute for study in doing homework or other assignments. We suggest that you use Wikipedia or Google first, and then return to StackExchange if you still have questions, indicating what part of the answer from Google or Wikipedia that you don't understand."

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I wouldn't have this site endorse Wikipedia or Google by name as sources. I'm not accusing them of being unreliable, just has this site needlessly shouldering a responsibility for their quality. Research might be books, papers, a tutor, other students, a lecture video as well as the internet. Instead, I'd say: "Please do not ask StackExchange to do your homework or assignments for you. StackExchange is not a tutorial site. Please research and understand such work elsewhere. If there is still confusion on specific points, you can ask a detailed question that clearly shows that research." \$\endgroup\$
    – TonyM
    Jul 30, 2021 at 16:08

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