We have community accepted rules both on phil.SE and SE in general that regard how homework questions should be handled. Here we voted overwhelmingly to agree that homework questions that do not show any effort in an attempted solution should be closed (put on hold until the necessary edits have been made). Here is a meta.SE post where the community agreed with basically the same idea, that people should not be doing homework for users and that the user should show that they have made an effort to solve the problem themselves.

The question Is this argument about “either or” valid or invalid? is an example of a homework question which does not meet any of the criteria outlined for being an acceptable question, and further more it received three answers which just amount the answerer's doing the person's homework for them. This question and these answers, according to the community guidelines which have been outlined in the posts linked above, should not exist in their current state. This site is not a place for people to cheat on their homework, it is a violation of academic integrity for someone to do so and it is wrong for the answerers to be aiding in a violation of academic integrity. The situation can easily be fixed by the questioner showing their attempts at answering the question, and that is exactly the reason we have the rules in the first place. My comment on the question pointing out our rules for homework was deleted and I have no idea why.

So, all of that being said, should we add a "Homework" tag?

With that tag, we can correctly identify homework questions which would allow us to know when the question does not show an adequate amount of effort at an attempted answer, and we can know when answers are also not complying with the guidelines of "don't do people's homework for them," which will help with appropriately adjudicating the situation.

I genuinely believe that doing people's homework for them, besides being dishonest, is detrimental to their over all academic journey; doing someone's homework for them does not help them learn, even if it's with the intent of "hey, this will show them how to solve the problem". Given that we often get questions that are clearly just copy-pasted from the homework page, this tag would serve the purpose of clearly delimiting when and where the community should take action to improve the questions and prevent answerers from cheating someone's homework for them.

  • Meta tags like this usually aren't allowed. The only time would be if they clearly indicate specific rules for a type of question. I'm not sure needing to show an attempt is enough to warrant a meta tag. Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 1:38

1 Answer 1


I agree with your sentiments toward homework questions. I agree that we (or anyone) should not just hand people homework answers. But I don't think this is a good idea.

First, if a certain homework question should be closed, then ... it should be closed, and we already have a close reason for low-effort homework questions. I don't see how tagging such a question helps in any way.

Second, and related, some homework questions are legitimate. If a question is high-quality in content then it should remain open regardless of the poster's motivation for asking it. The mere fact that a question is homework doesn't mean it should be closed. I think tagging such a question as homework might unfairly bias users against it.

Third, whether a question is homework is a judgment call. Yes, sometimes it seems obvious (e.g. this), but even in such cases the student may be working through a textbook and not doing homework. In many others cases we can't really tell. And I don't think users are very likely to tag their own homework questions correctly.

Fourth, tags should be about the topics of the question. They should describe its content. They help users find questions they're interested in, etc. Tags that do not fit this pattern aren't very helpful, and their usage has been discouraged more broadly on SE sites.

And finally, the usage of homework tags has been discussed on meta.SE and the consensus was that they should not be used.

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