Earlier in 2013, for a short time a volcano of postings about basic homework questions took over practically the entire meta.MSE, with the same 20 users rapidly exchanging what seemed to be thousands of comments, questions and answers.

One side effect of that was the creation of neologisms improvised to refer to different flavors of homework-like postings: PSQ, CPQ, CPHQ. More recently there have been derivatives of this terminology, such as SOP, floating in comment discussions.

If you do not know what any of those abbreviations mean, that may be enough reason to upvote this question. The rest of this post is for people who do recognize those terms and, possibly, still use them.

The proposal is to:

  • discourage the use of acronyms like "PSQ" as though everyone knows what they mean
  • if you do use them, clearly define the abbreviation at the first place in a question or answer or comment thread where it is used
  • do not use PSQ, CPHQ, etc in the hope they can serve as search words for postings. There is not enough consistency in use for the search results to be complete or unbiased. Instead, add one tag (such as [problem-only-questions], but it can be anything, including the existing tag) to questions that are about that subject, and link it as a tag like in answers that you want to be searchable.
  • Retag the small number of old questions, if any exist, that do not bear the tag and are based on any of the PSQ-like acronyms, with whatever the PSQ-replacement tag will be.


  1. new meta users cannot be expected to find the whole forest of old discussions to understand the definition and conversations that developed around it. There are active meta users who registered later than the discussions that created the acronyms, and there is an unknown number of silent meta readers who might see the terms and ignore a discussion that they could have understood if the phrases were written in longer English.

  2. confused users continue to post questions and comments asking what the terms mean

  3. it is good to minimize private in-group terminology in a forum open to all users

  4. discussion volume has slowed on the topic, reducing the need for short abbreviations.

  5. there is no consistency among users in what phrases and abbreviations are used, which MSE postings they are primarily talking about when they do use the term, and whether they really mean only those postings or some other set for which the PSQ, CPQ etc are a definable substitute (e.g., wanting to ban all homework postings, or to allow all "interesting" problems no matter how they are presented).

  6. As stated above, it biases search results to look for, say, "PSQ", since many people who post on these matters on meta do not use exactly that term.

The same arguments apply to all highly localized terms developed within MSE, but I do not know of any others in use at the moment except the PSQ family.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If obscure terminology is really a source of confusion (which it never was for me, and I don't actively follow Meta Math SE), then perhaps a glossary post is also in order, along the lines of this one on MSO. $\endgroup$
    – Logan M
    Dec 24, 2013 at 6:32
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    $\begingroup$ @LoganMaingi There is a glossary here: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/3012/… It would be sufficient to link to this glossary or some other question explaining the acronym, when using the term PSQ. $\endgroup$ Dec 24, 2013 at 6:48
  • $\begingroup$ It is in the glossary post for this site ( meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/3012/… ), which does not include the variants and alternative readings (such as "problem set questions", which I saw a few days ago). If this proposal is popular enough, the glossary could also be edited to list some acronyms as discouraged, and there mainly for understanding of old conversations. @LoganMaingi $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Dec 24, 2013 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ Incidentally, just yesterday I asked whether we could make a new tag on meta, in this chatroom and also in the main chatroom. $\endgroup$ Dec 24, 2013 at 6:51
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ After looking at the glossary I still have no idea what a SOP or CPQ is. I think I know what a PSQ is: a raw dump of a homework question, demanding we solve a numerical problem/provide a proof without any evidence of work shown. $\endgroup$
    – user7530
    Dec 24, 2013 at 6:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For a tag, (problem-only-questions) seems clearer than (problem-statement-questions), since the majority of MSE questions are "problem statements" of some kind. The term PSQ originated from the title of a posting on meta that contained the words "questions that are nothing besides a problem statement", and "problem-only" represents that more precisely. @MartinSleziak $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Dec 24, 2013 at 6:57
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    $\begingroup$ BTW, from all the acronyms you mention in your post, I was only familiar with PSQ. This one seems to be used more frequently. The other shortcuts you mention have less than 10 hits in Google: PSQ, CPQ, CPHQ, SOP. $\endgroup$ Dec 24, 2013 at 7:59
  • $\begingroup$ PSQ is still used in titles, questions and answers, and still spawning questions on what it means. The others I have seen in comments and may be limited to that if Google doesn't find them elsewhere. The number of hits on PSQ is enough, IMO, to want to make a point of discouraging its continuation, since an ongoing but irregular pattern of use tends to make it potentially confusing, or an in-group jargon (see meta.SO for examples of that), or something that will be a strange artifact from the point of view of users who come from other sites or will appear in 2014. @MartinSleziak $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Dec 24, 2013 at 8:19
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    $\begingroup$ I prefer to call those questions "assignment dumps", I really don't see any reason to use an acronym here. I'd go even further and any meta post discussing this issue should contain a paragraph detailing exactly what kind of question it is about. Else it is easily possible to talk past each other. $\endgroup$
    – user9733
    Dec 24, 2013 at 10:03
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak I always find that glossary slightly annoying. It dumps common maths and common internet acronyms beside MSE-specific ones. (Also, does anyone else find the use of the acronym "MSE" in this thread slightly ironic?) $\endgroup$
    – user1729
    Dec 24, 2013 at 13:25
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak: As I recall the history, CPHQ (copy-paste homework question) was the original, but that actual wording was overly specific, and was supplanted by PSQ (problem statement question). I don't actually recall ever seeing CPQ or SOP, although I can guess what they mean. $\endgroup$
    – user14972
    Dec 24, 2013 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Hurkyl, not that it matters, but you were one of several people to use SOP last week (following its appearance in the question meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/12121/… ). CPQ and CPHQ were, in some combination that includes both but more of the latter, used many times in the earlier back and forth comment discussions involving you, me, Brian, Asaf, and others at the time of the long homework threads. $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Dec 24, 2013 at 21:08
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    $\begingroup$ It is absolutely ridiculous to expect me to look at a glossary to understand the title of a meta question, and it is even more ridiculous in the context of getting new users to do what you want. There are really very few situations where acronyms are appropriate at all when talking to a diverse unknown group of readers. If you talk about these things so much that this would be a significant time saver for you, then you should define a keyboard macro on your computer and think hard why you are talking about these things so much. $\endgroup$
    – Phira
    Dec 29, 2013 at 0:07
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    $\begingroup$ I think that it is very rude to use acronyms and reply to a critical comment that "everyone knows what they mean". Well, I did not, so you are just plain wrong, and I do not intend to learn your favourite cool slang to discuss something as basic as homework questions. We have discussed this here for years without abbreviations. $\endgroup$
    – Phira
    Dec 29, 2013 at 0:09
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I've seen "PSQ" floating around, and assumed all this while that it meant "poorly stated question". $\endgroup$ Jan 2, 2014 at 7:01


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