In this thread, Alex Bartel asks what I consider to be a question that is extremely important for our site.
"...here people are more than willing to solve homework questions completely, even if they see that an experienced mathematician has already posted a comment with the obvious aim to get the poster to think about the question. I think that this is extremely counterproductive, especially because the answers will be easy to google in the future. People who do this are actively playing against the lecturers and teachers, who often put a lot of effort into coming up with good exercises for their students. At the moment, I feel that this site is doing what AOPS has been doing for a long time - only worse!"
I would like to propose the following policy for math-SE which is something of a compromise between allowing users to post HW problems and not spoiling the student by giving them the answers too easily. To be clear, I think it can be very damaging for the development of a student if the teacher gives away the answers to HW problems the way that Alex identifies.
1) If a user posts a HW problem, they should understand that they are expected to type up their solution as an answer to their own post, and then after working with the community and responding to all comments (with edits to the answer) to everyone's satisfaction, they will then accept their own answer.
2) It should be expected of the community that no user will give away the answer to any HW problem under any circumstances, and that all hints should be based on a community agreed upon standard which depends on the attitude and level of knowledge of the student.
This way the entire thought process which the student has gone through to learn the solution will be laid bare for all to see. At a certain level there must be trust in the student-teacher relationship. A student who is determined to cheat cannot be stopped from doing so; however once a student has put sufficient effort to try and solve a problem on their own, it would be a tremendously valuable resource to have these kinds of detailed and thorough solutions available.
Once an honest student has put a lot of work into a problem, but is stuck, I think this policy will encourage the user to go through a learning process themselves. Perhaps mathematical issues and confusing things which are not so obvious to experts will be well explained by the OP who has now completely understood how to get past whatever was getting them stuck. Furthermore, in the future other students who get stuck for similar reasons will be able to much more quickly make progress in their studies.