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Not so long ago, the tag was blacklisted.

However, we still have many comments on old questions containing some information about (homework) tag. This information is now obsolete. It is possible that new users, who see this information in such comments, learn some incorrect things from such comments.

To make situation somewhat more complicated, you can find comments such as:

Is this homework? If so, please use the homework tag.

If this is for homework you should add the homework tag.

Is this homework? If so, what have you tried? Also consider adding a homework tag.

should not be used as a standalone tag; see tag-wiki and meta.

The comments similar to the ones above basically just tell users about homework tag, perhaps with a brief explanation what this tag is for. By removing comments like this nothing is lost. And we gain that we remove incorrect (obsolete) information from places where some users may read them.

To make situation somewhat more complicated, there are also comments which contain obsolete information about homework tag, but also some information which is still useful. (And can be useful also for other users, not only for the OP which probably has read that comment quite a long time ago.)

Welcome to math.SE: since you are new, I wanted to let you know a few things about the site. In order to get the best possible answers, it is helpful if you say in what context you encountered the problem, and what your thoughts on it are; this will prevent people from telling you things you already know, and help them give their answers at the right level. If this is homework, please add the tag; people will still help, so don't worry.

Since you are new to this site, please consider reading this: How to ask a homework question?. In particular, you should use tag if your question comes from a homework.

You should: explain what you have tried for the remaining parts, and what relevant facts you know; add the tag if applicable; and give this question a more specific title.

I am sure that lost of similar examples of comments can be found.


I hope I have more-or-less explained what problem is. I want to ask the community:

  • Is this really a problem? Should we try to do something about it? (I am aware that there are too many comments like that to remove all of them. But occasionally you stumble upon old questions - when looking for duplicate, studying topic, checking whether your question has already been asked, etc. And you may notice such comments there.
  • The other questions is, what should we do about this? (If we decide that something should be done.)
  • If it is my comment, then I can simply delete it. But what if I found a comment by another user? Should I flag it as obsolete? (There was similar discussion about tag here. The answer there is to flag as other and add a custom message explaining why the comment is obsolete. I am not sure whether the same advice applies to this tag.)
  • If the user replied to a comment about homework tag and their response does not make much sense after removing that comment, should the reply be flagged, too?
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    $\begingroup$ Related thought: There are plenty of posts on meta about homework which predated blacklisting. Some of them also might contain some information which is now obsolete. Should we do something about them so that new users are not misinformed if they find one of those threads? $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 14 '14 at 7:40
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    $\begingroup$ Here's a quick and dirty SEDE query to look for comments containing both homework and tag (and so catches [tag:homework]). $\endgroup$ – user642796 Sep 14 '14 at 9:02
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    $\begingroup$ Here is a slight modification of Arthur's query which only searches through the comments of user with a given UserId. (Since any user can remove their comments without any need of moderators involvement, I thought this might be useful, too.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 14 '14 at 9:37
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I suggest focusing such actions on the most visible posts. Here is a modification of Arthur Fischer's query, Comments with "homework" and "tag", ordered by views.

I think obsolete comments should definitely be removed from 10000+ view posts on the list, there are only eight of those. Other actions, such as editing, may be also in order there. (Aside: a while ago I initiated the closing of the top-viewed question on this list, considering its high visibility. In the present form, it may be a good example of "how not to ask", but if someone rewrote it in a better form, I'll be happy to vote for reopening.)

We should also look into obsolete comments on 1000+ view posts; there are about 200 of those. But below that level, I suggest leaving them be in their relative obscurity.

Totally obsolete meta posts can be edited by adding a notice on top. But I would not worry much about old meta posts. Few people read those, and for those who go far enough to find them, it should not be hard to understand that practices may have changed.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for creating the query. Here is the modification which includes filtering the comments by UserId. (I have already removed my comments from the posts with more than 1k views.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 14 '14 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ @JonasMeyer Unfortunately, almost one week. SEDE is updated on weekends, Saturday nights (U.S. time). $\endgroup$ – user147263 Sep 15 '14 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ Only two 10000+ view posts remaining, one with 2 votes to delete, and the other an unusual case (discussion in the comments mentions homework tag tangentially). P.S.: Happy 20k. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Sep 22 '14 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ @JonasMeyer Thanks, but so far 20K is more of a nuisance. Low Quality queue now uses up delete votes on obvious non-answers that 2K rep users can delete just as well (it takes six of them, but there are a lot more 2K users than 20K users). I guess I'll have to use up delete votes before getting into LQ review. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Sep 23 '14 at 1:44

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