How to ask a homework question
- Can I ask a homework question here?
- How do I ask a homework question on this website?
- What information should I include in a question about homework?
- Why don't you provide a complete answer to my question?
There are actually two factors involved here, one is on your end, and one over here on this website.
As a general rule, we do not discourage any specific category of questions, as long as it is mathematical. But please do make an effort to search through the list of previously asked questions. In our experience homework questions are usually not very imaginative, and tend to fall in one of the abstract categories of commonly asked questions. We will close duplicate questions, especially if they are of homework type.
On the other hand, whether your learning institution (middle school, high school, college, etc.) and your teacher or professor allows you to consult other people, or to post the exact question on the internet, is something that is usually addressed by your institution's honor code or rules and regulations, and any specific class policies. You should ask your teacher whether asking a homework question here is appropriate before posting your question.
Please put some work into formulating your question. Please do not just copy and paste the exact question text from your homework sheet. In particular, when you are asking for help, writing in imperative mode ("Show that...", "Compute...", or "Prove or find a counterexample: ...") is at the very least impolite: you are, after all, trying to ask a question, not give an assignment. It also turns many people off.
For example, this is generally discouraged:
Given that $a$, $b$, and $c$ are sides of a right triangle (where $c$ is the hypotenuse, prove that $a^2+b^2=c^2$.
If you feel that it is somehow just so much more straightforward to copy and paste, then it is generally good real world advice to both quote the question (because you are copying after all) and give a reference to the source (so that others can refer to the context of the question). (For example, if the question is taken from a textbook, please include the title, author, and edition.)
You should also volunteer all relevant information (see next section). It is a waste of everybody's time if someone has to ask for what you should explicitly have given.
The following are some things that may help your question get better answers, or at least answer more tailored to your situation.
We've had another discussion from the point of view of the answerer, and you should see that for a more complete discussion. To quote the accepted answer in that thread, we feel that
Providing an answer that doesn't help a student learn is not in the student's own best interest, and if a solution complete enough to be copied verbatim and handed in is given immediately, it will encourage more people to use the site as a free homework service. In the spirit of creating a lasting resource of mathematical knowledge, you may come back after a suitable amount of time and edit your response to include a more complete answer. Or even better, the student can post her or his own correct answer!