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I'd like to propose an addition to the questions How to ask a homework question? based on the following observation. Most questions that are in fact homework questions are copied verbatim from the original text. Shouldn't it be standard procedure in almost any medium to -quote- the copy?

For example, some questions go like this:

For any $x$, show that $f(x) = g(x)$.

The natural disgruntlement that is often commented on ("Why are you telling us to do this? Did you have a question?") could be avoided if the question were treated as a copy and quoted:

For any $x$, show that $f(x) = g(x)$.

That would sidestep all sorts of common misunderstandings and complaints.

The major difficulty I see with this is that those who write questions like this don't care about formatting it for the community standards anyway. But I thought the connection with copying and plagiarism would be more convincing to newcomers/homework leeches to teach them to quote would be more successful than trying to teach them to use the homework tag.

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  • $\begingroup$ In point of fact, I tend to do precisely this when I edit a question which has the text of the problem and some other discussion. Nonetheless, simply posting the copy still produces the problem of producing a post with nothing but an order, even if it is clearly "a copy and quote". $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Mar 29 '11 at 3:12
  • $\begingroup$ I left the answer template posted to that other question as a CW for a reason :). Please consider adding this to that answer with an appropriate topic heading! Note that I however agrees with what Arturo wrote: quoting the exact homework question should be done in addition to, not in place of the other guidelines. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Mar 29 '11 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Arturo, @Willie: Oh yeah, I'm in total agreement; this is in addition, I don't want other things replaced. I think quoting is necessary (like giving references) but not sufficient. Argh...thinking makes this more complicated...they should also obviously give the text reference they are copying from. But maybe that is a disincentive for the poster to do the minimum we're asking here. $\endgroup$ – Mitch Mar 29 '11 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Willie: I don't see an actual 'template' (that looks like a homework question to fill in at that page. Is it in that page or is there a link to a stackexchange 'question' that is the template? $\endgroup$ – Mitch Mar 29 '11 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think I was using template in the way you meant :) What I meant to say is that I started a template for the FAQ entry which we should fill in with more information, like your contribution above. I should hope we don't need to provide Mad-Lib style templates for question askers in general! $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Mar 29 '11 at 20:05

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