Well, we know that getting help from Stack Exchange for homework is a complete no-no. But what about discussing the interpretation of a particular question?

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    $\begingroup$ But it's homework dumping --- simply copying the text of a problem with nothing without offering anything else --- that's the no-no. $\endgroup$ – pjs36 Mar 2 '16 at 22:02
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    $\begingroup$ @pjs36 What if OP offers their interpretation of the question and why they are having issues with their interpretation. For example "The question says so and so but then I will arrive at contradiction at so and so" or "Is my assumption that X holds valid for so and so"? $\endgroup$ – Banach Tarski Mar 2 '16 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ Those both sound like they could be the basis of reasonable questions to me. I was just questioning the statement that asking for help on a homework question is unquestionably frowned upon. $\endgroup$ – pjs36 Mar 2 '16 at 22:34
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    $\begingroup$ Is there some particular post that has prompted this question, Banach? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Mar 2 '16 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson No there hasn't been any particular post. Was just wondering since recently I was contemplating if I should get the opinion of the community on one problem I was trying. That problem was resolved anyway. $\endgroup$ – Banach Tarski Mar 2 '16 at 22:41
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    $\begingroup$ This is the sort of question one should ask whoever set the homework, as they are in the best position to answer it. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Mar 3 '16 at 6:08

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever why homework problems should not be on here. In fact, I strongly encourage students to use math.SE for their homework problems! I believe this is the view held by most people.

However what I am strongly against is dumping problems, which most likely come from homework, but this is not a necessary condition.

I don't care whether a problem comes from homework or not. What I care about is whether the asker shows effort, regardless of whether it's homework.

There is no reason why asking for help on homework, including how to solve it, should be banned.

Discussing interpretation of homework problems is always 100% on topic here.

To clarify, when you read "homework problem", you should read this as "homework style problem". No one can check or even cares if it actually comes from homework.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't know if this is the view held by "most people". But there is a nontrivial portion of the people who either have no problem with homework questions (for one of several possible reasons), or actively encourage their students to do so (e.g., I told my students that I can also be found through this website more than once). $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mar 7 '16 at 16:32

I think an Asker who posts a Question that articulately considers the interpretation of an exercise is doing something right!

Many low quality Questions hinge on a misinterpretation (one example of this) or a lack of interpretation (such as this example).

In my view the Asker is ultimately responsible for clarifying the interpretation of the Question that is being asked. We can help with Questions that ask about interpretation of exercises, e.g. what does a term mean in the context of a particular subject in mathematics, or what interpretation of a problem makes it trivial or nonsensical (so probably not what the original problem autho had in mind). Still, the Asker needs to be able to tell whether they are being given good Answers. If they cannot tell, it is perhaps because they did not cover the basic definitions for the terms used in their Question.

I welcome thoughtful Questions about interpretations of exercises, and I abhor the "pass-through" bare problem statement questions.

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