What is the specific purpose of the 'homework' tag?

thanks ugphysics

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    $\begingroup$ Have you searched the meta site for information onthis? For example, there is meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/621/… ... $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Sep 29 '11 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ (Thanks for the link.) But I had a more specific question- I want to ask a specific question which has some indirectly related answers, but not specifically to the question I want to ask. - Should I then not post my question because it may be viewed as a redundant question? or should I use the tag so I can clarify that it's primarily a homework question. My [post in question. ... I understood the general reasoning for closing the post, but I'm still wondering what the tag is for?] $\endgroup$ – UGPhysics Sep 29 '11 at 22:47
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    $\begingroup$ You should ask the question making it clear what you want. Relying on a feeble tag to express that is hopeless. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Sep 29 '11 at 22:50
  • $\begingroup$ Well, apparently there isn't a universally-accepted view of what questions are acceptable vs. unacceptable when labeled 'homework'. My post was closed as a possible duplicate. ... But being a homework question, I felt I should be allowed to post it under the tag. ... $\endgroup$ – UGPhysics Sep 29 '11 at 22:52
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    $\begingroup$ Explain in the body of the question what makes your question not a duplicate. Tagging does not magically turn inappropriate questions into appropriate ones. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Sep 29 '11 at 22:53
  • $\begingroup$ The post that is supposed to serve the 'abstract' template for such questions is this. I'm not exactly sure if my question and the possible duplicate version are - either asking the same thing, or have the same responses [specifically the Accepted answer]. There seems to be a lot of commonality, but I'm still a bit uncertain. ... And the relevant voters who voted to close it seemed less than very eager to consider it on its own merit. $\endgroup$ – UGPhysics Sep 29 '11 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe you can provide an answer to the hw question. Would greatly appreciate the help. - cheers :) $\endgroup$ – UGPhysics Sep 29 '11 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ [Interestingly, the 'homework' tag has the greatest number of questions. ... Clearly this site is most frequently visited and used by students (or similar). ... Not sure if closing any [homework] question without considering it on its own merit would be helpful to make the site student-friendly. Just sayin'.] $\endgroup$ – UGPhysics Sep 29 '11 at 23:17
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    $\begingroup$ @UGPhysics: Just as with the question that sparked this, it seems that you ask one question when you really mean something else. Your question is not really "what is the purpose of the homework tag?" but rather "Why did you guys close my question that had a homework tag?". Treating questions marked as homework as "undeletable", or as "unclosable for being duplicates" makes the site unwieldly, makes people less willing to answer (repeating the same thing over and over and over again), and duplicates effort. That hardly makes the site user-friendly, or likely to be useful to students. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Sep 30 '11 at 0:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Arturo: You are far more knowledgeable about this site and its workings than I am, but the -actual- reason for my asking this question -was- to understand the purpose of the 'homework' tag. ... I still don't understand why the site would incorporate this tag if, in reality, we could not post -actual- homework questions. ... I don't get it. Why not just delete this tag and let users know - via the FAQ or otherwise - that very specific questions would be closed as duplicates to already general 'template questions'. ... If MO is the site for researchers in math, and this site is for ... $\endgroup$ – UGPhysics Sep 30 '11 at 2:06
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    $\begingroup$ @UGPhysics: Where does it say you cannot post actual homework questions? Or who said you cannot post actual homework questions? There is a vast gulf between "You cannot post homework questions" and "You should not delete any question marked as "homework" that is a valid question on its own merits" (which seems to be the position you are advocating). Duplicate questions, whether they come from homework, from research, or from idle wonderings, should be closed and the poster pointed to the other question that covers the same thing. If the OP thinks the other question fails to cover (cont.) $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Sep 30 '11 at 2:10
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    $\begingroup$ @UGPhysics (cont) some important point, he can ask about it in that original question via comments, or he can ask a specific question about that particular point. Simply reposting the same question without addressing the comments does not really solve anything. The issue is not the [homework] tag. If you look around, you will see literally hundreds (if not already thousands) of " actual homework questions" that have been asked, and answered. Not every homework question fits a template; not every question tagged homework is a duplicate. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Sep 30 '11 at 2:12
  • $\begingroup$ ... students and learners, wouldn't it be inevitable that homework-style problems / questions would be one of the, if not -the-, mainstay of the site? -- You make a very agreeable point that allowing similar-type questions again and again would make the site unwieldy, but - given [I'm assuming] the userbase of this site being mostly students or self-learners - I would assume inevitably a substantial fraction of questions would be related to homework and/or 'homework-type' specific questions. ... $\endgroup$ – UGPhysics Sep 30 '11 at 2:13
  • $\begingroup$ Btw, from the maintenance point of view, I do in fact agree with you. ... Thanks generally for the feedback. - Regards $\endgroup$ – UGPhysics Sep 30 '11 at 2:22

To answer the question actually posed in the body: to me, the homework tag signals that the question derives from homework, and as such that the answer should be couched didactically. Whether this means a full solution with all the details, a hint of what to try, a solution to a similar but not identical problem, etc., will depend on the question (and sometimes on the history of the person posting it and my interactions with them). It provides some context for the question that allows the answer to be cast in likely appropriate terms.

You don't explain something the same way to someone who is learning to subject than to someone with a certain degree of familiarity and mathematical maturity.

  • $\begingroup$ Hypothetically, [and to help me familiarise myself with the policy of MSE], if the original question were posted as a homework question, may I inquire what your response to the question would be? $\endgroup$ – UGPhysics Sep 30 '11 at 2:38
  • $\begingroup$ What original question? If you mean your closed question, my response would have been to point you to the duplicate question that you seem to reject so strongly, since I spent a considerable effort writing it and trying to make it didactic. If you mean the question whose answer you found unsatisfying, I answered that as I would answer a student during office hours trying to understand series. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Sep 30 '11 at 2:42
  • $\begingroup$ Essentially this question, but without the word 'rigorously' and the "Update:". $\endgroup$ – UGPhysics Sep 30 '11 at 2:45
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    $\begingroup$ @UGPhysics: Again: My response would have been to point you to the duplicate question which contains an answer that I consider to be didactic and expansive. If no such question had existed before, I would have done exactly what I did when the question first showed up, namely, write up an answer along the lines of that long answer. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Sep 30 '11 at 2:53
  • $\begingroup$ I thank you for the addition. This is the sort of answer I was hoping for. - regards $\endgroup$ – UGPhysics Sep 30 '11 at 2:58
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    $\begingroup$ A google search gives "didactically" as "tended to convey instruction and information as well as pleasure and entertainment", and according to this definition I think all answers should be didactical whether or not the "homework" tag is present. $\endgroup$ – Dan Brumleve Sep 30 '11 at 11:27

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