I know from searching through the history here on meta that virtually every permutation of question regarding the [homework] tag has been discussed, but I could not find an answer to my question. Sorry if this one was in there somewhere and I missed it.

This question of mine was retagged as [homework]. I am self-studying and currently reading Apostol's calculus and doing all of the problems. My question is, should I be tagging my questions as homework since they are isomorphic to homework questions? In other words, is the homework tag for questions that are only literally homework, or is it to be interpreted broadly as questions of homework-type? I have been interpreting the tag as a literal one, so I detagged it as homework, and am now worried that I may have done something wrong, or should be doing something differently.

Thanks for the clarification.

  • $\begingroup$ Just so anyone reading this question knows, as of late 2014, the homework tag has been burninated. See this. $\endgroup$
    – franklin
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 17:40

1 Answer 1


The homework tag is indeed a literal one, and you should not be tagging your questions as homework unless they are actually assigned to you. While it is somewhat difficult to talk about the "policies" of math.SE given that it is mostly user-run, the consensus among the more senior users seems to be that the homework tag runs on the honor system. I and many other users consider it inappropriate to tag another user's question as homework unless they have explicitly said it is homework. I learned this from experience, when I retagged a user's fifth brief, imperative question as homework and was corrected on this by several of math.SE's most senior users.

Edit: Since this has already been revived, I would like to clarify my answer in a few ways:

  1. When I say that the asker "should not" tag their questions as homework unless they are assigned, this should be interpreted as saying that one need not tag questions as homework unless they are assigned, and that it would be incorrect for other users to retag unassigned questions as homework. It should not be interpreted as prohibiting the asker from posting unassigned questions as homework.

  2. This answer was posted long before the current debate on meta about whether users may tag their own questions as homework even if they are not assigned. It should not be read in the context of this debate.

  3. This was also posted prior to my election as a moderator. Now that I am a moderator I am more reserved in my answers on meta, because they might be seen as statements of policy rather than my opinion about how the site should/does operate. This answer is the latter rather than the former.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for clarifying. Having it retagged felt vaguely accusatory, so I was concerned I had been misinterpreting the tag / otherwise doing something to offend. $\endgroup$
    – user23784
    Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ @rar: Apologies for retagging this. Usually I am one of the ones who tries to remove the homework tag unless specified by OP. Even though I should not have done it, in this case retagging it was actually a compliment rather than an accusation! You seemed to be genuinely interested in learning the stuff, so I thought you might find it more beneficial if it was tagged as homework. Apologies. $\endgroup$
    – Aryabhata
    Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Aryabhata No worries. I was really just concerned I had done something wrong or something considered vaguely dishonest. And, of course, I really am genuinely interested in learning this stuff, so I'll try to be more explicit when I post. Though I wouldn't ask a question until I'd thought about it / worked on it for 2-3 days, by which time I'm sort of indifferent to a hint or the solution. Most of the pedagogical value is in spending 2-3 days working on it without hints. $\endgroup$
    – user23784
    Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 16:36
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    $\begingroup$ Well said. But I disagree about "should not...". If the OP wants to tag it as homework, so that they will tend to get more hints than full answers, then I see no problem with that. It's the opposite alternative that bothers some folks, i.e. not tagging homework as such, which could be viewed as cheating. But even in this case there is no consensus, since some esteemed members have argued strongly against homework policing, and even against giving hints. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ Alex, since this has been bumped already, you may want to add a notice that this was posted before you became a moderator. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 1:10
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Done, along with some other clarifications which seemed prudent. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 4:16
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, Alex! $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 4:17
  • $\begingroup$ As long as personal opinion is represented as such, and there is clarity as to what is opinion and what will be incorporated into moderator actions, why "moderate" your statements of opinion on meta? Your thoughts are what they are and presumably they feel like sharing themselves some of the time. $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 4:52
  • $\begingroup$ @zyx I agree that I could do that, but I'd just rather not have to bother switching hats all the time. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 4:54
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexBecker Could you explain why tagging one's own question as homework should be forbidden unless it is assigned by a teacher? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 7:31
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    $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato I explicitly said that that is not the case. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 7:58
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexBecker In that case, could you change the following statement of yours to avoid misunderstanding? [The homework tag is indeed a literal one, and you should not be tagging your questions as homework unless they are actually assigned to you.] $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 8:08
  • $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato I think that is completely unnecessary, given that I explicitly state so in my edit. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexBecker "need not" and "should not" have completely different meanings. You said "should not" at first and later you said it means "need not". I think it's confusing. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 8:34
  • $\begingroup$ @MakotoKato You are free to think that. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 8:35