# Do we really want a [homework] tag? [closed]

What is the purpose of a [homework] tag? It can't be to differentiate homework questions from non-homework ones since it's impossible to verify whether or not a question is homework. I don't think there's any reason to treat homework questions differently than any other question, what are your thoughts on this?

## closed as off-topic by Najib Idrissi, Jonas Meyer, Daniel FischerFeb 4 '15 at 15:09

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• Yes, it does in part come down to honesty. But I don't think that we should assume enough people are dishonest to not make a difference – Casebash Aug 14 '10 at 1:09
• Actually, we do treat homework questions differently than other questions for two reasons: 1. People don't learn if they get us to do all their homework 2. We don't want these questions to drown out the good questions. See this question for more information – Casebash Aug 14 '10 at 5:24
• @Casebash If giving a full answer is harmful to a homework asker, I think it's the same for a non-homework asker. – Makoto Kato Aug 6 '12 at 3:25

I think of this entirely as on StackOverflow--see this meta.SO FAQ question. The "homework" tag is intended to be voluntarily added by the original asker (often as a later edit once they are told that they should tag homework), or perhaps added by others after the original asker actually states that it's homework. It's an honesty thing, rather than mods/high-rep users guessing whether or not something is homework.

• Yes, I have seen many instances of other users adding the homework tag to someone else's question without prompting. Please don't do this. – Larry Wang Aug 14 '10 at 16:11
• OK. I didn't see this thread, and some questions are very clearly homework problems. I personally think it is silly to have a [homework] tag without being able to stick it on a question when it obviously fits. – Glen Wheeler Apr 24 '11 at 16:11
• @Glen While taking a college algebra course I started reading calculus texts. Had I asked a calculus problem here would it have been a homework problem? – Jay Aug 13 '12 at 22:41
1. Any tool that allows the questioner to provide information to potential answerers as they filter the question list, is a good thing. This could include tags like [homework], [hint-request], [adult-learner], [high-school], [phd-student], or [work-related].

2. Any decision by people other than a questioner (i.e., the information is not posted in the question) that something is [homework], [high-school], etc is presumptuous and should be strongly discouraged. Having it done routinely by users or moderators would amount to an accusation or ostracism system on math.SE and is something to be avoided.

• I agree with the concept in (1), but not with some of the specific tags--[adult-learner] and [phd-student] describe the person and not the question (tags should describe the question); I'm not sure about [work-related] (it's a relatively-subjective or overly-narrow tag). In (2), I agree about the [homework] tag, but the [high-school] tag can be applied as an objective assessment that the content of a question falls in the domain of typical high school curriculum (and [high-school] is one of my "interesting" tags). – Isaac Aug 14 '10 at 8:18
• [high-school] has widely varying meanings, especially internationally, and it can be read as implying personal information about the poster (age, student status, etc). For this reason I would avoid it completely as an externally imposed tag. It may be useful as a self-reported tag by users, but as you say, information about persons rather than questions is suspect, and some editors may add the tag when it is not volunteered, so probably it is better to replace it with a more Q&A-descriptive term or set of terms. – T.. Aug 14 '10 at 9:24
• Well, I certainly don't wish to see separate tags for lycée, 高校, etc. And of course there's the question of whether calculus is a standard part of high-school curriculum... I'd rather just see questions tagged by subject, or where they came from (AMC/USAMO questions, for instance). – Larry Wang Aug 14 '10 at 16:19

This is just a small aspect of the issue, but note that the homework tag is likely to be used only by those who were willing to read the FAQ before posting. In choosing what tags to assign their question, I doubt many people would think to start typing "homework," instead going for algebra, or calculus, or whatever the math content of their homework question is. So this might be a tag most often applied by a moderator or someone else retagging.

• If the question body says "This is a homework problem I'm working on," but the asker forgot to tag it homework, then this is fine. In less clear cases, I don't like the idea of other people putting a homework tag on someone else's question, for reasons much like T.. gave in his answer. – Larry Wang Aug 14 '10 at 16:21
• Kaestur - I agree. I'm reluctant to retag anything homework (and haven't yet), and am mostly waiting to see how/if the tag is used. – Jamie Banks Aug 16 '10 at 20:23

I don't think the homework tag is necessary.

I think everybody is learning by trying to solve a mathematical question, right? If this is true, I don't see much difference between homework and other questions.

- If you think that a homework asker should show enough effort, I think it's the same for other askers.

- If you think that giving a full answer to a homework asker is pedagogically no good, I think it's the same for other askers.

My conclusion: If you think giving a full answer to a homework asker is pedagogically no good, in principle, nobody should provide a full answer to almost every question. I think this is absurd.

• Do you also call your friends from high school to answer a question they once asked you several decades ago? While it can be useful, bumping ancient threads whose context was much more relevant when the site was new is not a good idea. The conversation and discussions are not really relevant for today. Even if the topic is somewhat relevant, the way it approached two years ago is not usually the way it is approached to now. This is especially annoying because you essentially repeat your argument everywhere possible, and lately... in extremely old and irrelevant threads. Please stop. – Asaf Karagila Aug 11 '12 at 23:12
• @AsafKaragila Perhaps someone(or some people) would comment on yours. I'd like to wait for it. Regards, – Makoto Kato Aug 11 '12 at 23:32
• To the downvoters, continuing to have grudges on past events is not productive. I suggest we make peace. I'm not suggesting this only for myself. Since the upper limit was introduced, the problem was completely solved. So if you continue to downvote me only for your grudge, it is rather a disgrace to yourself. Regards, – Makoto Kato Aug 12 '12 at 2:51
• Makoto, I downvoted you here, and it has nothing to do with a past grudge. I downvoted for two reasons: firstly, I don't agree with your post; secondly, I think it's not useful to use a two-year old question as a straw-man in an argument. Since this question, the homework tag is even part of the faq. More recently, the discussion is about whether to answer homework explicitly or not (meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/4154/…), and not about the tag. That's why. – davidlowryduda Aug 12 '12 at 3:36
• @mixedmath "firstly, I don't agree with your post;" No problem. We are supposed to discuss on it. "secondly, I think it's not useful to use a two-year old question as a straw-man in an argument." I don't understand what you are talking about. Please elaborate. "More recently, the discussion is about whether to answer homework explicitly or not" The subject of this thread is different. Though, I'd post in your mentioned thread if I'd like to. Regards, – Makoto Kato Aug 12 '12 at 4:48
• I did not downvote, but I find this answer to be incredibly off the mark. It is an opinion that has little to do with reality. In reality, teachers assign homework with a specific goal of making the student struggle through it to learn. If every time someone starts to struggle they just post it and get an answer they are not completing the assignment. In fact, many schools have an honor code they are breaking by doing this which makes it not only illegal, but they could get suspended if caught. The homework tag gives a fair chance to the asker to not cheat. – Matt Aug 12 '12 at 18:38
• @Matt, If someone wants to cheat, I don't think they'd use the homework tag. Regards, – Makoto Kato Aug 13 '12 at 1:07
• @mixedmath Please write the reason why you disagree with my answer. Regards, – Makoto Kato Aug 13 '12 at 1:08
• @Makoto: to construct a straw man is to falsely represent the opponent's position when refuting it. This answer is nominally against the homework tag. If that is the case, then the proper places to respond are where the identity of the homework tag was created. This happened most importantly in the faq. Or perhaps you actually try to argue that answerers shouldn't distinguish between homework questions and non-homework questions, in which case you should respond to the Consolidated-Homework-Policy question... – davidlowryduda Aug 13 '12 at 1:51
• Further, this ship has sailed. The homework tag is now by far the largest tag (over 1000 more occurrences than the next, calculus). Of course, all 6000 of these tags came about after this question was asked, reminding us that this question is no longer relevant to current discussion. The timestamp (2 years since the last activity) and the linked questions (at the right) are clues to this. – davidlowryduda Aug 13 '12 at 1:51
• @mixedmath "to construct a straw man is to falsely represent the opponent's position when refuting it." The OP asked "I don't think there's any reason to treat homework questions differently than any other question, what are your thoughts on this?" I just answered this question. Where is a straw man? – Makoto Kato Aug 13 '12 at 8:23
• @mixedmath "Of course, all 6000 of these tags came about after this question was asked, reminding us that this question is no longer relevant to current discussion." A fact that something is widely used does not necessarily mean that it is inherently necessary. My opinion may be in the minority, but that does not necessarily mean that I should not post it as a relevant answer to a question. What is the current discussion, by the way? – Makoto Kato Aug 13 '12 at 23:36
• @AsafKaragila "While it can be useful, bumping ancient threads whose context was much more relevant when the site was new is not a good idea." It is your opinion that this thread is not much relevant to the site today. Let us respect others opinions even if they are different from ours. Regards, – Makoto Kato Aug 13 '12 at 23:42
• @Makoto Being relatively new, probably you are not aware that the issue of homework is perhaps one of the most contentious issues on the site. There are many users of strong opinions on both sides and discussion about such has led to much tension in the past. This is a case where it is probably best to sleeping dogs lie. – Bill Dubuque Aug 14 '12 at 19:44
• I think the problem here is that you misunderstand people popular vision regarding any kind of knowledge. Sadly, a lot of people don't like mathematics and, in fact, just post questions here to get fast answers to their list of exercises, so they can get best grades. Unfortunately, math is not viewed as a free way of life, there is hypocrisy, reputation (as you can see in this community) and other fancy ego-related stuffs. But I agree with you, if someone don't want to learn math, who cares if this person get for free an answer of a homework? – user40276 Jan 3 '14 at 15:12