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I suggest to filter them somehow. For example, who asks about integrals it would be obligatory to say "I used computer algebra xyz, but it was unable to determine it, see the link here". Maybe, not the best method, but in many cases they forget(?) to tag with homework and check by computer. There are a lot of free possibilities, some of them is online on a web page. Another suggestion is, if someone gives answer for a homework, to maximize the reachable scores. At least for me, it is strange that someone receives 55 votes for an answer to a trivial (sorry) question, while answering a "difficult" question he/she obtains 5 or 8 votes. One solution would be the "weighting". For example if the tag is "undergrad" then one vote implied two reputation, "grad" implied three reputation, or something similar. However it can happen that I don't know well the system, if this is the case, then sorry for me.

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    $\begingroup$ Not only for integrals, but generally it is true that simpler/faster answers receive many more votes than do deeper ones. This is probably because they are comprehensible to a larger segment of the community. Even if you browse the answers of some of our most knowledgeable users you will see that their highest voted answers are rarely their best (and, alas, some of their best answers received very few votes). Votes are not a good measure of any particular feature (except perhaps speed of answering). $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 9 '12 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque What is the policy about homework question in which there is no any effort, only the question? If the answer is they are well-come, then all-right, I accept it. $\endgroup$ – vesszabo Oct 9 '12 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ vesszabo, if you look down the right side of this page you will see, under the heading "Related", a long list of previous meta questions, many of them discussing the handling of homework questions. Perhaps reading through some or all of those earlier discussions will give you some idea of where the community stands, or doesn't stand, on the issues/suggestions you have raised. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Oct 10 '12 at 2:07
  • $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque I want to accept your comment as an answer, if it is possible. $\endgroup$ – vesszabo Oct 10 '12 at 8:05
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    $\begingroup$ Votes are a measure of the number of people who read your answer, thought they understood your answer and thought that it was correct, useful and/or amusing. They are not a measure of the amount of work or knowledge that went into the answer. While I agree that it can be annoying at times, I really think that overall, it works pretty well. It's not as if everyone is interested in answering trivial questions, so it is fine to reward it, too. $\endgroup$ – Phira Oct 10 '12 at 8:45
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That's just the way it is.

  1. For many problems, it is impossible to know the difficulty until after you have done it. Take Fermat's Last Theorem. He assumed it was pretty straightforward. Many problems in number theory are similar.

  2. For just about any problem, it's impossible to give a difficulty level without ambiguity.

  3. Even if the difficulty of every problem could be discovered, without ambiguity, it would take an enormous amount of time and resources to figure out the correct difficulty for each one. Who wants to spend their time doing that?

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  • $\begingroup$ 1. I would like to control only those questions where the origin is definitely homework. I suppose in this forum a lot of people knows the topics of undergraduate courses. I chose the integrals, because in this case what I suggested is definite and well-defined :-) In fact, in some cases in the webpage there are some details, not only the answer. May I give the url here? If you read the comments you will find that the first comment is often "What you tried, do you have any idea?, etc." I want to avoid to handle this forum as a homework aid. Such forums already exist. $\endgroup$ – vesszabo Oct 9 '12 at 21:04
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There's nothing wrong with a boilerplate link to, say, Wolfram Alpha, for questions that really are just interested in the result of an integral.

But this is not what homework questions are like because people need to show the steps or need to understand how to solve it.

It's fine if you do not want to answer homework questions at all, but pointing to the naked result from computer algebra is certainly not an answer to the question in that case.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree with you. I suggest Wolfram Alpha, because (maybe I'm too optimist) only the naked result could give idea to the solution. So it would be "step 0" before asking :-) $\endgroup$ – vesszabo Oct 10 '12 at 9:35
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I thank for Gerry Myerson who encouraged me to browse the long list of related questions. Finally I could find two questions (discussions) which I think give satisfactory answers. A Consolidated Homework Policy and How do we enforce the homework policy?. I would like to quote from the last "I thought we had agreed not to give complete solutions to homework problems, but apparently some people didn't get the message. If this is not explicitly in the FAQ, it should be. Once that happens, how do we make existing math.SE users aware that this policy exists, and what is a reasonable way to enforce it?"

Before posting my discussion I checked the FAQ. I understand that for (very) active users reading almost the same questions can be annoying. I don't want this, so ask moderators to write an "official" policy in the FAQ. Thanks.

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    $\begingroup$ There is no official policy and quoting what a single person wrote in 2010, when M.SE was very young, is not going to change that. Some people hold very different views. See for example the gighest voted answer here. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Oct 10 '12 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker I have no (sorry, but probably my English is poor and misunderstand me) problem with homework in principle. My problem is mainly the "style" of some question. "Solve this equation", "Prove this and this". The questioner want to obtain a solution without any effort. Instead of saying give me only hint or I tried to solve it with this idea but I got stuck. Of course, there are exception. Thanks for the link, I read it. $\endgroup$ – vesszabo Oct 10 '12 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ But then we should add guidelines for asking homework questions in the FAQ, not for answering them. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Oct 10 '12 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelGreinecker Yes indeed. $\endgroup$ – vesszabo Oct 14 '12 at 13:44

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