Reading through Meta after seeing a lot of homework-related closures, I found quite a few questions that address our community's confusion with the homework close reason:
- Is it right to close “easy to look up” questions as homework?
- What should be done with questions of low or poor quality?
- When do we mark a question a HW question?
- Are users only asking for homework help welcome?
I'm not sure when to close a question as "homework" and it doesn't seem like there's a clear consensus among the users with closing priveleges, either. A while back, Mad Scientist said this regarding closing homework questions:
I'll have to take a bit more time to think about how to handle the bigger issue.
I don't know if MS ever came up with anything, so I'm opening this for discussion.
The problem is not that these posts are homework, it's that the asker doesn't care enough to do enough background research to even ask a good question. Questions stemming from homework can be excellent if the asker takes the time to research and form a good question about what actually confuses them. Conversely, there are also questions like this one which show how little work the asker really wants to do (and make me sad):
I would like you to list their respective partition coefficients (logP), binding affinities (Ki), EC50's, IC50's at the opioid receptors (κ, δ, μ), binding profile and countries where they are approved for clinic use.
That may not be the greatest example; I know I've seen worse questions.
Whether or not a question is actually homework is often a tricky decision. There are questions from people working in research labs closed as homework (example†). There's even a user who feels the need to disclaim that his questions are not homework to avoid the dreaded homework close reason:
Please note: This is not homework! I am a grown man who works as a software engineer by day and I migrated here from the Stack Overflow community.
Part of the overarching problem is that it's difficult to tell when a question is actually homework. This makes users unhappy/mad when we accidentally mis-classify questions as homework ("but this isn't an assignment!" "I'm just curious!"). We're also using the homework close reason for things that are not homework. In the words of WYSIWYG:
Sometimes we classify no effort questions as no-effort homework and close them.
That comment thread is a good read (for those of you who had not already participated).
Please note that I am not trying to vilify anyone for misusing close reasons. The overwhelming majority of closed questions were closed correctly and should stay that way.
We need a new close reason. A close reason that describes the type of questions we're closing using the current homework reason. Both fileunderwater and GriffinEvo have broached this subject before:
I feel that maybe the Homework close reason could be expanded to also include questions that overall lack basic background research. I agree that it can sometimes be unclear what close reason to use, which can to rather unclear feedback to the poster of the question (the official close notice after the Q is closed). - fileunderwater
I think I will start voting to close as off-topic giving the custom reason "This post appears to be off-topic because it does not suit the target audience of this site (biology researchers, academics, and students). While questions are welcome regardless of their difficulty, users should have made some effort to find an answer for themselves by, for example, reading basic biology text books or online material first." - GriffinEvo
This is the sentiment I think a new close reason should have. However, as that last sentence indicates, I can't word things eloquently. I'd like to still include a link to the homework FAQ page, as it can be helpful for anyone, not just students with homework, to write a good question.
Can we come up with a good close reason that better describes questions that should be closed (including questions that would currently be closed under our homework close reason)?
The homework close reason isn't cutting it. We need a new, more general close reason that applies to no-effort questions, that still applies to no-effort copy-paste homework questions.
We don't need a homework close reason if we can close no-effort copy-paste homework questions under a more general reason.
† I think this question (referenced above) has potential and could be saved.