We get a lot of homework questions which get closed for lack of research effort. Many of these are otherwise good questions and it would be valuable to have these remain open in the long term. This question is on its way to being closed as homework. I think it is otherwise a good question, and I have written an answer to it. As a result I have saved my answer in a text file on my computer and commented on the question to request further effort from the OP.

"I have prepared an answer for you but, as this is homework, I would like to see more effort from you, some tips for you to think about: How do you think cloning could be used? Why would cloning be useful? Where can cloning step in? Why would this impact genetic variation?"

This gave me an idea. Could we have a formal mechanism to save an answer as a draft (currently there is a draft saving system) and set it so that if the OP makes suitable edits the answer is made public automatically?

There are two cases which need their own solutions:

1) The question is already closed as homework and therefore answers can't be written. We would need to add a feature such that questions closed as homework can still have answers written. Then when the answer is posted by the author it will display a message on the question, and notify the OP directly to the inbox, that an answer has been submitted and will be made visible if the question is reopened, and reminding the OP that the question may get reopened if they make the necessary edits. This will act as an incentive to the OP to make the requested edits, and will enable good questions to persist more easily.

2) The question has had 1-4 votes to close, including at least one for homework closure and is therefore still accessible to posting of answers. In this case the author of the answer can still write an answer, and could be given an option to "hide" the answer from view. Again the OP is notified and there is a message on the question requesting improvements to the question. When the OP makes edits to the question the author of the answer will get a notification to check the edits, and decide whether to release the answer for publication (or a public vote on whether the question remains blow the standards set).

Overall I think this would encourage OP's to make edits to questions that are homework; if they put in enough self-answer effort then they will get a good answer in return; good edits are surely more likely to occur if they know that there is an answer waiting for them. It's like fishing, if you put bait on the hook you're more likely to get a fish!

Note: perhaps queued answers could also be visible to high rep registered users (most homework comes from low rep or unregistered users), that way the answer can get feedback and votes, and still contributes to the site if the question remains closed in the long-term

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    $\begingroup$ Great extension of the idea of teaching a man to fish :-) $\endgroup$
    – user 85795
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 8:30
  • $\begingroup$ I am very much in favour of your idea of making the OP show effort, but since the OP has not shown any intention of editing the answer and the existing answer is unsalvageable without a complete rewrite, I created a new question that you can hopefully answer. $\endgroup$
    – March Ho
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ great - I found my text file with the answer saved, I thought for a moment that I'd deleted it a few days after the Q was closed $\endgroup$
    – rg255
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 12:18
  • $\begingroup$ Wow, I knew the answer was going to be good, but still didn't expect such a detailed and well-sourced answer. Thanks for posting it! $\endgroup$
    – March Ho
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 12:23
  • $\begingroup$ This is a pretty good idea, and can be altered and catered by further thought within the community. The main problem is the SE format is specially not designed for homework-y questions, but a strict info sharing between professionals. One day the four Science & Company sites will get together and think of a solution to this. Personally, I believe a custom process the community will design is the way to go, not a feature implemented. Features usually have their trouble and increase the steepness of the learning curve. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 11:53

1 Answer 1


In my opinion, these questions (poorly researched one-liner questions that nevertheless explore an interesting issue) are sufficiently rare that normal channels for improvement can be used to tackle this problem.

The main problem regarding these questions is obvious when the issue at hand is considered. The OP has logged into the site once to post the poorly phrased question, and has not logged back onto the site since. I have observed a strong negative correlation between users who consistently post low-quality questions and the longevity of the user on the site, and therefore implementing such a feature is unlikely significantly improve the site due to the low likelihood of the user actually taking up the offer.

In the rare cases that the posted question is worthy of a long and detailed answer, I would argue that the OP can post their own question, and then answer it themselves using the "Answer your own question" option provided when asking a question.


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