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It seems like the policy is to close posts as 'homework' if they are simple and don't show much effort. I'm fine with closing low-effort posts, but I think it's unnecessarily broad and potentially confusing and frustrating to tell people off for asking 'homework' questions when they aren't homework. Other than anything else, it's just incorrect.

Would it not be better to mark them as 'low effort' or 'no prior research for a simple question' or something along those lines?

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    $\begingroup$ This is really not discussed for the first time. Yes, it is problematic, maybe you have a look into the older posts. A good starting point might be here $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Nov 28, 2021 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ The real question is: since this has been discussed before and is problematic, why has nothing been done about it? $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Nov 28, 2021 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer Because we can't agree on a solution. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Nov 30, 2021 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? Rethinking the "Homework" close reason $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Dec 1, 2021 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause What possible solutions are there? $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Dec 2, 2021 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ @canadianer Remove the prior research requirement entirely, rewrite the current close reason to more clearly cover both low-effort and "ABCD-homework" style questions, add a separate close reason to make the effort/prior research requirement more explicit. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Dec 2, 2021 at 21:36
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    $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause People, including moderators, have been closing non-homework questions as homework for a long time (where that was agreed to I’m sure I don’t know). Unless the moderators plan to stop first themselves and then other users from doing this, I don’t see how removing the requirement for prior research is a realistic solution. The other two solutions are essentially the same in effect, to my mind at least. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Dec 3, 2021 at 3:55
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause Of the three, I think rewriting the close reason is the best alternative, and the most backwards-compatible as well. We should absolutely NOT remove the research requirement, as it is fundamental to this site's identity and function as a place for learning, not just spitting out answers to whoever asks. If we add another close reason, there will inevitably be disagreements about when to use which one, and how to handles questions that don't quite fit either, or fit both... $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Dec 8, 2021 at 1:37
  • $\begingroup$ @MattDMo jakebeal and I had a lengthy chat where we threw around some ideas but I got busy and kind of checked out of it... I'll try to dig that up again. SE tends to frown on editing the close reasons for anything but minor copyediting, but we could retire the old and replace with a new. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Dec 8, 2021 at 3:00

2 Answers 2

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I would strongly vote for rewriting the close reason. This issue has been raised a lot of times and no one seems to push a solution through. The requirement for prior research effort is important. Over at Psych&Neurosci we have the following close reason introduced not too long ago, also after quite some deliberation:

This question is not framed in psychology or neuroscience. It is based on assumptions which are not made explicit, are not well-motivated (e.g., referenced), or are not held to be true within any of the research fields on-topic here. For more information, see ["]Why was my question closed as “not framed in psychology or neuroscience”?.

I wouldn't mind pursuing this endeavor once we reach an agreement [again...]

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 Agree with your sentiment! But disagree with suggested formalization from psych.SE. My $0.02: question not framed in psychology or neuroscience simply sounds like the out-of-scope close reason we have, i.e. "needs more focus". It doesn't sound like it's addressing the emblematic issue of low-effort questions. Wouldn't you agree? $\endgroup$
    – S Pr
    Dec 8, 2021 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ @SPr I think the reasoning for that language on Psych & Neuro is that we tend to get a lot more "ungrounded" speculative questions there that are not even wrong - it's impossible to answer them according to the site guidelines for references, etc. "Needs more focus" is a morph of the old "too broad" and says "This question currently includes multiple questions in one. It should focus on one problem only", which doesn't cover that case very well. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Dec 8, 2021 at 18:52
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I understand the word homework is just a colloquialism for 'do the work yourself first' but it suffers from ambiguity and cannot be used in a generalizable sense without protest. Homework is ill-defined and confusing as a judgment call. And it's a close reason that is often revisited in discussion (this compilation from 7 years ago...).

For this reason I agree with OP and AliceD above, let's rewrite this already. I'd happily compile every suggestion or curate adjustments or track suggestions and arguments for/against each so we can simply vote on it.

I hope to provoke some disagreement with the following, but I trust there won't be any:

  • Most of us are in favor of answering homework questions to help the questioner.
  • Most think that disallowing or discouraging well-posed homework questions is silly.
  • Most understand that the intended goal is closing low-effort questions.
  • We agree question effort is entirely perpendicular to whether they constitute homework or not.
  • We agree that question effort is judged subjectively, but so are judgments of "insufficient detail" or "insufficient focus", which are acceptable and existing close reasons.

With those in mind, I propose the following close reason:

Question posed with insufficient effort. The questioner must show background research and motivate why the answer remains unclear to them after attempting to understand it.

Hot or not? Let's polish it or suggest alternatives to get there once and for all. Many won't believe it possible. But I believe. We can do it, together.

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