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In reading some of the previous questions, I did not have a clear understanding regarding the official SO stance regarding other people adding [homework] to questions which are manifestly homework. Under what circumstances is it acceptable to retag a question as homework?

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While homework tag itself doesn't bother me, people asking 'is this homework?' on every second post are rather irritating. So, yeah, let's kill it. – Nikita Rybak Feb 16 '11 at 6:08
That seems to be an argument in favor of tagging it :) After all, seeing the homework tag will stymie the flood of "is this homework?" questions – Foo Bah Feb 16 '11 at 6:09
Isn't the homework tag a meta tag? – Borror0 Feb 16 '11 at 6:19
Unrelated to your question, I think this question should be tagged as homework like the other homework meta questions. Rollback if you disagree. – jzd Feb 16 '11 at 11:59
@Borror0, yeah, it is, but Jeff has stated that it's a... semi-exception... to the rule. That's actually what this question is here to clear up, I think. – Pops Feb 16 '11 at 16:22
@Popular Demand precisely – Foo Bah Feb 16 '11 at 16:27
up vote 1 down vote accepted

No, don't use unless you're the OP or the OP explicitly states that a question is about homework. Will's thoughts on this issue are pretty good. In short, he says that the tag adds a lot of noise with little value. I would even say that his policy of not deleting "is this homework" comments doesn't go far enough, because they're often thinly veiled "I'm better than you and your dumb question" comments, and therefore implicitly rude.

So what value does the tag have? As Jeff says, it usually indicates topics covered in CS 101. That's a suboptimal tagging arrangement. I've seen self-learners ask easy but valid questions only to be immediately mobbed by retags and comments. I nearly asked a grad school homework question once, and the only reason I didn't is that I found the answer on another SO post. If we want a tag for CS 101 topics, we should create instead of abusing .

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Looks like there are in fact three existing [cs101] questions. – Pops Feb 16 '11 at 16:36
How is [cs101] any different from the completely banned [beginner] tag? Logically, they both have the same value/content. Only [homework] distinguishes beginners from potential cheaters and/or lazy folk. – Awesome Poodles Feb 19 '11 at 3:20

There is no official stance; reference: "Is [homework] an exception" and Jeff's answer.

I'd say it's acceptable to retag, when -- just like for other tags -- you think that applies.   That is: use your honest judgment.

In my mind, it's often easy to sniff out homework questions.

  1. They tend to be vague -- unless you expect a precise meaning to not-always-precise jargon.
    See this question, for example:

    Given a relation R with n columns. Use sql to returns the tuples having the maximum number of occurrences of the values. I have no idea how to do query horizontally?

  2. The questions may have no immediate practical application/details -- they're principle/theory without specifics.
  3. They're beginner-level, or show no practical experience. This is not foolproof, but it's a "tell".
  4. They use words like "Given" and/or start sentences with "Use". (^_^)
  5. They rarely follow the guidelines about "Asking about homework" listed in this answer.

See also, Etiquette on retagging questions as homework (This question is almost a duplicate of that one).
From George Stocker's answer to that question:

The Homework classification has a variety of uses:
* Determining which Stack Overflow questions are homework-esque questions
* Allowing someone to search homework to see if their particular question has been asked before
* Some people use it as a sign that says "Don't do this guy's work for him."

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