The last two weeks or so seems to me to have delivered a dramatic uptick in clueless students. Some are just posting their homework questions. Others have merely mistaken us for their TAs.

Here is a token sample.

Semi-seriously, I propose a 'seasonal' close reason, which would automatically add a link to a polite explanation of the appropriate or inappropriate use of stackoverflow.com as a student resource.

  • 3
    I like the seasonal idea, but note that September isn't the only time of the year where new classes are just starting. Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 20:19
  • September is when the term break starts here... Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 21:02
  • 1
    The Pro Forma Comments script makes this dead easy.
    – user102937
    Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 21:35
  • 1
    [adding my non-existent token vote to close as Too Localized]
    – user102937
    Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 21:37
  • This question? Or questions with this problem?
    – Rosinante
    Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 21:49
  • 2
    This question. Seasonal close reason... really?
    – user102937
    Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 22:14
  • @Robert time to break out the Christmas trees :) Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 5:39
  • 3
    @Zach: Sheesh. Every year it comes a little sooner.
    – user102937
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 5:40
  • 1
    Isn't it an eternal September? Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 5:46
  • A filter that hides questions from users that aren't of a similar "experience" as you in a given tag? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/116843/…
    – jefflunt
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 16:25

3 Answers 3


IMO, there shouldn't be done anything about it (if it would even be possible).

If the question is a blatant copy & paste from a text book, simply vote to close as being "too localized". Or answer the question without posting an entire code example that basically is the solution to the assignment.

It is my experience that students often have tried things themselves already, but are hesitant to post their code because they are afraid of being laughed at by a bunch of (professional) programmers. Asking in a comment to post their attempt as well often results in a question that looks far less like a "hand me teh codez plz" type of question.


I think the culture around disliking homework questions completely misses the point. Tagging a question as homework conveys a value judgement that is more about the asker than it is about the question, rather than simply being a fact-based label (e.g. c++, algorithms are fact-based labels) it is used as a meta-tag to mark as question as "simple", "basic", "newbie" - the implication is that the question is not worth the time of many people.

I think a better solution (though it's receiving a lot of down-votes) is a filter that allows you to adjust what you see in your "interesting" view to questions that were asked by users who are similarly experienced in tags, when compared to your experience (i.e. reputation) in those tags - grouping similarly experienced users together. This would be optional (since some people love helping new comers to a language, technology, etc.), but still allow more experienced users the option to filter out questions from less experienced users, without needlessly punishing newcomers, so long as their question is otherwise a good one (i.e. it shows effort, it is well phrased, it is an actual question, etc.).

A proposed solution to qualitative filtering


What about an IP-allocation-block-savvy "tag" on posts from academic IP's - either seasonally, or otherwise?

Students should have no reason - or right to, in this case - shy away from their "originating network".

I'd certainly like to know if I was answering a student's question - 9 out of 10 questions that I answer.

There will always be people who take the opportunity to answer student's questions, tag or no tag... but transparency in this case is not anti-student... but in fact is pro-education...

  • 2
    It'd only work if they were posting from their organization or on-campus accommodation. Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 7:36
  • 3
    What's next, an IP block for entire countries where the majority of people don't speak as fluent as native English speakers? :)
    – Bart Kiers
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 8:03
  • 10
    So because I work at a college, you'd tag all my posts from work as "homework"? Smooth move there.
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 8:38
  • 4
    You suggest a Great Wall to keep those Barbarians from academic networks out? Like, PhD students or professors? Uhm, -1 Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 8:48
  • 4
    Perhaps we should require all students to browse SO with the Evil Bit set on their HTTP connections. Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 10:38
  • 1
    This implies no sort of wall, prejudice, or geo-sorting... If anything it just another 'badge' that indicates you are from an "official" place of higher-learning.
    – alex gray
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 15:37
  • 2
    Gosh, I've never seen so much accusation and misconstruation on a single post before. He said IP allocation block, not IP block. Meatheads.
    – bobobobo
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 1:04
  • They're mean, right? People need to be nicer to nerds.. so that nerds are in-turn nicer... on Stack Overflow. Thanks for the vote up. I still don't think it's a horrid idea… even though it's been voted down "here", deep into the grey.
    – alex gray
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 1:15
  • 1
    @RobMoir I don't know where I implied that I would "tag" anything, (other than your tone... offensive...) I was simply providing ONE wide/theoretical (yet technically-feasible) possible direction for a problem - genuinely felt by @Rosinante - that results in a virtual ghetto compared to those chats which I'm sure you contribute. PhD's posts are NOT what the OP was "concerned with"... the burden placed on this network by "casual" user-abusers is real... and I just don't really see any shame in being identified with an Institution of learning... if that is indeed "where i am".
    – alex gray
    Commented Feb 4, 2012 at 22:28
  • You're upset about how offensive my "tone" is but you never stopped to consider how offensive I might find your idea to tip posts from academic IPs into a ghetto? I know that there are a decent number of high-level contributors to Server Fault, for instance, who are are involved in academica - my point is that sidelining posts from edu IPs because you're worried about abusive students is both a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and extremely offensive to those of us who are part of stack exchange and work in the education field.
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Feb 4, 2012 at 23:52
  • lol, well i wholeheartedly welcome your opinion on this and any matter.... and in fact I tend to concur with some of your sentiments. however, no solution is perfect, and healthy discussion is often far from that mark. i just ask that you react not to what you seem to think I'm suggesting or advocating, but actually the words that i wrote. ;-)
    – alex gray
    Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 7:17
  • Actually, users really should have the option to self-identify with their institution (by registering a verified .edu email address). This would eliminate both false positives and false negatives, and make it entirely voluntary. The down-voters must have misunderstood Mr. Gray... if someone isn't proud to be identified with their institution then I'm not sure why they'd be enrolled there??
    – user299758
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 19:48

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