This question is similar to several others that have cropped up on ServerFault over time, which appear to paste verbatim basic networking questions from certification or university courses. Some responders attempt to provide legitimate answers; others leave comments with feedback or links to other resources.

One answer has deliberately provided false (if amusing) information. My instinctive reaction when faced with this is to down-vote the answer, if only to prevent it being viewed as useful by someone who stumbles across the question from a web search in the future.

What are people's thoughts on this kind of reaction to 'homework' questions?

11 Answers 11


These sites are supposed to wind up as references. Having wrong answers messes that up. Downvote all wrong answers, unless they're recognizable as non-answers.


Deliberately wrong answers should be downvoted and flagged as spam. If 6 people flag as spam or offensive, then the poster gets docked 100 points and the post gets deleted. That sounds like a fitting punishment for putting deliberately wrong information on a Q&A website.

  • The 100 rep penalty is a good response to offensive posts in general. IMHO This should be posted as its own feature-request.
    – Ether
    Sep 26, 2009 at 16:57
  • 15
    I disagree with flagging as spam. Mainly because you can't tell the difference between a definitely wrong answer that was posted on purpose, and a definitely wrong answer that was posted by someone who thought it was the right answer. Someone who just had the wrong answer shouldn't take a 100 point penalty for trying to help.
    – Kip
    Sep 26, 2009 at 17:13

I generally try to be a bit more hand-wavy in homework questions, leaving the author to do more work on his own rather than giev him teh codez.


I believe the down votes that you may get would prove the overall acceptance of such. In other words, do it at your own risk as it will be met with down votes. You'll also be wasting your time...




If you don't like a question but it shouldn't be closed for any reason (duplicate, spam, abusive, wrong site) then there is absolutely no reason to leave rude comments or, even worse, deliberately wrong answers. It's completely uncalled for. Just move on.

The issue of homework questions has come up before and they're deemed to be fine, particularly if someone says it's homework. This can (and does) change how people answer where you try and point someone in the right direction without just giving them the whole solution. Often some kind of pointer is all people are after.


We could include more metrics next to a user asking the question. Currently we can easily see the user's overall reputation and his acceptance rate; if this was combined with another ratio indicating overall upvotes to downvotes, we would be able to see the general quality of his questions. If it is too difficult to calculate this value (I understand this data is not indexed in the DB), even the average score of all the user's questions would be useful to see.

For example, the user of the post in the question has a total question score of -10 over 14 questions, yielding an average score of -0.7 -- a pretty good indication that this user does not ask good questions.


If a) it's obvious to everyone involved, including the asker that it's a joke, and b) it's marked as wiki, then I would be okay with it. Other people, of course, might not... (And I should note that if the asker is a complete newbie, making a joke obvious isn't at all easy.)

But that answer in particular matches neither criterion. Downvoted.


Ah, the age ol homework questions. I think with homework questions, people should not be so quick to give the a straight full code answer. Many people have taught or instructed someone before through a problem, so I think some effort should be made to get the asker to think about the problem a bit more. Maybe only give them part of the answer at first or ask them questions to get their mind in the right direction. This isn't a discussion site, but I don't think we should just give answers away so quickly with those questions.

Though, it isn't our problem that they possibly do not care to actively engage themselves in solving the problem. The questions with lots of information on thier approaches are much more understanding, but the one/two liner homework questions just don't inspire me to give an answer away so fast.

But please, do not give them wrong information though. There is enough bad info running around all ready. Downvote bad answers and flag if needed.


I think homework questions should still be considered valid questions so giving a wrong answer on purpose is definitely wrong. You're just wasting everyone's time that way since others will have to explain why your answer is wrong, while also immediately down-voting this bad answer just because it's bad. But don't answer homework questions but try to guide the students towards the correct answer. Let them do their own research bit point them in the right direction.

However, one more important thing... How do we know that some question is homework and not a question by a programmer who didn't do his homework in the past, yet still managed to find a job?


*Note* This is not meant to be serious.

Yes post wrong things all over the site. That sounds like a great idea.

But, make sure that it is only subtly wrong, because that way people won't notice (as easily) that you are trying to be a huge ass...

  • 1
    Sarcasm is great in comments, and it's great if people know you. But if this site is going to be a resource to all the people who have burning SO questions, then sarcasm doesn't belong in answers.
    – devinb
    Aug 19, 2009 at 21:39
  • Yeah, normally I'd agree, however, this person is asking if it is ok to answer questions incorrectly on purpose. It made my insides cry. (although, i would agree that this should be downvoted)
    – jjnguy
    Aug 19, 2009 at 21:40
  • Ok, downvoted as per your request
    – Treb
    Aug 20, 2009 at 6:41
  • I've removed my downvote, because of your helpful disclaimer :)
    – devinb
    Aug 20, 2009 at 12:02
  • People on the internet are so nice!
    – jjnguy
    Aug 20, 2009 at 13:03

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