Is it just me or are there many more homework-style questions right now? Typical traits are:

  • A program elementary enough to be given as a homework, yet not a one-liner
  • A bug within such a program that requires fairly little effort to uncover but instead the author just posts it on SO.
  • Quite often a user name of a kind user123456 with one or few questions under his belt.

I understand that the line between "I'm at a loss - please help me" and "I wrote a homework program. It doesn't work. Let SO figure it out." is quite blurred but it seems to me there are quite many more questions of the latter kind.

  • 1
    Even worse, there are ones that are just a copy-paste of the assignment. Not one original word given by the OP.
    – Jamal
    Oct 8, 2013 at 21:19
  • 6
    @Jamal Sadly enough, some of those can be better than those that try to paraphrase the requirements and can't come up with anything remotely understandable.
    – Servy
    Oct 8, 2013 at 21:20
  • 7
    Another typical trait is something like this at the end: "pls help its urgent" Oct 8, 2013 at 21:21
  • 1
    @Servy: That is true. But with a perfect copy/paste, the OP can still get into hotter water if the teacher happens to find it on the net.
    – Jamal
    Oct 8, 2013 at 21:22
  • 6
    It's as though school has started. Oct 8, 2013 at 21:23
  • @Jamal If they search the net for the answer rather than the question (which is often what's done in cases of suspected academic dishonesty) it'll still come up though.
    – Servy
    Oct 8, 2013 at 21:25
  • 3
    @Jamal Copy-paste? Hell, sometimes it's a scan. Yes, welcome to September. Oct 8, 2013 at 21:27
  • @Servy true, but they'd have to go looking for it. I suspect most teachers care about as much about academic honesty as the students.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Oct 8, 2013 at 21:27
  • @Jamal What did you think I meant by “it's a scan”? (More common on Computer Science than on SO, because typing math is harder, but I've seen it on SO and even on French Language!) Oct 8, 2013 at 21:32
  • @Gilles: Ah, right. Duh. Well, fortunately I haven't seen it happen before (although, as you say, it's not as common on SO).
    – Jamal
    Oct 8, 2013 at 21:34
  • 2
    it's Eternal September, see Open letter to students with homework problems
    – gnat
    Oct 8, 2013 at 22:15
  • 1
    @Jamal Example (either he hasn't discovered SO yet or he's question-banned already). Oct 10, 2013 at 14:52
  • @Gilles: Thanks for the example. If anything, at least the contents are clear. ;-) Not that it matters anyway if the OP does not bother to show attempts at solving the problem.
    – Jamal
    Oct 10, 2013 at 14:55

2 Answers 2


It might have something to do with the fact that school just started up within a month in many places around the world and classes are just now having their first assignments due...

Expect it to trail off over time as the students:

  1. Learn how to do their own work
  2. Fail out of the class
  3. The class ends
  • 6
    Eagerly looking for #2 :-) Oct 8, 2013 at 21:20
  • 4
    @AlexanderL.Belikoff Sadly, given the standards of so many academic institutions, it's not as many as I'd like to see.
    – Servy
    Oct 8, 2013 at 21:21
  • Most places? It's U.S. and?
    – tshepang
    Oct 8, 2013 at 21:21
  • @Tshepang Is that sufficient?
    – Servy
    Oct 8, 2013 at 21:23
  • 2
    @Tshepang factmonster.com/world/statistics/school-years.html, lots of places. Oct 8, 2013 at 21:25
  • @AlexanderL.Belikoff: If #2 occurs with each offending user, then #3 won't matter. :-)
    – Jamal
    Oct 8, 2013 at 21:25
  • @Servy that's safer, except I still want to know where most comes from. It's news to me, being in a place where school holidays are different from those of U.S.
    – tshepang
    Oct 8, 2013 at 21:28
  • 1
    @Tshepang Since I can't assert that it's a majority I changed it to not say most, but rather "many". Even if it were the US alone (which it's not, as per the earlier comment) the entire US is still "many" schools.
    – Servy
    Oct 8, 2013 at 21:29
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    You realize that September is eternal, right? ;)
    – Bart
    Oct 8, 2013 at 21:35

It is the height of homework season right now and with it comes the increased traffic of students. Just as during the summer traffic slows down as student activity tapers off.

This should work itself out in 6 to 8 weeks...

  • The world is round; where I live summer is starting soon :-)
    – andy256
    Oct 8, 2013 at 22:11
  • @andy256 - :) Good point! Although I think the northern hemisphere still has 9 times the population of the southern hemisphere :P
    – Travis J
    Oct 8, 2013 at 22:14
  • It's not a "problem." I happen to enjoy nudging people in the right direction when it's clear they're asking about a homework assignment.
    – John
    Oct 8, 2013 at 22:25
  • @John - As do I. But the issue being addressed is the high level of do my work for me "give me teh codez" questions that show up. I don't think anyone minds offering advice or a way forward when someone gets stuck, but what people do seem to take issue with (and there is a close reason specifically for this) is doing other people's work for them. Did you read the question or just take issue literally with the word "problem" when associated to homework?
    – Travis J
    Oct 8, 2013 at 22:27
  • @John I think most SO (or meta) users do. I find an almost equal problem to the poorly written questions and the "give me teh codez" demands, is those users who do just "give teh codez". I must admit that sometimes I have made that mistake too.
    – andy256
    Oct 8, 2013 at 22:40
  • @TravisJ I did read the question. I wouldn't use those characteristics to describe someone whose questions shouldn't be welcomed. Some of the questions I've asked on here, I'm sure, are very elementary and the bugs in my code are plain as day to someone else -- and I know that I'm not lazy.
    – John
    Oct 8, 2013 at 22:50
  • @John - Questions like this: stackoverflow.com/q/19259944/1026459
    – Travis J
    Oct 8, 2013 at 22:53

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