Why are there different content policies on different sites?

For example: homework-like questions are strongly discouraged on Physics and are immediately put on hold. Such questions however are asked a lot in Mathematics and are quickly answered. Why is there such a different content policy on the different sites?

Are the content policies standardized for all sites or are they decided by the site moderators?


1 Answer 1


The scope of each site is determined by the community. Scope is a fluid, constantly-changing thing, and new meta discussions brought up by users can change bits and pieces of it over time, with the result decided by community consensus. Each community is independent from the others, and as such, they can shape their scope in whatever ways they want.

Physics and Mathematics both have very specific homework policies. Both sites require a user to show what they've done so far in an attempt to solve their problem, rather than just asking the community to do their homework for them. Many questions we get on those sites don't meet that particular hurdle, and are closed as off-topic.

One difference that I've noticed - and which is codified in the meta FAQ for Physics - is that Physics prefers conceptual homework questions, rather than questions about calculation errors. Doing computations is definitely a big part of physics, but there's a point where figuring out where a user went wrong becomes a simple math problem. Physics SE is much more focused on questions where the user has a specific conceptual difficulty about the physical aspects of the problem, and as such is quick to close many questions that simply ask where a user went wrong plugging in numbers.

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    Mathematics has a homework policy, but by and large they don't follow it. They gladly accept any straight homework dump (closed a day later, but not before 7 answers were posted). Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 4:50
  • I think its also worth looking at the bigger picture.People dumping their homework, unmodified, expecting their work to be done for them is bad. No one earns anything.On the other hand Q&A sites are really good at helping you out of the rut. Homework policies are there, to a large extent to ensure heathy sites. A few sites have have had much too much drama iver them Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 7:32
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    @PeterMortensen Actually, a large number of members of Mathematics spend some time each day eliminating such questions. Why do you think that you had to go a year and half back in order to find such an example? Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 8:59
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    @JoséCarlosSantos "Large" is irrelevant here. Here is some food for thought: at least one current math.se mod actively answers problem-statement-questions (some other former mods did that as well). Not a simple user, but a mod. What does this tell you?
    – Did
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 11:36
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    @Did That we're gone to the dogs? Now, seriously, do you agree or not that we (at Mathematics) “gladly accept any straight homework dump”? I think that this is a gross exaggeration. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 11:42
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    @JoséCarlosSantos Sorry but I provided a fact. Yes, a portion of users are trying to straighten the sorry situation the site has fallen to (and you know I am), but to negate the nature of the current situation is not helping to correct it. Again: a current mod and several former mods.
    – Did
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 11:46
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    @Did I cannot comment on the fact, since I don't know who that curent mod is (although I have a suspect in mind) or who the former mods are (and there I have no suspects), but, from what I know about you, I think that it is quite likely that I would agree with you if I knew who they are. And, of course, it is terrible if it's true.Now, please answer my question: do you agree or not that the assertion that we “gladly accept any straight homework dump” is a gross exaggeration? Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 11:54
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    @JoséCarlosSantos The answer depends on who is "we". Is "we" the users active on CRUDE, or the complete list of math.se users? My impression is that the users who see the site as a "straight homework dump” are (currently and despite the efforts you are referring to) a large majority. Note however that we are coming back from worse, since there was a time when invoking any kind of quality control was a sure way to pass for a fascistic elitist pathological control-freak. Now, there is at least a debate about whether one is that, or not... :-)
    – Did
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 12:01
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    @Did Then I guess that I am not from that time (I've been a user since May 2017). and I meant we as a community (with more weight to the more active members, whether or not they participate on CRUDE). Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 12:04
  • @JoséCarlosSantos Sorry to say but here is another recent question which is just a check my work type question. You can also see that the accepted answer is the complete solution. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 13:41
  • @JoséCarlosSantos If such a question was posted on Physics SE, it would have been downvoted by the users and closed by the mods. I literally posted this question after seeing this one. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 13:42
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    @harshit54 I made no mention to such questions. All my comments were about questions which can be described as dumping homework. That's not the case here. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 13:44
  • @JoséCarlosSantos I guess you are right. But still providing a complete solution to the question is against the site's policies. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 13:45
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    @JoséCarlosSantos I don't think "gross exaggeration" is quite the right diagnosis, but it is a profound overgeneralization that betrays a total ignorance of the math.se community discussion on the matter. It fails to take that into account entirely. Gladly does make it sound like it is encouraged, which couldn't be further from the truth. Unfortunately, the fruits of effort of people who answer homework-statement questions go a long way to give the impression such questions are accepted, however.
    – rschwieb
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 14:37
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    @rschwieb That's a fine description of the current situation. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 14:39

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