I m tired of people harassing me with "Is this Homework or this is homework or this sounds like homework" I m a phd student and I want to ask questions that i m really curious about. I do have finals tomorrow. and upon asking a question after two minutes i get ten comments as "is this homework ? this sounds like homework."

The question was describe an efficient algorithm to sort a bitonic array. what s the time complexity.

The question is self explanatory.

People with brains would know that schools are almost over and there are no more homeworks. and if it was a homework question, i d write it as homework question. why wouldn't i write it.

then everyone talks about this pointing etc. feels like it s all about points.

I m tired of this.

  • 39
    Are you tired of proper punctuation as well?
    – random
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 3:52
  • 33
    This sounds like homework...
    – Shog9
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 4:00
  • 14
    "Schools are almost over"? Not everywhere, methinks.
    – mmyers
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 4:02
  • 7
    "there are no more homeworks" Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 4:18
  • 3
    "there are no more homeworks" is not the point.
    – DarthVader
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 4:37
  • 10
    "People with brains" should know that there are schools elsewhere in the world that may not necessarily be "over".
    – moobaa
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 4:56
  • 14
    @moobaa: obviously, some dastardly villain has replaced this poor fella's apostrophe key with a spacebar - I think we can forgive him for being a bit distracted when it comes to things like international school schedules.
    – Shog9
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 5:25
  • whoever is giving points down. i wouldnt care less. apperantly moobaa is offended with "people with brains". i didnt mean to point it to you. sorry.
    – DarthVader
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 5:32
  • I just got a Editor Badge :)
    – DarthVader
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 5:46
  • 4
    I am not sure what the reasons for the edit was, as it broke the context of the question. I have rolled back to the original question. Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 6:07
  • i m not interested in the answer anymore. you can write all you want here.
    – DarthVader
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 6:25
  • 12
    all you want here
    – fretje
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 8:47
  • Wait wait wait, it's not all about points?
    – Ether
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 18:00

5 Answers 5


Check out the Guidelines for Handling Homework Questions.

The short version is that commenting to ask a user if a suspicious question is homework is encouraged, but not because we don't answer those questions or look down on them. Rather, it's that students looking to learn more about a concept often have different kinds of artificial constraints on the situation, as well as different wants and expectations for their answers than professionals looking to solve an immediate problem. So this helps us give you better answers.

For the described question, an answer to an acknowledged homework question takes of the form of how fast the specific algorithm is, and why. An answer geared towards a professional looking to solve a problem would also seek to understand more about the circumstances and possibly suggest alternative algorithms or other ways to solve the problem faster.

Students also often have very specific rules about the kind of help they are allowed to accept, and so it helps us keep you out of trouble. But the main thing is that we want to make sure we have enough information to give you a good answer.


People with brains would know that schools are almost over

I think a large part of the problem is that, based on your questions here on Meta, your unwillingness to link to the supposed offending questions on StackOverflow, and your comments to answers, your problem is quite clear: you're violating Wheaton's Law.

My questions on StackOverflow are usually pretty elementary, especially since I'm fairly new to programming. In fact, I even once asked a theoretical question about maximum identity values in a SQLite database with no problems. Notice, though, in the question, I didn't just say "what's the max?" - I actually took the time to write out what I was thinking and why I was curious about the question, and was treated very politely by people who know way more than I do.

Edit to the change in the original question:

Like this? http://img196.imageshack.us/img196/4553/everythinggraph.png

  • 6
    You.... you did it! You presented everything on a graph! And the proof is the graph! ... Amazing!
    – Joshua
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 5:46
  • that s not formal. that s picture. :) since when the pictures are formal :)
    – DarthVader
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 5:47
  • Add a freehandle circle and you'll have achieved perfection.
    – Ether
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 18:06
  • 1
    Done! (15 chars) Commented Dec 18, 2009 at 1:17

So you say you're a PHD student. Which implies knowing something about structuring your words. Knowing how to form a question even. Maybe even a sentence.

If you find yourself putting words like "The question is self-explanatory" or "Title says it all", that's an easy flag to spot that no time has been put into the actual question.

Those kinds of post are more often homework questions, which is why you have people leaving such comments trying to clarify intent.

Questions with zero effort on the asker's behalf, like in your example, are the kinds of vague, no detail, questions one might find in class.

  • describe an efficient algorithm to sort a bitonic array. what s the time complexity. tell me which part you didnt understand. if you dont know what a bitonic array then you cant answer anyway. this is same like i know nothing about websphere and i m asking the person who asks the question to define me and explain me what s going on, what s webspere and what s that i m doing wrong...
    – DarthVader
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 4:39
  • 8
    @unknown: the question is phrased like a line-item from a test. You might find it annoying that anyone would point this out, but surely you can understand why they might... Perhaps you could take a few minutes to rephrase your question, if those responses bother you so much?
    – Shog9
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 5:28
  • 4
    @unknown you also haven't put any effort into showing us what progress you have already made on the subject, what have you been doing to try and answer the question, if you can't be bothered to put any effort in, why should we?
    – Sam Cogan
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 9:43

If you know that a question can be misinterpreted, why not clarify your purpose in the question? To get a proper answer, sometimes the context in which the question is being asked is important.

People want to know if it is a homework questions because, if it is, they would prefer to provide guidance to help learning rather than provide an outright answer. If there is a "legitimate" need to know the answer, people are more than willing to help.


You have three choices:

  1. Ignore them; hopefully a good answer will result
  2. Preface every question you're asking with "This is not homework; I'm just curious"
  3. Never ask another question again

We can't control everyone on the site and expecting them to take a somewhat theoretical question as a serious question is, apparently, too much for some.

  • the solution is to remove the homework tag. then the situation will be controlled. I see that if it s tagged homework or not people answer the questions. i just dont see why everyone is obsessed about this. and i m not even asking homework questions.
    – DarthVader
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 4:09
  • 13
    It's not all about you that's why. There are people who ask homework questions for guidance and people help them out without getting them into trouble because they know that it's for homework. Are you saying they shouldn't ask for a little direction if they need it?
    – random
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 4:13
  • you getting aggressive again. Removing the homework tag means, people can not ask homework questions? that s your logic?
    – DarthVader
    Commented Dec 17, 2009 at 4:36

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