Stack Overflow: 53 questions tagged possible-homework

A question is either homework or it isn't homework. If someone needs clarification about the context of the question, comments are the place for that. Tags shouldn't be used to request further information or to express displeasure with the question (like belongs-on-*).

If everyone agrees, can a moderator please remove this tag en masse?

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    I think it should be renamed to smells-like-homework-but-i'm-not-man-enough-to-tag-it-as-such. – John Gietzen Jan 4 '10 at 20:06
  • If I may suggest some light reading – bobobobo Aug 7 '11 at 21:15
  • Possibly. (15 characters) – Andrew Grimm Sep 22 '11 at 3:45

Tags serve primarily for organizing the content and making it easier to find what you're looking for. I fail to believe that anyone in his right, wrong or insane mind would look for possible-homework items, and thus, that tag should be discouraged.

To a large extent, I'm also against the homework tag. Who's going to search for homework questions? Students who are looking for the answers to their homework, of course. Is that a behavior we want to encourage?

Note that I'm not at all against homework questions. We are the repository for all information related to each Trilogy site's domain focus. What I'm against is making it a little too easy for people to pass their courseware by providing them a very simple means of enumerating all the homework questions in one fell swoop, then adding a search feature on top of that.

Other than students looking for the answers to their assignments, what's the real use case for the homework tag?

It also, as others have stated, comes off as a negative to some questioners. It comes off as negative to some answerers. I'd like to see hard numbers on this, but a lot of the homework-tagged questions I've seen have attracted very low scores, probably as a result of that tag.

I think both should be discouraged in general, as a result. In theory, homework could be OK, but in practice, it winds up attracting negative attention instead of helping organize the site.

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    +1. "I think both should be discouraged in general, as a result. In theory, homework could be OK, but in practice, it winds up attracting negative attention instead of helping organize the site." And needless debate. Is it really any different to help someone out with non-homework as it is for homework? – Gnome Jan 4 '10 at 20:14
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    @Fixed-With - Interesting thoughts. I can see an argument against all the context-style tags (homework, beginner, confused, example, newbie, help, belongs-on-). The argument would go that tags should be used solely for categorization of content (i.e. technology and search terms). *Not to add context or intention to the question. Anything outside the realm of search should be in the body of the question. Period. – Robert Cartaino Jan 4 '10 at 20:31
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    @Robert: That's exactly what I'm saying. :) – John Rudy Jan 4 '10 at 20:40
  • I'm not an overly zealous editor but is anyone doing these types of edits? Is it considered "good practice?" – Robert Cartaino Jan 4 '10 at 20:52
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    What about the use of the homework tag to filter out questions that I don't want to see? Categorizing as homework is perfectly legitimate if it is homework. Using tag filtering to ignore some types of questions is also legitimate. Removal the homework tag would adversely affect people who don't want to view homework questions. I'm for removing possible-homework, but we should keep the homework tag. I'm less convinced of the need for "beginner, confused, etc." as they describe the OP not the question. – tvanfosson Jan 5 '10 at 3:23
  • @tvanfosson: A case I hadn't considered, but yes, I suppose equally valid. – John Rudy Jan 5 '10 at 5:45
  • The tag also provides a mechanism for faculty to keep an eye on suspected homework questions for identifying their own cheaters. All in all, I don't see the problem with the tag. If you aren't a student and you are being tagged possible-homework, you probably should have done your homework first before wasting peoples time here. – Recurse Jul 20 '10 at 5:31

If it's clearly homework, tag it homework. If it's not clear, don't. There's no need for a "possible" tag.

  • What makes it clear? It's clear it isn't clear at stackoverflow.com/questions/2000202, and, IMNSHO, it should not have been used. I'd rather see comments like S.Lott's in this class of questions. – Gnome Jan 4 '10 at 19:45
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    @Roger Pate - I agree. It's been a pet peeve of mine when users tag other people's questions as homework just because it seems simple or academic. I would urge the use of comments if a user needs clarification about the context of a question and not take it upon themselves to add a homework tag unless it is stated by the original author or just egregiously obvious. – Robert Cartaino Jan 4 '10 at 19:50
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    @Roger Pate: But that's a misuse of tagging, fundamentally the same as tagging something [belongs-on-superuser]. No one will search for [possible-homework], thus as a tag it fails its first test. – John Rudy Jan 4 '10 at 20:12
  • But is that the only test? [homework] fails that too. (I cannot recall ever including "homework" when searching for my own specific homework questions in the past. Only for meta-homework questions, similar to "what are good strategies for homework".) [possible-homework] still passes the test of categorization, in that it cautions users in one way or another, which is the primary current use of [homework]. – Gnome Jan 4 '10 at 20:24
  • @Roger: Yes, and I'm not particularly fond of [homework] either ... :) – John Rudy Jan 4 '10 at 20:41
  • @Roger: Don't forget that you can also exclude tags as part of a search. – Chris Upchurch Jan 5 '10 at 0:44

I think the tag should be retagged to homework.

People misconstrue the use of the tag homework. It should be used for when a particular question is commonly a homework question, and not to brand a particular user.

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    I considered that but I resent when other users add the homework tag to "brand a particular user." Adding a homework tag is okay if it is so blatantly obvious or stated explicitly by the question author. But in the case of adding a possible-homework tag, it is almost always used as a back-hand complaint about the question when the editor doesn't really know what they are talking about. Just my opinion. – Robert Cartaino Jan 4 '10 at 19:24
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    @George Stocker - I also believe that the homework tag does have a legitimate place. It puts a context on why the question is asked. It directs users to guide the author to work out the answer rather than directly solve the problem for them (teach them to fish...). It also provides a legitimate organization function: I was searching for programming puzzles that are "commonly a homework question" and, in cases like that, tags provide a way to make it easier to search for content. – Robert Cartaino Jan 4 '10 at 19:41
  • Unless I miss my guess, you and I are in total agreement. – George Stocker Jan 4 '10 at 19:46

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