I see questions like this every so often, usually the poster doesn't just copy and paste the text directly from their assignment, but one did as How to find ring of coverage of GPS Satellite on WGS-84 ellipsoid?.

None of the flag categories really fit, but I think it should be removed, if only to discourage future questions like this. Is downvoting it enough?


2 Answers 2


Our site does not have a specific homework policy, nor does this appear to have been discussed before. Other sites do have such policies: see the math FAQ on homework for instance.

On yet another site I have moderated hundreds of homework questions. My attitude has changed a little over time because there are unresolved and thorny issues associated with the treatment of homework, including

  • Why should we care? A well-asked homework question that concerns something on topic is a good question, right?

  • It would be quixotic to police the Internet to prevent people from looking up answers to their homework.

  • Homework questions and their answers can provide a foundation of useful basic information; some might (indeed ought to) turn into FAQs: so why turn them away?

  • In communities where homework is treated specially, newcomers are often plagued by unsupported accusations of misusing the policy: you constantly read snarky comments suggesting a question is homework, especially from some of the newer community members, and that just turns people off.

  • There is no clear line between routine homework-like questions and actual homework. Should we count as homework questions from textbooks being used for self-study? Questions that arise in interviews? Questions that are actually homework but are open ended and challenging? Etc.

In the present case, the question has problems--but not because it might be homework. It asks for a lot; some parts of the solution have been addressed in other threads; it is asked in a peremptory manner. Instead of threatening to delete the question or downvoting it, I would like to suggest that we help the O.P. improve this question by asking them to show what research and partial progress they have made; to indicate specifically where they would like help; by pointing out the SE-wide policy that we're not a code-writing site. Let's maintain our reputation of being a place that is helpful, accommodating, and friendly.


A good question is a good question, even if it is homework.

In my experience most poor questions stem from a "please spoon feed me" vantage, and this starting point often doesn't have anything to do with homework. I know, because some of the poor questions are mine, and I haven't been in school for a long long time. :) Perhaps they just don't have the right search terms. Perhaps the OP is in way over their head and just can't think any more. Perhaps this is the 10th problem on their desk this morning and they just need it gone. Etc.

In all cases the response is the same, treat it like any poor question: gently ask for more details and context, tease out specific confusion points, provide some possible avenues to improve the Q presentation. Someone genuinely interested in an answer will engage and the question will improve. If there is no engagement, down vote if required, and move along, placing your energy where it's valued.

In short, we don't need do anything special for homework (in my opinion).

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