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As an extension to this previous question - Should our FAQ contain a list of what's off topic and if so what should that list contain?, can we add two categories of questions that are often asked by new users but not on topic :

Specific enough questions can be migrated to StackOverfow. They accept coding homework questions with this politic as the tag description explains :

Homework means the asker is requesting help with school homework. This lets potential answerers know that they should guide the student in solving the problem, rather than simply showing the complete answer.

This means people shouldn't answer directly a question that looks like homework before migration. But I don't know how to enforce that (in the FAQ ?). Any ideas are welcome on that subject, and may be part of another question if it proves extensive =) (There is an extensive discussion about how to answer homework questions on Meta-SO)

  • personalized lesson plan / school guidance - What courses should I follow/ What should I start with to learn X with my specific background - recent question

The same idea as career questions. If it generalized enough, why not. If it's too localized, it's off topic.

It's also close to this point :

"[and is not about...] what language you should learn next, including which technology is better"

But people seems to miss the point that "part of a language" is about the same as a language itself, and will mostly end up with a generic answer that looks like "You should learn everything about this language". For example those questions :

ends up with the same generic answer : "Be the best as you can in C#".

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    Homework questions are on topic, if they are on a topic that's within the scope of the site (i.e. not code). It's the tag we don't like. – yannis Jan 17 '12 at 5:08
  • @ZaphodBeeblebrox : rephrased the homework part to be specific (there could be a better expression to describe it though). – Matthieu Jan 17 '12 at 5:12
  • I was recently made aware of the different approach StackOverflow has towards the homework tag, since you applied the tag expecting that recent question to be migrate there, could you provide an answer to the [software] meta question where you explain how SOpedians deal with homework questions? So we can tag them as such when sending them away? I don't think most of us here know how they deal with homeworks over there... – yannis Jan 17 '12 at 5:15
  • And I've just noticed you tagged this Meta question as homework... Well played, sir, well played :P – yannis Jan 17 '12 at 5:24
  • Sorry, but retagging... :) – Adam Lear Jan 17 '12 at 5:27
  • @ZaphodBeeblebrox : added what I know about SO homework tag, hope it provides enough information. – Matthieu Jan 17 '12 at 5:31
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I don't think we need to make a special mention of homework in the FAQ: if it's about a specific implementation, it's off-topic here anyway whether ot not it's homework. If it's about a conceptual problem, it's on-topic here even if it's homework.

Where askers run into trouble is when they expect people to help them from start to finish without providing anything (or very little) up-front. To that end, I think FAQ covers it already, under What kind of questions should I not ask here?:

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

Regarding Stack Overflow's sanction of the tag: it's due to baggage from the time before the Great Meta-tag Culling that has never been removed. Much like they hold onto the "Good C++ books"-esque questions and such like grim death. Thankfully, while our baggage is great, we don't have to deal with this specific Stack Overflow curiosity.

Instead, I'd rather we treat homework questions on their merits like we do every other question. It's not important how the asker came to ask the question, but whether they define the problem clearly and succinctly and provided enough information and background on what they've done so far in order to help them. In reality, we get a ton of questions that are worse quality than many homework questions, and we don't make a special dispensation for them, so why homework specifically?


However, although it's not directly related to homework tags, I would support making it more explicit that this site is not for questions about specific coded implementations. Something like:

[and is not about...]

  • A specific problem you're having with your source code (ask on Stack Overflow instead)

Which would cover all the homework—and non-homework—questions we get that really ought to have been asked on Stack Overflow first.

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    A specific problem you're having with your source code (ask on Stack Overflow instead) That. And perhaps a mention to DBA.SE for database design specific questions... – yannis Jan 17 '12 at 5:46
  • @MarkTrapp : What do you think about the "personalized lesson plan / school guidance" part (What courses should I follow to learn X)? We get a lot of those questions as well. – Matthieu Jan 17 '12 at 5:57
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    @Matthieu I think we cover that already: "[and is not about...] what language you should learn next, including which technology is better". Maybe we can make it more general and remove the "language" part? – user8 Jan 17 '12 at 5:59
  • @MarkTrapp : Or we could rephrase it with something like "what language or part of a language you should learn next/first...". I'm thinking about this trilogy of questions where the safest answer will always be everything about this language. – Matthieu Jan 17 '12 at 14:08

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