If I understand correctly the current policy is that if the poster admits that hers is a homework question and also shows her own effort then help should be given. This may be a hint so that they can arrive at the solution themselves or in some cases a full answer. However future readers might have the same homework question (for example the students in next years class). If the answer is already posted they can read or even copy paste it without any effort.
Is there some way to improve the current policy in this respect?
For example:
Answers could perhaps be moved chat. The drawback of this is that the same answer would have to typed in every time someone posts the question and shows effort.
Should the policy be improved, and if yes in what manner?


2 Answers 2


I strongly support @FooBar. We are a reference resource. If the professor asks a question that can be answered by searching Google, that's their problem, not ours. Our role, like any reference resource, is to provide quality, relevant information in an accessible format.

The same argument could be made against plagiarizing Wikipedia, but again, it's not Wikipedia's problem if students copy and paste their answers, it's up to their teachers and professors to ask questions that can't be plagiarized, or at least have basic Google-Fu and check to see what the most likely plagiarized sources are.


Yes, answers should absolutely be available to future readers

The idea of Stackexchange is to generate a stack of questions for future visitors to read. Questions that have no use to future visitors are off-topic everywhere. As a corollary, every question should be phrased such that other users can benefit from it.

So what about the future-homework-copiers?

The solution is simple: Do not solve homework questions for others. I have always tried to keep answers similar to answer keys: A hint on how to solve the question, but leave the main work for the OP to do.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I meant to include another question but it got lost in editing: Should we encourage people who post homework questions to post their answers once they figure it out? Either the gain to others with similar problems outweighs the 'loss' caused by future copypasters or it does not, it should not really matter who gave the answer. $\endgroup$
    – Giskard
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ Both answers had helpful insights. Alas I could only accept one. $\endgroup$
    – Giskard
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 17:19

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