A proposal by FooBar on the handling of homework questions (see An alternative suggestion regarding Homework Questions) has received significant support from the community and no dissenting votes. Details of the proposal can be found at the above link.

Since the voice of the community has spoken, I suggest that—unless any dissenters make themselves immediately known—we now accept the linked proposal as a part of our policy for dealing with homework questions, begin enforcing this policy, and modify Welcome to Economics.SE! accordingly.

  • $\begingroup$ just_do_it_shia_lebeouf.jpgif $\endgroup$
    – Kitsune Cavalry Mod
    Nov 3, 2015 at 0:59
  • $\begingroup$ Let's do it.... $\endgroup$
    – FooBar
    Nov 10, 2015 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ I just looked at the examples given in the homework policy page: meta.economics.stackexchange.com/questions/1465/… and concluded that if I were to see the "great question" posted on econ.se I would not find it great at all. In particular, it does not give a solution attempt. From the wording of the policy it seems that this may just be a great example of the second point, but this is somewhat unclear. Do we need to edit this? $\endgroup$
    – HRSE
    Mar 30, 2016 at 4:49
  • $\begingroup$ @HRSE Good point: do you have any suggestions? An alternative approach would be to simply delete the examples. $\endgroup$
    – Ubiquitous
    Mar 30, 2016 at 7:18
  • $\begingroup$ I think the two bullet points do not require clarification. However, we could include a list of "great homework questions" where we give links to actual questions. $\endgroup$
    – HRSE
    Mar 30, 2016 at 8:41

3 Answers 3


In the "Welcome" meta-post, but also in the Help question "What topics can I ask about here?", https://economics.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic, as we have done already with the rest of the site-specific guidance.

I would also suggest to put our full site-specific guidance in another Help question, https://economics.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask which appears first in the Help list under the title "What types of questions should I avoid asking?"

In my opinion it is totally unproductive that these two Help questions exist separately, but since this is SE-wide, I guess, and can't be changed, let's fill each with the same site-specific information.

A note: @Foobar offered a specific suggested text in an answer to his own proposal. Per previous discussions, the suggested text appears wordy, but the problem of homework/self study questions is so twisted that I believe demands a bit more explanation and guidance.

Finally: regarding "numerical content", let's be careful with questions that relate to simulations and/or Econometrics. These questions may present a case with specific data and specific numerical results / troubles, but in order to address them one has to go down to structure, so I think they should get a pass. For example somebody may not understand why a specific data set is giving him the estimation results it does, and pastes in his question all the relevant information: the answer will usually lie in wrong model specification or wrong software use, rather than arithmetic operations, and so it will be generally useful. Perhaps we should add something to @Foobar's suggested text on the matter.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 for that final part $\endgroup$
    – han-tyumi
    Nov 5, 2015 at 0:05

I have done the following:

Both pages are Community Wikis, so everyone should feel free to help maintaining them.

  • $\begingroup$ What about the suggestion for economics.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask ? It is at least as likely that newcomers will visit this Help question than the "on-topic" Help question. $\endgroup$ Nov 12, 2015 at 2:24
  • $\begingroup$ @AlecosPapadopoulos Unfortunately, we don't seem to be able to edit the content of that page. $\endgroup$
    – Ubiquitous
    Nov 12, 2015 at 10:04

I would be careful with this. I have asked conceptual questions and used arbitrary numbers to illustrate this but was wrongly accused of asking a homework question.

I suggestion not censoring "homework questions" as the moderator is not psychic and can and will censor legit questions.

The number suggestion is flawed for a number of reasons. First many visitors aren't lawyers in stackexchange by-laws and will unwittingly ask a question with numbers and it will get censured and they will be upset.

I suggest flipping the dynamics around. Leave it up to the public to determine what is a homework question. If they think it is, they can still answer it using conceptual helpful explanations without being a human calculator.

  • $\begingroup$ This question is a perfect example. It is hard to say if this is homework or not, and it might sometimes scare new users away if we have such a strict policy on homework. I'm thinking of this topic: economics.stackexchange.com/questions/18561/… $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2017 at 11:40

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