# Economics.SE Policy on Homework Questions

The explicit aim of this site is to create a stack of high quality economics related questions and answers. High quality questions are those that, along with their answers, are useful to future visitors. The purpose of this site is not to provide complete answer keys to homework questions, or to provide answers to highly specific questions unlikely to be of general interest or usefulness.

When posting a homework question, it is therefore essential that you

• demonstrate some evidence of having attempted to answer the question independently
• consider ways to write the question in a general fashion that will make it more useful to others with different (but similar) problems in the future. A rule of thumb: If your question contains numbers that are not essential to your particular problem, it is most likely too specific to be of general use. Some examples follow:

Bad Question "Alpha and Beta are shipwrecked on a desert island and are trying to split 100 kg of cornmeal (C) and 100 cocunuts (N). Alpha's utility function is: $U_{\alpha} = C + 0.5N$, while Betas utility function is $U_{\beta} = 3.5C + 3.5N$. If they do not agree to cooperate, they fight to death, with U = 0 for the loser. Given their physical differences, Beta has an 80% probability of winning the fight.Find their threat point!

Better Question Imagine a scenario in which two agents, Alpha and Beta, are splitting two goods, 100 C and 100 N. They have utility functions $U_{\alpha}(C,N)$ and $U_{\beta}(C,N)$. If they cannot agree on an outcome, they fight to death, with U = 0 for the loser. The likelihood of Beta winning is $P$ percent. How can I calculate their threat point?

Great Question Imagine a scenario in which $N$ agents, each with an individual utility function, have to allocate $M$ goods. If they cannot agree on an outcome, one of the agents (randomly drawn) will gain all the goods, while the others enjoy zero utility. How can I calculate the threat points?

Do not merely post a scan or image of the whole question, nor of your attempted answer. Enter your question, and the work you've done to try to answer it, as text. You can use Markdown and Mathjax to make it more readable. If the question requires images (for example, a chart), post those as images, but enter the question text as text.

• What if the OP is so new to LaTeX that they don't know how to code it, and have to resort to posting a photograph? This question has close votes, seemingly because it was not TeXified (see edits). I think that policy is too harsh. Jul 3 '18 at 6:29
• @ahorn -- I agree. I don't thik questions should be closed or downvoted if they're not TeXtified -- it puts off many new users. I'm sure most of them will learn to use LaTeX for their questions or answers eventually; it shouldn't be necessary for new users. On the other hand, if a fairly old user posts scanned or snipped images, perhaps those deserve a downvote, or a close ruling. Jan 21 '19 at 8:53

My impression is that there's sort of a dicotomy:

A) It's crucial that the site works to keep contributors from wasting their time answering individual high school or college level home work (or take home exam) questions explicitly. Answers to basic questions should be general, in a way that they offer a broad perspective and don't directly answer an exam question.

B) However, I think that the most sophisticated, complex questions should get very specific, exact or precise answers. I think grad level knowledge is scarce, but few people can actually absorb it, so it should be distributed to whoever wants it.

Can a relevant economcs question be part of someones homework? I think it can.

If the objective of this policy is to keep contributors from answering inapropiate questios I think the key would be to define economy as a theoretical sience which tries to explain social behaviors, and diferentiate it so from all practices which apply all or part of such sience to real life, every day, money managemet techniques such as finance or accounting.

My argument is that complexity of the question shouldn´t determine the appropriateness of a question, but instead the scope to which that complexity reaches. I think it would be best to say that an appropiate question is one that can be explained using theoretical economics without considering the level of complexity as long as that complexity is purely theoretical. This way all questions aiming at answering a specific applied economics problmeatic with real life values would be off topic, and questions aiming at solving theoretical applied economics presented with theoretical values, no matter the complexity of the question, would be considered appropiate and worthy of an answer.

example of an appropiate question:

Asuming a single product market with perfect competition structure: if the price of the product increases from $p=A$ to $p=A+B$, and the supply function is $f(p)=Cp+D$ what would be the increace in the production of this product after the price change?

example of inappropiate question:

Asuming a single product market with perfect competition structure: if the price of the product increases from $p=10$ to $p=20$, and the supply function is $f(p)=2p+1$ what would be the increace in the production of this product after the price change?