This question is motivated by this comment.

Recently I see more an more questions which explicitly asks for solution to given class problems. This happens mostly before exams period. It looks like the person who asks for this solution doesn't even try to solve it by itself, not mention about usage of LaTeX formatting and description what one has try.

So the overall proposition is: maybe we should downvote question which seems to be copy paste from problems sets without any contribution from person who asks?


2 Answers 2


The tooltip on a downvote button reads

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful

If your opinion of a question is “this guy should do his own homework instead of dumping it on us”, that's a prime case of “does not show any research effort”, and a downvote is perfectly consistent with the guidelines.

As per our homework policy, homework questions are accepted. But a dump of a homework assignment is often not a suitable Stack Exchange question. The usual quality control applies. A dump of a homework assignment may often be closed as

  • too broad, if the exercise is not a straightforward question and requires a lengthy discussion or solving multiple subproblems.
  • unclear what you're asking, if the homework problem is simply copied and the asker does not specify which part is giving him/her trouble.

Please leave a comment in such cases, like D.W. did (of course if someone already left a comment and you're happy with it then you don't need to leave your own). Part of the comment should be some generic, polite “tell us what you've done so far”, and part of it should ask a few more specific questions suggesting what avenues to explore first.

  • $\begingroup$ I think we should state the entire policy in the comment: "While we accept HW questions on cs.SE, we do not like dumping HW questions straight out of the book. Please attempt to dress it up properly so that <it is useful to other people?> or this question will be closed." $\endgroup$
    – Realz Slaw
    Commented Oct 20, 2013 at 10:55

Yes. I recommend that you downvote those questions. There are several reasons why a downvote is appropriate:

  • They do not show research effort.

  • Also, they are not useful: they are not useful to others, and they do not serve the mission of this site, which is to build an archive of high-quality questions and answers that will be useful to others.

  • They indicate a failure to read the site rules before asking a question. That violates the etiquette and expected behavior for users of this site.

All of those mean that a downvote is reasonable and appropriate.

Of course, it is entirely your choice when to downvote and when to upvote. No one can tell you what to do. I'm just saying that, in my opinion, a downvote is reasonable and not inappropriate, if you choose to do so.

  • $\begingroup$ Be aware that many people, especially newcomers, perceive downvotes as personal attack. The process of closing and the phrasing of the associated texts can be more informative and "nice" than a bare negative number. Therefore, please consider whether a question should closed, anyway; if it should, you can skip the downvote. (In particular, the downvote will persist even if the question is improved, whereas closing can be undone globally.) $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Commented Oct 20, 2013 at 13:39

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