Here, we have a vote to close on the grounds that

asker is rude to people trying to help him.

My instinctive reaction is that this is not a reason to close the question. Part of the purpose of Stack Exchange is to build up a repository of questions and answers. Even if the person asking today is rude, some polite person might want to know the answer tomorrow.

On the other hand, there is a strong tendency (which I largely support) to close questions that are just homework dumps. At the very least, such a question is likely to be met with "What did you try? Where did you get stuck?" (and quite likely by me). This also seems to be reacting to the attitude of the asker (laziness), rather than to actual content of the question. Also, many obvious homework questions are closed because "It is unclear what you are asking", which is often unhelpful: if somebody posts the question, "Can you prove that [some given language] is not regular?" it's manifestly clear what they're asking.

Are we being inconsistent here? I'm having a hard time separating these two cases in my head. I suppose the point is that most homework questions can be closed as being bad questions since either the answer is already widely available (e.g., reductions between NP-complete problems) or the question is so specific that nobody who doesn't have to do that particular homework will care about the answer.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Would it help you if we had a custom close reason along the lines of "This is a problem statement without indication of effort on the asker's part. A good question for this site contains not only a problem but also an attempt at solving it, allowing experts to figure the underlying problem out." $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Nov 22, 2013 at 15:46
  • $\begingroup$ Also, see my answer on your other question: don't read "unclear what you are asking" as "the stated problem is unclear". It's rather so that we expect askers to have specific questions about what they know and not just dump their homework here. If no such question is given, it's unclear what they are (truly) asking. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Nov 22, 2013 at 15:47
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I tend to find the "unclear what you are asking" response to homework dump as being confusing. To me it is clear what they want, help with homework. If I were new to CS and saw that response I would be discouraged from returning. I agree we should have something like "This is a problem statement without indication of effort on the asker's part. A good question for this site contains not only a problem but also an attempt at solving it, allowing experts to figure the underlying problem out." by Raphael $\endgroup$
    – Guy Coder
    Nov 22, 2013 at 15:53
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Raphael Yes, I think a custom close reason along those lines would be extremely useful. It seems problematic to close as "Unclear what you're asking" in cases where it is clear what they're asking (and even clear why they're asking it). $\endgroup$ Nov 22, 2013 at 16:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ note that rudeness is sometimes edited out by mods or can be edited away by others (outside of comments). so yeah its not a full reason to close a (otherwise worthwhile) question. a homework dump is bad but not nec rude unless the poster knows its unallowed.... and lets not forget that new/low-rep users do not have a monopoly on rudeness or attitude.... $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Dec 3, 2013 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


Oh dear.

The first rule of rudeness is: don't engage. Flag and move on.

(The second rule of rudeness is “Jump to rule 1”.)

“Asker is rude to people trying to help him” is not an appropriate close reason. The free-form close reasons under “off-topic” are not a place to write random comments — there's the comment facility for that. The free-form close reasons are meant to explain how a question does not fit the site. The prefilled text is “This question appears to be off-topic because it is about ” for a reason: you don't have to include it, but it gives you an idea of the sort of thing you're supposed to write.

Determining whether to close a question is based on the content of the question, not the attitude of the asker. The attitude of the asker may cause you to choose to close and move on rather than spend time editing the question or providing advice in comments — that's fine. But if you can't think of a close reason beyond the asker's attitude, the question doesn't need closing.

Regarding the close reason for homework dumps, “unclear what you're asking” covers several different cases:

  • the post is incomprehensible;
  • there is insufficient information to answer;
  • the post has clear statements but lacks an actual question.

Homework dumps tend to fall into that last case. They should, however, be accompanied by a comment telling the asker that they should tell us how far tehy got on their own and ask a specific question about the part where they are stuck.

A close reason that requires an additional comment which could be fairly generic is the whole point of custom close reasons, so maybe we should have one. This topic requires discussion though, so let's deal with it in a separate thread.

  • $\begingroup$ I disagree. Many homework questions have a clear statement and a clear question. They are recognized as such (in part) precisely because of that: "real world" questions tend to be fuzzy. Also, a "real questioner" has done some work to show... $\endgroup$
    – vonbrand
    Feb 3, 2014 at 2:37
  • $\begingroup$ @vonbrand Some questions are asked as homework and are perfectly suitable for Stack Exchange. For example, Stack Exchange can be a good place for a repository of answers to exercises in a textbook (with the consent of a textbook author, of course). $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2014 at 12:03

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