I just learned that the tag has been deprecated in stackoverflow.com (duh, where have I been?).

I thought this would be a good time to discuss this tag on robotics.se also.

The reasons for and against having a homework tag is already mentioned in the post I linked above. However, the difference between robotics.se and stackoverflow, or math.se for example is that, if a student asks a question, s/he's most probably already a masters or PhD student. This means that (hopefully) they have already somewhat researched the problem.

What do you think? If the homework tag appeared on robotics.se, should we remove it? Or the nature of users of this site makes it different?

  • $\begingroup$ P.S. I myself am for removing it. $\endgroup$ – Shahbaz Nov 26 '12 at 10:08

I doubt we'll see the tag anytime soon in this forum for the simple reason that, in my albeit limited imagination (I've never personally taken a robotics course), I struggle to foresee many questions where it is necessary to know that the context involves homework.

In math or computer science, many exercises are fairly contrived, because they serve to illustrate a principle, and the standard answer to a homework question being asked out of context is to say "Why on earth would you do that in the first place?".

In don't think the same is necessarily true for homework in a robotics course as I'd expect most questions to be quite sensible without having to know that they involve a homework assignment (again though, correct me if I'm wrong as I lack first hand experience).

To directly answer your question though, no, we should not allow the homework tag here for the exact same reasons. There's no issue with homework questions. But the poster should put enough effort into the question to make it a worthwhile question without people having to know it's a homework question.

If you want an intuitive reason for why the tag is discouraged, think of who would search for our subscribe to the tag on it's own.

In practice though, I'd suggest crossing that bridge when we actually come to it. I'd expect most students to avoid announcing that their question is homework if they can


As a moderator on Chem and a semi-active user on Physics, I do feel that the homework tag has its uses. But it's only useful if we have a homework policy. (the tag helps enforce it)

So, the question is, do we need a homework policy? I'd say we don't. Sure, there are courses and full fledged programs in Robotics. Sure, they have homework. But the type of homework they have is either off topic here (as in, pure maths or engineering calculations), or normal "robotics" questions, indistinguishable from the rest. At least, that's what the majority ought to be.

So we'll have just a few really homeworky questions--no need for a policy(and thus no need for a tag) at the moment. If such questions become a problem (seriously doubt it), then we regulate them.

If the tag crops up, feel free to shoot first, ask question later :P


Homework questions have a place.

But if, and only if, the question otherwise meets the FAQ, and the question shows that the questioner is not regurgitating their homework without applying any prior thought. In this case, it should be closed as off-topic, or too-localised.

If a questioner asks a specific on-topic robotics question, and explains why they are having problems, and what they've already done to understand the problem, then I welcome the question being asked.

Or as I phrased it in answer to "How do we address questions about related subject areas?":

But fundamentally, as long as it is on-topic here, no matter how on-topic it would be elsewhere, then here is fair enough.

And that applies to Homework too.


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