# Homework vs. home-experiment: double standards?

I'm a great supporter of the tag and I think it's fair to demand that OPs are required to show that they have thought about the underlying concepts before an answer is presented.

Lately, however, I get the impression that we're applying double standards to and questions. The pressure on homework questions seems to be increasing and questions are closed rather fast, even if the OPs seem to have tried something and ended with a wrong answer, but have (only) failed to provide a full account of the steps/calculations taken.

On the other hand, I've hardly seen questions getting closed, although the experimenter apparently lack fundamental knowledge on chemistry or workplace safety and blatantly refuse suggestions to use proper lab equipment or - as a minimal standard - their home equivalents.

To me things seem to run out of proportion here.

• I am very much up for reviewing the homework policy, but we only got a few opinions on that question. For the last two homework questions that were closed, what I saw were two copy-and-pastes of the problem from the homework or textbook. To me, tacking "well I got 1.4" on to the question doesn't help anyone begin to direct the OP since we don't know where the misconception lies. I'm somewhat skeptical that there was anything more than a marginal effort put in without that evidence. – jonsca Sep 12 '14 at 6:31
• I am definitely open to looking into the home experiment questions in the same way, but I think those would be more difficult to judge. I think that is a battle on another front, though, as the ulterior motive behind the homework regulations is to prevent the site from becoming a homework "drop off service." I can definitely see your point about preventing us from becoming a "do-it-yourself" depot as well. – jonsca Sep 12 '14 at 6:33
• I am once again leaving these as comments rather than an answer because I want to know what other people are thinking, and I hope this does spark more debate about both the homework policy and the home experiments. So, have at it! :) – jonsca Sep 12 '14 at 6:36
• I personally find that home-experiment has broadened itself a bit too much, becoming a "gimme a chemical that does X" tag. Maybe we should revisit the tag, look at the different types of questions in the tag, and determine which should be allowed? The main issue with homework qs is that crystal balling the OPs conceptual confusion is hard, so it's easier to ask them to ask a conceptual problem in the first place. – ManishEarth Sep 12 '14 at 6:52
• I'm definitely with joncsa and ManisEarth here. Finding the right balance between a homework service and "do-your-own-stuff-CLOSED" isn't always easy. I'm definitely against pampering the lazy, but when it comes to experimental chemistry, I'm even less inclined to pamper the mind- and reckless that just "throw some stuff together". – Klaus-Dieter Warzecha Sep 12 '14 at 7:02
• I am of the opinion that we are closing some homework questions not fast enough. I very much like how math.se is putting it: "Please put some work into formulating your question. Please do not just copy and paste the exact question text from your homework sheet." (I am not even addressing an underlying legal issue here.) For home-exp questions one of my standard answers would probably be: "Don't do it!" I have problems giving advice to people I do not know and I do not know their background, especially referring to any kind of chemicals. [...] – Martin - マーチン Sep 13 '14 at 7:15
• [...] I think the best way to answer these question would be to address all of the safety issues first, make suggestions later. I would also go as far as editing in the safety advices into existing answers where it is missing. However, closing these questions is probably negligent, as people might go ahead and do it anyways and suffer through injuries, whatsoever. I think we have a moral obligation to avoid this. – Martin - マーチン Sep 13 '14 at 7:18
• Just to tie this in with the other discussion happening, I have posted a new answer on meta.chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/433/… – jonsca Sep 14 '14 at 5:39
• @Martin brings up a very, very good point. There should be a way to vote a warning label on 'home-experiment' questions that may be potentially dangerous. I don't really think that we have a moral obligation to answer a question vs. outright deleting it however but I'm sure there are 'better' ways of dealing with it than that. – LordStryker Sep 15 '14 at 19:24
• Personally, I think many questions tagged home-experiment require also some note about safety - and so it's maybe good that OP asks here before researching. – Tomáš Zato - Reinstate Monica Sep 23 '14 at 21:06
• I agree. Home experiment appear to have the lowest standard. Most home experiments are not going to be safe. I personally think it is ludicrous for people to ask whether something is safe or not. If you do not know how safe it is to do something, you are probably not prepared for it. I think it is ludicrous to have a category for home experiment at all. – CoffeeIsLife Jul 9 '16 at 12:44