I am pretty sure the guideline states that any one who try deserve at least a hint.

Recently I posted a problem on chemSE, immediately I got two downvotes, with no one willing to state the reason.

I did describe my steps toward getting my answer, which later appear to be incorrect, which is the whole reason I have asked help. Though not so complete.

How to determine the molar enthalpy of hydration of sodium sulfate in the laboratory?

  • $\begingroup$ I don't see any closed questions on your profile. Can you link to it so we can take a look? $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Jan 4, 2015 at 3:49
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    $\begingroup$ The short answer (and I'll prepare a better one once I can see the specific situation) is that we don't want the site to turn into a spot where people drop off their homework and get a quick answer. This litters the site with low-quality questions that turn off experts. You've been around longer, so I suspect that was not the case here, but that is the overarching reason behind the policy. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Jan 4, 2015 at 3:52
  • $\begingroup$ I got two downvotes. It is zero by now. I think someone vote it back. And I shall now delete this OP $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2015 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ I put a link. You may delete this question on meta after taking a look at it. Also, feel free to help me find the theoretical value. Thnx $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2015 at 14:10
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    $\begingroup$ Note: If people don't seem to e voting according to the policy, we might want to change the policy too. I modeled (read: copied) Chem's policy off of the one that used to be used on Physics (which was a mild policy, unlike the current one used there). I thought that a mild policy would be enough to stop our smaller community from being overwhelmed by homework. So far, that has worked fine, however I've noticed that people tend to be more aggressive about closing homework here (though less than on Physics); if so, perhaps we should make the policy match the opinion of the community. $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2015 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ I usually upvote any homework question showing sufficient effort according to our policy (which I think is still very valid and also enough). And with sufficient effort I mean, precise statements, i.e. formulas (including units), reaction equations, etc., and basic usage of grammar and spelling - spend time writing your question, as the user answering will also spend time to respond. (Using bold fonts confuses me a lot, that's why I probably did not bother to read the question in the first place.) And with that being said, I do not think homework questions are hated in this community. $\endgroup$ Jan 5, 2015 at 2:13
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    $\begingroup$ I will improve my next homework question $\endgroup$ Jan 5, 2015 at 2:17
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    $\begingroup$ Just an outsider observation: The reason for greater tolerance of homework questions on Physics SE may be that more of the discipline of physics is theoretical by default, making questions from textbooks more palatable. Since chemistry is more tangible, it may lead to experts to be less tolerant of problems they know come from textbooks. As you've said, there is a sweet spot for homework questions, so folks may need more explicit tips for knowing it when they see it. $\endgroup$
    – Ana
    Jan 5, 2015 at 17:08

1 Answer 1


Speaking for myself, I don't hate answering homework questions, but I do hate doing people's homework for them.

I am happy to answer questions that show evidence of effort, particularly when it is clear that there is a conceptual problem and I can tell what that problem is.

Those types of questions make great references and really help to improve the quality of the site. On the other hand, questions that are very specific and show little or no effort are hard to answer in a way that would be useful to anybody except for the original poster.

This is a recent example of what I would consider a "good" homework problem.

Here is an example of what I think is a "bad" homework problem.

  • $\begingroup$ I like to ask specific questions sorry. Are you saying that I should make it more conceptual? $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2015 at 23:35
  • $\begingroup$ I think you are perhaps focusing on a couple of words out of context. What I mean is: show some effort so that people can help in a way that is useful to other people as well. I think the two questions I referenced are good positive and negative examples of this. $\endgroup$
    – thomij
    Jan 27, 2015 at 23:57

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