I've encountered a couple of questions where there was clear signs that the question was about an assignment of some sort: either there were more that one writing style in the question, the code clearly mentioned "question1", or there was a screenshot with a window titled "Assignment 2".

Should we handle these questions differently than the other questions? If so, how should we handle them?

  • As a benchmark, here's the related SO-meta topic linked from the SO-FAQ: How do I ask and answer homework questions? – Pikalek Apr 2 at 15:13
  • Is there a protocol for bringing this back up for discussion? In light of this question, I realized that my answer below was assuming the homework questions would need to be at least somewhat game dev related. I'm reluctant to edit after it has been voted on, as it may no longer reflect the degree to which others agreed with it. – Pikalek Oct 10 at 18:59
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Personally & as a teacher, I think it we should adopt the SO stance on homework. There's nothing unique to game development that warrants altering their protocol. Here's my summary of the SO community wiki answer, paraphrased in places to fit this site:

Guiding principles:

  • It is okay to ask about homework - GDSE exists share knowledge and this includes helping students.
  • Providing an answer that doesn't foster learning is not in the student's own best interest. Therefore you might choose to treat homework questions differently than other questions.

How to ask about homework

  • Make a good faith attempt to solve the problem yourself first.

  • Ask about specific problems with your existing implementation.

  • Admit that the question is homework; do not use a “homework” tag, but mention it in the question text.

  • Be aware of school policy. If your school has a policy regarding outside help on homework, make sure you are aware of it before you ask for / receive help on GDSE.

  • Never use code you don't understand. It definitely won't help you later (after school, in later assignments, on tests, etc.) and it could be, at best, very embarrassing if you are asked to explain code you turned in.

How to answer and moderate homework questions

  • Try to provide explanation that will lead the asker in the correct direction.

  • It's usually better not to provide a complete code sample if you believe it would not help the student, using your best judgment.

  • Recognize that homework is likely to include artificial constraints, and honor those constraints. Also be aware that these constraints may affect whether or not a question should be closed as a duplicate.

  • Don't downvote others who answer homework questions in good faith, even if they break these guidelines (unless the answer would merit downvotes even if the question weren't homework related).

  • Be respectful when guiding towards best practices & good habits, even if it's something that seems obvious.

  • Don't downvote a homework question that follows the guidelines and was asked in good faith.

  • Be polite when asking if a question is homework.

  • Use your best judgment. Remember students are new programmers and often don't yet understand what is expected of them on this site. Help them to get that understanding.

  • 3
    Importantly, how not to ask a question about homework: Dump the assignment text onto the site and say "solve this for me please". I see that far too much, and those questions are probably what give "homework questions" such a bad name. A well-written homework question won't be distinguishable from a question arising from a personal or work project unless it's explicitly stated. – Nic Hartley Apr 7 at 18:06

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