Our current homework policy—for homework questions that demonstrate effort and are not simply copypasta of the exercise—is to leave hints in comments, not in answers. This means that we can't mark duplicate homework questions as such, because a question can be closed as a duplicate of another question only if the other question has answers.

Should we update the policy to put hints in answers, or continue to put hints only in comments?

This is only about homework questions that already meet the requirement of showing effort and asking for help with that effort; obviously copypasta of the exercise remains closeworthy without answer or comment.


3 Answers 3


We should maintain the policy of putting hints in comments.

  • Hints are not answers and so should not be presented as answers.
  • Requests for help that show effort are seldom actually duplicates even if the underlying exercise is the same.
  • Showing a duplicate may be giving away the answer which defeats the purpose.
  • Askers who really want that can search for the duplicate themselves anyway.

(Fill in other reasons why, Community!)

  • $\begingroup$ Also, the community user deletes them if we don't upvote. $\endgroup$
    – kelalaka
    Commented Sep 28, 2019 at 8:01
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @kelalaka Only after a year, and never if there are at least two comments, and not if they are viewed often enough. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ Note that we do have a close reason for homework without apparent effort. We cannot both have a close reason and ignore it for some specific time. In other words, hints are welcome as long as the question is open, but please do not get angry if an assignment is closed because not enough effort is shown. I'm very much against removing that close reason as it will definitely flood the site with bad questions that are of no use to anybody (assignments are for practice after all). $\endgroup$
    – Maarten Bodewes Mod
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 18:39

We should update the policy to close homework questions without hints.

  • Crypto.SE is not a homework help service.
  • Hint-only questions clutter up the site with exchanges of limited utility.
  • We want to discourage homework questions.
  • If they are ever upvoted or answered, the questions will never go away otherwise.

(Fill in reasons why, Community!)


We should update the policy to put hints in answers.

  • An answer allows another question with the same exercise to be closed as duplicate.
  • Questions without answers worsen the ever-growing list of unanswered questions even though they will, by policy, never be answered.

(Fill in reasons why, Community!)

  • $\begingroup$ We cannot mark as duplicate if the duplicate is not answered, however, mods can do this. Select a question as pit question, done. $\endgroup$
    – kelalaka
    Commented Sep 28, 2019 at 16:23

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