I get the feeling that a good number of questions on the site from new or middling users relate to classroom assignments, and never get a good answer, because all the answers deal with real world and practical application.

I think it would help from a cleanup perspective to have a tag like classroom or assignment to identify questions and questioners that are looking for theoretical, not practical solutions to the problems they address, and help either answer the question properly, or remove the question as too localized.

EDIT: I should add the caveat that I have not noticed a huge problem on dba.se, more on other SE sites. My major concern was from a high level support standpoint I would address a question differently if it was in relation to a direct problem as opposed to a scenario one might find in a textbook.

  • Important correlated issue: Do you think less of a person because they're a student asking for help on their homework, or do you think less of a person because they can't ask a coherent question. If the answer is yes to both we may need to have a discussion about the point of the network. ;-)
    – jcolebrand Mod
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:49
  • i do not think less of a person reaching out for help. It annoys me sometimes to see a theoretical quesiton posed, with real world answers, only to have the OP keep stretching it out with "no, sorry, this won't work for me"
    – Cougar9000
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:52
  • Then it is up to you to educate them on how to ask a better question. We are a network of mentors and peers, so either peer them (answer the question) or mentor them (help them update their question to be good and reasonable)
    – jcolebrand Mod
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:53
  • You don't. However are you prepared to speak on behalf of the entire network? I'd be reluctant to, even though our site is a drop in the bucket compared to SO.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:53
  • Fair enough. I have observed some questions where it appeared the OP was looking for help in either understanding how to do something or trying to solve a homework assignment as opposed to solving a real world problem. Answers given were real world, practical, and would solve the problem. OP would keep responding with, sorry, that won't work.....
    – Cougar9000
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:56
  • Could also be a language barrier causing communications problems. I do not necessarily feel the burdon should be on ME or other posters to draw out that the answer the OP is looking for is not how we would go about it in the real world, but instead how best to answer a homework problem or solve a problem for class...
    – Cougar9000
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:58
  • We have database-theory and relational-theory, do they fit into this discussion? Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:59
  • Could you point to an example? Also you shouldn't feel the need to coax the user, but you could flag it for moderator attention - surely moderators have a vested interest in guiding the user in asking the right question.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:59
  • @AaronBertrand - I don't want to call anybody out at this point. It was just a gut feeling I have had reading some question and answer back and forth and just wondered "Is this for a class, and could we provide better answers if we knew this was for a class?"
    – Cougar9000
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 18:03
  • @JackDouglas - I believe either of those could work
    – Cougar9000
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 18:06
  • Well like I said in my answer, if there is a requirement that they must use this feature or can't use that feature, it doesn't really matter if that requirement came from a class or from a co-worker or from a boss or from a client, does it? They could just as easily tag it as my-boss-is-dumb and the constraint remains.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 18:08
  • @AaronBertrand - very true. I was just curious and wanted to see what the rest of the community thought.
    – Cougar9000
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 18:12
  • I think StackOverflow has set a good precedent here. While it is unlikely to ever get that bad here, I just don't see any need to fall into the same pattern. Especially if we do so on purpose.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 18:13
  • I agree. I wasn't around in '09 but after reading the summation and your explanation I am on the same page. Thanks
    – Cougar9000
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 18:15

1 Answer 1



This tag (well, specifically, ) used to exist on StackOverflow.

It was removed because it seemed to incite a lot of negative reaction, like "do your own homework!" There was a massive negative connotation against all of these questions because, presumably, a student shouldn't have to ask a peer network how to solve a problem they most certainly have been prepared to solve by the course itself.

Besides, answers that do not directly solve the OP's problem because they have strict parameters, are by no means useless to other readers who face similar problems but are not faced with any of the restrictions.

A professor might say "don't use the OUTPUT clause" and so might a pointy-haired boss. The key is to get users to post thorough questions with all the parameters to the problem, regardless of why those parameters exist. Simply tagging a question as or doesn't do that.


The announcement that the tag was removed and questions were in the process of getting cleaned up:

The discussion leading up to that:

And some guidance on how to answer a homework-type question (whether or not it is explicitly tagged as such):

I don't think we want to introduce tags that imply this type of thing, as it will inevitably lead to the same cycle.

  • Agreed. But do note that the tag removal only happened on SO. DBA.SE still has it (21 questions).
    – Mat
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:46
  • 2
    Meh, whether a tag exists or not is more of a broken windows issue. Do we care enough to remove it. The point was it became the subject of witchunts on SO, and so long as that doesn't happen here, it shouldn't be an issue. But we can remove it if need be.
    – jcolebrand Mod
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:48
  • @jcolebrand - we should probably remove it to help prevent its use and to stay consistent with the vision of the sites. Commented May 31, 2013 at 12:57
  • @ChrisAldrich I'm not going to tell the community NOT to do that, that's entirely up to y'all. I'm just not going to go out of my way to look for the tag and mentor people on why it's a bad tag.
    – jcolebrand Mod
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 15:59

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