This Meta question is prompted by this question about the difference between front country and back country camping. Before an edit, it started with the statement "I have an assignment about..." which made it clearly a homework question (HQ). Even if it were not clearly an HQ it shows zero research. But put the research aspect aside for the moment.

Between us, @Charlie Brumbaugh and I gave good and well-received answers and may have done the OP's assignment for him, which, in the long run, does not help him.

My justification for answering the Q is in my answer to What are the goals of TGO. I said

To foster love and respect for The Great Outdoors, and to promote ways to defend and protect TGO

Turning off a newbie by telling him to go do some research before we will deign to answer, and then voting to close, seems counterproductive also, although if this question had been asked on English Language and Usage (as it could have been), that is exactly what I would have done, only more nicely.

So, do we: (1) answer any on-topic question that has a good answer; or (2) don't answer if it is a self-confessed homework assignment; or (3) don't answer if it shows no research at all, and it easily could have?

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    When I read it, I thought it might be a journalist assignment rather than a homework assignment. To be homework, you would need to be in a related class, and it is hard to imagine that question as homework without have some basic understanding (unless that was the point) On the other hand, I can see some new journalist at a small town paper getting this as a space filling assignment. If the later lets hope they remember to list TGO as a reference on this or other assignments. Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 18:03
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    P.S. I have edited out the 'assignment' wording. Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 18:07

2 Answers 2


While there is an element of "doing homework" for them, I think the question itself is absolutely fine. If they hadn't said it was an assignment it would have been perfectly suited for this site - we could even delete that bit and there would be no controversy.

And we don't actually know what the homework question was. Both your and Charlie's answers provide excellent information in a more general way than an assignment might be.

Good question, good answers = good for future visitors.

And unlike, say, a maths homework question, I don't think you have given them the answer. You have provided useful information.


The idea is not to answer individual questions but to create a resource that will be useful to more than just the OP.

Closing a question or leaving it open based on the motivation of the OP when the average question on the site gets 3,000 views seems really silly. When I go looking for SO answers to my work problems I really don't care how much effort the OP put in.

Mostly this is a problem of scale, sites with strict homework policies get more than 1.5 questions per day.

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