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Consensus on "homework questions"


Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
Mar 17, 2016
Is there a thumb rule for dealing with homework questions where the OP has not provided any workings/ideas at MHB?

Many 'main stream' forums tend to be quite strict about this (usually no help is offered unless work has been done). Though at MHB I've noticed that each 'contributing member' has their own rule. In the past I have both a) requested for further working and b) just provided a solution regardless. It seems that others do the same but I'm not sure what the reasoning is.

On the one hand, I think that newcomers who post questions in this way may be deterred from the forum if the first response is "please show your working". Whereas if help is provided regardless of work presented in the initial post, then the OP may be inclined to revisit the site. The downside would be attracting a large amount of such posts which would/could be unfavorable overall.


Staff member
Feb 24, 2012
It was very recently discussed among staff that greeting a new user, who likely isn't familiar with our goal to guide rather than provide complete solutions, with a request to show work might be off putting. We've noticed a large number of new users never come back if asked to show work on their first visit, and we are hoping to change that.

So, while the first person to reply to a thread asking for help can still generally decide how he or she wishes to help, the consensus among staff was to be more lenient with new users in that regard. Then once the new user gets some posts under their belt, we can gently get them used to showing their work a little at a time. We still want our users to eventually do the heavy lifting, but we do want them to see we have a friendly helpful side too. :)

Of course, we still ask that no one's help be trampled, that is, if someone has already provided help and is waiting for feedback from the OP, we don't want someone else to come along and provide a complete solution or answers to the hints being given until at least 24 hours has passed. If you have a different approach to the problem, you are welcome to post that, as long as it doesn't render the help initially given useless.