Apparently the use of the homework tag was deprecated on SO. This is actually mentioned in the same meta that our FAQ points to in describing how to ask/answer homework questions. However, elsewhere in the FAQ (and in the comments it seems) we tell them to tag their question as homework. I propose that we should either deprecate the homework tag on CV (for the reasons discussed on SO) or update the FAQ such that we point to a uniquely CV discussion of how to ask homework questions (we already have a good one on the answer side). What shall it be, or is there an option behind door #3?
I'm going to dispute some of the "facts" as presented in the SO version of this argument, which I think either don't apply here, or are just a little bit wrong. Generally speaking, I favor retaining the homework tag.
- "homework is a meta-tag". I don't necessarily think meta-tags are bad. It helps put the question in context - this is homework, or an assignment, and so the relevant issue (at least should be) the OP understanding their answer, and being able to take it and apply it. While someone just asking "What does this output mean?" might be well served by an up and down explanation of the output, homework questions prompt me at least to try and convey some sense of how to avoid needing to come back to CV in the future with a similar, but slightly different, problem.
- "homework might be factually incorrect". This is an argument against people tagging something they feel like is homework for being "lesser" as homework, not an argument against the tag itself. This is true for any tag - if someone errantly labels a thread with a tag, that tag might be factually incorrect.
- "Copied assignments (verbatim) with no attempt at solving the problem are not real questions and should be closed anyway." These are only a subset of questions that could be, and should be, tagged as homework.
- "Someone, somewhere, will feel the need to say "is this homework? is it? is it homework? Really?" then somebody else will "USE THE HOMEWORK TAG11!!11" This is at best mildly irksome.
- "In spite of this tag, people do not treat the question differently (in my experience)." I do.
- "homework on occasion attracts some poor quality stuff." These questions will not go away because the homework tag is missing. That's like saying the "Python" tag in SO sometimes attracts some poor quality stuff.
I'm strongly in favor of retaining the homework tag, in pretty much the way we have it now (though I can see some point to making all the links to things stay within CV so they stay relevant).
Edit: on the charge that SO deprecates it, I'd point out that math.SE does not; math.SE is a much closer model for the kind of activity we undertake than SO itself, so I don't think any claim of consistency carries weight.
I think there can be some inconsistency, but that's more a reason to more clearly promote the kind of behavior that's expected - to point out what the tag means for both askers and answerers.
Removing the tag is not doing the students a service!
My sense (purely anecdotal) is that the very existence of a "homework" tag tends to promote less-than-congenial responses to perfunctory questions. Instead of providing a welcome and some hints--which should be our first reaction--some community members seem to prefer writing comments like "if this is homework, it should be tagged as homework!"
We could be friendlier.
I have therefore changed how I personally respond to questions that smell like homework: I still treat them as such in my comments and answers, but I don't demand that they be tagged.
(In the interests of full disclosure, I do become decidedly less friendly towards questions that appear to abuse the site or the goodwill of the community: but that's not a matter of whether the questions are related to homework or not.)
I'm against the homework tag simply because it seems to raise more problems than it solves, since answers should in theory act differently for 'homework' questions than other questions, but in practice do so inconsistently which causes conflict between users. I don't think we'll ever hit the utopia of all users being on the same page on this issue. Someone is going to jump in and just answer the easy question it to gain the rep, so hey it may as well be me.
I also have issues with the need to selectively judge exactly what 'homework' is, unless the OP tags it as such themselves. Some things are obvious but often not.
What do we actually gain even if we do treat homework questions 'properly'? Answers on CV almost always provide more than is asked for. For a silly example, if the homework question is
Find the mean of [1,2,3,4]
answers would typically explain what the mean is, how to compute it and maybe some links to more detailed explanations. No one answers with simply 2.5. The OP has learned something which is the point of the site.
Homework questions are often poor, but if that is the case the deficiencies need to be treated the same way as any other question (typically asking multiple questions in one and not stating what it is about the question they do not understand). A well formulated question that someone is asking in order to complete some kind of homework probably wouldn't even be detected as a homework questions, which ends up making 'homework' a proxy tag for 'bad question' which may help prolong the life of bad questions that should simply be closed.
I see too few upsides to negate the many downsides of the homework tag.