Certainly the list of unanswered questions will get bigger over time, but I was really hoping it would stay under 2 pages long (when listing 50 questions/page) for much longer. The longer the list of unanswered questions, the more of a "jungle" it is to go through.

Let's shorten the list!

Here are some related questions on the topic of shortening our unanswered questions list:

Also if you see a question that you might be able to answer if more details are given, do not hesitate to write a comment asking for more details. If you see that a user that asked the question seems to have completely disappeared from the site or is not answering questions in the comments, then consider flagging the question as "abandoned" so that it can be removed from the unanswered queue (it can always be brought back if the user returns).

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    $\begingroup$ After this post, we went from 100 unanswered question to 92 unanswered questions, without the cessation of new questions being asked! $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2020 at 3:57

1 Answer 1


I am a little concerned with homework questions. The user user7077252 for example, had post 4 question in that line. I particularly refuse to do someone else homework :).

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. I looked at the questions now. I know nothing about crystallography so I wouldn't have known if it was homework. 1 question is answered and the user said "It's not homework, but examples we were given and not contextualise in, and learning this during a pandemic where I haven't met the lecturer once, made this the only platform where I could try ask for help. Can someone indicate a book for me to learn this stuff?" and Tristan said "This does look like homework, but this isn't something that is straightforward to look up" so it seems like an appropriate question. $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2020 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ The other 3 questions look like they came from research papers, are they really simple homework questions? Undergrad level or grad level? In any case if you don't want to answer homework questions that's a perfectly valid stance. If they really are just homework questions then someone else will hopefully be able to answer them! $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2020 at 0:56
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    $\begingroup$ Homework questions are extremely common and accepted by the community in many SE sites such as this one by the way: math.stackexchange.com. I think it can also help some of the more junior scientists to participate on our site. But no professor should feel obliged to do a student's homework, ever! :) $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2020 at 0:56
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    $\begingroup$ In his first question he wrote: "I have never studied crystallography but must do a module on it and in some of the questions we were given to practice the following is asked:" $\endgroup$
    – Camps Mod
    Dec 4, 2020 at 0:58
  • $\begingroup$ Yea I noticed that. He also says the lecturer is not available to help him though, so I'm glad Tristan was able to help him. Our site's people were the ones that helped when his university failed at doing their job. $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2020 at 1:01
  • $\begingroup$ One way to make them feel accountable when they ask questions would be a request to register on the site. If they're asking questions only to get homework finished they'll probably not register, whereas if they really need guidance (even with regard to homework) then they might register. $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2020 at 10:10
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    $\begingroup$ We deal with a lot of homework on chemistry and it has become quite a challenge that it doesn't overwhelm the site, despite our policy on these questions. We have been struggling for about five years now to change the guidance on these types of questions, without much success. So you might want to consider preparing for some sort of safeguard for your site. $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2020 at 20:52
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    $\begingroup$ @HitanshuSachania Requiring users to register is something you won't be able to enforce (at least not strictly), it also won't change much. The account is created with or without login credentials, an email address is always required. It really only makes a difference for the user not for the site. $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2020 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin-マーチン, that makes sense. I guess my own bias primed me. If I asked a series of homework questions and didn't want to be identified, I'd prefer not to make an account (even though I could use any random username). You are right though, most people wouldn't mind/care about it as long as their emails aren't publicly displayed. What else do you think could be done to discourage such questions? $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2020 at 22:49
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    $\begingroup$ @HitanshuSachania From the struggles we have and had at chemistry it appears that we can't do a lot to discourage them. Even rigorous closing and ignoring doesn't do that. I've come to live with them and clean up after them as the only manageable option. If there's a better way, I'd be interested in it. Sorry to disappoint. $\endgroup$ Dec 7, 2020 at 0:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin-マーチン, I guess case-by-case basis clean up, as you say, seems to be the only way right now. Thank you for your humbleness (the world needs more people like you!). $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2020 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ I like that there's a lot of discussion going on, I want to mention though that the three questions asked by the user mentioned in this answer, are actually not very simple and Stack Exchange is in my opinion very appropriate for such questions. I can't say I've seen a problem with homework questions here yet, without being shown some examples (the examples by the user mentioned in this answer don't look bad at all to me). $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2020 at 19:09
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    $\begingroup$ Finally, I just want to say that if the system asks us to "move this discussion to chat", I'd prefer if we talk in General Chat Room for Matter Modeling Meta rather than creating a new room, since I'd really like to avoid this problem: meta.stackexchange.com/q/353643/391772. $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2020 at 19:10

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