User donok has been a member for two days and has asked three questions, each of which involves a chain of routers (which by his own admission is entirely virtualised), one of which has a simple error in the routing tables which prevents one end from talking to the other.

I am getting a very strong feeling that we're doing his homework.

Is this actually a Bad Thing, or is he just being rude so I should ignore him, or is this completely OK for SF? I really don't have a feeling for this and would value guidance.

  • Thanks to all those who have so far answered, the careful thought is appreciated.
    – MadHatter
    Feb 21, 2011 at 21:00

4 Answers 4


Homework Questions in general lead to poor questions that are not useful to the community at large, so they're profiled and discriminated against, but not 'illegal'.

His questions do seem to be homework, but I could also see them being real routers with the same problems (the answers to which might be useful to the community). He's walking a fine line.


Homework questions are only a bad thing when you ask us to do the entire assignment (Give me teh codez) for you. If these are homework questions he seems to be asking about specific issues he is having after doing work and research ahead of time, these types of homework questions are good in my opinion. If he had asked "I have to setup a network given these constraints" that would be bad.

We shouldn't discriminate against the next generation of Sysadmins and we should help them with specific issues. However, if they want us to do all of their work for that that is bad and should be closed.


Most homework questions come from those who shouldn't be posting on SF (as per the FAQ) and should simply be voted off-topic. There are of course exceptions, such as those trying to migrate their skills from one platform to another, although they don't usually come across as homework questions.

Sometimes you simply have to make a judgment call based entirely on how you see it. If enough others agree the question gets closed. If an individual's questions get closed regularly maybe they'll get the hint. I don't think it's worth taking any further than that.


I think you have to genuinely assess

  1. whether these questions are truly useful to the broader sysadmin community

  2. whether the presence of these questions makes your community better or worse.

Remember that the questions others see on the front page are how they will judge you, for better or worse, so there is a strong "broken windows" argument to be made for not allowing low quality posts to winnow their way in, except in rare edge cases.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .