Mainly copied from https://physics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/714/7433

What is the policy on asking homework questions on Literature Stack Exchange?

  • What kinds of questions are considered homework questions?
  • Are homework questions allowed?
  • What should I include in a homework question?
  • Why don't you provide a complete answer to homework questions?
  • An example of a homework question would be like: can someone explain to me Gatsby's character in 'The Great Gatsby'
    – John D
    Oct 22 '17 at 18:52
  • @Hamlet I understand that copying a literature essay from the Literature Stack Exchange website is obviously cheating. However, I don't think there are many answerers who would even write an essay. If you re-read my question, I asked What kinds of questions are considered homework questions? as in can we ask for tips to point us in the right direction, or even for vague examples - or not?
    – John D
    Oct 22 '17 at 19:11
  • 2
    We don't have a magic machine that allows us to determine if some asking for an explanation of a particular character is asking for help with their schoolwork. I don't know how things work in physics, but here we can't really tell if something is a homework question unless the OP tells us. So there isn't really any point in treating homework questions any differently. (Physics and literature are very different fields, so a lot of concepts from one field won't translate to the other).
    – user111
    Oct 22 '17 at 19:16
  • Okay, but can you explain your downvote?
    – John D
    Oct 22 '17 at 19:36
  • 1
    BTW, I downvoted this question for making assumptions about how we deal with homework questions. Like Why don't you provide a complete answer to homework questions? in the question - huh? Who ever said that we don't? While I do appreciate your enthusiasm for helping out with the meta maintenance here, it's useful to keep in mind that not everything implemented on one site works on all other sites.
    – Mithical Mod
    Oct 26 '17 at 7:37

Literature is a bit different from topics such as physics or math. Cheating in literature means plagiarism: in the context of academic work plagiarism is defined as copying the words or ideas of others and not giving proper credit (e.g. a citation). This is because unlike math or physics, work in literature usually involves writing an essay that makes an argument; it doesn't involve the same sort of logical problems that only have one answer.

If someone copies our content word for word, it should be pretty easy to use turnitin.com or a simple Google search to figure that out. If someone uses the ideas in our content but rewords everything, it's a little bit harder, but given all of our content is online and timestamped, it's still somewhat easyish.

We can't really know which questions are homework questions unless someone tells us. So if we treat questions involving cheating differently, we're really only treating questions where the OP admits to cheating differently--given how easy it is to lie on the internet there isn't much point to that. If someone wants to cheat, it's really up to their teacher to prevent cheating, which again due to Google and turnitin should be doable for teachers who care about preventing plagiarism and are able to put in the time to enforce rules against plagiarism.

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