Over the past few days, we have run into the same disagreement over two different questions: How to write an introduction letter as a professor? and College Essay - Thesis and Topic - Hard to differentiate.
The argument in the first case was shorter, so this is the one I will quote:
I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because we can't do your homework for you! – Cyn Feb 6 at 19:01
I'm voting to reopen. While we won't be doing people's homework for them, surely we can offer some advice on how to approach the task? The question looks like something we would be answering, how does the fact that this is "homework" change that? – Galastel Feb 7 at 13:45
@Galastel because part of the homework is how to figure out how to approach it. We should not be encouraging people to go around teachers to get answers. Now, if OP had a meeting with the teacher but was still confused about a point, that would be okay for here. But in this case the OP is asking about how to do the entire assignment. – Cyn 1 hour ago
Let us try to reach a consensus regarding this issue: does the mere fact that a question comes from a homework assignment make it ipso facto "wrong" for our site? Does the fact that a student has a teacher whom they could potentially ask mean that they shouldn't be asking us? Does the fact that it is "their task" to figure out their homework assignment mean that we shouldn't help?
To clarify, I do not believe we should be doing people's homework for them. But questions of this kind are a particular case of "what to write", aren't they? So we wouldn't be answering those anyway.
Let me then make a case for answering questions about how to approach a homework assignment.
First, if a question is otherwise good, or at least acceptable, I do not believe that the source of the question, in and of itself, should invalidate it. After all, how is "it is the student's task to figure this out" different from "it's his job, part of his job is to figure it out" (example: How to write a memorial plaque?) or "it is a writer's task to figure this out" (most questions we have)?
Second, our main goal is to answer how to approach different issues with different writing "tasks", be they a novel, a poem, or a technical manual. On what grounds should be exclude "homework essay" from the list?
Third, we want more questions, don't we?
Which is all to say, if all that is required to change a question from "off-topic" to "on-topic" is deleting the extraneous information that a particular piece of writing is a homework assignment, surely the fact that this is homework can be ignored?
What are your thoughts on the matter? Counter-arguments?