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A routine question from a textbook, course, or test used for a class or self-study. This community's policy is to "provide helpful hints" for self-study questions.

A routine question from a textbook, course, or test used for a class or self-study.

The following guidelines are for those who are asking and those who would answer self-study questions.

They are rooted in two principles:

  • It is okay to ask about homework. Homework is included in this self-study tag. This site exists to help people learn and provide a standard repository for questions in statistics and machine learning, both simple and complex, and this includes helping students.

  • Providing an answer that doesn't help a student learn is not in the student's own best interest. Therefore you might choose to treat self-study questions differently than other questions.

Asking about self-study questions

  • Make a good faith attempt to solve the problem yourself first. If don't seem to be making a genuine attempt, your question might be voted down or closed.

  • Ask about specific problems you have encountered in your initial efforts. If you can't do that yet, try some more of your own work first or searching for more general help.

  • Be honest about the source of the question. Do this by adding the self-study tag and mentioning whether it is for some class in the question text.

  • Be aware of school policy (if relevant). If your school has a policy regarding outside help on homework, make sure you are aware of it before you ask for/receive help here. If there are specific restrictions (for example, you can receive help, but not full solutions), include them in the question so that those providing assistance can keep you out of trouble.

  • Never use a solution you don't understand. It definitely won't help you later (after school, in later assignments, on tests, etc.) and it could be, at best, very embarrassing if you are asked to explain what you turned in.

Answering self-study questions

  • Try to provide explanations that will lead the asker in the correct direction. Genuine understanding is the real goal for students, but trying to provide that is seldom unappreciated for any question.

  • It's usually better not to provide a complete solution (or code sample) if you believe it would not help the student, using your best judgment. You can use pseudo-code and general descriptions first. In the spirit of creating a resource, you may come back after a suitable amount of time and edit your response to include more details, if the question seems like such information will have lasting value.

  • Don't downvote others who answer coursework-related questions in good faith, even if they break these guidelines. It is a good idea to suggest editing the response in a comment.

  • Don't ridicule a student because they haven't yet learned something obvious or developed the good habits you'd expect from an expert. Do add a respectful comment or answer that points them towards best practices and better style.

  • Don't downvote a homework question that follows the guidelines and was asked in good faith. CV explicitly accepts homework questions that follow the guidelines. Consider making helpful suggestions for improving the question instead.

(Adapted from an SO post by Joe Coehoorn as suggested in a meta discussion. Taken and adapted from stats for quant.)

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