It's usually better not to provide a complete code sample if you believe it would not help the student, using your best judgment. You can use pseudo-code first, and, in the spirit of creating a programming resource, you may come back after a suitable amount of time and edit your response to include more complete code. This way, the student still has to write their own code, but a full solution can become available after the assignment has ended. Recognize that homework is likely to include artificial constraints, and honor those constraints.
Also be aware that these constraints may affect whether or not a question should be closed as a duplicate. Don't downvote others who answer homework questions in good faith, even if they break these guidelines unless the answer would merit downvotes even if the question weren't homework related. It's not always obvious at first glance that a question is homework, especially when you're not expecting to see it here.
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 a seasoned programmer. 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. As for non-homework questions, questions in the spirit of "plz send teh codez" might be closed as "too broad". Use your best judgment. Remember students are new programmers and often don't yet understand what is expected of them on this site. Help them to get that understanding. When answering if you choose to , make sure you include plenty of explanation in English, not just code.
But don't hold back from going into interesting details or showing code just because of who asked the question for what reason. The point of SO is to answer questions for future readers, not just for the OP. When voting, be generous to new users if they aren't specifically asking SO to do their homework for them.
But when you find old bad questions homework or not definitely downvote them. So there's kind of a "grace period" for sort-of-ok homework questions that don't have much future value, in case people want to spend their time helping that one person.
Homework questions sometimes subvert that, especially debugging questions which often have little to no future value and just clutter up everyone's search results. When you're looking for a good way to do something, you don't want to find all the confused bad ways, and answers debugging them but still implementing the bad way. Keep that in mind when answering or choosing not to answer a homework question.
If there's anything interesting worth saying in answer to a question including a nice way to code something , I'm going to put that in an answer. To be an answer to the question asked, you do also have to directly answer the question including pointing out things wrong with the OP's implementation, or explaining exactly why their code behaves the way it does.
I do tend to include more conceptual explanation than I would otherwise when answering a homework question, because usually it's clear that missing concepts are the reason they needed to ask in the first place instead of just writing some code. But if the OP didn't want a complete answer to their question, they shouldn't have asked on SO. If I think it's worth answering in the first place, I don't like leaving out details or suggestions that would be useful to future readers wondering about the same problem.
If you just want guidance or you don't know where to start , ask your instructor or TA for help. I'm not saying you must always include working code when answering. Don't reward lazy questions homework or not with code dumps. But don't hold back from showing code only because the original asker of the question was doing a homework problem. If there's an alternate much better way to do what the OP was attempting, I'd encourage mentioning it.
Sometimes that's easiest and clearest with code. Homework questions are often posted by new users that don't know how to ask good questions yet.
They're also often asking about the same thing that's been asked a zillion times, but with a unique misunderstanding or bug in their code. I usually resist downvoting new questions like that, even though they have near-zero future value, as long as they include a [mcve] if it's a debugging question.
I will go looking for a duplicate to close it if possible, though with an answer that explains things in English, not just a code dump, of course. But when I come across old questions like that near-zero future value, with a problem that could have been found easily with a debugger , I downvote ruthlessly.
I have no patience for old bad questions wasting my time in search results if they won't ever make good duplicate targets because they have two or three misunderstandings combined with various bugs.
For example, there are a zillion questions about printing or reading integers in x86 assembly language usually bit DOS because some schools are still teaching that?? Using a debugger is more important in assembly language than in higher-level languages, because many totally wrong things are not build-time errors or warnings. Watching register values change as you single-step would reveal the bug in more than half the asm-homework questions that get asked.
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