Apologies for any offence. As this site has many questions based on books, I'm disheartened by RonJohn's comment

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this --and the similar one you recently asked -- look a lot like homework that should be asked on Law.SE.

and this

It looks like homework, since you're quoting a textbook named Contract Law. So even if you aren't a law student, it's still off topic.

I'm befuddled why RonJohn thinks my questions are homework? It isn't homework. I'm reading for fun.

5 Answers 5


Questions based on books in general may or may not be on-topic, we have to look at the specific question.

From my perspective, the problem is that the questions are really theoretical and don't seem to relate to any practical problem in Personal Finance that you actually have or might have.

  • Isn't this true for those textbook questions that I linked to, like from Zvi Bodie's Investments?
    – user85969
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 5:00
  • 2
    @Antinatalist In general not all off-topic questions get closed, so you can't deduce that something is on-topic just because it's on the site. But looking at the top couple of questions about /Investments/, those have a much closer connection to Personal Finance. The two questions you asked that are now closed are about quite obscure points of law that are unlikely to arise for most people in practice. And if they did arise it's unlikely anyone here would be able to actually help. Commented May 7, 2019 at 5:29
  • The red underline at money.stackexchange.com/q/108634/85969 pertains to technical finance terms?
    – user85969
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 6:08
  • 1
    @Antinatalist not in the sense that people operating their day to day finances will be thinking about those terms, even if they do reflect the underlying legal theory. Have you tried posting these questions on law? It seems that's more likely to be productive than trying to persuade people on here to answer your question. Commented May 7, 2019 at 7:34

The homework part has not been addressed yet, so I'm making this a separate answer.

There is no such thing as homework questions being invalid. Questions are either well or badly written, and on or off topic. So whether a question looks like homework is totally irrelevant, and gives the OP no information about what is missing in the question. Comments should address that last part specifically.

It's like that error message we all know when defining a new password: The password is invalid.
Aaarrrrggh - Tell me why!

There have been lots of questions about homework on StackOverflow Meta, later StackExchange meta. An important one is about the OP declaring that something is homework, in which case we should answer differently.

  • 1
    Thanks. Yes, "Homework", in and of itself, is not a reason for off-topic, but rather, an indication of the question's motivation, and how a good answer might be crafted. The issue is that a member will vote to close and also comment regarding the homework issue. Commented May 11, 2019 at 12:23

The #1 problem with the question is that it is about contract law rather than personal finance. The correct people to answer such a question are lawyers and lawyers are found on Law.SE. The kind of people here are mostly people who care about questions of personal finance.

Now, if you have a practical question on personal finance that turns on that particular phrase in a contract law textbook, we might be able to help you. But we would be mostly answering from the perspective of "this is how mortgages work" rather than what the legal language means.

As a side note, unless you are having trouble reading the text (as in you don't whether a particular letter is an s or an f), you should type in the text as text rather than including an image. This is true anywhere on Stack Exchange, as images aren't readable by screen readers nor searchable.


In addition to the two great answers you've received, I'd add a third point. The element of 'book' does not matter in the slightest, but the question should be a good question regardless of the book's existence. The questions that are on topic here are good questions where the book is context - for example, asking how to calculate some finance term, providing the book reference for where they get the equation is useful to the question.

But in your case, your question wasn't very good because you just pasted the text of the book (in an image) and asked to define a few terms. That doesn't have sufficient outside context to actually make sense - it's just something in the book itself. Phrased differently, you might get a better reception, if you put some context for how this is a relevant personal finance question. Making up an example (not from your question):

I'm reading up on how to handle tenant evictions on properties I owned, and I notice that [this book] includes this sentence:

When evicting a tenant, you usually hire the sheriff's office to carry out the notice.

What is a "sheriff" in this context? Is this the local police force? Or do they have some more specific meaning?

That's a good finance question because it shows how it's related to our topic area (being a landlord is a common investment strategy, if a risky one), puts a small amount of context from the book, and asks clearly a question that could stand without the book.

As a rule, if your question includes more information from outside sources than it does from your own creation, it's probably not a good question.

  • 1
    Very thoughtful reply. And I upvoted. I'm still not comfortable with the 'good' example question. Defining or explaining finance terms seems to be on topic, and I respect that, even though I personally feel they are often, not always, too basic. Real Estate as it pertains to finance is on topic, but again, I can contrive many RE questions that are not. Helping to clarify what 'sheriff' means, in my opinion, is 2 levels removed from personal finance, per se. It reminds me of the Boat Programming Meme Commented May 10, 2019 at 18:38
  • 1
    I guess I saw it as equivalent to the question, ‘How do I carry out an eviction?’, which seems more topical to me. It just has a lot more context than that question.
    – Joe
    Commented May 11, 2019 at 12:48

I just edited a question of yours, What does 'raise money on the security of the house' mean?

It seems to me that part of the reaction you've been getting is the style of how you are asking the question. "Can you explain this [citation]?" is and of itself isn't off topic, but posting a scan, which then requires 2 clicks to even read isn't ideal. Especially when the essence of the question is as I edited, trying to understand the meaning of a single word.

In the end, members, myself included, often have a reaction to a question and will click on the canned reasons to close which may or may not be accurate. In this case, the question I edited, 'book' 'homework' and 'legal' are not, in my opinion, valid close reasons. On the other hand, requests for single word definitions, especially of words in common usage, may not make for great questions, and that may be why members complete the close voting.

You must log in to answer this question.