Remember that this is Homework Help and not Homework Done For You

Thread Starter

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
26,141
We are NOT to just provide answers and solutions to someone's homework assignment.

In the vast majority of cases, that is NOT helping them learn the material. Consider that the general expectation is that the student has already been presented with sufficient material for them to work the problem out all on their own. This usually includes having seen similar examples worked in the text and worked in class. Something hasn't clicked and it is unlikely that seeing yet one more example worked out for them is going to change that. They need to struggle with the material in order to get it to click and truly understand it -- don't rob them of that needed opportunity.

Use hints, suggestions, leading questions, and other things to help them move from where they are to one step closer, but let them do the bulk of the work. If you just give them the answer then you are likely setting them up to fail -- they will look over your solution, think that they understand it (just like they probably thought they understood all of the previous examples they've seen) and then they will get slammed on the exam when they discover that they still don't understand it.

The general expectation here is that the TS will present their best attempt to work the problem as far as they are able to. That is then supposed to be the framework from which we can help them move a bit further and then they are expected to take it from there and go as far as they can until they get stuck again.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
11,475
There was already a sticky and most the offending posts were from members who had enough posts to know better. Which is why I asked if the post was always in homework help.
 

Thread Starter

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
26,141
Was this thread always in homework help?
No. I think it might have been moved a couple of times and I suspect that it was moved while some people were writing their responses. The nature of the question flags it pretty heavy as being a homework assignment and the same expectations apply regardless of which forum it is in (otherwise people looking to be given answers to their homework would just post the question in other forums -- which we do see happen from time to time), but some people might not key into that as easily as others.
 

Thread Starter

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
26,141
Perhaps make it a sticky at the start of the Homework Help forum?
It would do no good as there's already a Sticky that covers this. It has been becoming a bit more of an issue in the last few months, so I felt it was worth trying to pull things back on track a bit. It will be an issue that will never go away -- and stay away -- completely.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
11,475
I think it might have been moved a couple of times and I suspect that it was moved while some people were writing their responses. The nature of the question flags it pretty heavy as being a homework assignment
If the thread was moved around, I'd cut the people posting what might be considered answers some slack. I've seen moderators posting answers to questions that were eventually moved to homework help.

I agree that homework problems are generally easy to recognize, but this one didn't strike me as obviously homework. Could just have easily been a novice teaching themselves how to code. I think I read this thread and it wasn't in homework help because I was tempted to post a link to an algorithm.
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
10,217
It would do no good as there's already a Sticky that covers this. It has been becoming a bit more of an issue in the last few months, so I felt it was worth trying to pull things back on track a bit. It will be an issue that will never go away -- and stay away -- completely.
Agree. But many such threads are not posted initially in homework, and when reported as potentially homework, they are not moved. Then if one puts in the effort to answer, and days later it is moved to homework, one sees that effort wasted. Maybe a better sieve for "homework" is needed.
 

Thread Starter

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
26,141
We are open to suggestions for a better sieve, as long as they are workable. Unless we moderate and approve every new post, we can't prevent people from posting homework problems in other forums. There is also always going to be a time lag between when something is reported and when action is taken. The mod staff is all-volunteer and deals with reports as time permits. Sometimes this is very quickly, and other times it can take several days, particularly if there is any discussion regarding what the proper course of action to take it. Sometimes we will temporarily close a thread while that happens, but usually that isn't the case unless there is a concern about safety-related topics that might be ToS/UA violations or about things getting out of hand, such as a thread that might become emotionally charged.

The best advice I can give to avoid wasting effort in the way you describe is to consider if the question is likely to be homework and, if so, then assume that it is homework and respond accordingly until you have reason to believe it isn't (and basing that belief on which forum it happens to be located in is not a very good guide).

FWIW. The thread in question was never reported by the membership as being homework, so untimely response to a report is a non-issue. Furthermore, the thread was moved to Homework Help about six hours after it was created, so even if it had been reported immediately that would been an entirely reasonable response time.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
2,550
many such threads are not posted initially in homework
Yes, and I have been fooled a couple of times and irritated when I figured out it was for schoolwork. Some posters (I am convinced) will make a new account to place questions NOT in the homework forum because they want a quick answer without having to do their own work. I have started taking the approach that it is homework until I become convinced otherwise. I have developed a feel for it with experience and a bit of shall I say "Distrust/wariness". Then the next poster comes in and lays it all out for them nice and neat. It's gonna happen. But it does get me that some do it even for posters in the homework forum.

EDIT: A friendly and private "Reminder" from a moderator when someone overzealously tries to help and solve it for them should be all that is necessary.
 
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jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
10,217
@WBahn
You touch on my very point. If moderation takes several days, and/or there have been replies with answers, what good does it do to remove them at that time? That's like locking the barn after the horse is out. Surely, the TS has seen them. Those supplying answers have put in effort. Removing the answers doesn't cure the "homework done for you" concern but prevents others for whom it might not be homework from gaining from that experience and throws away the efforts of those who tried to help unknowing that it was homework.

It is really no different than any other thread. A diligent student could in most cases -- perhaps almost all -- find the answer by a few minutes of searching. I agree with trying to help those students who want to learn by leading them to the right answer. But it is a charade to believe removing answers after they have been up for awhile accomplishes anything for those students who are lazy.
 

Thread Starter

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
26,141
@WBahn
You touch on my very point. If moderation takes several days, and/or there have been replies with answers, what good does it do to remove them at that time? That's like locking the barn after the horse is out. Surely, the TS has seen them. Those supplying answers have put in effort. Removing the answers doesn't cure the "homework done for you" concern but prevents others for whom it might not be homework from gaining from that experience and throws away the efforts of those who tried to help unknowing that it was homework.

It is really no different than any other thread. A diligent student could in most cases -- perhaps almost all -- find the answer by a few minutes of searching. I agree with trying to help those students who want to learn by leading them to the right answer. But it is a charade to believe removing answers after they have been up for awhile accomplishes anything for those students who are lazy.
We generally do leave answers in place that have been there for a while and for exactly that reason. But that was NOT the case in this thread. The entire thread had been in existence for less than six hours, not for days. Two answers were removed after about three hours and the third was removed in less than three minutes. Why was it so unreasonable to remove them?
 

ericgibbs

Joined Jan 29, 2010
10,756
hi John,
You keep stating it is taking several days to note the Thread is actually Homework, this usually only occurs in the few exceptions that Bill has explained.
The vast majority are dealt with within minutes or an hour or so.

If a fellow member files a Report that the Thread maybe Homework, its checked with within a few minutes and if there is enough supporting evidence the Thread is moved to Homework.

Sometimes as a Thread develops, it becomes obvious it is Homework, Moderation will then discuss the Thread Topic and make a decison on what action to take.

Eric
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
10,217
hi John,
You keep stating [emphasis added] it is taking several days to note the Thread is actually Homework, this usually only occurs in the few exceptions that Bill has explained.
Respectfully, that gives the wrong impression. I was stating out of context (hence no quotation) what WBahn said above,
Sometimes this is very quickly, and other times it can take several days, particularly if there is any discussion regarding what the proper course of action to take it.
Moreover, it applies to the thread that was under consideration.

Regards, John
 

Thread Starter

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
26,141
Respectfully, that gives the wrong impression. I was stating out of context (hence no quotation) what WBahn said above,


Moreover, it applies to the thread that was under consideration.

Regards, John
How can it possibly apply to the thread that was under consideration?

Are you really going to claim that a thread that was was not reported by anyone as being homework, was moved 6 hours and 3 minutes after it was created, and from which the solution in three posts were removed, one 3 hours and 24 minutes after it was posted, one 3 hours and 7 minutes after it was posted, and the third just 3 minutes after it was posted, falls under the category of, "But many such threads are not posted initially in homework, and when reported as potentially homework, they are not moved. Then if one puts in the effort to answer, and days later it is moved to homework, one sees that effort wasted"?
 

Thread Starter

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
26,141
Expand the titles/headings of each of the design and projects forums to make it clear that homework/assignment projects and designs are referred out to the homework forum, which takes priority.
This concept of a 'reference out' is used extensively in the International Patent Classification Key.
I expect that a lot of people would see that as cluttering the forum names excessively -- people navigating the patent system would generally have motivation to wade through its complexity, people just trying to make a post on a forum likely wouldn't. But we can certainly consider it.

We could also add a note directly to the forum descriptions, but I doubt that would have anything but a marginal impact. Hardly anyone would notice them in the first place. Still might be worth doing since the cluttering aspect is pretty minimal.

As for the folks that intentionally post homework questions in other forums hoping to trick an answer out of someone, nothing short of complete moderation of all posts would prevent that. That cure is far worse than the disease.
 

zulfi100

Joined Jun 7, 2012
633
Hi,
In this site instead of doing HW some people are giving HW. This trend is fine for knowledge lovers. But it should not extend too far. If the moderator gives any HW he must tell the answer also.
Zulfi.
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
10,217
I disagree. We (members) are all volunteers. Many of us are ex-or current teachers (professors). With any homework help, we want to see the student's efforts. After all, we all did it once before. Why shouldn't the newest generation learn how to do it too? The best measure of that is when the student can solve a related problem on his/hers own.
 

JoeJester

Joined Apr 26, 2005
4,351
The original one was written in 2003 ... and damn, I'm feeling old right now.

Like most forums, guidelines were written after some saw the need to write them. Many here have been part of other forums before joining here and they have seen the numerous times the items addressed in any guideline.
WBahn condensed the most commonly violated guideline in every homework help section of multiple forums.
 
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