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andrew's avatar

How's this for a homework policy?

Asked by andrew (16358points) February 4th, 2010

Lisa and I have come up with an addition to the guidelines specifically regarding homework questions (Lisa did most of the work). It’s a change in the mod policy (see the emphasis).

Will you help me with my homework?

We will, provided you’re not asking us for the answer! Our members will be happy to help you think through a problem, assist you with a sticky spot, explain where you’ve gone wrong, or point you in the right direction for further research. We won’t actually do your homework for you, though, so please don’t ask us to. We’re here to help you learn, not to help you cheat! In fact, any posts that give you the answer will be removed. When asking for homework help, give as much detail as possible and tell us what you’ve already tried. We’ll have you back on track in no time!

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36 Answers

Likeradar's avatar

well done :)

EmpressPixie's avatar

Sounds good to me.

marinelife's avatar

I like it.

janbb's avatar

I like it too – sounds like you two have really done your homework on this one!

dpworkin's avatar

Perfect. Could not be improved upon.

Darwin's avatar

That’ll work.

AstroChuck's avatar

How’s this for an answer?
I love it.

Glad to see augustlan finally contribute something here.

dpworkin's avatar

yeah she is one lazy mod.

augustlan's avatar

Lazy and bad. Mustn’t forget bad.

augustlan's avatar

I like the edits you made, Andrew. This is a great final version.

Trillian's avatar

Good. I’m glad to hear it. I work for kgb_ and am forced to answer homework questions sometimes.

Jeruba's avatar

Very good idea to have this kind of guidance. The addition really brings it home.

I do have a couple of thoughts about the statement in general:

1. Add “suggest approaches” in the list of things we’ll do. (This applies mostly to all those literary questions, which are not a matter of research. It’s also what we do seem to do most of the time.)

2. I don’t care for the “we’re here to” wording because that is not what we’re here to do. We’re here, in the main, to answer questions. Homework is an exception. How about alternate phrasing along these lines: “When it comes to schoolwork, we’ll help you learn, not help you cheat.”?

I wouldn’t be sorry if there were a reminder in there somewhere to the effect that class assignments are given on the understanding that students have been taught the answers or taught how to find the answers and that research does not include asking a bunch of adults who know the answer because they did their own homework in school; but I confess that’s my own hobbyhorse and not essential to the point. I just think sometimes kids appear to believe that teachers have posed mysteries for them, instead of realizing that the class should have taught them what they’re being asked to do.

Oh, and one more:

3. I’m not comfortable with “We’ll have you back on track in no time!” both because we might be stumped (some questions are really context-dependent, and we don’t know what context the teacher has set) and because on the whole we can’t make any promises about timeliness. If Harp or Darwin or Marinelife is elsewhere, what then? I’d recommend a slightly more noncommittal conclusion, such as “We’ll put our heads together and try to help.”

KatawaGrey's avatar

This is an excellent policy! Kudos to @augustlan and @andrew for thinking it up.

AstroChuck's avatar

And BTW, @andrew, thanks for asking how we feel about policy and other changes to the site. It’s not lost to me that you guys believe in the community approach. It’s just another example of how Fluther stands out amongst the Q&A crowd as a true, functional collective.

andrew's avatar

@AstroChuck That’s the main reason I wanted to add the meta section.

aprilsimnel's avatar

::thumbs up!::

buckyboy28's avatar

I love this solution. I hope it’ll be clearly placed on the FAQ when new users sign up… a lot of people who make new accounts do so just to ask homework questions.

jrpowell's avatar

What about if our answer includes the answer but it explains how we came to it?


42 is the answer


8 + x = 50 subtract the 8 from the fifty to find the answer
x = 50 – 8
x = 42

ubersiren's avatar

Seems fair for all. Good work, dude and dudette.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@johnpowell That’s even worse because then you even get around the teachers who require you to show your work.

jrpowell's avatar

@EmpressPixie :: Imagine I used different numbers in the same type of question. I would hope the person asking the question would understand how you got the answer.

Say their question was:
12 + x = 98

And the example used was:
32 + x = 67

Would that be better?

EmpressPixie's avatar

Yes. I think in that case you are leading, but not giving it away. They still have to do the important work.

essieness's avatar

Very nice, and I completely agree with @AstroChuck.

YARNLADY's avatar

I like it, I really, really like it.

Dr_C's avatar

This is an amazing idea. Way to go Lisa and Andres!

breedmitch's avatar

Yeah Andres. Great job.

gemiwing's avatar

Very well done!

I would suggest putting in two example questions, one bad one good. Simply because if someone is young, they may need a bit more explanation.

sdeutsch's avatar

Sounds great!

I think putting in examples of a good and a bad answer is a good idea too. Even something as simple as @johnpowell‘s two examples above would give a clear picture of where the line is between “helping to think through a problem” and “giving the answer” – so that the helpers know how far we can go without getting our answers removed, and so the askers know what they can expect from our answers. Without that clarification, I would’ve been hesitant to go as far as @johnpowell‘s second example did, but it’s often hard to help without getting that close to the actual problem…

andrew's avatar

@all Just so you know, we probably won’t be removing questions that do ask directly for answers—we’re just going to make it so that they don’t get any answers if they do.

We’ll see how that changes things.

Trillian's avatar

That’s cool, because I noticed just yesterday a girl asked and got answers for two, possibly three homework questions, pertaining to; the food chain vs food web, coyote population, and something else that may or may not have been homework related. But then, as I said, I’m forced to answer homework questions sometimes so I’m maybe a bit more aware of them when they pop up.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

What do you think about the requirement for the OP to declare specifically that it is a homework question. It is not always obvious!

Should we not also make it clear that while we might we willing to help with homework, that Fluther is not primarily here for such a purpose. If we get overrun by such questions, we may need to revisit our approach to such questions.

Jeruba's avatar

A lot of questions that smell distinctly like homework questions to me don’t seem to set off others’ alarms.

My sensor goes off if the question appears to come from a very young person and
(a) if the question is worded so well that it could have come right from an assignment sheet (especially if the poster’s usual style is somewhat ... casual) and
(b) if it sounds like any of those essay questions that teachers give because they are trying like mad to call for something the student can’t find online—both so the student will do his or her own work and so the teacher can find out what the student’s writing style is like for future reference. I mean, if someone who usually asks “Does he still like me?” and “How do I know if he still likes me?” and “How can I tell him I don’t like him that way any more?” suddenly pops up with a searching question about situational ethics or what we think should be done about starvation in Third World countries, I am suspicious.

Should I or should I not call attention to those when people are happily pouring out opinions that I suspect are going straight into someone’s essay?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Jeruba I hear you, loud and clear. But… sometimes I really like to answer those essay questions, and lord knows teaching can be difficult and unrewarding enough. If your or my essay were to be selected as the OP’s own submission for a schoold assignment, don’t you think the teacher would see right through it? So give that teacher at least one decent essay to read, I say. He or she can still upbraid the pupil with the certain knowledge that it’s not his own work, and enjoy the essay.

It’s just too bad we can’t get lurve from the teachers. (Maybe if we include the words “fluther” and “lurve” in more essays then we would, eventually.)

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Outstanding idea. Especially with the additions that @Jeruba suggested.

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