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What if a post is potentially a blunt homework?

Posted 9 years ago

Closing this post Lifetime of muon decay frequencies histogram plot the moderation team said

But it indeed would be much better if frequent power members (like everyone here) would "Flag" the post with a short message that a post is potentially a blunt homework, - restraining from a response. Then we would catch it in time.

I don't think so. First of all, terms like frequent power members do not belong to a community of equals. Then, intimidation is not so good in stimulating questions. Last, there are no stupid questions.

Kicking off a home work question might prevent some other home worker from answering his or her first question in public.


What should be done to guard the Community against the gloom of desinterest and confusion?

Possibly the just solution is to invent three new groups

  • potential homework
  • plain homework
  • blatant homework

and to send any post into them, which looks like a mere forward of lecturer's question. Then everybody is free to dig in or not. Nobody must be called off. In addition, answers in these three groups should not push notifications, forcing problem owners at least to poll for a potential reaction.

What do you think?

POSTED BY: Udo Krause
4 Replies

Frank's idea sounds like a good guideline - provided, of course, that "homework questions" are actually a recognizable species. Some definitely are.

Ultimately, I feel it's all in the tone and attitude of the person asking the question. It all comes down to the ratio of the amount of work someone is willing to put in, and the amount of work they expect others to contribute. Stuck on a homework problem and using it as an entry point to get to know the Wolfram language and actually learn about a new learning method? Great, even if it means a lot of explanation work for us. Copying the assignment here, hoping that one of the stupid nerds will do your work for you? Not cool, even if the answer required from us is a one-liner. And honstely, I do believe that most of the people here will sense the difference between those two just fine, and will accordingly answer - or not. Do we really need a fixed rule and moderator intervention for that?

Also, I really don't see it as my responsibility to tell any student how to do or not do their homework. If someone doesn't want to learn but just wants a quick answer, that's their own business. And if anyone here wants to answer their questions anyway, why would the rest of us take issue with that? Who does it even hurt, aside from the original poster of the question?

POSTED BY: Bianca Eifert
Posted 9 years ago

My thought are similar to Bianca's. If someone is honestly trying to do Mathematics using Mathematica, I enjoy helping, even if their problem is more mathematics than Mathematica. I prefer to point them in the right direction, sometimes by showing a simpler example of Mathematica functionality which I think would be useful in solving their problem, rather than actually solving it for them. My assumption is that they want to learn by doing, and I am more likely to respond to someone who is clearly trying to do their own work.

But for some, that assumption is clearly inappropriate. For someone who just posts a problem saying, "Please help! I need the answer", I am not so interested in responding because I think that just providing an answer is not really helping.

To some extent, I think this is a problem Wolfram is encouraging. They are clearly pushing into mathematics education as far as possible, now even emphasizing free-form input, encouraging beginners to just expect answers without truly understanding the mathematics. This may be fine for visualization, but I have deep reservations concerning the true usefulness of computer assistance for learning mathematics, at least before reaching applications of differential equations where posing the problem is the real issue and numerical methods are required for solution.

POSTED BY: David Keith

One approach would be to give general guidance but not a detailed solution for problems that look like homework problems.

POSTED BY: Frank Kampas

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