It has recently come to my attention that questions from a live Polish Olympiad were posted on the site.

I found 3 by the same user ivan, and have flagged them as such - $\gcd(a,b,c)=1$ and Triangle ABC orthocenter circle. They were previously placed on hold by the community, because it was tagged as homework and OP showed no effort.

I know that there is another one based on question 6 of the PDF, which talks about $(3x+4y)(4x+5y) = 7^z$, but I can't find it. I believe it is still active. Is anyone able to see it?

Similar to the Request from PRIMES, I think that these questions should be aggressively closed.

  • $\begingroup$ Comment discussion here is related. meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/11189/… $\endgroup$ – zyx Oct 7 '13 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ Or not. The comments are in another user's answer that has been deleted. I'll repost some of them here if I have time to write an answer. $\endgroup$ – zyx Oct 8 '13 at 0:36

I'll just parrot Mariano's answer from the PRIMES question:

This should not be too difficult to handle.

I expect users to flag questions containing this (sic) problems for moderator attention, and with luck (depending on timezones and what not...) they can be handled quickly.

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    $\begingroup$ +10 if I could. I don't think this requires any special attention, but it's good to know that we should be flagging these questions. $\endgroup$ – John Gowers Sep 28 '13 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ In addition to flagging, please add a comment explaining that the question is from a live competition. (Some users won't know otherwise.) $\endgroup$ – Charles Sep 29 '13 at 15:43

One alternative for this and similar cases would be the respective organizers directly posting the question here (including a note on the respective event) and have it immediately locked by a mod. That way similar questions might become easier to identify via the "related questions" functionality and closed as duplicates.

However, on a different note I would like to state that it is not our responsibility to make sure participants of such events don't "cheat" but the organisers' one. Especially is it not our business to cripple math.SE's functionality e.g. when someone entirely unrelated to such events poses a question that happens to appear too related to be a coincidence. If the conditions of such an event permit using the internet, well, too bad, but that's really not our problem.

The exception from this is of course the violation of copyright or similar terms & conditions where participants are not actually allowed to publish questions. In that case the usual treatment applies (whichever that unofficially is, I wouldn't be surprised if apart from deleting the respective post mods were under these circumstances permitted to assist the copyright holders / organisers to identify the violator).

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    $\begingroup$ I don't see how copyright could ever be an issue. Closing as a duplicate is not an option when the question has no answer. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Oct 7 '13 at 9:40
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think anyone expects that everyone on math.SE diligently search for these types of questions. Those that feel it is important to retain the integrity of such contests can (and do) track down these questions; sort of a human flesh search engine. It is even possible that organisers are involved in flagging such questions, and are thus taking an active role. The moderators are generally inclined to temporarily lock these questions until deadlines have passed, at which point they are released into the wild. A good question is still a good question two weeks later. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Oct 7 '13 at 9:50
  • $\begingroup$ @ArthurFischer (or anyone who knows), is the question's time on the front page, and its qualification for the Active and Newest tabs, comparable in the post-locking period? $\endgroup$ – zyx Oct 7 '13 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ @zyx: Generally when these sorts of questions are locked, the moderator will include a note indicating the reason for the lock (by editing the question itself). This has the side effect of bumping the question on the front page and the "Active" tab. When the question is unlocked, that notice is either heavily edited or removed entirely, which will again bump the question on the front page and in the "Active" tab. Such questions will almost certainly make it onto the "Newest" tab, since the date of the question's original creation is retained. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Oct 7 '13 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ (I am actually uncertain if simply unlocking a question bumps it.) $\endgroup$ – user642796 Oct 7 '13 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ @TobiasKildetoft Yes, unfortunately that dupe-closing will have to be done by a mod via flagging. Copyright could be an issue if someone copy-pasted a super-secret test that explicitly (or implicitly) does not admit publication without the author's consent. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kienzler Oct 7 '13 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ About the copyright: Unless the author of the text for the test has been very creative, there is little chance of the statement of an exercise to be copyrightable. But then, from our point of view, even if it was, that would only be of concern if someone sent a DMCA take-down notice (and then the matter would be in the hands of SE anyway). $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Oct 7 '13 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @TobiasKildetoft I perfectly agree with you there (though I suspect proving that a question is copy-pasted without attribution may suffice for temporary deletion). That's also my basic point - it is highly unlikely that a test is so creative that the question couldn't have been made up by someone else. So unless someone asks for very specific numbers, it is actually difficult to judge whether someone tries to cheat or they just ask a question that came to their mind. Anyway, as I elaborated elsewhere that should be treated similar to homework $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kienzler Oct 7 '13 at 19:22

I remember that I saw this question and found it quite interesting. I even commented to protect the question. I had no idea it was from a live exam. I still rather to keep it on the website but instead, to have some coordination with organizers of live exams to avoid this situation. Does such a mechanism exist here? If not, it would be nice to have a calendar of events and inform users to report these problems.

But then it would be nice to put them here after the exam.

Just an idea...

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    $\begingroup$ The intention is to unlock these questions once the submission deadline has passed (in only a couple more days in the case of the Polish Olympiad). After this they should be treated like any other question, but this means that users can vote to close/reopen them for reasons separate from their being (past) contest questions. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Sep 29 '13 at 5:23
  • $\begingroup$ @ArthurFischer, is the unlocking automatic with a date set at the time of locking, or requires moderators to remember and take manual actions in each case? $\endgroup$ – zyx Oct 7 '13 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @zyx: There are 3 options for automatic unlocking: 1 hour, 1 day, or 1 week. After that it's just "permanent" with the ability to unlock later. The moderator tools include a list of locked posts; thankfully there is only ever a small list of such questions, so we can check through these periodically without too much difficulty. I also keep a list of questions I have locked as well as when they should be unlocked; I don't know what the others do. As far as I am aware this use of locking is pretty much a jerry-rigged solution to a problem not all sites face. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Oct 7 '13 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Your comments have clarified some of the points about locking that were mysterious when such procedures were proposed. @ArthurFischer $\endgroup$ – zyx Oct 7 '13 at 18:31

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