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I enjoy helping where I can when appropriate (obviously a subjective call). However, many questions smack of 'homework due tomorrow' or 'I want someone else to do my work' rather than a true need for help. I find this wears heavily on my desire to help, and suspect the same is true for many.

In the spirit of regulation rather than prohibition, would it make sense to permit such questions, but charge the OP in some way for an answer? (I have not thought out the ramifications.)

The goal would be to filter such questions out of the queue rather than any monetary gain (not that I am opposed to the latter :-)).

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    $\begingroup$ Seeing how all the scotch I bought from the duty free in my recent travels is disappointing, I suggest a nice bottle of Glenlivet 18/Lagavulin 16/Glenmorangie 12/Glenlivet 16 Nadurra as a token of appreciation. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 22 '13 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: A much better motivator :-). Of course, following my heritage I should go for whiskEy instead... (Actually, my father worked for Irish Distillers.) $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Oct 22 '13 at 8:16
  • $\begingroup$ You are right. Jameson 12 is welcomed as well. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 22 '13 at 8:23
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: Skip the whiskey and try poitín. Apparently it is legal now. $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Oct 22 '13 at 8:29
  • $\begingroup$ I am partial to the whiskeys from the islands... $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 22 '13 at 8:34
  • $\begingroup$ Sounds strong. I grew a distaste for very strong drinks after that time I went partially blind for a few hours. :-) It's a nice story, perhaps sometime we'll meet and I'll tell you over a glass of Jameson (12 or higher, of course). $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 22 '13 at 8:43
  • $\begingroup$ Looking forward to it! $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Oct 22 '13 at 9:14
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps the price should be a notarized letter from the instructor permitting the student to seek help here. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Oct 22 '13 at 11:37
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    $\begingroup$ The Something Awful forums have an interesting take on this. Every user who wants to post on the forums, or even just read the academics subforum, has to pay a one-time fee. Ask a question of the form "I want someone else to do my work" and you don't get to ask questions for a while. Do it too much and you'd have to put in a new deposit. $\endgroup$ – Mark S. Oct 23 '13 at 0:50
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkS. I like it. $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Oct 23 '13 at 5:21
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    $\begingroup$ About all the downvotes here, am I the only one who found this question to be written in a humorist, tongue-in-cheek, cynical sort of way? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 23 '13 at 15:54
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: Wrong audience :-). $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Oct 23 '13 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Sorry, but I didn't see it, not even after you pointed it out. (On the positive side, your comment places the earlier mysterious remarks about drinks in a more sensible framework.) $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Oct 23 '13 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Lord_Farin: How so? I would have made this joke even if the post was serious. In that case, my comment would have been a sarcastic reply to the thread, rather than a lighthearted (but an actual concern about my liquor cabinet) joke. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 23 '13 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf Because responding to a joke thread with a joke is more sensible than a joke to an arbitrary thread (not that the latter is extremely senseless...). No worries (except for liquor concerns :)). $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Oct 23 '13 at 17:38
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This basically sounds like mother meta's Pay money to SO for quick support proposal, and the accepted answer nails it:

I think it's a bad idea. If things like getting your answer up start costing money, active users (who are giving away their time for free to answer questions) will start demanding their share. It would seriously pollute the atmosphere on SO. Also, active users might (rightly) start feeling a bit like cattle offered to the highest bidder. I don't like it, and wouldn't want to be active in that kind of system. I think monetization for the SE network has to work in other ways. -- Pekka


This would make SO no better than EE which I hated, hate, and will continue to hate... -- Nick Craver♦

EE stands for Experts-Exchange, a site where answers to questions are only visible to members who have to pay money (or, IIRC, answer questions, thereby increasing EE content). I think it is sufficient to state that JP Morgan invested money into them...

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  • $\begingroup$ I find the existing setup to be taxing as is. The goal would not be to make money, but to funnel away obvious 'do it for me' questions without rejecting them outright. (What is 'EE'?) However, I agree that financial incentives, no matter no small, would likely be an issue. $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Oct 22 '13 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ @copper.hat I agree with you, but unfortunately folks would still try their luck here in addition to any alternative. cf Joel's comment... $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kienzler Oct 22 '13 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ @copper.hat, EE would be Experts Exchange, a Q&A site which does almost everything wrong. $\endgroup$ – Peter Taylor Oct 23 '13 at 7:48
  • $\begingroup$ @PeterTaylor: Thanks! $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Oct 23 '13 at 7:56
  • $\begingroup$ @copper.hat Sorry about forgetting to answer the EE question, I edited in a bit about that $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kienzler Oct 23 '13 at 9:01
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    $\begingroup$ I don't mind too much being a user and moderator on a site that some people use to get their homework done. I wouldn't want to explain why I'm on a site that helps cheaters for money though. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Oct 23 '13 at 13:52
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A different solution in the spirit of your post is to split off a new site "domyhomeworkforme.stackexchange.com".

I had said this rhetorically once, since I think such a site would be an obviously bad one. But I was surprised to see that some actually defended such a proposition. And it would address your concerns by drawing off some of the poison and giving a place to migrate whatever questions of that sort remain. With any luck, questions about actually learning and understanding the math that get mistakenly posted over there would get migrated back here. And it would hopefully placate those who insist that every question is equally valuable, by giving them a place where it is uncontroversial for such questions to belong.

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    $\begingroup$ While "do this somewhere else" is indeed the answer I agree with, I honestly don't want to see such a thing even remotely related to SE - it's too arbitrary to ultimately judge whether the question was answered sufficiently, and by whom, who shall get the money, how to make sure neither asker nor answerers get screwed etc. - you certainly won't see other answerers upvoting yours when the "winner" takes it all $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kienzler Oct 22 '13 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Tobias: I interpreted the "spirit" of the proposal as finding ways to get "do my homework" questions out of circulation, but in a way that isn't "don't post those", with the money just being one particular way to try and achieve that. $\endgroup$ – Hurkyl Oct 22 '13 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ I understand that, and your proposal sounds sound. But I think this can't work with the SE model - what if someone later learns their question was a dupe and they paid in vain, what if OP gets a bad grade despite the community agreeing on best answer etc.? $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kienzler Oct 22 '13 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ I think domyhomeworkformeforfree.stackexchange.com would be better. $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Oct 22 '13 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ While your proposal is in jest, I like it. $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Oct 22 '13 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ @JoelReyesNoche :D or even domyhomeworkformeforfreewithinonehour.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kienzler Oct 22 '13 at 16:53
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps we could have a homework service. The student pays us a fee, the instructor emails us the homework questions, and we email the instructor the answers. This works for everybody. The student no longer has to bother with homework. The people who answer questions get paid, perhaps better than an adjunct professor. The teacher gets better answers, thereby proving they are an excellent teacher. $\endgroup$ – Jay Oct 22 '13 at 21:58
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Nobody is holding a gun to your head to force you to answer any question. If you don't want to answer some question, don't answer it. Go on to the next question instead, or turn off the computer and go have lunch.

If you find it difficult to do this, perhaps you should consider that your real problem is not with the people who ask questions you dislike, but with your own behavior.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the psychoanalysis. $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Oct 23 '13 at 14:54
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    $\begingroup$ I disagree with this sentiment. Or more accurately, while this may be good advice for the OP, this answer carries the implication that there cannot possibly be the slightest bit of problem with an environment that causes people to have to be given such advice. $\endgroup$ – Hurkyl Oct 23 '13 at 19:57

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