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I am thinking of a particular string of questions, such as here, here, and here. This particular user has asked over 10 questions of this flavor in the last 3 days, and many of them are being completely answered. While I realize that it has not been the nature of this community to carefully identify and neglect to fully answer homework questions, I think that this might be excessive.

Is there a place where we draw the line? Further, what would be done to discourage this sort of behavior? In this particular case, I have this feeling that excessive answering will lead to a lack of actual learning, which I believe is entirely contrary to the purpose of this site.

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  • $\begingroup$ And another has just been asked. $\endgroup$ – davidlowryduda Jun 6 '11 at 1:56
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think there's much hope of "actual learning". The user seems to have decided a while ago he just doesn't get it; see here. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Jun 6 '11 at 2:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Arturo: Oh... well that's sort of depressing. That mindset is probably the single most detrimental thing to him actually learning math, too. $\endgroup$ – davidlowryduda Jun 6 '11 at 2:35
  • $\begingroup$ This question had also been added to this. $\endgroup$ – Américo Tavares Jun 6 '11 at 11:59
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    $\begingroup$ I suspect that any such limitation could be easily worked around. $\endgroup$ – Carl Brannen Jun 6 '11 at 20:50
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If you have reason to believe a user is not participating in good faith -- or their questions are harming the experience for other community members in some way -- don't hesitate to flag their posts for moderator attention and explain why.

Also, as a sanity threshold, we now limit the # of questions a user can ask per site per day (to 6) and per month (to 50). For low-reputation users this is also enforced at the IP address level.

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What is funny is that this community loves answering high-school homework questions!

These questions are answered by a diversity of people covering the full range from undergrads to retired faculty and all this extremely quickly! I looked at the shortest response time for 8 pseudo-random questions asking about high-school to first-year undergraduate material, the average time was 17 minutes (6 questions out of 8 were answered within 15 minutes). Just to check, I compared that with several more professional questions (of interest to graduate students and above), the average there was around 180 minutes. (I totally agree this is very poor statistics, yet somehow telling).

Whether people answer those homework questions for reputation or for their love of teaching mathematics I don't know (and don't really care). What is relevant to me is that this community actually likes those questions and it gives an opportunity to discuss mathematics with non-mathematicians. If you just forbid a student from asking homework questions out of some legitimate worry for their education, they might just leave this place and find what they are looking for elsewhere. This is a great opportunity to do something about it and chat with students!

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure what your point is, exactly. Isn't it obvious that virtually everybody here can answer the easy questions while only a handful of people have the expertise for the more advanced stuff? There are questions about which you actually have to think a bit before you are able to answer... $\endgroup$ – t.b. Jun 6 '11 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ I totally agree with you!I'm trying to answer mixedmath's question on what should be done about homework; my point is: nothing! It's great and we love it! :) $\endgroup$ – David Kohler Jun 6 '11 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ And you vote down my contribution to a meta question? What is that? An incentive not to contribute? You can disagree with my view, but I don't see how this deserve to be voted down... $\endgroup$ – David Kohler Jun 6 '11 at 20:54
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    $\begingroup$ I didn't vote on your answer. I should tell you however that voting here on meta is an expression of agreement/disagreement, not an assessment of quality. See the faq $\endgroup$ – t.b. Jun 6 '11 at 21:17
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, didn't know that, sure why not. Thanks for pointing this out. $\endgroup$ – David Kohler Jun 6 '11 at 22:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Theo where exactly does it say in the faq that voting (on meta) is an expression of agreement/disagreement ? I read it and can't find it $\endgroup$ – Theta33 Jun 15 '11 at 5:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Bogdan: Have you looked at the faq of meta or the one of the main site? Here's the relevant passage: "Why are upvotes and downvotes here different? Voting here works a bit differently from the main site. On Meta, voting is used to express agreement or disagreement, not to point out a lack of quality or helpfulness. Please don't be concerned if you receive downvotes – members of the community may simply disagree with your bug, feature request, support issue, or the nature of the discussion." $\endgroup$ – t.b. Jun 15 '11 at 5:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Theo thanks, I see. I clicked on your first link to faq that sent me to the main. $\endgroup$ – Theta33 Jun 15 '11 at 5:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Bogdan: Oh I see. I remember that I had some trouble with the link when I submitted that comment. Sorry for the inconvenience. $\endgroup$ – t.b. Jun 15 '11 at 11:45

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