I've recently noticed and flagged for moderator attention 2 questions: this and that. Both about the same problem from MIT 6.431x online probability course, from the second midterm exam which is still open, problem 7. Evidently asking exam questions on sites like SE undermines the very idea of online education. Still, I see no reaction from SE moderators.

Does SE consider spoiling exam questions from online educational courses an allowed practice?

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    $\begingroup$ It would be way easier to handle such things when they were accompanied with detailed information. Not just "this post is this-and-that please do that-and-this." $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 17 '18 at 11:38
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    $\begingroup$ @quid what detailed information you need? $\endgroup$ – kludg Nov 17 '18 at 11:42
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    $\begingroup$ A link to/a copy of that exam, for example. $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 17 '18 at 11:42
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    $\begingroup$ courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:MITx+6.431x+3T2018/course $\endgroup$ – kludg Nov 17 '18 at 11:43
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    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately, kludg, it says at that link, "You must be enrolled in the course to see course content. "Sign in or register and then enroll in this course." $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 17 '18 at 11:46
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, kludg, I know, but how is someone stumbling across the second question going to know that you warned people about some other question, and that the same warning applies to the second question? That is putting very heavy reliance on our mind-reading abilities. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 17 '18 at 11:47
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    $\begingroup$ "Of course you must be enrolled to open the exam." In other words, your link doesn't help the moderators the least little bit. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Nov 17 '18 at 11:48
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    $\begingroup$ You can enroll, if you want to check. Moderator can enroll too. $\endgroup$ – kludg Nov 17 '18 at 11:49
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    $\begingroup$ I don't consider it as reasonable that I'll register on all kinds of sites to proctor exams for others. Had you given all the information you gave right then somebody might have checked. But to raise a quick flag and to expect others to jump through all kinds of hoops is not really reasonable in my opinion. $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 17 '18 at 11:53
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    $\begingroup$ How is it profitable to me? Or even the site generally, I mean it's not that the content that usually is contributed in this way is so great. $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 17 '18 at 11:56
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    $\begingroup$ Just delete the spoiler questions, that is all. $\endgroup$ – kludg Nov 17 '18 at 12:01
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    $\begingroup$ The way you approach this is a bit peculiar. We usually do act on legitimate requests for removal of such content. Your demanding way of going about this is problematic though. If you want something, present a correct request, both in content and form. $\endgroup$ – quid Nov 17 '18 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ @kludg, you are being unreasonable. If there's no way to check that so and so question is from some exam, then it is on the conscience of the user who asks. Definitely blaming the moderators (who are not being paid for their service here) is not constructive $\endgroup$ – Yuriy S Nov 17 '18 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ Well well well. I am not a payed MIT employee, I just like probability theory and the way probabilities are taught at MIT. If I was bad, I'm sorry, but I really like MIT educational effort. $\endgroup$ – kludg Nov 17 '18 at 16:34
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    $\begingroup$ kludg I support your concern for maintaining academic honesty. What folks are objecting to is the tone in which you are, in effect, demanding that others do your bidding. If you could supply a copy of the exam, which you have access to, given that you said you enrolled, and a link to it, that is all that is being asked of you. @quid did not refuse to do anything; they just explained they need more to go on than a mere claim. Your demeanor in response to such a reasonable request is very off-putting for your case. We all need to remember to assume the best of intentions from others. $\endgroup$ – Namaste Nov 17 '18 at 17:59

I would imagine that exam questions basically fall under the Contest Problem policy. From the answer to that question:

I see a question that I know is from a contest, what do I do?

Let the moderators know. This can be done in multiple ways (I list here in order of speed of handling):

Please include:

  • Publicly accessible source where we can verify that the question does come from a contest.
  • Publicly accessible source where we can verify that the contest is currently on-going.

It will also help if you post a comment indicating also the above information to make the community as a whole aware of the situation.

Note that you are asked to provide publicly accessible sources which document the nature of the problem as a contest or exam problem. If data cannot be accessed without some kind of registration or enrollment, the material is not publicly accessible. However, you, with your access to the material, could document with, for example, a screenshot or two.


This is about this specific case. I have tried also to contact them at info@edx.org - including link to this thread and screenshots of the deleted questions. (And I hoped that they would be able to forward the information to somebody who is in charge of the course.)

From the response it seems that they want to post such information in the discussion board attached to the course rather than using the above address. (Although this lokes to great extent as a canned response.)

Again, I cannot post on the discussion board without registering there. (Perhaps somebody who is registered and has access to that course can tell us whether this is also being discussed there.)

Here is the response I got:

Your inquiry (Problems from MIT 6.431x posted online) has been closed with the message below. If you wish to reopen this request, simply reply to this email.

Hi Martin,

Thank you for your interest in edX.

Since we are a small team and edX offers over 2,000 courses, the edX technical support team is not always best equipped to answer questions that pertain to the subject matter of a specific course.

Instead please post on the discussion forum within the course where the course staff can directly respond.

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Since the forum is monitored by course staff with a deeper knowledge of the subject matter, the discussion forum is the best place to inquire about assignments, quizzes, grades, and other course content.

Thanks for your understanding.

  • $\begingroup$ You got further than I did, in trying to contact info@edx.org! Thanks for your efforts! $\endgroup$ – Namaste Nov 20 '18 at 19:36

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