I am teaching an intro math class this semester, and today was the final, which was given remotely due to the pandemic. A few exam questions popped up on this site (the posts were word-for-word copies of original questions, so this was unambiguous). I shut them down as I found them by flagging the posts, and also editing the question text to a generic [removed] message. My intention was to instantly prevent the questions from being answered, to shut down ongoing comment chains, and (for those which already had answers) to make them unfindable for other students in the class.
A couple hours later, the questions were restored by a moderator, and it was suggested that I had misapplied the contest problem policy by removing post text. It feels quite clear to me that text removal was the ethical action in this case, and it feels arguable to me that it falls within the scope of the linked policy. But, I am happy to listen to other opinions - hence this post.
The linked policy is clear that the posts should be flagged. This was done. Additionally, the policy states:
First and foremost: we believe that the responsibility for the integrity of an exam, contest, competition, etc. ultimately falls on the shoulders of the organizers.
When an instant remedy is needed to preserve exam integrity, then I would tend to read this as asking the organizers to take action. I am not aware of any instant remedy besides post editing. The only downside I can think of is that not all organizers will happen to have the reputation thresholds needed to edit, so it is not available to everyone.
- Is it within the scope of the current contest problem policy to edit question text to remove time-sensitive offending questions?
- Is there an argument that it is unethical to do so?