I ask you to consider not answering olympiad-style problems by relatively new users within the first six hours.

I know that you consider it the responsibility of the organizers of a competition to ensure that the participants are not cheating, but in pandemic times, this is not always legally possible.

Here are the links:




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    $\begingroup$ The same problem exists for basically all questions - many university exams are 24-hour take-home exams. This means that they are posed rather differently from "standard" exam questions, and so basically impossible to spot. (Which is why asking for context etc. etc. is important!) $\endgroup$ – user1729 May 3 at 11:52
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    $\begingroup$ @user1729 That may be true. However, the fact remains that this site has just been used for elaborate cheating on my olympiad competition and it has not been used for cheating by my university students. $\endgroup$ – Phira May 3 at 11:57
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    $\begingroup$ @user1729 No!!! "Asking for context" is NOT important. We could now track how the cheater was "taught" how to give "context" for this site. "My TA gave me this problem in my Putnam prep course", "This is from a compilation of problems from Engel's book, but I did not find it in Engel". You are just teaching people to lie better. $\endgroup$ – Phira May 3 at 12:00
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    $\begingroup$ We are not equipped to adjudicate accusations of cheating. If a problem is from a competition or exam, please read the contest problem policy. If the exam problems are publicly available, we can lock questions and soft-delete answers. If the questions are not publicly available, there really isn't anything we can do. However, we can still insist that questions asked here are in-line with the quality standards of the site. Asking for context is not about catching cheaters, but about maintaining standards here. $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson May 3 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ @VerónicaRmz. (1) Not all of us can monitor our students in that manner (e.g. a lot of my students have 3rd world infrastructure, and simply don't have the bandwidth to stream video to me). (2) Take home exams give instructors the opportunity to ask more enriching questions which can't easily be answered in a couple of hours. (3) A lot of us would like to treat our students as adults, and not babysit them. A few rotten apples shouldn't be allowed to spoil things for everyone else (and, honestly, 75%+ of cheating is pretty easy to spot). $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson May 3 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think the point of asking people to include sources and attempts is merely to have them, but to provide information that could help answer the question. So if someone provides a nonsensical attempt, the response isn't to just nod and say okay here's the full answer, but to ask for clarification. On the other hand I think @XanderHenderson's point is that if the question comes with enough context to make it a high quality (or just average quality) question, omitting only the fact that it's a (possibly ongoing) contest question, there's nothing we can reasonably do. $\endgroup$ – Elliot Yu May 3 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ No, I don't think it suddenly makes it "high quality". Whether providing the (purported) source improves the question depends on the question. Not being familiar with math contests and Engel's book myself, I don't know how much it helps a potential answerer to know that a question is from Engel's book. However I can imagine a scenario where someone posts say a number theory question from an ongoing contest, claims it's from whatever chapter of Engel's book, a user who's familiar enough with the book provides hints or a partial answer referring to methods discussed in the cited chapter... $\endgroup$ – Elliot Yu May 3 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ ...then I'd consider the question good enough to remain on Math.SE, regardless of the OP's intention to cheat. I think this is also the reasoning behind the current contest policy of soft deleting a question from an ongoing contest and restoring it afterwards, instead of deleting it altogether. $\endgroup$ – Elliot Yu May 3 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ If my imagined scenario is not how it plays out on current questions, and the true scenario is more often that a cheating user claims a false source which doesn't clarify the user's background or the expected level of the answer, yet people go ahead and provide a full answer anyway, then I'd say the answers violate existing policies concerned with not answering low quality questions, and should be dealt with accordingly. We don't need to establish a separate category of "bad questions because they lied". $\endgroup$ – Elliot Yu May 3 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ @copper.hat Elementary prerequisites (no calculus, no topology, no abstract algebra, etc.), but much harder than regular high school problems without requiring a lot of computation. Always asking for proofs. May have a puzzle flavor. $\endgroup$ – Phira May 3 at 22:08
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    $\begingroup$ I note that all three of the questions to which Phira links have been deleted by the user(s) posting them. The first one had a full answer posted; the second had a useful hint as a comment; the third had no reply of any kind. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson May 4 at 6:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Dave can they see me browsin the web on my phone? $\endgroup$ – Calvin Khor May 4 at 12:22
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    $\begingroup$ I move that answering homework or contest questions is hereafter against the rules of the site. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen May 5 at 5:05
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    $\begingroup$ Not only the contest questions, also problems of AMS Monthly (before the due date) were being asked and answered recently. In such cases, answerers were not aware of the source of the problems since the askers did not put the source. $\endgroup$ – Sungjin Kim May 6 at 2:03
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    $\begingroup$ These question have an obvious pattern. I steer clear of them. $\endgroup$ – ncmathsadist May 8 at 0:18

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