We had an instance today of a user posting two questions to MSE during an online exam - the questions were from the exam. The students taking the exam are expressly forbidden from using any internet resources apart from the material on the course website. One of the questions was answered helpfully, and the other was quickly closed, but still had helpful comments.

If we could identify the student (which could probably be done from their IP address) then they would be in serious trouble for cheating.

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    $\begingroup$ I do not know that anything can be done, in that respect, as @quid's answer suggests, But this absolutely serves as an excellent reminder that rapidly answering questions, most likely PSQ type questions, at this time of year, will often be helping the askers cheat. The Enforcement of Quality Standards on this site, applying to careless answering, will go a long way, if and only if it is actually ever enforced, to helping curb the answering of such questions. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Commented May 7, 2021 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ I suppose that if the person(s) marking the exam notice an answer or two that are very close to the helpful responses posted to our website, that would count as strong evidence as to the student's identity. $\endgroup$ Commented May 8, 2021 at 4:38
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    $\begingroup$ Yes that's right! One of the two questions was asking whether there exists an infinitely generated abelian group in which all proper subgroups are finitely generated, and apparently they don't expect many students to get that one. So, an answer like "yes, the Prüfer $p$-group" would be very suspicious! $\endgroup$
    – Derek Holt
    Commented May 8, 2021 at 7:27

1 Answer 1


To the best of my knowledge SE will not disclose this information, and it might be illegal for them to do so in the given context.

If you consider it as worthwhile you could ask SE directly using "contact us."

I understand that the situation is not ideal and potentially frustrating, but I am afraid there is not much I can do related to this.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your help. I suspected that there was not much to be done. $\endgroup$
    – Derek Holt
    Commented May 7, 2021 at 19:21

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