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Here’s the original post. My question is simple. The post checks all possible boxes for Quality Standards:

  • Formatting with MathJax
  • Context
  • OP’s own try
  • Specific roadblock where OP seeks help
  • Easy to read.

However the OP mentions that this is for a Math Quiz, which I presume is some sort of ongoing test (from the way the post is worded). I neither know how big of a “test” this is, nor do I have any information on whether the OP is allowed to ask for help ot not. I am hesitant to ask the OP, because if they are actually trying to get (non-permitted) external help, then we don’t have a guarantee that they will be truthful. The post has received one answer.

Should the answerer be told not to help for an ongoing test, in accordance with MSE policies? Or am I being cynical and prudish?

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  • $\begingroup$ Would maybe the tags (exams) and (homework) be suitable for this post on meta? $\endgroup$ Sep 11 at 5:21

2 Answers 2

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Regarding the fact that this is from an ongoing quiz, it does not fall under our plagiarism policy. We don't know if outside help is allowed or not, and we really have no way of finding out. Furthermore, as much discomfort as it gives me to say so, it is not the responsibility of this community to enforce class rules. It also doesn't fall under the "ongoing contest" policy.

I would actually consider it context. It's a source, at least.

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    $\begingroup$ D.W.'s answer already addresses the other reasons the question is bad, so I won't here. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander Gruber Mod
    Sep 11 at 4:06
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    $\begingroup$ Accepted because of new insight on the website: “it is not the responsibility of this community to enforce class rules.” $\endgroup$ Sep 11 at 9:15
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    $\begingroup$ Agree with this. Yet this type of questions are, in my opinion, extremely undesirable, and I will exercise my right to downvote and vote to close them. Luckily this time there were other fitting close reasons, but if no good match with the listed reasons is found, I will make one up! $\endgroup$ Sep 11 at 17:33
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    $\begingroup$ This seems inconsistent with the site's policy on contest questions: the Mathematics Stack Exchange community is not an island unto itself: rather we exist within a larger macrocosm of people who do or are interested by mathematics. So in the occasion when our purpose (essentially: providing mathematical answers to mathematical problems) butts against that of others, it helps to draw some reasonable boundary to play nice with other members of the larger community. In short, we want this community to have a reputation as a Good Citizen. $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Sep 15 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ @kaya3 The enforceability of even the contest policy is limited. The bare minimum for that is that we have to know about the contest, which means it must be public with a known end date. Applying that to every exam in every school system simply isn't practical. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander Gruber Mod
    Sep 15 at 17:54
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps, but "we can't catch every instance of it" isn't a great reason for allowing it in instances where it can be caught. For example, if someone openly admits that it's for a quiz they are currently doing, it wouldn't be great for the site's reputation if they usually got an answer instead of some pushback. I'm not saying it's easy or common to know when someone is definitely using an SE site to cheat on a live test, but there have been a few instances over on Stack Overflow where the OP didn't even try to hide it, and this meta question concerns an instance where the OP admitted it. $\endgroup$
    – kaya3
    Sep 15 at 18:07
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    $\begingroup$ @kaya3 if somebody actually openly admits to cheating, we will absolutely sanction for plagiarism. It's even ok to (politely) ask the user if outside help is allowed. But, beyond that, we don't (and can't) investigate further. Ultimately, the responsibility for enforcing exam policies lies with the schools that assign them, and that includes designing for digital native students that know about SE (and reddit, chegg, etc). It can be a challenge for teachers, for sure, but there's no rolling back the internet. We have to learn how to teach in a world where these resources are available. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander Gruber Mod
    Sep 16 at 8:01
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    $\begingroup$ I don't say any of this without sympathy, by the way. I've found my own original problem sets posted here before and I was very disappointed in my students. But it's not the site's fault. It's doing what it's supposed to do. I write my takehome exams now in a way where I expect people to seek help, because they probably will anyway. If I really want to be sure work is totally closed book and without help, I know it's gotta happen in person. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander Gruber Mod
    Sep 16 at 8:12
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In my opinion, the question should be closed as 'too broad', as it asks multiple questions in one. It is effectively asking about 8 questions: there are 8 parts, and it is asking for each whether their answer to that part is correct. Each post should contain only one question.

I will leave it to readers whether they want to encourage "please check whether my answer to this quiz/exercise task was correct" style questions and to vote accordingly. My personal view is that they do not contribute to the mission of the site to build up an archive of knowledge. Instead, people who are unsure whether their answer is correct should spend the time to try to distill why they are unsure, identify a general conceptual question that will be useful to others who aren't looking at exactly the same exercise/quiz question, and ask that general question.

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