A certain theme during the Town Hall Chat was on the question of a homework policy. The idea of such a policy is not new. As one user said in the chat,
I liked Rob john's suggestion towards homework. I quote "I think that hints should first be given to help provoke thought. If they show interest in working the problem, then more of the answer can be shown in an answer. After a time, say a week or so (to give the assignment to be due), a complete answer could be given for completeness of the site." This makes sense and in fact that is what I prefer. It would be great if that is made the policy and posted on the meta discouraging people from posting solutions.
But in the past, we have had such meta questions:
- How do we enforce the homework policy
- Avoiding giving a complete solution
- What is our policy on homework
- Homework policy guidelines
- Plagiarism policy
A recurring theme is that many of us agree that giving complete answers to homework questions is poor, but that there is no good way of enforcement. And I don't know of a good way to enforce it either.
I see only a few options that appear reasonable to me.
Those who read the meta might agree to not write up complete solutions. This is a start, but the main problem is that complete solutions are more upvoted. And so there is an incentive to give complete solutions. Just because some of us do not give complete answers does not at all prevent others from giving full solutions.
We might agree to not upvote complete solutions to homework. This would start to remove the incentive a bit.
We might agree to have a pre-written comment, so that when this comment appears on a complete solution we upvote the comment instead of the answer. Maybe the comment would read
Providing an answer that doesn't help a student learn is not in the student's own best interest, and if a solution complete enough to be copied verbatim and handed in is given immediately, it will encourage more people to use the site as a free homework service. In the spirit of creating a lasting resource of mathematical knowledge, please refrain from giving complete solutions to homework questions.
Or maybe not - it's just an idea. Most of that text is taken from the faq.
We might agree to downvote complete solutions. Somehow, this rubs me the wrong way, but it's certain a disincentive. And it's better than systematic 2k+ user editing abuse.
We might agree to bring disputed answers to meta, so that the meta community can decide what to do on a question by question basis. This seems improbable to me, but the idea would be that after an initial burst of attention and flooding of the meta of such questions, more users would realize that posting complete solutions is frowned upon.
We might agree that nothing can be done.
We might agree that something else can be done (This is the cop out - that way, I can say that I gave a complete list of alternatives)
So the question remains: what do we do to consolidate and enforce our homework policy?