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February 6, 2013 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Do we do homework? Seems like we should be able to flag a post as such.
posted by bensherman to Etiquette/Policy at 9:15 AM (97 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

We don't want people going all homework hotline, "write my essay thesis statement" on askme. That said, this is such a straightforward bit of "help me understand the simple equation" stuff that I'm not overly concerned about our complicity in the violation of academic ethics or anything.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:17 AM on February 6, 2013


Yeah I definitely don't get enough of it in real life.
posted by tooloudinhere at 9:18 AM on February 6, 2013


Dear AskMe,

Please put together a spending report for the most recent fiscal quarter by cost center and ship-to location. Have it on my desk by Friday.

Thanks,
posted by shakespeherian at 9:20 AM on February 6, 2013 [69 favorites]


Is this your homework, Larry? Is this your homework, Larry?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:21 AM on February 6, 2013 [46 favorites]


Given his earlier questions, I have a hard time believing this is a piece of homework (his, at least - maybe he's helping out a child).
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 9:23 AM on February 6, 2013


It was a straightforward question that could be answered.

That user has been here for 4 years without any problems. Is there really a reason for a call out?
posted by 26.2 at 9:26 AM on February 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


It was framed as a step in a science "project". So it doesn't necessarily sound like a typical homework assignment. I don't have a problem with it. Similar "help me with this research topic" type questions get asked all the time.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 9:28 AM on February 6, 2013


shakespeherian, I'll have it to you by EOD. Let me know what location code to bill my time to.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:29 AM on February 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


Ok, but are the answers correct? I thought alcohol and water overlapped molecules so that if you pour a liter of alcohol into a two liter bottle and added a liter of water you wouldn't have two liters. Am I wrong in this? Does it change the percentage of either? or is it still just 50% alcohol? Also, does this answer change if the water is in a frozen state and one consumes some of the alcohol and water mixture? What time is it?
posted by cjorgensen at 9:33 AM on February 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Btw, I love your shirts, Mr. Sherman.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:34 AM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


As far as homework help goes...I'm all for it. Kid ponies up his $5 he gets to ask questions like the rest of us. I answer a lot of ethically shady questions all the time. Read any given day of askme and there might be a question about how to have an affair or how long various drugs stay in the system or questions on torrenting or whatever. Refuse to answer here and next thing you know the kid if going to suspect place for help like the library.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:39 AM on February 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


Chrysostom can you split between Research and Accounting? We just finished budgeting and I don't want to impact anyone's HR spend without it matching the GL. I don't know why they set it up that way.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:40 AM on February 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


Can you articulate what harm is done by leaving this question up?
posted by grouse at 9:43 AM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's a good point - I would hate to compromise the *cough* unimpeachable quality and integrity of our school systems.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:43 AM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Um, shakespeherian and Chrysostom, I know this all fun and games, but Metafilter is where I go to get away from talk like this.

As for enjoying asking homework questions, if you really want to help answer questions, you should be a ChaCha guide if that still exists. You can do it and get paid oodles of tenth-cents for your time.

(But I actually don't think is a homework question and probably wouldn't care anyway.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:45 AM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I don't think I can split billing for a given task, but I'll tell you what-I'll create separate tasks for this work in Clarity under different projects, and bill half time to each.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:45 AM on February 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think the benefit of the doubt is in everyone's best interest, honestly. I mean, who here hasn't been on an eastbound train leaving Los Angeles at 10:30 AM and travelling at 90 mph while your friend was on a westbound train leaving Chicago at 9:00 AM and travelling at 100 mph?
posted by griphus at 9:50 AM on February 6, 2013 [39 favorites]


The moral of the story is: you should never go to Los Angeles.
posted by phunniemee at 9:53 AM on February 6, 2013


And you should never leave Chicago.

SOLVED IT.
posted by phunniemee at 9:54 AM on February 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


Honestly, I want to know the real answer, since I didn't think about the miscibility of water (and by didn't think of, I mean I haven't taken a chemistry class since before Wonder Boys came out).
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:54 AM on February 6, 2013


So...uh...say I was growing some...um, hops plants...yeah, that's it, hops...in my, uh, attic...and I had a question about...um...nutrient ratios in my...hydroponic solution...umm...is Askme appropriate for that?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:54 AM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


To be clear, my concern is that questions of such specificity don't benefit anyone but the asker. I believe the standard of questions that are asked for is that anyone can benefit from having the question asked and anyone can learn something new from a direct answer to the question.

I don't believe either of these things are true.
posted by bensherman at 9:55 AM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be clear, my concern is that questions of such specificity don't benefit anyone but the asker.

I know YANMD and I will be going to one soon, but what is this weird red spot on my genitalia? (pics inside)

Which is to say, there are lots of very specific questions on metafilter.
posted by phunniemee at 9:57 AM on February 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


i'd be more concerned if his user name was Heisenberg and his other questions were like "How do you hotwire an RV?" "How do you repair acid burns on wood flooring?" "What are some cancer support groups in Albuquerque for teens?" and "What strategies do you have for resolving a concern with a recalcitrant co-worker or family member who keeps foil--er, ruining your plans? I really don't want to have to DTMFA, but I will if I have to."
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:57 AM on February 6, 2013 [19 favorites]


Also I think a simple answer to a fairly basic math/science question has very high utility.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:58 AM on February 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


bensherman: "To be clear, my concern is that questions of such specificity don't benefit anyone but the asker. I believe the standard of questions that are asked for is that anyone can benefit from having the question asked and anyone can learn something new from a direct answer to the question. "

Not entirely sure I buy into the premise, but there's still a larger good in the question. I think the general use is that readers are given a formula by which they can calculate generic dilutions and solutions on their own. The question may be specific, but the answers are more general.
posted by boo_radley at 9:59 AM on February 6, 2013


I just wish someone would tell me how to get rid of this dead body. It's for my book, How to Get Rid of a Dead Body.
posted by Mister_A at 10:08 AM on February 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


I already know how to make a dead body so leave that off.
posted by Mister_A at 10:08 AM on February 6, 2013 [30 favorites]


anyone needing a different dilution of isopropyl alcohol will be helped by that question. googling different phrases related to that brings up the question in the first 5 results. it certainly seems to have broader use than, say, this question (which is seriously my favorite ask.me question maybe ever).
posted by nadawi at 10:10 AM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not entirely sure I buy into the premise...

What if I can get if for you wholesale, huh? It's a good premise, grown in the Columbia, shipped here right off the vine.

Go on feel it! See how it's soft at both ends? This premise good, last you long time!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:11 AM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


So...uh...say I was growing some...um, hops plants...yeah, that's it, hops...in my, uh, attic...and I had a question about...um...nutrient ratios in my...hydroponic solution...umm...is Askme appropriate for that?

I didn't read your whole question but it sounds like you don't know anything about hops. Hops need to be in organic soil and organic sunlight, and the tending of them is a high-intensity activity. This should really be left to a professional hopper/hoppiste.

Also, and this is from personal experience, if you're growing hops there's usually a deeper reason for it. You should consider talking to someone and maybe think about medication, going forward. IDB, IDDYB (I drink beer, I don't drink your beer)
posted by curious nu at 10:12 AM on February 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Bro I sell organic sunlight, tell me how much you need and I'll have it sent to your location.
posted by Mister_A at 10:13 AM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is it actualy unethical to do drugs? Asking for a friend.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 10:14 AM on February 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


So...uh...say I was growing some...um, hops plants...yeah, that's it, hops...in my, uh, attic

i know you're joking - but since we're here in metatalk - it's my understanding that asking horticulture questions about marijuana is fine, as long as you don't point out that you'll be doing it illegally or are trying to hide it, where questions about finding weed in austin are not fine. the first is something you could be doing legally, the second isn't. is that right?
posted by nadawi at 10:15 AM on February 6, 2013


Brandon Blatcher: "See how it's soft at both ends?"

Soft like a brick, possibly! I bet this is an assumption you altered with calcium citrate.
posted by boo_radley at 10:17 AM on February 6, 2013


nadawi: "i know you're joking - but since we're here in metatalk - it's my understanding that asking horticulture questions about marijuana is fine, as long as you don't point out that you'll be doing it illegally or are trying to hide it, where questions about finding weed in austin are not fine. the first is something you could be doing legally, the second isn't. is that right?"

Greetings from Colorado.
posted by boo_radley at 10:18 AM on February 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


exactly, boo_radley - "how do i find weed in denver" would be an allowed question, but "where do i find weed in austin" wouldn't be...at least as i understand it.
posted by nadawi at 10:20 AM on February 6, 2013


Soft like a brick, possibly! I bet this is an assumption you altered with calcium citrate.

Ah, a sophisticated MeeFite! Ignore these lesser goods, sir and step over here for the finest in hypotheses on this side of the Narrow Sea!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:22 AM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


This question gave me a bit of pause, but I ended up assuming that it's more of a "this project requires 50% solution but we have 70%" not "the entire project is to figure out how to go from 70% to 50%."
posted by radioamy at 10:25 AM on February 6, 2013

exactly, boo_radley - "how do i find weed in denver" would be an allowed question, but "where do i find weed in austin" wouldn't be...at least as i understand it.
posted by nadawi
In my experience, such rule-smithing tends to go poorly on Metafilter and in courtrooms. Luckily, jessamyn doesn't have the power to arrest me for contempt.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 10:27 AM on February 6, 2013


This is not stackoverflow, of which I'm thankful nearly every day. There is no such thing as a question being too specific, this being a feature of the site, not a bug.
As for homework questions, I really dont Get the issue. I guess I dont see the fundamental difference between finding the answer in a textbook, library, or asking a knowledgeable community. Plus, with only one question a week, even a dedicated asker would find it difficult to artificially inflate their grade. Finally, just asking questions is a good way to learn.
I'm sure there is a way to abuse askme for homework purposes, but this is far away from that.
posted by forforf at 10:28 AM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I believe the standard of questions that are asked for is that anyone can benefit from having the question asked and anyone can learn something new from a direct answer to the question.

This is a standard which I have not previously heard articulated. Do you have any support for this belief, other than your personal view of what you think AskMe ought to be?

Aside from that, even if aksing homework questions were verboten, there's no need for a separate "homework" flag. Pick "breaks the guidelines" or "other" and trust that the mods can figure out what the specific issue is. Just because there's a dozen different guidelines that AskMe questions should conform to doesn't mean we have to have a dozen separate flags.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:37 AM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Personally, I think we should be allowed to abuse the homework questions all we want--and send a message to schools that giving kintergardeners homework and forcing high-schoolers to carry 50-pound knapsacks is not in their best interests. There's a better way to educate kids than to teach to the test, folks. /soapbox
posted by Melismata at 10:39 AM on February 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm sure there is a way to abuse askme for homework purposes

I thought this was an abuse of AskMe, but that's obviously an extreme case.
posted by lalex at 10:45 AM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Plus, with only one question a week, even a dedicated asker would find it difficult to artificially inflate their grade.

This is what I call fear of success. Heaven forbid some kid be that dedicated to his education that he actually sought out a weekly answer to help improve his grade.

And I always thought the standard for an askme question was to help the asker and if others find value, great.

And as to legality, again, didn't think the site was sitting in judgement on what is and isn't legal in a particular jurisdiction.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:03 AM on February 6, 2013


The site generally speaking isn't, nor is strict legality a brightline consideration in part because trying to intuit or manage jurisdictional issues would be nutty. Mostly we are going to deal with the tricky-seeming stuff case-by-case with a mind toward not seeing the site put in serious jeopardy or used for seriously sketchy or non-starter queries.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:10 AM on February 6, 2013


How can I remove two large blood stains from the trunk of a 2003 Fort Crown Victoria? Any tips for removing all traces of DNA, fingerprints, hairs and fibers, etc.? I need an answer within 25 minutes because I'm, uh, writing a book.

Bonus if you know of a discreet body shop that can repair 6 small holes in a car trunk lid in central Indiana.

TIA. Please hurry!
posted by double block and bleed at 11:14 AM on February 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the input, I am reevaluating my criticism of the original question.
posted by bensherman at 11:23 AM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Melismata: "and send a message to schools that giving kintergardeners homework"

My pre-K'ers get one double-sided page of homework every day, and 4 pages over each weekend. The weekday homework takes about 10-15 minutes per kid. Weekend can take up to half an hour per. But there's no penalty given if they don't get it done.

They're learning to add and subtract, can write all their letters (upper and lowercase -- not perfectly, but they're working on it) and numbers, can identify by sight and give you the definitions of a few dozen words, like "who" and "the", etc. And a few other things.

Excessive homework isn't good. But I think a little at-home intellectual interaction every day with their parents / guardians is. I get to see what they're learning in school and the kind of progress they're making, and they get a little extra practice.
posted by zarq at 11:40 AM on February 6, 2013


Even if this is obviously homework we should probably still be deleting answers that are just fucking with the OP, AskMe is a resource for the whole internet too.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:28 PM on February 6, 2013


Do you have a specific answer in mind or are you just speaking generally? I haven't noticed anyone fucking with the asker in this case, but if I'm missing something please let me know.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:33 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do we do homework?

I think the more important question is do we do housework? 'Cause my windows could really use some washing.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:37 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you really want to end 'homework', give wrong answers. Soon askers will migrate to another site.
posted by Cranberry at 12:37 PM on February 6, 2013


Intentionally giving wrong answers seems an excellent way to destroy Ask's credibility entirely.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:49 PM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bad faith answers are against the guidelines.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 12:49 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


'Cause my windows could really use some washing.

Fix yourself a grilled cheese and relax.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:57 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't you need to have some ribs removed...?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:02 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, who here hasn't been on an eastbound train leaving Los Angeles at 10:30 AM and travelling at 90 mph while your friend was on a westbound train leaving Chicago at 9:00 AM and travelling at 100 mph?

ANSWER: Survivors can't be buried!
posted by ericb at 1:03 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


They can, but they fight back harder.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:13 PM on February 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


ANSWER: Survivors can't be buried!

"I can't operate on him, he's my son.": One of the last things my (doped up) partner whispered to me Monday before heading into surgery right after we met his (female obviously) transplant surgeon.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:15 PM on February 6, 2013 [27 favorites]


Just for today - I am offering a special deal on my organic sunshine–all the sunshine you can use for ten bucks! Please allow up to 8 minutes for delivery. Offer not valid at night.
posted by Mister_A at 1:16 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please allow up to 8 minutes for delivery.

That's ridiculous. I want to speak to your manager.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:20 PM on February 6, 2013


That's ridiculous. I want to speak to your manager.

Yeah, like that'll do any good. He's still peeved because he gets tipped less than the waiters.
posted by phunniemee at 1:23 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, hello, I'm the manager. Can I hel~ hey, you're that jerk who sold me moldy assumptions!
posted by boo_radley at 1:40 PM on February 6, 2013


MCMikeNamara: ""I can't operate on him, he's my son.": One of the last things my (doped up) partner whispered to me Monday before heading into surgery right after we met his (female obviously) transplant surgeon."

This entire sentence is going to be my next user name.
posted by boo_radley at 1:40 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the last things my (doped up) partner whispered to me Monday before heading into surgery right after we met his (female obviously) transplant surgeon

I didn't know your partner was undergoing transplant surgery! Very VERY best wishes to him for a safe and speedy recovery.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:41 PM on February 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yes, hello, I'm the manager. Can I hel~ hey, you're that jerk who sold me moldy assumptions!

Well you're skimming 20 seconds of sunlight off every order.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:43 PM on February 6, 2013


I didn't know your partner was undergoing transplant surgery!

LIVER transplant surgery the very notion of which terrifies me.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:44 PM on February 6, 2013


Best of luck to you and your pardner, shakes.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 1:46 PM on February 6, 2013


Actually, if I may, this question, though apparently simple, is a little more complex than it seems.

The isopropanol-water is not very ideal. Mixing 1 volume alcohol plus 1 volume water makes about 1.7 volumes of solution, not 2.

There's some interesting physical chemistry here (well, interesting to me, anyway). It's not a simple homework question (unless their prof is a complete bastard).

Also, can I just express my frustration in "imperial" units for cases like these? The confusion between volume fluid ounces and mass ounces in the question just makes this all the much harder to discuss. If this is a homework question, the prof is a double bastard for using the crappiest unit system possible.
posted by bonehead at 1:48 PM on February 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


MCMikeNamara, I really hope that you guys get to keep this and use it to serve trick or treating children their halloween candy well into old age.
posted by phunniemee at 1:49 PM on February 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Best of luck to you and your pardner, shakes.

Sorry, it's MCMikeNamara whose partner is recovering now, I'm just a knowitall.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:11 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh jeez. As a guy who's getting a biopsy in a few weeks, I wish you and Mister MCMikeNamara all the best. Good luck!
posted by boo_radley at 2:14 PM on February 6, 2013


Q: I have a significant amount of blood to get out of my clothes. It's various blood types all mixed together, if that helps. FYI: Don't worry, this isn't a homework question.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:03 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Q: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? Bonus points if you can identify my favorite color.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 3:50 PM on February 6, 2013


We've had similar questions about solution volumes, molarities, and concentrations before. When you don't do it every day, it can be a little difficult to get your head around, even for people who are quite good at math. This post, much like the similar posts we've had before, is a reasonable way to answer it.
posted by maryr at 3:57 PM on February 6, 2013


You know phunniemee, anyone can buy those kinds of stickers.
posted by maryr at 4:01 PM on February 6, 2013


Sorry, it's MCMikeNamara whose partner is recovering now, I'm just a knowitall.

That's ok, because I can't read. Well wishes to everyone!
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 4:31 PM on February 6, 2013


MCMikeNamara : As for enjoying asking homework questions, if you really want to help answer questions, you should be a ChaCha guide if that still exists. You can do it and get paid oodles of tenth-cents for your time.


Oh, hey, yeah, I got offered that job once! It pays basically nothing, and they aren't as stringent in their standards as you'd think. It bothered me to discover how often the guides were wrong.

Cha Cha is no Alex Trebek, is what I'm getting at here. Hardly more reliable than AskMe on a good day.
posted by misha at 4:42 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just sold all of my teledildonics patents to Cisco!
posted by Burhanistan at 5:13 PM on February 6, 2013


To be clear, my concern is that questions of such specificity don't benefit anyone but the asker. I believe the standard of questions that are asked for is that anyone can benefit from having the question asked and anyone can learn something new from a direct answer to the question.

That is not the standard. What matters is that the OP wants to know the answer. If it's useful to other people, that's a bonus — not a requirement.
posted by John Cohen at 5:15 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even if this is obviously homework we should probably still be deleting answers that are just fucking with the OP

The mathematical formula would be helpful if it's easy enough to calculate in the future. Thank you.

DTMFA
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:48 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It bothered me to discover how often the guides were wrong.

Me also, I went through the same process. And how they wanted you to not just answer the question but add some weird value to the answer. I found the whole thing quite strange.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:07 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I don't think I can split billing for a given task, but I'll tell you what-I'll create separate tasks for this work in Clarity under different projects, and bill half time to each.

Poor procurement practices, in my MetaTalk?
It's more likely than you think.
posted by atrazine at 1:54 AM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Weeeell on behalf of AAA ORGANIC SUN LLC I have to apologize for the interruption in Organic Sunlight delivery over the past several hours. Our tech people have assured me that all back orders will be filled in the next 8 minutes. We were operating with a bad batch of Dubious Premises we acquired from BRANDON BLATCHER MISDIRECTION, INC. We have severed our business relationship with BLATCHER, although we are still sleeping with them.

Have a sunny day!
posted by Mister_A at 6:45 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Poor procurement practices, in my MetaTalk?

I don't even want to hash out the soft costs we're talking about here.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:01 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait wait wait wait. WaitwaitwaitwaitohwaitohwaitohWAIT

There's a homework hotline?!?
posted by item at 8:52 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


And how they wanted you to not just answer the question but add some weird value to the answer. I found the whole thing quite strange.

A few years back, I went through the process to be a ChaCha guide and did the work for a while. Not because I needed the money but because I found the whole thing fascinating -- both the software they used for the guides and for question assignment and what the users would ask and the whole culture of the guides on the forum. The 'weird value add' stuff was ridiculous and their QA process was even stupider I was going to write a big expose about it once upon a time but like all of my decent ideas it faded away. (This one, at least, turned into a short story about a guide at a ChaCha-like service who kept randomly getting questions that were obviously from the same person and how he became weirdly stalkery.)

Speaking of sharing personal details in a non-face-to-face fashion, thanks so much for all of the in-thread love re: the big liver transplant. It was truly been an amazing whirlwind of a week. We got the call Monday morning, the 8-hour surgery started at 6:30 PM that night, and now he's, believe it or not, out of the hospital as of last night, though not home yet. They move transplant patients to a nearby hotel as soon as they are able as they need to continue to get anti-rejection testing but also because I think they want to make sure you know what you are doing after-care-wise before they stop seeing you every day. (Nurses make it look so easy.)

And to answer any lingering questions based on the photo I shared that phunniemee linked to up stream (1) yes, that was the cooler in which the donor liver was transported, which was wheeled past us in pre-op and (2) we didn't get to keep it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:54 AM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


item: " There's a homework hotline?!?"

One of the neat things about having a parent working as a teacher in the NYC public school system back when I was growing up was learning about the resources at your disposal as a student, which weren't heavily publicized. So, there used to be a few homework hotlines in New York City. Many have gone the way of the dodo since the advent of the internet. I guess they're evolutionary precursors to AskMe, Wikipedia, etc.

You could once dial "RE-WRITE" on your phone anywhere in NYC and be connected to faculty members at York College, who would answer grammatical and punctuation questions. Apparently the most common question asked by students was "Does this sentence sound right?"

The UFT still runs a homework hotline for elementary and middle school students called Dial-a-Teacher Mondays through Thursdays from 4-7. The program is over 30 years old. It started in 1980. The staff speaks 8(!) languages, including three Chinese dialects. They will answer parents' questions, too. Which is kind of awesome: "Hey, my kid just asked me what a dipthong is. What the heck is that?"

During the 80's and 90's, the New York Public Library ran a "Homework Hotline" service where you could call them with short questions that could be looked up quickly, like "How do I spell Salma Hayek" or "When did the American Civil War officially end?" and they would look up the answer for you. Back when I was a fledgling publicist I used it a lot for esoteric business questions. It was exceptional. So, you'd ask your question, and they'd give you an answer and then tell you what resource they had found it in. The NYC number was always busy, but you could usually connect to the Queens or Brooklyn lines. They kept specific hours, and usually had a couple of staffers manning the phones who were strong in math and science, because many of the calls they received were from middle-school students with questions in those subjects.

The NYC Library System discontinued the service eventually, but the Brooklyn Public Library still offers after-school tutoring through their website from 3pm-9pm on schooldays. You can log in and connect with an online tutor, who will help you with your homework. They also offer an online "Ask the Librarian" service.

Anyway, I'm a big fan of online learning and self-teaching. But it can be wonderfully helpful to have live feedback when you have a question. That's actually one of my favorite things about AskMe. You pose a question and often get replies that not only answer it with personal experience, but also help direct you towards related lines of inquiry.
posted by zarq at 12:06 PM on February 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


Incidentally, the asker clarified why they asked, and unless they are a student at Hogwarts, it would seem not to have been for homework.
posted by gilrain at 1:28 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, the asker clarified why they asked, and unless they are a student at Hogwarts, it would seem not to have been for homework.

But how DOES one add powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood???
posted by littlesq at 8:38 PM on February 7, 2013


Very carefully, unless you want a recurrence of the Plague of the Waking Dead of 1637.
posted by frimble at 10:45 PM on February 7, 2013


Do we do homework? Seems like we should be able to flag a post as such.

What does the linked post have to do with homework?

Reminds me of the time I was accused of seeking a homework answer. As a then 31-year-old man who hadn't done homework for more than a decade, I thought that was pretty funny.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:58 PM on February 7, 2013


There was also this discussion where one of the developers of KOL was trying to work out the best frequency for a new drop which feels mostly like accusations of bad faith, even with some deletions.

As a professor that teaches a lot of developmental classes, I think that most students who want to cheat in a math class are going to use Wolfram Alpha, or one of many different iPhone apps that can solve any problem you type into them, instead of using Ask MetaFlter. And given how many people have trouble with high school algebra, I think it's great when people post questions like this and get a ton of answers. More learning resources for everyone else.

Besides which, now I want to get a bunch of alcohol and water and spend my snow day trying to figure this out exactly.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 1:44 AM on February 8, 2013


LIVER transplant surgery the very notion of which terrifies me.

How's the patient doing? Making a speedy recovery, I hope?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:12 AM on February 8, 2013


"an antique wet specimen"? HOW CAN YOU NOT EXPLAIN THAT IN DETAIL.
posted by boo_radley at 1:54 PM on February 8, 2013


Presumably, because there are things, previously kept in formaldehyde, but now in roughly 50% isopropanol, which one was not meant to know.

It's good to see that our keepers of Eldritch body parts from Beyond the Stars are following modern OSH standards.
posted by bonehead at 2:43 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


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