Homeworkfilter April 2, 2009 12:22 PM   Subscribe

Hey! I thought we didn't do people's homework for them. What gives?

I seem to remember that being a rule several years ago. Are we cool with this now?
posted by Baby_Balrog to Etiquette/Policy at 12:22 PM (82 comments total)

Providing links/info isn't the same as actually writing the paper or doing the presentation.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:25 PM on April 2, 2009


The Shintoism one looks like its looking more for personal experiences and the Quran one seems to be looking for some artsy thing to add to the paper, not actual academic material. Seems fine to me.
posted by cimbrog at 12:29 PM on April 2, 2009


Yeah, these are kind of skirting the line, but my impression was that that rule was for questions like "3x2 + 5x - 6 = 0. What is x?" or "Compare and contrast the use of the giant glasses in Gatsby with Holden's obsession with Stradlater's fingernails in Catcher."
posted by Rock Steady at 12:30 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, these seem more like "help me research" questions than "do my homework" questions-- especially the second one. Would you call the askers of these questions "cheaterpants" (as in your tags) if they went to their respective school libraries and asked the same question of a reference librarian?
posted by dersins at 12:31 PM on April 2, 2009 [6 favorites]


I don't know. What did you put?
posted by pracowity at 12:44 PM on April 2, 2009 [22 favorites]


Like many things Meta, this is probably a grey area. There's a difference between asking for material which will be in addition to an already substantive and substantial body of work in order to add some richness to a presentation, and asking for primary data. Speaking as an instructional designer (but not an instructor/teacher), if a student enhanced more conventionally researched material with some experiential data, I would think the AskMe request was legitimate research.

I'm less certain about the second AskMe on camels. It seems like something that could be found with rudimentary searching skills and that the OP is trying to avoid the first search.

I'm cool with some, not with others.
posted by angiep at 12:46 PM on April 2, 2009


Like many things Meta, this is probably a grey area.

I see what you did there.
posted by Smarson at 12:53 PM on April 2, 2009 [17 favorites]


I think the general rule is that we provide answers that are credible, plausible, but hopelessly wrong. Then we lie in wait for the inevitable MeTa callout "AskMe was wrong!" at which point we burst forth with tasteless comments about their mothers' barnyard romances. I'm pretty sure this is in the FAQ.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:55 PM on April 2, 2009 [15 favorites]


I saw a post get deleted last week for being way too much "do my homework," so no, still not cool.

If you do have homework to post on AskMe, please link it here, to expedite the process.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:56 PM on April 2, 2009


I'm not really particularly cool with it, which is why I don't usually answer those questions.

(Here's another one.)
posted by box at 12:56 PM on April 2, 2009


i thought that metatalk and the podcast page were the only grey areas. i figure that people only ask because they are green.
posted by the aloha at 12:58 PM on April 2, 2009


Pastabagel, you have the absolutely best Top 10 Tags on Mefi of anybody:

oil (2) psychiatrist (2) china (1) children (1) chicken (1) cheney (1) buckethead (1) bonds (1) bipolar (1) batshitinsane (1)
posted by jbickers at 12:59 PM on April 2, 2009


It seems like something that could be found with rudimentary searching skills and that the OP is trying to avoid the first search.

If the no homework rule is supposed to be helping schools maintain their academic integrity, which is more important: ensuring that the students polish their Google skills, or helping students get access to the best material for learning about the subject and completing their project?
posted by burnmp3s at 1:00 PM on April 2, 2009


FEE SCHEDULE

ANSWERS: $5
CORRECT ANSWERS: $10
ANSWERS WHICH REQUIRE THOUGHT: $25
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 1:01 PM on April 2, 2009 [5 favorites]


Actually, a closer look at the Shintoism one makes me think it may very well be homework filter. I think I'd need Mod Sight to make the call.

On the camel one, I could definitely see someone saying, "I've got this paper I'm writing about camels surviving in the desert. Kinda boring. Let's spruce it up with some poetry! I could Google some (and maybe they did), but I bet AskMe could come up with some really good stuff that isn't on Google."
posted by cimbrog at 1:06 PM on April 2, 2009


Are dumb looks still free, timewaster?
posted by echo target at 1:09 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, a closer look at the Shintoism one makes me think it may very well be homework filter. I think I'd need Mod Sight to make the call.

How about you take an even closer look and see that it was pointed out that "Shinto" suffices? Or do you also talk about "Islamism" and "Christism"?

NOT ISM-IST!
posted by explosion at 1:13 PM on April 2, 2009


Pastabagel, you have the absolutely best Top 10 Tags on Mefi of anybody

I'm pretty fond of my own 10 top tags, because I make that perfect transition straight from Hitler to duckies.

But, to be on topic, I really don't think that helping with research is wrong. It's no different from having an uncle, say, who's an expert on, let's call it, camelology and asking him for some guidance. Far different, say, from finding your local camelologist, paying him $20 bucks, and waiting for the paper he writes to get an A.
posted by Ms. Saint at 1:14 PM on April 2, 2009


On second blush, maybe I should be less snarky. Everyone needs a hug.

NOT HUG-IST!
posted by explosion at 1:14 PM on April 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I have these weird neighbors that do all sorts of crazy stuff. I think they said they're Shinto. Anyone have relevant personal perspectives about this wackiness?"

"There's this girl I like in grad school who studies Ahadith, Qur'an and classic Arabic poetry about camels (yeah, I know!). Anyone have any relevant poetry I can use to woo her?"
posted by Durin's Bane at 1:18 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


3x2 + 5x - 6 = 0. What is x?

I have no idea, but this is now a burning question for me. Anyone care to answer (and please show your working)?
posted by djgh at 1:19 PM on April 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Aren't we kind of selling ourselves short here?....why isn't askmefi seen as a form of research, especially since this site seems to operate heavily on a linked-basis. I like to think of this as a refined and varied version of Google, with the personal touch being the cherry on top.
posted by mannequito at 1:22 PM on April 2, 2009


They way I tend to break it down is this:

- "Where do I start / where do I look?" is fine.
- "What is the answer?" is not okay.

Not everything falls perfectly into one or the other of those, but the stuff that's more like the former than the latter will generally get a pass. It's always kind of a judgement call, though.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:24 PM on April 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Help finding sources is fine. Help explaining terms is fine. We draw the line at people who basically copy/paste the question from their homework into AskMe and seem to be asking people to write things for them, or math problems where they're like "and show your work!" But yeah like everything else, it's a grey area. There are a lot of nice librarians and others on AskMe who can give good informed responses, but people have also been pretty forthcoming in some questions asking "hey this isn't a homework problem, is it?"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:25 PM on April 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hi cortex!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:25 PM on April 2, 2009


this may help
posted by klangklangston at 1:26 PM on April 2, 2009


(Or this.)
posted by klangklangston at 1:29 PM on April 2, 2009


Hi jessamyn!
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:29 PM on April 2, 2009


Now that that's resolved, I'm posting all my receipts on AskMe later tonight and I expect someone to do my taxes by morning.
posted by GuyZero at 1:32 PM on April 2, 2009 [5 favorites]


Hi jessamyn and cortex! How are you guys? Don't see you guys around here too often! What's up? Nice weather we're having, huh?
posted by dersins at 1:33 PM on April 2, 2009


3x2 + 5x - 6 = 0. What is x?

A variable.
posted by qvantamon at 1:34 PM on April 2, 2009 [5 favorites]


I only brought it bowling. I didn't rent it shoes, I'm not buying it a fucking beer, he's not taking your fucking turn dude.
posted by turgid dahlia at 1:34 PM on April 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


http://www.math.com/students/calculators/source/quadratic.htm says 0.8081429669660173

My work:
first I typed in "quadra" into the google search box,
then I selected the suggestion for "quadratic equation solver"
I entered 3, 5, and -6,
then hit the button marked "--solve ->"
posted by nomisxid at 1:36 PM on April 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


How about you take an even closer look and see that it was pointed out that "Shinto" suffices? Or do you also talk about "Islamism" and "Christism"?

I definitely go with "Islam" and "Christ." What an asshole!
posted by owtytrof at 1:38 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


The quadratic equation is a hacky kludge that gets you the answer, but doesn't explain why the answer is right. Telling someone to use the quadratic equation is akin to handing kids a calculator instead of teaching them addition or multiplication.
posted by explosion at 1:43 PM on April 2, 2009


How about you take an even closer look and see that it was pointed out that "Shinto" suffices? Or do you also talk about "Islamism" and "Christism"?

Didn't read the whole thread, so I missed that. I do talk about my own Catholicism, though.

And hugs are freely accepted and given, even if I am uncomfortable with physical human contact.

NOT HUMAN-IST
posted by cimbrog at 1:44 PM on April 2, 2009


dersins, it was totally sunny when I went to lunch, but then it was rainy on the way home, and now it's sunny again. It's like, hey, sky? Make up your mind!

3x2 + 5x - 6 = 0. What is x?

I managed to recall enough of high school algebra to figure out that what x is not is an integer. Unless I didn't manage to recall enough high school algebra after all, but I feel like all this KenKen I've been playing lately has me in pretty good shape on that front.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:48 PM on April 2, 2009


MetaFilter: from Hitler to duckies
posted by deborah at 1:49 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


What if it's classwork and not homework?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:52 PM on April 2, 2009


I knew I should have actually given a little thought to my coefficients to make sure my example was factorizable. Let's change the -6 to a -12, mmkay? Also, extra credit is still available for tackling my Intro to American Literature essay question.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:58 PM on April 2, 2009


3x2 + 5x - 6 = 0

Let's assume we're looking at integers before we bust out the quadratic equation. The quadratic equation is no fun. Let's try a simple grind of trying out potential integers.

First, you must find the set of two integers which, when multiplied together, give -6:
(-1, 6)
(1, -6)
(2, -3)
(-2, 3)
(6, -1)
(-6, 1)
(-3, 2)
(3, -2)

Then you've got the stuff at front. What set of two integers which, when multiplied together, give 3?
(1, 3)
(-1, -3)
(3, 1)
(-3, -1)

Gracious! What a terrible mess of combinations. That's thirty-two right there. You can see why we might want an equation. Still, let's carry on! If we call the that first bunch of numbers c and d, and the second set a and b, what we're looking for is the numbers where ad + bc = 5, since multiplying (ax + c)(bx + d) = abx2 + (ad + bc)x + cd = 3x2 + 5x - 6.

After plowing about for a while, you'll realize that you simply cannot do it — nothing in those thirty-two combinations does the trick. Drat.

What you really want is a technique called "completing the square." First, add 6 to both sides:

3x2 + 5x = 6

Now, let's divide out that 3.

x2 + (5/3)x = 2

Already that looks a bit nicer, doesn't it?

Unfortunately, here is the tricky bit, critical point #1. We know that when we square (x + by) we get (x2 + 2bxy + b2y2). That little factor of two pops up, so we'll have to account for that. In this case, we take that 5/3, divide it by two, square it, then add it to both sides. We're pretending there's a square there, but we have to account for it. Our books must balance!

x2 + (5/3)x + (25/36) = 2 + (25/36)

Ghastly. We must simplify.

x2 + (5/3)x + (25/36) = 97/36

A little more. I'd like to see that bottom denominator in the second term be the square root of the bottom denominator in the third term, please.

x2 + (10/6)x + (25/36) = 97/36

MOAR! We must get to what this was all about, completing a square, transforming a2 + 2ab + b2 to (a + b)2. This is critical point #2.

[x + (5/6)]2 = 97/36

Oh, my. Time to root it! Oy!

x + (5/6) = plus-or-minus [sqrt(97) / 6]

That plus or minus is due to the fact that both 3 squared and -3 squared are 9! Next, move that constant to the right side by subtracting it from both sides:

x = (-5/6) + plus-or-minus [sqrt(97) / 6]

x = [-5 plus-or-minus sqrt(97)] / 6

This gives us two answers, ~0.8081 and -~2.4748. Gruesome, isn't it?

For fun, I used to make students do completing the square with strange, irreducible constants, then show them that they have just "invented" the quadratic equation, in about half a sheet of paper.

Why, yes, I am a lot of fun at parties.
posted by adipocere at 2:11 PM on April 2, 2009 [92 favorites]


What if it's classwork and not homework?

Hope your teacher doesn't notice you checking your blackberry/ iPhone/ whatnot every few minutes, and that someone responds with good advice within the limited time of your class. Otherwise, I hope you don't have any other questions about classwork for another week, because you just wasted this one.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:12 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Home work homework?
posted by Balonious Assault at 2:21 PM on April 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


As a professor, if my students had asked those questions prior to writing a paper for me, I'd see nothing wrong with it. "Research" often means asking other people where to look for more information. That is not dishonest.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:24 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Home work homework?

Oh. Oh my.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:33 PM on April 2, 2009


That first answer in the camel question is the kind of thing that should be punishable by 40 days exile in the desert.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:44 PM on April 2, 2009


I'm pretty sure jessamyn saw these, and were I a betting man, I would say that both are allowable because neither question is asking for the homework assignment itself; the first asks for some personal perspectives on Shinto, and the second asks for some poetry about the subject that the paper's being written on.
posted by koeselitz at 2:46 PM on April 2, 2009


I once had a teacher whose idea of pre-test class preparation was to write out the exact questions and answers for the test on the board, and then "forget" to erase them until halfway thru the test the next day.
posted by nomisxid at 2:46 PM on April 2, 2009


Home work homework?

Man. kate blank should step up and respond to that because it seems like her attempts to smear that company were kind of foul.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:10 PM on April 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


*meekly raises hand*

I've actually used AskMe for research purposes before, and the first time I think I asked Jessamyn at length about whether that would be kosher. It was pretty clear that it would be okay only as long as the question was phrased more as an "does anyone know of some web sites about...." rather than a "what is the answer to...." type of question.

Which I can support. The former seems more of a matter of one's Google-fu failing, or of asking a librarian "do you have any books on Armenian basket weaving I could read" rather than "I need to know this specific information about Armenian basketweaving". Just giving someone some link sugestions still puts the onus on that someone to actually visit the links and read and process the information competently. Sometimes even an independent explorer needs to consult a map or a compass, after all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:37 PM on April 2, 2009


As a professor, if my students had asked those questions prior to writing a paper for me, I'd see nothing wrong with it. "Research" often means asking other people where to look for more information. That is not dishonest.

I'm another professor, and I agree, BUT . . . one thing I notice about many of my ostensibly "techno-savvy" students is a combination of truly awful basic keyword searching skills (whether in Google or a library database like OneFile) and learned helplessness. Quite a few are just unwilling to sit there and try out a bunch of different search strings and come up with synonyms or variants of keywords for 20 or 30 minutes -- or 3 minutes, for that matter -- until they light on the combo that works.

Sure, efficient research includes not just self-reliance but getting guidance and shortcuts from more experienced researchers/authorities, but being able to tolerate at least a little struggle and frustration is just part of the process -- and part of the joy of the work, unless you want a life filled with Easy Beginner Word Searches [zzzzzzzz].

So I guess in most cases I'd rather that, instead of Googling things for students or presenting them with ready-made results, professors and librarians and MeFites alike maybe just suggested potentially fruitful search terms, search techniques, resources/databases, etc. Y'know, teaching to fish vs. giving a fish, blah blah blah.

But then, I'm an English major, so I exist just to wring the fun right out of everything.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:01 PM on April 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


Any chance I could get one of you to do my housework?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:12 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, get a roomba.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:15 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


From hunch:
Do you know what these groups of numbers have in common? 300x250, 728x90, 160x600.
I answered Nope, but I'd like to be able to change that. Answers, please.
posted by tellurian at 4:21 PM on April 2, 2009


They all have x in them.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:24 PM on April 2, 2009


It is desired to estimate a random signal s[n] using a FIR Wiener filter of length 2. The observations are specified to be of the form x[n] = s[n] - s[n-1] + v[n] where v[n] is zero mean white noise with variance 10. The autocorrelation function of the signal is rs[k] = 6(0.8)|k|. Set up and solve the Wiener-Hopf equations to find the values of h[0] and h[1] and calculate the corresponding mean-square error.

GO!
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:27 PM on April 2, 2009


They all have x in them.
So they do! Thanks mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey. That should get me another banjo.
posted by tellurian at 4:30 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


They all have x in them.

Someone just earned a "Good Job!" sticker on his report card!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:34 PM on April 2, 2009


They're Google Adwords box dimensions.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:49 PM on April 2, 2009


MetaFilter=exist(s) just to wring the fun right out of everything
posted by Cranberry at 4:53 PM on April 2, 2009


Metafilter=where to while away the afternoon playing with quadratic equations
posted by Cranberry at 4:55 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Huh huh huh wiener filter length.

I got nothing.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:10 PM on April 2, 2009


Burhanistan: Man. kate blank should step up and respond to that because it seems like her attempts to smear that company were kind of foul.

'Respond,' nothing. The mods should just remove the company name.
posted by koeselitz at 5:22 PM on April 2, 2009


I mean, we're not some kind of company-ratings site, are we? Seems like we should nip this whole 'I'm going to give covert feedback on a company by mentioning them in my AskMe question' thing in the bud.
posted by koeselitz at 5:24 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you like wiling away time with quadratic equations, you'll love Project Euler!
posted by Pronoiac at 5:42 PM on April 2, 2009


It is desired to estimate a random signal s[n] using a FIR Wiener filter of length 2. The observations are specified to be of the form x[n] = s[n] - s[n-1] + v[n] where v[n] is zero mean white noise with variance 10. The autocorrelation function of the signal is rs[k] = 6(0.8)|k|. Set up and solve the Wiener-Hopf equations to find the values of h[0] and h[1] and calculate the corresponding mean-square error.

Some days all I ever think about is the FIR Weiner filter.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 6:53 PM on April 2, 2009


Now that that's resolved, I'm posting all my receipts on AskMe later tonight and I expect someone to do my taxes by morning.

I'll need your ssn, mother's maiden name, and the details of the bank account that you would like the refund deposited into.
posted by jacalata at 6:54 PM on April 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


x=0.808142967, x=-2.474809634

These are guesses, but they seem to work.
posted by flabdablet's sock puppet at 7:00 PM on April 2, 2009


Dear AskMe:
How long after the termination of an anesthetic that included nitrous oxide, should you be concerned about diffusion hypoxia?

A)1 minute
B) 2-3 minutes
C) 5-10 minutes
D) 15-20 minutes
E) 30 minutes

I'm writing a book.
posted by TedW at 7:58 PM on April 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, Ted, lemme get a hit of that and I'll tell you.
posted by klangklangston at 8:05 PM on April 2, 2009


The one I thought was really lame, was the high schooler's question about symbolism in Flannery O'Connor.
posted by jayder at 8:17 PM on April 2, 2009


This question about Sharepoint configuration is also in the same vein as "do my homework". It's like asking someone to code up your website or something for free.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:06 PM on April 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


You guys have helped me do some research for papers twice before.

I think you'd have to be insane to pass up such a great brainstorming device/stepping stone for actual research. I'm totally cool with these questions, and generally don't think they're at all ethically dubious, and hope to help answer someone else's someday.

But I'd make a distinction between"Give me examples of xyz" and "what is the answer to this question?"
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:10 PM on April 2, 2009


posted by Baby_Balrog to etiquette/policy at 12:22 PM

They may not have homework in the Mines of Moria, but this is AMERICA!
posted by clearly at 10:01 PM on April 2, 2009


I haven't done this in a long time, but I can't resist:

Metafilter: that perfect transition straight from Hitler to duckies
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:03 PM on April 2, 2009


I'll admit that AskMe has helped me help others with their homework a few times.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:01 PM on April 2, 2009


Since I'm fairly prolific on MetaTalk, I'd feel too guilty to use AskMe as a source for my homework. I do use MeFi though. Any semi-interesting topic is bound to have had a few posts about it, and the discussion that ensues is pure gold for sparking good thesis ideas. I usually end up following about seven different "strains" of links and reading all sorts of interesting things that could make a good basis for discussion.

It's a far more useful starting point than Wikipedia, at least.
posted by Phire at 12:22 AM on April 3, 2009


As a professor, if my students had asked those questions prior to writing a paper for me, I'd see nothing wrong with it.

Indeed, I'm curious as to why these people decided to ask a bunch of random people to point them in the right direction, rather than asking their professor -- who actually gets paid to do that, and is much more likely to be able to steer them in the direction that the course is interested in, hopefully limiting the student's potential to get it totally and completely wrong.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:19 AM on April 3, 2009


I've used AskMe for research purposes, and I'll do it again.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:01 AM on April 3, 2009


I was told there would be no math.

Promised, in fact.

Since that was a lie, I'm going to penalize you all by taking away the number 7 for the rest of the day; under no circumstances are you allowed to say it, calculate or compute with it, or even look at it. This may seem a bit excessive, but I need to make a point. I hope spending a day without it will remind you all that math can be scary and you shouldn't go just waving it around at people.
posted by quin at 9:19 AM on April 3, 2009


quin quin quin
        quin
      quin
    quin
  quin

posted by fantabulous timewaster at 1:56 PM on April 3, 2009


Is askme ok with me asking the answer to one of my kid's HW questions because I do not understand new math and I will look like a friggin fool to my kid if I don't know the answer?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:29 PM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


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