Scenario: a student has a homework question which checks his ability in some basic conceptual task, like reading an instrument approach chart. He has no idea, and posts the question here, with the multiple choice answers. The question is easily identifiable as a "do my homework for me" type of question, but receives an answer from someone here who seeks to be helpful. It also attracts down-votes because there is no underlying interesting issue, just picking from a couple of radial values and DME values the ones which apply to the given task, as well as no conceptual question or described difficulty understanding why "this" answer is right and "that" answer is wrong. After receiving his answer, the OP then deletes his question, which deletes the answer.

The thread in question -- visible to users who can see closed threads

The question was on its way to being closed, with two "close" votes and three down-votes. Interestingly, the answer was even more heavily down-voted, not because it was wrong (it was very clearly correct) but (I suspect) because it was answering -- and thus encouraging -- the sort of question that isn't useful for this site.

Two basic outlooks on this:

  • "Let's just be helpful" I think this was the sincere intent of the user who posted the answer to the question. And this answer did "help" the OP, at least in the moment. The OP, having his answer, decided to erase evidence of his activity here, which removes any possibility of his question helping anyone else out in the future (although given the nature of the question, I think that possibility is remote).

  • "Don't encourage these questions by answering them" This is obviously my take on things. You get more of what you reward. If students know that they can get a quick answer to basic questions by posting them here, that's what will happen. The closing process is only effective if it happens faster than the first "let's be helpful" answer; otherwise, the creator of the throw-away account cares not what subsequently happens to his thread.

I would suggest that especially when one is dealing with questions that are simply checks of a student's understanding, as this one clearly was, answering them is not, in fact, truly helpful. The student hides the fact of his limited comprehension of the material, which matters far more than a homework grade does. The instructor doesn't know where his student needs help. None of this reaches a good end, even when the intention is merely to be helpful.

When there is a misunderstanding that can be helped by explanation, then by all means, let's share the knowledge. When the question is along the lines of, this was question, this is how I arrived at my answer, here's what the actual answer is, what did I miss, that's different.

But I'd appeal to the community that when "do my homework for me" questions are posted, the best thing we can all do, both for the student seeking an easy shortcut to his own studies, and also for the Av.SE forum, is to please refrain from answering these questions.

No good purpose is served by turning this forum into a homework answer service, nor by moving in that direction. But as long as such questions get answers before they get closed, that's what such answers encourage. Please don't do that.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ suggestion for you here: given that this is meta, split the question and your suggestion in question/answer posts, and do not put all in the question, so that people can vote independently on the two, and an agreement, if reached, is clearer $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Apr 21, 2022 at 5:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Note also that we've discussed this before $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec Mod
    Apr 21, 2022 at 6:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Jamiec The upshot of those 3 threads seems to be that such questions are undesirable and as such should be closed; my appeal goes beyond that, to recommend to individuals not to provide an answer in the first place in the timeframe before the question is closed. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J Mod
    Apr 21, 2022 at 12:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @RalphJ and I dont necessarily disagree with you, but the reality is the "helpful user" will almost always be quicker than the close voters $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec Mod
    Apr 21, 2022 at 12:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Jamiec My thought in posting this, as an appeal, is that this format may be better than a comment or two as a means of communicating to these wanting-to-be-helpful users, at least the regulars here, about the ramifications of what they're doing. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J Mod
    Apr 21, 2022 at 12:27
  • $\begingroup$ And, if this discussion informs a subsequent discussion of the merits of holding first questions off-stage until they're reviewed, then that may be good. But clearly that idea is a very separate one with a far longer time horizon and much more pro/con to be discussed. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J Mod
    Apr 21, 2022 at 12:30
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Ive featured it so it shows up on the homepage, but dont expect everyone, even regulars to read it $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec Mod
    Apr 21, 2022 at 12:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Honestly, I've understood this to be Stack Exchange policy (on all stacks) for as long as I've been here. First, don't answer questions that should be closed, second, downvote and VTC "do my homework for me" questions. The same objections apply everywhere, though I'd think the possible consequences worse for "homework" related to aviation ground school; subject matter. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Apr 22, 2022 at 19:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ZeissIkon Yeah, I didn't think this was anything revolutionary or particularly uncharted territory, but as the comments below the "helpful" answer in the (now-deleted) thread above show, it isn't a universal understanding. Maybe this appeal will help persuade or inform those who might seek to be "helpful" in this way. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J Mod
    Apr 22, 2022 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ @RalphJ Or, far more likely, the people who need to hear it will never see this... :( $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Apr 24, 2022 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ I'm unable to see the post, but I'll throw in another reason why people might answer quickly, rather than downvote: it builds rep. Once you get to a few hundred points, life gets a lot easier on SE sites, but until then there is a lot of basic utility which is off-limits. That's arguably for the best, but for low-rep users it does create the perverse incentive to answer rather than to vote to close. $\endgroup$ May 22, 2022 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting to compare the Math.SE policy on such activity: math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/33508/…. Note that I'm not suggesting we do something like that here. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J Mod
    Dec 9, 2022 at 15:17


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .