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I posted a question regarding etiquette and the homework tag. I can see a lot of the viewpoints on the issue, and understand them. I actually had a pretty good idea for a solution i wanted to share.

I was wondering if a "work type" or similar drop-down menu could be added to each new post with categories such as research, homework, course-project, independent-study (school), work (company), work (hobby/self-employed).

Some benefits of this:

  1. It wouldn't count towards the users tag count. An extra tag =s a greater likelihood of getting help and a solution!

  2. It would force the users to make their intentions clear. If they're lying about homework at that point, it would make the discussion very different.

  3. It would help users understand how to answer the question -- e.g. whether to suggest new more state of the art solutions for a work project, vs. just answering the artificially constrained question asked, if homework.

  4. It would help reduce misunderstandings if the code was anonymized. For example, in CUDA codes, many of them are for research, so I see people publishing anonymized snippets. If you don't understand that this is for proprietary, unpublished research, you might complain about uninformative variable naming, lack of parallel nature in certain blocks of code etc. While this can certainly be remedied by careful description, research or work (company) would instantly provide some context and the expectation that the user is likely going to hold back the finer proprietary details of their code in question.

I realize there could be overlap between the above categories, so you could perhaps phrase the question as "Which one currently best describes your type of work involved in the question?"

What do you guys think?

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With respect to your edit, downvotes on Meta are different. A downvote means that people disagree with your opinion and don't feel compelled to explain why; usually because the reasoning is obvious or simple opinion. –  Kevin Vermeer Apr 30 '12 at 2:13
    
Ah interesting... Doesn't that kill discussion? Seems kinda punitive but at least now I get why. –  Jason R. Mick Apr 30 '12 at 2:46
    
They're only -2 rep, and rep is pretty meaningless anyways, so don't sweat it. One answer with two upvotes and you're back to normal. –  Kevin Vermeer Apr 30 '12 at 2:58
    
True, fair point.... –  Jason R. Mick Apr 30 '12 at 3:04
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Also, with respect to your edit, downvoting is anonymous on all of the Stack Exchange sites. Comments about voting, let alone edits in a post about voting is considered noise and is strongly discouraged on the Stack Exchange sites. –  casperOne Apr 30 '12 at 3:07
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How in the world are downvotes cowardly? –  Cody Gray Apr 30 '12 at 3:17

1 Answer 1

That's not a good idea. is the exception, not the rule.

Ideally all questions should be held to the same standards, regardless of the level of expertise they have on the topics they are asking about. We do have a lower limit, if the answer can be found with a simple web search, it's not suitable for Stack Overflow. Other than that, if the question is clear and shows at least some minor effort, there isn't much to discuss.

You found out yourself that doesn't really work (as expected), it takes a couple of #$&^ to spoil the fun for everyone. Imagine how much more attractive would be to the few amongst us who aren't always being nice: "You call that crap research?", etc.

On Programmers we eradicated , and other than a few chaps that were used to it from Stack Overflow, no one noticed. Granted we don't really cater to beginners as Stack Overflow does, but we do get some homework questions and haven't missed the tag (yet?), we apply the same standards to every question and everyone is happy (?).

To summarize: We would be opening a very big can of worms. Expertise level is extremely subjective, and any potential value of the tags wouldn't be larger than the potential for abuse.


To be a bit more specific:

It wouldn't count towards the users tag count. An extra tag =s a greater likelihood of getting help and a solution!

Irrelevant. What you are proposing is a visible element on the question, whether it's a tag or something else it doesn't really matter.

It would force the users to make their intentions clear. If they're lying about homework at that point, it would make the discussion very different.

How would you know they are lying? We can't really tell if the person is lying or not, all we can do is hold all questions to the same standards and hope for the best.

It would help users understand how to answer the question -- e.g. whether to suggest new more state of the art solutions for a work project, vs. just answering the artificially constrained question asked, if homework.

Ideally people should treat all questions like homework questions. We should be requiring some minimal effort shown in all questions, and never give out full solutions if we aren't convinced the asker has done their best to solve their problem.

It would help reduce misunderstandings if the code was anonymized. For example, in CUDA codes, many of them are for research, so I see people publishing anonymized snippets. If you don't understand that this is for proprietary, unpublished research, you might complain about uninformative variable naming, lack of parallel nature in certain blocks of code etc.

You answer this yourself:

While this can certainly be remedied by careful description, research or work (company) would instantly provide some context and the expectation that the user is likely going to hold back the finer proprietary details of their code in question.

Yes it can be remedied by careful description, let's not give people yet another excuse to be lazy. Furthermore if you can't share the finer proprietary details of your code, you should consider hiring a professional to help you solve your problems instead of asking on Stack Overflow.

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But you didn't really read my suggestion... these would NOT be tags... the whole point would be to have a question-parameter entirely independent of the tags section... it would be a classification of ALL questions. And I hardly see how that would encourage people to be meaner... they'd already find questions to be mean about if they want to be mean. Again I am NOT suggesting tags. I'm suggesting creating an extra question-parameter which folds-in/eliminates a couple of question tags, while providing greater clarity on the type of work involved. –  Jason R. Mick Apr 30 '12 at 2:00
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@Jason It doesn't really matter if it's a tag or a "question parameter", it will still be visible on the question, just like [homework]. And I'm not saying that it would encourage people to be meaner, I'm saying that it wouldn't discourage those that already are mean. –  Yannis Apr 30 '12 at 2:02
    
But how does that eliminate the added value I discuss above? What's the downside? I'm failing to see your argument against this... What is the "can of worms"? –  Jason R. Mick Apr 30 '12 at 2:02
    
Again, I value your opinion, but your argument against this seems very vague and nebulous, where as I discuss specific benefits. You mentioned users being mean about the research category, now you say that's not really your point... so was it just a non-sequitur? And what does expertise have to do with my suggestion?? I didn't suggest users to self-grade their expertise! I suggested adding a drop-down for the TYPE of work involved in the question! It seems like you didn't understand my suggestion at all... –  Jason R. Mick Apr 30 '12 at 2:08
    
@JasonR.Mick I expanded the answer a bit. –  Yannis Apr 30 '12 at 2:09
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@JasonR.Mick You implied expertise in work (company), work (hobby/self-employed). Furthermore "work type" doesn't make sense as the sole distinction, what constraints does it introduces to a question if it has nothing to do with level of expertise? And accusing someone of not reading your question just because they disagree with you is not very nice, even if you preface it with "I value your opinion". No wonder people don't bother to explain when they downvote. –  Yannis Apr 30 '12 at 2:22
    
I meant no offense just meant that it didn't really seem like you understood what I was asking in so much as I was not suggesting a tag and was not suggesting self-grading expertise (a research can be a novice coder and a student can be an expert level coder). I'm just suggesting a background parameter to give insight on the type of work. I don't think this would necessarily make people lazier. But I do appreciate you actually posting an opinion. –  Jason R. Mick Apr 30 '12 at 2:44
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Why are "silent downvotes" cowardly? They are a voting mechanism that is intrinsically meant to be anonymous –  simchona Apr 30 '12 at 2:46
    
I think if you're going to hurt en masse a users reputation for a legitimate question you should at least explain why you're resorting to that extreme. –  Jason R. Mick Apr 30 '12 at 2:48
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Extreme? Voting on Meta is a signal of assent or dissent. It's not "extreme" at all. People aren't colluding to knock your rep down. –  simchona Apr 30 '12 at 3:23

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