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I have an idea for a new multi-part feature.

  1. A flag that one would raise on questions which appear to be soliciting work from the community.

  2. Questions flagged as such would enter a new review queue. This new review queue would be available to users after reaching a certain amount of rep. In this queue, when a certain amount of approvals are reached, which in my opinion should be more than the standard close amount, the question is closed as a Solicitation

  3. After the question is closed, all rep belonging to that question is reverted.

The purpose of this feature would be to remove "help-vampires", "solicitors", "do-my-work-for-me" or "do-my-homework-for-me" questions from SO. This would be done in two ways;

  1. By directly removing these questions, the incentive is removed to ask them.

  2. By removing the rep rewarded, the incentive to answer them is removed.

Without incentive, these questions will be at a minimum.

The goal is to help keep SO a place for constructive questions, where a community of people are engaged in researching their own problems and helping others, rather than a place to ask for answers to problems that probably wont ever benefit others, or are direct assignments to the person asking the question.

note: the name Solicitation is just a thought, feel free to suggest something better, originally I was thinking of Work-Request

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I think these questions already get enough special treatment (aka ostracism) as it is. There is no need for an entirely new flag, review queue, and close reason for it. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Mar 13 '13 at 15:10
    
Asking for help is not not constructive. –  Lance Roberts Mar 13 '13 at 15:11
    
The idea is to direct this Flag/Queue/Reversion directly at questions which are definitely solicitations. I have personally seen people comment on answers to their questions explaining that they need the answer in a format that they can copy-paste, or one that is more basic so that they can pass it off as their own as homework. –  Inbar Rose Mar 13 '13 at 15:12
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Huge fan of this suggestion. As an answerer, it's frustrating to spend time writing an elucidating answer, only to have it rebuffed with "it doesn't work when I copy/paste" or "it doesn't exactly follow the instructions for my homework." –  tristan Mar 13 '13 at 15:13
    
@LanceRoberts I'd never think to use that flag for answer-seeking behavior. –  tristan Mar 13 '13 at 15:14
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@BoltClock'saUnicorn -- Is that actually true? Perhaps the questions get a lot of downvotes, but it's pretty hard to downvote an answer (if it is correct). OP generally doesn't care if they get downvotes so long as they get an answer. If they managed to get enough to get themselves banned, that's not too much of a deterrant either if they have like-minded classmates. How do we discourage users from answering these questions to begin with? (particularly new users who see it as an easy question to gain a little rep and get a new privilege). –  mgilson Mar 13 '13 at 15:17
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I'm not 100% sure how this could effectively implemented - but it would be nice that once some user votes it as "solicitation" (or whatever) The post gets a banner saying that the post is undergoing such review - this way a it's a bit of a warning sign for the OP and Answerers... (such they can consider spending answering a different question if they chose - otherwise, they have been warned it might well be closed quite quickly while they're in the middle of an answer)... –  Jon Clements Mar 13 '13 at 15:23
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I'm torn on this one -- I get really frustrated when a question with no effort gets a full working answer from a user. It teaches the question-asker nothing. On the other hand, it is nice to see users give a general approach to answering a question, and letting the user come to their own solution. I've found the best solution is just to send a comment to the answerer asking them to not provide full answers to blatant "give me the codes" questions in the future. –  LittleBobbyTables Mar 13 '13 at 15:26
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"By directly removing these questions, the incentive is removed to ask them". I'm not sure if this is true. I'm assuming the "do my work for me" users are the type that create an account and ask a question without looking at any other part of the site. So closing solicitations as a warning to future posters would be futile. –  Kevin Mar 13 '13 at 15:37
    
@Kevin : """By directly removing these questions, the incentive is removed to ask them". I'm not sure if this is true. I'm assuming the "do my work for me" users are the type that create an account and ask a question without looking at any other part of the site. So closing solicitations as a warning to future posters would be futile."" However, the deleting/closing of these questions shows an aggressive stance towards the issue, and certainly for non-throw-away accounts, and those who answer the questions, the message is clear. "Do not solicit" –  Inbar Rose Mar 13 '13 at 15:38
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1 Answer

You should never punish answerers for answering a question, no matter what its quality or how well it fits the site. Answering should always be incentivized. Time put in should be rewarded.

This is a very subjective norm, and you can't expect everyone to come to the same conclusion even if they all understood the dynamics of help vampires. Once you start killing answerers rep, they'll become more reticent to answer any questions since they won't be sure whether the community will label it as a solicitation.

You want to stop the questions, but disincentivizing answers won't stop most of those questioners, because they are new and don't know the norms and rules anyway. They won't know that they won't get the answers they are seeking.

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But again, I don't think this is promoting punishing the answerers. It is an attempt to remove the incentive to answer in the first place –  mgilson Mar 13 '13 at 15:20
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Disincentivizing answers is probably not an approach to success for the site. It won't really disincentivize the questions that are the problem, because a lot of those come from users unfamiliar with the site who wouldn't know they won't be able to get an answer. –  Lance Roberts Mar 13 '13 at 15:20
    
I don't know what the proper solution should be, but it certainly gets tiresome seeing the same homework problem (with no effort on the part of OP) over and over ... –  mgilson Mar 13 '13 at 15:22
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Also, answers that actually teach the askers are not a punishable offence, but those that give copy/paste code aren't constructive for the asker or the community. –  Poik Mar 13 '13 at 15:23
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I tend to agree with you in general, although specifically in this case, there is an entire flock of users who rush to answer these questions for the easy rep. Questions whose answers are readily available through quick googling, or by searching SO before just asking the question, some answers are direct quotes from documentation. These cases should be treated as extremes, If a user posts an answer which is plagiarized and it is then deleted, he loses the rep. This would work on the same notion, which is that these answers do not need to exist, as the question was obviously a solicitation. –  Inbar Rose Mar 13 '13 at 15:23
    
Yep, I hate the lazy questioners too, but this isn't the solution. –  Lance Roberts Mar 13 '13 at 15:23
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"You want to stop the questions, but disincentivizing answers won't stop most of those questioners, because they are new and don't know the norms and rules anyway. They won't know that they won't get the answers they are seeking." Word of mouth, SO is slowly getting known as a place to simply get answers, how else do these people know about SO? If it is known as a place that actively fights against solicitation, it will lose most of it. –  Inbar Rose Mar 13 '13 at 15:25
    
But I would think the homework people are generally young students who aren't in the marketplace getting that word of mouth. –  Lance Roberts Mar 13 '13 at 15:28
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@LanceRoberts There's two homework assignments going on at the moment - but there's been an amount of effort on those so I wouldn't consider this applicable. However, since they're likely in the same class/college whatever... then the ones that purely don't bother - might say to others- "Man, they keep closing my question - moan moan" - and it would quite quickly spread for assignments that asking for code without any effort because your assignment is due tomorrow will not be fruitful (while it also gives hints to answerers - and a more obvious close message reason) –  Jon Clements Mar 13 '13 at 15:31
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"But I would think the homework people are generally young students who aren't in the marketplace getting that word of mouth." And non-homework? I am sure many young developers know of SO, and many of them (I am certain) abuse its active, friendly community to do some of their work for them. –  Inbar Rose Mar 13 '13 at 15:31
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Perhaps the way to solve the disincentivize-to-answer issue is to simply make it so that the rep earned is inversely proportional to the amount of time it takes to close it. So if a question is closed within one hour the answerer looses all rep on the answer. If within one day, you keep 1/5th of the rep earned (rounded down) ... and so on until you keep all the earned rep. –  Sean Vieira Mar 13 '13 at 15:47
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