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I just answered a question from this user. Then, I looked into the profile and it looks like he just registered 2 days ago and asked two questions. The first question is obviously either homework or an exam question. Furthermore, the title of the second question (the one I answered) has the word "urgent". Both has a very suspicious multiple-choice type structure.

What's the standard procedure in this case? I'd like to know if I should flag the user or just vote to close the questions. Should I delete my answer?

UPDATE: After an overnight, the OP has now 5 of these questions

Last update: after adding this reply to another of his questions, I'll vote to close any other one. Thanks all for the suggestions.

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These don't really look like homework questions to me. I'd leave the answer. –  Wes May 4 '11 at 7:26
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There have been more than a few questions i have seen on SO that smack of the user being totally out of their depth and frantic for an answer, almost like... they had lied and connived their way into a job they weren't qualified or suited for. A bit cynical i know, but that's what it looks like. –  slugster May 4 '11 at 8:13
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Oh no, @slugster, a programmer wouldn't ever do that! If they did, it would lead to statistics such as "60% of programmers are bad programmers"... –  AviD May 4 '11 at 8:53
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@avid 60% are bad programmers, 50% are good programmers and 10% are also bad at maths. –  amelvin May 4 '11 at 8:58
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@amelvin, actually I'm familiar with "60% bad, 30% mediocre, and 10% good (out of which 1% great)". Admittedly I dont know how current that is, and admittedly I'm a sad cynical sot, but my experience has also borne that out... –  AviD May 4 '11 at 9:06
    
@slugster that's an option I did not think about. Sadly, it makes sense... –  Aleadam May 4 '11 at 15:06
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In my opinion, such obvious multiple choice questions are not suitable for SO and should be closed and/or downvoted. I don't see how they fit here, especially since the only logical explanation for them is that the OP copy & pasted them from somewhere without even thinking about it. –  Time Traveling Bobby May 4 '11 at 15:36
    
Re: the 60% statistic - I actually think there are fewer truly bad programmers out there than it appears. It's just that a lot of us have moments, especially on a tight deadline, when we produce code that just sucks. I know I have. –  Justin Morgan May 4 '11 at 15:40
    
    
@avid 60/30/10 seems a reasonable split in most industries - and also in ours! –  amelvin May 4 '11 at 21:59

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Here's the community stance on this subject : How do I ask and answer homework questions?

Personally, I help out the user, sometimes with code and sometimes with guidance. Those who want can always phrase a homework question as a 'Oh look, I just stumbled across this problem', so there isn't much point in penalizing the ones who can camouflage their questions.

The OP has to take responsibility for breaking academic strictures.

Looking at the question you answered, I wouldn't have thought it's a homework question. The other question on the user's profile is a bit suspicious. I wouldn't have answered it, not because it's possibly homework, but because it's a poorly written question.

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Well, the question I answered was not that bad. The other is. But the point is that I thought it was possible the OP was cheating in an exam rather than in the homework (wich could be done through a cell phone, for example). Thus, the question on how to react. –  Aleadam May 4 '11 at 15:13
    
@Aleadam Ignore it, or flag it. The community won't be able to track down the examiner to report it. –  Phil Lello May 4 '11 at 16:10
    
@Aleadam the problem is we can never be sure. I guess a safeguard to that would be to offer guidance first, and then after a couple of hours (if the user engages) you can offer concrete examples. The exam should be over by then ^_^ –  JohnP May 5 '11 at 4:04

If it is homework / coursework and their teacher then googles their answer, because it is better than they expected, the OP will have nowhere to hide if they have simply copy-and-pasted.

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Homework is fine, if tagged with

I'd say in this case, it looks likely they've been emailed a screening questionnaire, can't do it, but want an interview anyway.

I'd flag as low-quality (I did for the multi-choice one I picked at random); multi-choice questions are generally useless to anyone other than the OP.

Note that some sister sites are more liberal; a question on programmers.se was essentially "I'm going to take certification so I don't have to sit a course, what do I need to know to pass". I initially answered along the lines of "if you need to ask, you need the course", which got downvotes and negative comments. Flagging as unethical (because it harms the industry) lowered my flag weight.

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You're right, it makes more sense if it's either a screening questionnaire as you say or trying to do a job for which he's not qualified for (as slugster suggested in a comment). I voted to close two, a third was already closed, and tried to give him advise in the last one. Let's see. –  Aleadam May 4 '11 at 17:10

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