One starting programmer (here) reads a book, finds there an exercise, writes, debugs and runs code and having some problems with understanding the concepts, questions at SO. Somebody asks him if it is a homework. The questioner honestly answers "no". Obviously, a person, who did the working code and merely doesn't understand some "why" aspects, hardly could be considered as an easy-life-seeker. But, according to downvotes, he is being punished. Because if it is not a homework, his question becomes senseless - why did he coded something and now asks for the purpose of it? Or, if it is a homework, he is lying...

I am not sure how such situation could be resolved. Obviously, there is no use to add a tag [self-learning]. Every false student shall misuse it to get better reaction. Maybe, the description on [homework] should be changed - not "requesting help with school homework.", but "with exercises in programming", let alone school or not school. But thus the best learners( who are trying themselves) and the worst learners (who are trying to escape any work) would be put in one basket... So, it is really a question for you - I don't see a solution.

But we don't like when a hard-worker is punished for being honest. Don't we?

  • 3
    Did you consider that the question might just be considered bad, and the downvotes have nothing to do with the homework comment? Feb 15 '12 at 15:39
  • If it were not an exercise question, then without any doubt it would be a very bad question. But even it was not a homework question, it was an exercise. And for exercise, the question is absolutely natural, good, and no doubling. Nothing to be punished for.
    – Gangnus
    Feb 15 '12 at 15:50
  • 2
    Bad questions are bad questions, no matter with what intent. Feb 15 '12 at 15:54
  • @Bobby. Please, answer the arguments. I don't see any use in repeating them for you. And I haven't said a single word on intents.
    – Gangnus
    Feb 15 '12 at 15:55
  • 3
    What I meant is, that a bad question is a bad question, no matter with what intent, purpose or reason it was asked. Feb 15 '12 at 16:03
  • Exercise is written by somebody else. So, it needn't have sense, as a whole or partly. And it is not the fault of the questioner. If a real task has no sense, that means that the questioneer had set it wrong, it can be his fault. So, the difference is great, if you bother about people at least a bit.
    – Gangnus
    Feb 15 '12 at 16:17
  • 1
    Man, you've got one heck of a good crystal ball to spot the part he didn't understand, and why. :)
    – sarnold
    Feb 16 '12 at 0:22
  • @sarnold Questions that are caused by misunderstanding are mostly hard to understand, too. It is hard to tell the misunderstanding of a normal being from the lazyness of brains. I use the presumption of innocence. Sometimes I found later that I am speaking to smb who is lazy to think. Sometimes I can help to a newbie. Once I spoke on SO with smb who had IQ, I guess, about 80. I am not joking. He couldn't accept any concept of more than two items. But he was a programmer already.
    – Gangnus
    Feb 16 '12 at 8:38
  • @Gangnus: I left him some advice that he should include at least one question mark in future questions -- I hope he can take that advice to heart. :) Thanks!
    – sarnold
    Feb 16 '12 at 22:21

I'm not sure the downvotes are due to the ambiguity over whether or not that's a homework question.

First, you should work on the formatting of your question. Second you should be more precise with your question: Do you have problems understanding an algorithm? Don't you know how to implement an algorithm? etc. etc. Most of us might be hesitant to answer to a question where the problem is really vague and where someone just posts a list of requirements and a lot of code. The more precise you are the better and the more answers you'll get. – Thomas 18 hours ago

What is your actual question? All you say in your problem description above is "it" and "the part with the x and y coordinates." This suggests that you don't really understand the problem in the first place, which makes it hard for you to articulate a question about the problem, which makes it impossible for others to answer your question. – Jim Kiley 18 hours ago

If you can't ask specific questions better than this, you are going to be pretty unsuccessful in telling a computer specifically what to do. – Jarrod Roberson 18 hours ago

It looks like the user posted the question verbatim from the text, then his code, and not a lot of explanation of what he's stuck on.

  • But he was not stuck with the code at all. Code was ok. He did not understood why he had to implement setters/getters for x,y. He was told to do it by the exercise. If answerers knew that that condition went from the exercise, they would understood. But he said "it is not a homework" So the question becomes senseless to them automatically.
    – Gangnus
    Feb 15 '12 at 15:47
  • 6
    @Gangnus "He did not understood why he had to implement setters/getters for x,y." I didn't pick that up from the question at all. At any rate, it's hard to judge the intent of downvotes. I definitely agree that we should cut people some slack if they're just going through exercises on their own, but I can't say that's why this particular question was downvoted. Feb 15 '12 at 15:57
  • Participying there it seemed to me that he was taken for a lazy student. I had a better mood then and so understood, what he is for. Normally I dislike the lazy students, but i also dislike when somebody is taken for a lazy student unfairly.
    – Gangnus
    Feb 15 '12 at 16:04
  • The problem was in the task formulation. But being a noobie, he couldn't see it.
    – Gangnus
    Feb 15 '12 at 16:09

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