See this question:


This is a question from the ongoing CodeChef contest. The OP should not ask about it here. However, there is no valid way to stop him/her.

Although this question in itself is good, it is a form of cheating. Should we stop this behavior somehow?

Note: this question in itself is not that bad; it got +3 before I pointed out that it is from a contest.

There are also other questions like this, so it is becoming a trend:

Is Stack Overflow the new cheating panel for these contests / homeworks / etc.?

Edit Okay, I probably got a bit too excited. Anyway, it is nice to know people cares about it, and the original questions got took care of. Guess I'll be looking out for such questions in the future:)

EDIT Another one: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/16469430/no-of-trees-possible-with-n-nodes-given-some-conditions

  • 25
    Why would Stack Overflow need to police people cheating? That is not our problem! Commented May 8, 2013 at 18:45
  • 2
    It looks like the community already took care of such hooligans... downvoted and closed.
    – TronicZomB
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 18:46
  • Probably SO does not, but the community probably need a better way to close it instead of "not a real question". This isn't a feature request, it is just something to think about, just like sometimes people will post homework and other people will answer it for them. The main theme: unethical behaviors does not get punished - for these people, it is most likely downvote is not a punishment.
    – zw324
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 18:47
  • see meta.stackexchange.com/q/152991/147247 Commented May 8, 2013 at 18:48
  • @ZiyaoWei Most of the "homework" questions I have seen always get shunned and closed.
    – TronicZomB
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 18:49
  • @TronicZomB: sometimes not before somebody answered for them. But yeah, probably I just felt too disgusted about the particular question.
    – zw324
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 18:50
  • 14
    The internet is also a cheating tool.
    – Ryan Gates
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 18:51
  • 1
    To be fair just because that question may have been asked in a programming contest how do you know the person who asked the question is involved in the contest?
    – Joe W
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 18:56
  • 3
    @JoeW Well, when they just copy the question text verbatim and don't add anything else to it at all...
    – Servy
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 19:03
  • @JoeW no one implements their own trees outside of contests/school. There is no need to because of the standard libraries in pretty much every major programming language. Also what Servy said.
    – Ryan
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 19:03
  • 1
    While it may be rare there are people out there that will try problems like this on their own in order to get a better understanding of how the problem works.
    – Joe W
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 20:37
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? A Flag to close Questions from ongoing Contest
    – Rob
    Commented Apr 11, 2020 at 17:40

2 Answers 2

  1. Policing this is not our problem.
  2. Policing this is not possible as there are many small contests.
  3. Most people who want to "cheat" on SO are going to post a really bad question (like this one) and get downvoted, closed and deleted right away.
  4. Good, specific questions (not just "solve this problem") we welcome. We only ask "why do you need this" insofar as it makes a better question, but whether it's for homework or professional purposes we welcome good questions.

But most importantly note that if you're trying to catch cheaters, we're kind of a dream come true. Supposing someone did get some code hand-delivered to them on a silver platter, you search for your question, find it on SO, then whichever submissions use the code in question, bam. So I think the bottom line isn't so much that we don't have any legal or technical obligation, so much as that the nature of our open site puts us on the correct side of this issue anyway. Openness FTW.

  • 5
    If they copywrited the question then SO still wouldn't take it down unless they were given a takedown notice by the copywriter holder. It would be easier for the contest holder to simply do some simple searching on their questions to look for possible postings of it here or on forums, as well as searching for sections of any winning answers for places where they may have been taken verbatim from (such as, again SO). If found, they can then disqualify those who posted it or used the code from an answer. This is all pretty standard practice in the academic community.
    – Servy
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 18:54
  • @Servy good points, amended my question.
    – djechlin
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 18:59
  • 2
    Good point on the "dream come true"! Commented May 8, 2013 at 22:01

There is no way of knowing if a question is for a contest or not when it is asked.

Think about it. Unless you know about the contest, it's questions and you happen to find it in the question feed then report / flag, there is no perfect solutions.It's the contest's organizers responsability to make sure such practice is not accepted.

In my opinion, on Stack Overflow, these questions should fall in the range of "Homework question" or "Poor quality question" and be closed as so.

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