Possible duplicate of Can we get a Stack Exchange sandbox?

I'd like to make an assignment for my students to login to a Stack Exchange site, ask a question and upvote a fellow student's question.

Short of my implementing one in-house, is there perhaps a sandbox that we can play in?

  • 5
    Wouldn't the upvote be more worthy/real if someone unknown had given it to them? Mar 8, 2014 at 15:30
  • 7
    Whats the purpose behind the assignment?
    – asheeshr
    Mar 8, 2014 at 15:32
  • 7
    What exactly would that process be teaching a student? How to use an OpenID? How to use a web form?
    – animuson StaffMod
    Mar 8, 2014 at 15:33
  • 5
    From the OP's profile it seems like it would be teaching students how to use Stack Exchange, which would be a commendable thing.
    – Pekka
    Mar 8, 2014 at 15:34
  • 3
    You could install one of the many clones locally and have them play in that. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2267/stack-overflow-clones
    – Bart
    Mar 8, 2014 at 15:38
  • 1
    You could alter the assignment so that they could upvote another question they thought deserved upvoting. But forcing them to ask a question seems rather... forced. Will it be a genuine question where they learn from it, or will they be asking a question for the sake of it, wasting the answerers time?
    – Matt
    Mar 8, 2014 at 15:38
  • 7
    @Matt but they won't be able to upvote with new accounts. Phillip - can you clarify what you want to do? Maybe there's alternative approaches to what you are aiming at.
    – Pekka
    Mar 8, 2014 at 15:39
  • 1
    @Pëkka: Ahaa! Good point ;).
    – Matt
    Mar 8, 2014 at 15:45
  • 5
    What purpose does this assignment serve? Expose them to the SE network, by all means, but allow them to use the site to address their problems when they develop. Mar 8, 2014 at 22:01
  • 3
    Also I don't think instructing them to upvote a fellow student's question is good; we are supposed to upvote based on the questions, not authors.
    – WendiKidd
    Mar 10, 2014 at 0:18
  • I don't think teaching your students to solve their problems by getting someone else to do it for them is a terribly good lesson. Jul 14, 2015 at 22:28
  • 3
    Well, but then they graduate and enter the real world. It's kinda like giving a child a credit card. You don't want to, but eventually they're going to have one, so you may as well show them how to use it responsibly. Jul 15, 2015 at 16:55

2 Answers 2


I don't think there is.

If your goal is to teach students how to interact with a SE site (which is great!), I think the only way to do that is having them actually interact with it. There's no simulator at the moment.

That's of course fraught with uncertainties - if the content they contribute is bad, it's likely to be a bad experience for them as they may get downvoted, closevotes, see unfriendly comments, etc.

New user accounts also have severe limitations in functionality (they can't upvote until they have 15 rep, they can't comment on other people's questions until 50, etc.) that make the mission difficult.

The best way to introduce students to the system might be having them ask a good question (perhaps cross-checked by you before submission). But it may be difficult for a group of students to come up with something that is good, and hasn't been asked to death yet.

If it were my choice, I'd give them an assignment with four options:


  • Ask a question. They should check out the "what can I ask here" guidelines. Offer them to send the question to you first to make sure it's OK. Tell them to stick around to provide clarification, etc.

  • Answer an existing question and earn at least one upvote on the answer. They need to make sure they check out the guidelines on what makes a good answer.

  • or, if they can't come up with either a question or an answer, they should earn 10 reputation points by making five good suggested edits that get accepted. (They should make sure they check out the guidelines of what constitutes a good edit.) Stress that mini-edits correcting a minor thing, while sometimes approved, aren't welcome; an edit is supposed to address all the issues a post has.

  • those who don't find themselves able to do either of these could research the site's guidelines, look at some Meta discussions, and write a couple of paragraphs about how the place works.


Stack exchange for teams is coming soon (currently in beta). It may be possible to use this in the future to create an assignment like this.

  • I signed on as "interested". Thanks for letting me know! Apr 17, 2018 at 20:07

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