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Old 11-22-2008, 08:29 PM   #31
XavierP
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All that should happen is the poster be informed by the first response that their thread is unhelpful and why and then ask for more information. What actually happens is that every single poster does the same thing.

Having a poor title and poor thread is counter-productive. The OP wants a really quick answer and instead has to spend time fleshing out their request, if they do it properly the first time they have a far greater chance of getting the "right" answer in the first response.

And my example, while not a direct quote, is pretty much what a number of these threads look like. And if the OP ever has the problem again, they are pretty much screwed if they want to search for the post - how many posts do you think are up on the boards with a title of "help me"? I tried to search and received this:
Quote:
1. Sorry - no matches. Please try some different terms.

The following words are either very common, too long, or too short and were not included in your search : Help, Me
This goes to show exactly how helpful those titles really are.
 
Old 11-23-2008, 08:00 AM   #32
aus9
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Hi

I admit I am sometimes unethical according to the OP.

Let me try to explain why. We sometimes get MS users posting questions here...ok some Q may relate to homework and they are lazy....err I have never been lazy...wrong....we are humans...so like a slut...I try to hook that poster....if he/she gets an answer....even a good answer..they may compare it to the ms world and think....linux ppl are nice...not suggesting I am cute...just trying a line of thought.

The thing I find disturbing is the notion that academic types do not bullshit on their cvs, because they may have higher ethics. (Not that that was suggested by anyone...but is my wild inference.)


(2) The rule allegedly breached is
Do not expect LQ members to do your homework - you will learn much more by doing it yourself.

Well, they can post a question and craft the words in such a way, that it appears not to be a homework question. Are we to challenge posters...pls declare this is NOT a homework question.

Where has ethics got us there?

3) Do not expect...but if you get it...it would be appreciated. I do note that ppl have used mobile phones to cheat during exams and such....but if mods really want no cheating they might need to couch the terms more strongly...I failed uni (does it show? heh heh) but I could argue the rule is not water tight.
 
Old 11-23-2008, 09:34 AM   #33
XavierP
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The rules aren't watertight, by design. If someone comes in with an obvious copy/paste then they deserve to be challenged. If they ask the question, show their workings and ask us to show where they may need more work, then I say they should be helped. The first one wants us to do all the work and the second needs pointers on a particular area.

I treat homework questions here the same as I would in real life: if you can show me that you are prepared to do the work yourself I will help you.
 
Old 11-23-2008, 10:32 AM   #34
H_TeXMeX_H
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XavierP View Post
I treat homework questions here the same as I would in real life: if you can show me that you are prepared to do the work yourself I will help you.
Exactly. I think this applies not only to homework, but to all posts. If you are prepared to work to fix your problem, then you should be helped. If you expect me to do all your work or to try to figure out what your problem even is, because you don't take the time to spell things right or to write something coherent or even a decent tile on what it's about, then I won't bother.
 
Old 11-23-2008, 11:49 AM   #35
brianL
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In other words, to be brief: use LinuxQuestions as a last resort.
 
Old 11-23-2008, 12:03 PM   #36
H_TeXMeX_H
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianL View Post
In other words, to be brief: use LinuxQuestions as a last resort.
Well, no not really. More like: Don't ask questions that can otherwise be answered more quickly and efficiently by google. And if you do ask questions, at least put some effort into making yourself understood and showing that you care about your problem and you will work with us to fix it.
 
Old 11-23-2008, 12:50 PM   #37
brianL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H_TeXMeX_H View Post
Well, no not really. More like: Don't ask questions that can otherwise be answered more quickly and efficiently by google. And if you do ask questions, at least put some effort into making yourself understood and showing that you care about your problem and you will work with us to fix it.
Yes, that's better. Polite and to the point, as it should be.
 
Old 11-23-2008, 02:32 PM   #38
onebuck
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Hi,

I would inject into this discussion that our society here in the U.S. has become lax in the ethics or morality area. Not just in academics but overall. Most people do want the easy way to a solution be it GNU/Linux or fixing anything for that matter. Heck we have become a throwaway society. This current recession will change a lot of that and may get some people to change.

I've got family that are in the market as traders on the floor, you should hear some of the stories. Now the ones I've heard were very borderline ethically.

I've seen ethics problems in the computer industry as well but if you continue to long then your industry contributions will be limited or exterminated.
 
Old 11-23-2008, 03:05 PM   #39
onebuck
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Hi,
Quote:
Originally Posted by aus9 View Post
Hi

I admit I am sometimes unethical according to the OP.

Let me try to explain why. We sometimes get MS users posting questions here...ok some Q may relate to homework and they are lazy....err I have never been lazy...wrong....we are humans...so like a slut...I try to hook that poster....if he/she gets an answer....even a good answer..they may compare it to the ms world and think....linux ppl are nice...not suggesting I am cute...just trying a line of thought.

The thing I find disturbing is the notion that academic types do not bullshit on their cvs, because they may have higher ethics. (Not that that was suggested by anyone...but is my wild inference.)


(2) The rule allegedly breached is
Do not expect LQ members to do your homework - you will learn much more by doing it yourself.

Well, they can post a question and craft the words in such a way, that it appears not to be a homework question. Are we to challenge posters...pls declare this is NOT a homework question.

Where has ethics got us there?

3) Do not expect...but if you get it...it would be appreciated. I do note that ppl have used mobile phones to cheat during exams and such....but if mods really want no cheating they might need to couch the terms more strongly...I failed uni (does it show? heh heh) but I could argue the rule is not water tight.
Your points are interesting; the one with the hooking could be a means but not a solution to getting a student or poster to perform. The enticing part is a means that we do use but in subliminal mode by peaking interest. By moving the student to a area that they understand then progress into the area of question. In a sense the same as hooking one as you state but more alignment to the students understanding. Sometimes we as teachers must dumb down ourselves so we can present information to the individual that is understandable. Then build on from there.

I think a lot of the LQ forum members can see homework be it masked in any form. Even then one can always reference to online information an proceed from there.

I feel our mods do a great job here on LQ. Their participation proves their dedication to the quality here on LQ. We do a lot of self monitoring to assist but as I stated personalities are involved.
 
Old 11-23-2008, 03:55 PM   #40
ErV
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onebuck View Post
I don't understand why fellow LQ members don't see the problem when they answer such posts/threads with answers that will intern be used by the poster. Examples are good but the poster should perform some effort on his/her part and not plagiarize.
I try not to give direct answers to "homeworks".
To my opinion, person that writes answer, should get reward. Reward normally means:
1) Feeling good because you helped this nice guy/girl.
2) Feeling good because problem was challenging.
3) Being thanked. I.e. if you solve challenging problem and OP won't truly appreciate your effort, this will enrage you.
4) Getting paid for that.
Helping lazy people that doesn't appreciate your effort really spoils the mood. So for "homeworks" #1, #2 and #3 doesn't not apply, and #4 is forbidden by rules. This means that all "homeworkers" should be sent to... google it.
 
Old 12-04-2008, 10:02 PM   #41
Simon Bridge
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And thus the advise link in my sig.

Reading through this leaves me with some muses. Much of what is covered here gets re-hashed quite a bit. It is useful to revisit these themes, however, since it is too easy for basic principles to lose relevance. Turning over the whole mud-heap occasionally is how we find out if we are still on-track.

FWIW: Here is my take:

The importance of the title
- as well as the attitude suggested by the title, there is another issue. Community.

A question well answered will serve a great many questioners - which is why we recommend searching the forum for past answers. However, a poor title tends to put the thread well down the hit list. So, the work done producing a good reply will be largely wasted... it is better to expend effort helping many than just helping one.

It would be nice if it were easier for the OP to edit the title...

These days it is not so much of an issue since LQ now has more functionality. Experienced users know not only to use a good title, but to summarise the details in the first few lines so they show up in the mouse-over.

I don't really mind someone indicating the solution is time-critical in the title. That way, if I don't think I can provide timely assistance I can move on and no harm done. If the rest of the post is well written, then it is very forgivable.

However, if poor posts marked urgent do not get ragged, then every post will become "urgent" just because nobody wants to wait for a reply. Hence the observation: "every post is urgent".

The psychology of poor posting:
The usual first response is to ask for more information. When you are a poster, it is a sign of intellegence to try to anticipate that request. Yet we keep getting "Firefox is acting funny, can anyone help with this?" style requests.

What the poster is doing, is usual for face-to-face social interactions. It's how you approach the office guru. The approach opens a negotiation - "Please take charge," it says, "tell me what to say next". It also gives the guru a chance to change tracks.

If the person addressed retorts: "That's pretty vague, just get to the point" then there will be justified upset. "I thought you were here to help?"

Similarly, if you approach with an immediate run-down of your situation, that would be rude.

In short, the bad posts are motivated by wanting, usually subconsciously, to be polite. The rules of "polite" in a tech forum are the inverse of those in social situations. Therefore: it will take a while to learn that.

The importance of the reply:
I'll weigh in with those who point out that a poor post should only be ragged the once. Supporting comment is needed if OP cannot believe the ragging is justified - though I prefer to discommode a moderator to do this as a "reality check": "am I being unreasonable?"

Similarly, while it is good that you can contribute to a thread, it is better to make sure it is a genuine contribution. Does your reply add to what has already been said? If not, then your time is probably better spent elsewhere.

What is interesting about zero-charge tech support, however, is that you get to give the client the advise they need rather than the advise they are looking for. A luxury you don't usually have when you are being paid. Which is why, when someone wants to install spyware or unsecure their servers, we can tell them not to do that and why not.

The ethical answer:
(Approaching the original topic ...)

Since we are not being paid, and we have a community to nurture, it is useful to consider the ethics specific to this situation.

Our replies do need to be honest and generous. We may suspect something smells but should keep our cool and act as though the poster is merely confused. Establish motivation - sure - but ask neutrally phrased questions before voicing suspicions.

I have even seen very suspicious, evasive questions being in fact due to the user not realizing that their "pirate" copy of GNU/Linux is actually legal. Then I get to give them the good news

We need not restrict answers to the question asked. In fact, we have a duty to address the meta-questions implied in the post. When someone wants to enable restricted media playback, we can tell them how - usually direct to a post explaining this - but also point out the implications of this, and that they do not need these codecs for most uses.

This should be fair even if you are not a free-software activist, since the question usually means that OP has misunderstood something about media formats. You are answering the meta-question: "how do these formats fit in with GNU/Linux?"

This also benefits others who search to the thread later. They may not have the same priorities as the OP.

This is why the most useful questions tell of instructions followed and still the desired result is elusive. We get to examine the meta-problem of why the first instructions didn't work for this user, educate the user about how to read the documentation, and also learn how to improve our own answering styles.

Adressing the meta-questions con be highly rewarding.

Homework:
... this is something I have ambivalence about. Most of the issues have been hashed out previous - however, since there are quite a few academics reading this, I'd like to weigh in with the other side to the issue: how to set homework.

One should be setting homework in the context of the resources available to the student. This can eliminate cheating entirely.

Consider - Eng-Lit: Shakespear (a class I got to teach for a very short time) It is very common to set an essay question as a homework assignment. A great deal of effort is spent to try to detect when students are copying an essay from another source - like the internet. But I wanted to use this resource. I set the essay as follows: find at least two essays on <standard topic> from any source which hold different points of view. Explain the points of view, compare them in the context of the class notes, and draw your own conclusions.

Now - "cheating" is part of the assignment. The analysis will give me a good idea who has understood the course (and how the course is understood - providing an assessment of the course itself) much better than the usual half-rushed essay, and they are more interesting to mark.

This approach can be modified to account for using the assignment over many years.

Simple exercizes, like "create a file with 1000 lines" are not appropriate as assessed homework questions at all. They are more useful as tutorial exercizes, in a controlled environment. They tell you, as the educator, where the student is up to in the coursework.

As academics, we are supposed to be smart!

Homework Replies
or: Be there. Be brief. Be gone.

I disagree that one should just ignore the homework requests. Each should be evaluated on their merits - but beyond that, there is a meta-question to be addressed. OP is telling us that they do not understand the academic process in some important way. Also, that they do not understand what we do here. A caring community will provide such a person with the opportunity to come more on-side. If they do not agree with the communities ethics, they will leave anyway. At least, this way, they will know why they are leaving.

About GNU:
Someone must mention the GNU. They are brown and have horns.

Saying GNU/Linux instead of just Linux is not just credit or accuracy. It tells people you that you care about the "freedom" side of FOSS as well, so us Free Software folk can identify each other. It also prompts a question "what does that GNU mean" from those people who are ready for the Message. Then you get to explain. It doesn't cost much, though there is great potential gain, and it is totally un-un-your-face and non-preachy.

Last edited by Simon Bridge; 12-04-2008 at 10:19 PM.
 
Old 12-05-2008, 03:05 PM   #42
onebuck
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Hi,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Bridge View Post
<snip>

Homework:
... this is something I have ambivalence about. Most of the issues have been hashed out previous - however, since there are quite a few academics reading this, I'd like to weigh in with the other side to the issue: how to set homework.

One should be setting homework in the context of the resources available to the student. This can eliminate cheating entirely.

<snip>
Quote:
I disagree that one should just ignore the homework requests. Each should be evaluated on their merits - but beyond that, there is a meta-question to be addressed. OP is telling us that they do not understand the academic process in some important way. Also, that they do not understand what we do here. A caring community will provide such a person with the opportunity to come more on-side. If they do not agree with the communities ethics, they will leave anyway. At least, this way, they will know why they are leaving.
The setting of homework is the problem. The student should inquire or present his/her questions to the instructor. That way the loop is closed, student<->teacher not teacher<-> student<-LQ. If the student has weak points then the instructor can adapt so as to assist the student therefore performing his/her responsibilities to the student. We are talking about cheating here not about a student who attempts to perform the assignment an fears the completion is not proper. Still that student should present his/her solutions to the instructor for evaluation not LQ forums or the www.

Yes, as instructors we should be smart but in todays society students are not always honest with us nor themselves. Plagiarizing has become a www art form, especially with other means of cheating. One must stay one step ahead of the methods so a good education experience can be given to the student. Please don't misunderstand me, not all students cheat but the number is growing daily. I don't want someone who cheats to get a degree/education performing tasks that could cause harm in any form. Monetarily, physically or even emotional damage can be caused by someone who cheats, cuts corners or flat out doesn't have a ethical backbone. The easy way is not always the way!

Quote:
About GNU:
Someone must mention the GNU. They are brown and have horns.

Saying GNU/Linux instead of just Linux is not just credit or accuracy. It tells people you that you care about the "freedom" side of FOSS as well, so us Free Software folk can identify each other. It also prompts a question "what does that GNU mean" from those people who are ready for the Message. Then you get to explain. It doesn't cost much, though there is great potential gain, and it is totally un-un-your-face and non-preachy.
I like the GNU/Linux example but I would add that GNU are brown, with holves and have large horns. Best barbecued over slow wood fire!
 
Old 12-05-2008, 09:30 PM   #43
Simon Bridge
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And - we all have our own comfort zones, where we want to teach. To a great extent, learning, in a tertiary institution, is up to the student. Nobody is making them turn up.

We also have research to complete, and grants to compete for, outside of lecturing. We've come a long way from our origins where classes consisted of students taking turns reading from the course notes (and thus the British term "reading" a paper.) Still, the old problem of how to get students to want to learn remains mostly unsolved.

Some students approach their peers because they feel that is more freindly than approaching the hoary old lecturer. This is also what TAs are for. However, you are correct in that many students are just shopping for a quick fix.

That's the same for any question in LQ though. We should not be providing off-the-shelf solutions anyway. Instead, we should be encouraging the poster to learn and grow. Which I why I spent so much text on "the meta-problem". That puts homework questions on the same footing as any LQ post.

BTW: when my sig got bigger than most of my posts - I decided that there was something wrong, and culled it to what has proved effective. Perhaps that's just me?

Last edited by Simon Bridge; 12-05-2008 at 09:32 PM.
 
Old 12-06-2008, 07:30 AM   #44
onebuck
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Hi,

There's nothing wrong with having a TA or LA. But the burden is still on the instructor. A personal relationship with the class still beats isolation via assistants. Too many assistants are not really that versed in instructions, most are in training therefore their experience is limited.

My biggest argument with academia is that we tend to fall into what you stated as 'comfort zone'. I think most should be required to work within the industry that one is specialized in over the years. The real world is lot different than the academics!

Open doors do help everyone no matter the field. At LQ if we restrict ourselves or how we communicate when addressing problems or questions then yes the poster will seek else where. It's just that the poster should be responsible in the content or manner of the post for direct homework questions. The filtering of homework by a poster so as to seem to be efficient does no one any favors.

My point is that a lot of people that I communicate with here on LQ are given a door to open by the Links or referrals that are made. Sometimes direct or complete information is warranted but this does depend on the style or content of the post.

Some just don't know nor understand that you must read for understanding. If you cannot break something down into the simplest terms then difficulties will arise. I don't care if it's a GNU/Linux problem or a diagnosis of how a 'Rube Goldberg machine' should be functioning. Breaking the problem down will be the best thing for one to understand what is actually going on at the time.
 
  


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