...if I was a homework cheater, I would applaud an approach like that...

I'm for deletion if not improved in a reasonable timeframe.
But minutes after closure is, I think, too speedy.
I tend to give a few hours, a day tops, or recent activity on the site with no edits made...

...because, you see, few hours of just staying there would be good enough already for my purpose.

I would applaud it, enjoy it, exploit it.

More, I would brag about my successful recipe at "forums", sharing it with cheaters like me and helping them find a way to a promised land:

  1. Create a throwaway account at Programmers.
  2. Dump your homework.
    it's quite likely that you'll find a kind soul or two around to help
  3. Keep squeezing solution details in question comments until it's deleted.
  4. If you're lucky to get an answer before question gets closed, do the same in answer comments.
  5. If you feel like nobody's paying attention, edit your question: that will bump it and increase chances to attract someone willing to help.
  6. You may probably notice that question is getting funny marks -1, -2, -3... They call it down-votes - don't worry about these, it's all imaginary.
  7. If you notice that you can't ask next question, don't worry. They call it question ban, all you need to circumvent it is to create new throwaway account and repeat above steps.
  8. Only thing to keep in mind is: "don't care how they react; go looking for the one guy that will actually do your homework for you (some people will)".

As a community, what should we do about this approach?

Should we keep current "policy" as highlighted above, or should we consider speedier deletions? Speedier deletions on down-voted questions may lead to the help-vampire hitting the question ban faster, but this can be worked around.

We're here to build a knowledgeable, rewarding community. We're not here to feed the help-vampires or to reward answers on their questions as it merely encourages more of the bad behaviour. How should we balance cleaning out the trash without appearing overly harsh to new community members that may be able to contribute once they learn the ropes?

To those interested in a broader context of above: what is the point to keep this homework dump visible?

  • supplementary reading: Optimizing For Pearls, Not Sand. Site attractive for homework cheaters => off-putting for answerers
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 6:56
  • 3
    I don't care about if its a homework question. If its a good on-topic question that generates useful answers to other programmers, then its fine. Judge the question, not the asker.
    – Rachel
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 21:01
  • @Rachel sorry if it's not noticeable, it was only in the context link: I refer questions that are already closed and voted down - these hardly qualify as "good on-topic". I retagged to make this more prominent
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 3:39

7 Answers 7


Is there really anything we can do?

You said it yourself: the mentality of these users is "don't care how they react; go looking for the one guy that will actually do your homework for you (some people will)".

Somebody like that isn't going to obey any new rules. They aren't going to care about this discussion we're having right now. They aren't going to care that these things hurt the community.

I agree that we should try to solve this problem, but besides doing what we're already trying to do (e.g. guiding comments, down/close vote explanations, help pages, etc.), there aren't many options besides stop giving them help if they aren't going to respect the rules.

I'm a huge advocate of making this the best community that it can be, but you can't create a utopia. If somebody has the "rules are meant to be broken" mentality, you can't force them out of it.


I think it is a non issue.

If the person was going to put that much trouble into an algorithm to work around StackExchange community enforced quality protections then surely they can figure out the simple algorithm to do their homework. Homework answers are generally such that they don't require much intelligence expertise or experience to determine, they almost always require some work on the part of the poster.

TLDR; Too lazy to homework, too lazy to game the StackExchange system.

  • there's not much much trouble into an algorithm to work around really - just copy the 8 simple steps from "forums" and follow these. Compared to doing h/w it's minor
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 4:05

This isn't a complete answer, but I'd like to point out that the question could reasonably be edited to say:

9 Hope your question gets deleted before your instructor finds it. What you don't want is someone who "answers" with some useless guidance that doesn't contain the actual answer, so you still have to do the assignment plus your instructor may find it and be on alert. Also, you don't want an answer that intentionally has something odd in it that would be hard to remove without understanding the problem. If the question doesn't get deleted then your instructor may be able to uniquely match it to your submitted homework.

  • to be totally nice, we would also admit that it's all our fault, not theirs. "Unfortunately, limitations of our Q&A model make speedy deletion the only option to handle homework dumps. Please accept our sincerest apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you."
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 4:17

Seeing as there's been a glut of 1-rep users asking some truly obvious test questions today for some reason, I'd like to offer a new solution:

Add phrasing "including exam/test/homework questions" to the close option for "assistance in writing or debugging existing code".

I think some people don't vote to close as they're a little unsure/not confident about selecting the right option. When its laid out for you - this is not acceptable for the site, it makes it easier to place that close vote.

Help with coding questions falls right under that close category, so I'd like to see the words expanded to explicitly cover it.


If we really wanted to keep homework from being asked here, we would need to depress the supply of well-meaning fools who answer an off-topic question. Make a specific closing reason for "this is somebody's homework", and impose an imaginary point loss for answering a question posed so.

I'm sure there are other means, but the only way to target one kind of psudononyous question-asker is by going after the supply.

Of course, a better answer would be to move the questions and answer to some persistent homework-friendly site, preferably one that stays around long enough for cheaters to possibly be caught. Though I'm not sure that's technically feasible.

  • 1
    I disagree. We want people who are willing to help. To me, we shouldn't be saying "don't answer these kinds of questions". That's kind of hypocritical to the goals of the site, which is to build a knowledgeable community... guide the rule-breakers, and if they don't take the guidance, shoot them down.
    – Dynamic
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 22:42
  • FWIW, I'm not arguing the point; I'm perfectly fine with answering a question that happens to be homework. ("if we... we would" et al.)
    – DougM
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 23:30

Seriously, this is a non-problem.

For every homework dump on this site, we get:

  • Ten fix my code requests
  • Four product recommendations
  • Six unanswerable questions

and a partridge in a pear tree.

We need to focus on those things that are actual problems.

  • this topic is bumped likely because we had two blatant dumps today, likely from classmates or sock-puppets (both about "management finance" - 1 and 2). What is special about h/w cheaters is that the only way to handle them seems to be quick deletion. They stuff their staff into question box no matter what. There is a hope to cut other kinds of inappropriate questions by improving guidance for new users and making it easier for them to understand topics. But h/w cheaters just don't care...
    – gnat
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 17:29
  • "...These people don't care how you react; they're looking for the one guy that will actually do their homework for them (some people will)..." (Programmers.SE and the Summer of Love)
    – gnat
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 17:30
  • 1
    I totally agree with the "quick deletion" part. Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 17:30

One thing that could (at least partially) solve this problem, including problems mentioned in Robert Harvey's answer is to make it a little bit harder to just create an account and ask a question. Make it so that after you have created your account, it will take a few days before you can post anything.

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