Python Forum
Homework and No Effort Questions
Homework and No Effort Questions
This forum is focused on education. It exists to help people learn Python. We don’t exist to solve others’ problems, although that tends to be a happy byproduct of education. You should keep this in mind when writing replies.

Learning is most effective when the learner is making mental effort (see Make It Stick by Mark A. McDaniel and Peter C. Brown or this Youtube video for more about this). Since we are focused on education (learning) it is essential to make sure that the question asker has made some reasonable effort. This pertains to every question asked on the forum, not just homework questions. Ideally, they provide a “Minimal, Reproducible Example” to quote Stackoverflow. It’s reasonable to point them toward that or other links (e.g. Lifehack or catb) which talk about how to ask questions well.

It is highly advised that you do not post the full solution, even if the asker is putting in effort. It is better to use hints with natural language rather than code if at all possible. Only after the author has something complete you may go all out.

Do not post solutions to threads in the homework section or possible homework-related threads elsewhere in which the author does not provide effort. This applies to students and anyone who does not put any effort in. Effort does not include a copy of the assignment or problem needing to be resolved. Effort is not claiming to try everything. They need to show their code. They need to show what they tried in detail. You can show them the help docs such as How to ask smart questions and What to include in a post. Or even this help doc. When they follow these guidelines for a proper thread, they will provide enough information to be able to discern they are cheating/lazy or are confused. You can also create a draft to be posted later on so you can still answer now, but not post it until they show more effort. Be aware that PM/email logs can show when this rule is broken. If you try to bypass around this rule, then you will be banned.

First of all do not get offended for a warning about answering a question in which the author had made no effort. We do this so we can log who is consistently doing it over a period of time. This is so we can increase points or even silence continuing offenders. So do not fret for the first or even the second time.

We are okay with answering an assignment as long as the author is making effort and not using people here to get past their tests without any effort on their part. They must provide effort that they are at least trying. We are not here to get their degree, they need to do it.

How do I determine what is a homework assignment?
Homework questions could reside in the homework forum, but often are posted elsewhere too. Especially until a moderator moves it. Often people will try to hide the fact that they are putting in no effort and the easiest way to do that is to not put it in the homework forum. We have come up with a few methods to identify a homework question. You should be cautious when answering a question of the following:
  • The thread is in the homework forum
  • A mod/admin has warned/posted about the thread being an assignment
  • The author uses phrases such as: homework, assignment, test, teacher/instructor, taking a course, I'm suppose to, I am required, It must be/have, ...with the following conditions, Write a program, The program should, Complete the following, I was tasked, etc.
  • The original post appears like a textbook question in terms of no effort on the author's part other than posting it
  • The post contains a question containing words such as "You" or "We". (You need to do this and that.)
  • The post contains specific or unusual methods for that task at hand. Example: Instead of using the built-in function, they have to build it themselves, etc. (You need to do this task by doing it this way)
  • The author repeats the assignment with rewording of the original post while giving no more effort
  • Where the author has a sense of urgency (they procrastinated and its due soon).
  • The author asks for outside the forum help by giving PM/email/Facebook or any other communication method contact info. This is a means to cheat without leaving a trail publicly.

How do I determine whether a question is no effort or not?
No effort questions can reside anywhere on the forum. The following is a list of common occurrences of those that do not put in effort. Sometimes this may be nullified. But it is on a per occasion basis, based on the situation of why the user cannot code it themselves. And they surely need to explain why. Though all of these may not fully identify no effort on the author, but they are signs to watch out for.
  • The post contains no code of their own
  • The author does not describe various methods they have tried
  • To respond requires pulling teeth to get enough information to answer their question
  • The author does not understand their own code posted as they have copied it from the internet
  • The author tip-toes around doing any work themselves
  • The author asks users to reply with a full working solution instead of an example.
It should be noted that You are free to post in any situation the following. Even if is someone refusing to put in effort, we feel that this is just helping the user find the information they need regardless of their effort given.
  • if there is a single existing built-in function that solves the issue
  • if there is a built-in or 3rd party library that solves the issue, etc.
  • a link or quote of documentation for a function that solves the problem easily
  • if the author requests improvements on their code in which you are not spoiling anything for them

We hope that professors can feel comfortable sending their students here to this forum and entrust us to not allow cheating. We pride ourselves in helping the community learn Python and when you cheat, you only cheat yourself.

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