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Please Avoid Doing Other People's Homework for Them RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • Contributors:

    Please do not provide copy-paste solutions to questions which are almost certainly homework for a programming course.

    That is the opposite of helpful to the entire community.

    How do you know when a thread is almost certainly homework?

    1. The user as zero points
    2. The issue would never apply to a real-world programming need
    3. The requirements are given in a step-by-step manner
    4. The requirements include inefficient mechanisms

    Also, teaching someone the fundamentals of debugging can be of great value to those who are truly trying to learn how to write code in VB.Net.  Here is a link you can reference in threads where simple debugging will likely lead the OP to their own solution:

    https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/visualstudio/debugger/navigating-through-code-with-the-debugger


    Reed Kimble - "When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all"


    Thursday, May 10, 2018 11:52 AM
    Moderator

All replies

  • And along similar lines, there are many "how to" questions that are nothing more than a list of specifications.  The OP does not post any code showing how they tried to achieve the objective, or specific problems that they encountered in their attempts, if any were actually made.  As these threads progress they often follow a common pattern.  Suggested code solutions are met with "I tried your solution but it didn't work because..." or additional specifications are provided.  And then another round of postings with additional coding solutions are made.  The cycle repeats until the OP has achieved the unstated objective of getting other people to do their work.  Just my opinion, of course.
    Thursday, May 10, 2018 12:18 PM
  • This is also a valid point.

    There is nothing wrong with asking the original poster (OP) to show the work they have done based on the suggestions thus far, and ending your contributions if they refuse to do so.

    The same goes for suspected homework.  It is perfectly acceptable to ask if the question is homework related and to drop out of the thread if the OP refuses to answer in an acceptable manner.


    Reed Kimble - "When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all"

    Thursday, May 10, 2018 12:32 PM
    Moderator
  • This seems to be the standard across many forums, and on some it is even extended to not show solutions to other professionals.

    My opinion about homework is slightly different, and based on how I learn and a set of assumptions I have.

    Who are the students asking for help.  I would broadly categorize them into two groups.  One being non IT majors that have to take a programming class or have chosen it as an elective.  The other are the people that will have all of our jobs in the coming years.  In fairness the groups are more likely the ones that want to know how to program and those that don't.

    Before I go on let me say that I learn by seeing and inspecting.  I learned what I know about XML because of some great examples and hours of debugging and reading about what I was using.  I am prejudiced towards this type of learning.  Other people learn differently.

    So back to our two groups, those that don't and those that do care.

    We have all seen those that don't ask questions.  They are pretty easy to spot.  They have little to no code to show, and what they do is bad.  So why not just give them the code so they go away?  No amount of preaching or cajoling is going to make them programmers so why not?  If they turn it in and the instructor accepts it more power to them.  Maybe the instructor is doing their job and making the student explain the code.

    Then there is the other group.  Honestly this is the only group I care about.  Here I feel strongly both ways.  If it is clear that they are trying, and we are 20 posts in why not give them the solution.  They might be me and are going to take that code, inspect it, research the tools, and most telling, ask further questions. 

    I take heat sometimes for posting solutions.  Hopefully this explains my reasoning.


    "Those who use Application.DoEvents() have no idea what it does and those who know what it does never use it."

    - from former MSDN User JohnWein

    SerialPort Info

    Multics - An OS ahead of its time.

    Tuesday, May 22, 2018 1:10 PM
  • You're right, this is a sticky issue.  I too learned everything by example and reading documentation.  What bothers me though is helping someone pass a class when they really have no idea what they are doing... in those cases, failure is the correct answer.

    I think that if there has been genuine feedback from the OP, and you are "20 posts in" then providing a working solution is OK.  As you say, it shows that the OP is invested.

    The main thing we want to avoid is posting a working solution as the first reply.  I think that is the scenario where we are potentially doing more harm than good.


    Reed Kimble - "When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all"

    Tuesday, May 22, 2018 2:10 PM
    Moderator
  • You're right, this is a sticky issue.  I too learned everything by example and reading documentation.  What bothers me though is helping someone pass a class when they really have no idea what they are doing... in those cases, failure is the correct answer.

    I think that if there has been genuine feedback from the OP, and you are "20 posts in" then providing a working solution is OK.  As you say, it shows that the OP is invested.

    The main thing we want to avoid is posting a working solution as the first reply.  I think that is the scenario where we are potentially doing more harm than good.


    Reed Kimble - "When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all"

    We agree about those people that show real effort.

    The other group I tend not to bother with.  It can be amusing to watch those threads and especially watch Cor go off on them.  (that is just mean, I know)


    "Those who use Application.DoEvents() have no idea what it does and those who know what it does never use it."

    - from former MSDN User JohnWein

    SerialPort Info

    Multics - An OS ahead of its time.

    Tuesday, May 22, 2018 2:20 PM
  • While I mostly hang out on one of those other language forums, this is always tough figuring out how far to go. But the major thing that I do is make sure that any code samples I provide will just not compile as is. Or if they compile, then they will fail at runtime.

    The most common thing I do is only provide partial code implementations, so only give the relevant parts of the code, but have comments for the rest:

    //C++, sorry
    class myclass
    {
        //other stuff here
        int variable; //you need to add this
        //other stuff here
    };

    or

    myfunction(parameter1, /*rest of the parameters*/);

    This makes it so they have to think about how to implement things. But even this can go wrong. After posting on these forums for about 13 years, I still haven't found a good way to do this all the time.

    I would also do my best not to provide a full code solution because while you may persuade the current poster to work towards understanding this, these forums are searchable, and a lot of courses don't vary the problems that much.


    This is a signature. Any samples given are not meant to have error checking or show best practices. They are meant to just illustrate a point. I may also give inefficient code or introduce some problems to discourage copy/paste coding. This is because the major point of my posts is to aid in the learning process.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2018 9:54 AM
  • The purpose is not to tell students not to ask questions. The more the better. The purpose is to avoid that contributors give the fish in the format of code instead of teaching to fish in the format of explanations. 

    Success
    Cor



    This is the assumption that I alluded to.  If you learn with detailed explanations then your statement is correct.  But some of us do better, especially initially with a chunk of code to debug.  We can provide answers that are both.

    Both of these approaches only matter if the person asking really wants to learn, if they are a lot like us.


    "Those who use Application.DoEvents() have no idea what it does and those who know what it does never use it."

    - from former MSDN User JohnWein

    SerialPort Info

    Multics - An OS ahead of its time.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2018 1:06 PM
  • I have observed that those who ask "homework" questions often do not attempt to debug their own code using the Visual Studio debugger.   They just observe that the code did not produce expected results or simply that it "crashed".  For those situations I believe that greater benefit can be achieved by guiding the individual to use the debugger, giving hints and asking targeted questions about the results of their debugging efforts to solve the problem and produce code that achieves objectives.  Simply providing a code solution for "homework" questions has diminished pedagogical value.
    Wednesday, May 23, 2018 1:25 PM
  • @RLWA32:

    Excellent point!  I've updated the root post to reflect this.  Thanks!


    Reed Kimble - "When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all"

    Wednesday, May 23, 2018 1:32 PM
    Moderator
  •  I've updated the root post to reflect this.

    Reed,

    Please try to avoid that. I've seen stickies which became at the end completely passing the point because all kind of changes.

    That was why I asked you to set your original post.

    It was clean so everybody could read it in a flash. 


    Success
    Cor


    Did you look at what he did?  Seems fine to me and does not suffer bloat to the point that it isn't useful.

    "Those who use Application.DoEvents() have no idea what it does and those who know what it does never use it."

    - from former MSDN User JohnWein

    SerialPort Info

    Multics - An OS ahead of its time.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2018 2:19 PM
  •  I've updated the root post to reflect this.

    Reed,

    Please try to avoid that. I've seen stickies which became at the end completely passing the point because all kind of changes.

    That was why I asked you to set your original post.

    It was clean so everybody could read it in a flash. 


    Success
    Cor


    No need to worry or continue down this line of conversation.  I have no intention of continuing to add to the post.  That one piece of additional information seemed relevant, valuable and worth the addition.

    Reed Kimble - "When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all"

    Wednesday, May 23, 2018 3:52 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi

    The one thing that we (respondents) can do is to insist that the poster shows code they have tried so far, and if no code is forthcoming, to not show any code in replies.

    If we all held to that, then I believe it would help a lot in avoiding the copy/paste solutions.


    Regards Les, Livingston, Scotland

    Wednesday, May 23, 2018 4:12 PM
  • I try to do the same. I want the person to understand the code and adapt it to their requirements. That's simply a necessary part of the learning process if you are software developer.

    I don't like to provide complete solutions, although you have to walk a fine line at times for beginners.


    Paul ~~~~ Microsoft MVP (Visual Basic)

    Wednesday, May 23, 2018 4:30 PM
  • I try to do the same. I want the person to understand the code and adapt it to their requirements. That's simply a necessary part of the learning process if you are software developer.

    I don't like to provide complete solutions, although you have to walk a fine line at times for beginners.


    Paul ~~~~ Microsoft MVP (Visual Basic)


    For that group of questioners that seem to want to understand we are all making assumptions about how they learn.  On a case by case basis it is unlikely that all of those assumptions are correct.  My hope is that any code provided, whether it is a complete solution or a snippet, is completely understood by the questioner.  Since my internet telepathy has been broken for a long time I assume they are like me, right or wrong.

    "Those who use Application.DoEvents() have no idea what it does and those who know what it does never use it."

    - from former MSDN User JohnWein

    SerialPort Info

    Multics - An OS ahead of its time.


    • Edited by dbasnett Wednesday, May 23, 2018 4:50 PM
    Wednesday, May 23, 2018 4:49 PM
  • Dear Mr. Kimble, 

    I am currently coding a Simple Calculator in Visual Studio 2015. It told me that there were build errors but no errors show up in the error list every time I try to run the form. How can I fix this?

    Sunday, October 7, 2018 5:11 PM
  • Hi

    I wont answer your question as you have specifically asked for Mr Kimble. However, I will point out that your question is not relevant to this thread. You should start a new thread.

    Please re-read your question and ask yourself - is there sufficient information there for someone else to understand the issue and offer an answer. Answer = there is not! I would suggest you show the exact error message, and, post your code(in a code block) - all in a new thread with a descriptive title.


    Regards Les, Livingston, Scotland

    Sunday, October 7, 2018 5:26 PM
  • Dear Mr. Kimble, 

    I am currently coding a Simple Calculator in Visual Studio 2015. It told me that there were build errors but no errors show up in the error list every time I try to run the form. How can I fix this?

    Welcome.  These are public forums and are visited by many people who are happy to give their time and expertise without compensation in order to help others.

    Addressing a question to a single person by name can be interpreted to mean that you are not interested in receiving assistance from anyone other than the named person.  Just something to keep in mind for the future.

    Sunday, October 7, 2018 5:47 PM
  • Dear Mr. Kimble, 

    I am currently coding a Simple Calculator in Visual Studio 2015. It told me that there were build errors but no errors show up in the error list every time I try to run the form. How can I fix this?

    Welcome.  These are public forums and are visited by many people who are happy to give their time and expertise without compensation in order to help others.

    Addressing a question to a single person by name can be interpreted to mean that you are not interested in receiving assistance from anyone other than the named person.  Just something to keep in mind for the future.

    Dear madam RLWA32, 

    Reed and I've never been friends. However, I've always respected the knowledge of Reed. When I as MVP from the newsgroups became active in these forums, Reed and I had seldom the same intentions. I was a long time MVP and Reed did want to become that. 

    Before he became an MVP Reed was desperately trying to show his knowledge. There was for me no need for that. In those days, Microsoft MVP did mean something, currently you can better be a MPV of the local stamp collectors club. I hope Reed got a decent job. I wish that also to Karen by the way, she deserves it, but I'm not from the American culture so maybe that is a handicap. 

    Others than me had the same intention in these forums. Yea a different approach, I tried to help to those who want to learn to develop. 



    Success
    Cor


    • Edited by Cor Ligthert Saturday, February 2, 2019 10:55 PM
    Saturday, February 2, 2019 9:52 PM
  • Hi

    Welcome back Cor :)


    Regards Les, Livingston, Scotland

    Saturday, February 2, 2019 9:57 PM
  • Hi Les, 

    You don't know what for us Europeans obscure web-browsers you need to access Microsoft currently. 

    However, I do not see points of you. 

    Not that I'm interested in that, but to honour Reed. 


    Success
    Cor

    Saturday, February 2, 2019 10:06 PM
  • I tried it again, but Microsoft seems to want no customers, I got a code, but that does not fit. This is in fact a spying NSA USA browser I don't want to use. 

    Success
    Cor


    • Edited by Cor Ligthert Saturday, February 2, 2019 10:30 PM
    Saturday, February 2, 2019 10:25 PM