Policy on homework help

I disagree with closing this thread.
The original question :

*My daughter has a term paper due and she needs to interview three sources (10 questions) about custodial kidnapping. [snip] If any of you can help and are willing to answer 10 questions, please let me know.

**engineer_comp_geek **stated “We don’t allow these types of things here.” and closed the thread.

The policy as quoted by engineer_comp_geek is :
*Please do not ask other members to do your homework or provide input for your article, paper, or other off-board project. *
As far as I can see, the OP did not break that rule. He didn’t request people to assist with the interviews. He didn’t ask for input. He didn’t ask what questions should the interview contain. He didn’t ask for help analysing the replies.

What he did ask for is volunteers willing to *be *interviewed. That is all.

Plenty of people have asked for similar help in the past with no problem. I don’t see any good reason for forbidding this request.

I had the same thought. It would be good to get some insights from the mods on why that thread was closed.

I’m not the one who closed the thread, but my reading of it is that the question constitutes asking for input on either a paper or an off-board project—take your pick. I don’t interpret that rule so narrowly as to only mean asking for specific answers to specific homework questions.

And, as noted in the part of the agreement ECG quoted in the thread, that’s the sort of thing that should get moderator approval before posting, I think.

Playing Lucifer’s Barrister though – threads asking for ideas about something (poisons, cars, guns, whatever) for stories or books they (the poster) are working on are not all that unusual and haven’t included the “I cleared this with the Mods first” caveat. Should those be closed as well? They are also off-board projects in about the same sense. Is the difference how long the poster has been active or is there another difference I’m not seeing or thinking of?

From the rules…
*Please do not ask … members to… provide input for your…paper. *
From the OP linked above.
*We would just need your name, email, place of business and phone number. She could email you the questions. Please help my high schooler!!! *

Clearly inappropriate IMHO.

I see another distinction.

In my mind, there’s a difference between saying, “Hey, let’s all throw some ideas around in this thread for a book I’m working on” versus saying, “I’m soliciting 25 Dopers to each sit down and write a separate chapter of my novel for me.” I’d agree that the former is not uncommon here, and I wouldn’t have any inclination to shut those down. But the latter feels like a different animal, to me, and one that falls under the rule in question.

With all due respect, the request to “interview three sources” hardly equates to “write a separate chapter of my novel for me.” I have done classroom and paid work that involved interviews, and at the very least it entailed collating and summarizing results; in virtually all cases it meant that I had to apply analytic skills to interpret and characterize the findings.

You act like it is a given that anything Dopers say will be cut’n’paste into a paper that will be handed in with no filtering/additional work of any kind by the girl in question. How do you arrive at this conclusion? If you aren’t sure, couldn’t you do the poster the courtesy of asking for clarification?

I don’t think this would work as an official criterion, but a good rule of thumb is, don’t start a thread that’d only be of benefit or interest to yourself (the OP).

Actually, the point of my analogy was not to suggest that no other work was going to be done by the requester in either case. The point was that there’s a difference between something intending to foster discussion here on the board (or that may have such an impact) versus a solicitation to cull people on the board for something completely outside of the board’s universe. I think that, generally, propositions in the latter category end up either in the Marketplace, or are run by the moderation to get approval before posting.

This is also from the Registration Agreement (with my emphases added):

I understand that if the questions are to be e-mailed an e-mail is required, by why would this assignment require the other information in bold? That sounds more like what a scammer or phisher would ask for than a legit student. Purely my opinion, but without a reason for all that it struck me a suspicious.

Yeah, I didn’t see that so much as a “homework is bad” issue as a “don’t spam us with requests for help on outside projects” issue.

I think this more runs afoul of the off board projects rule. We have closed threads in the past in which people were being solicited to participate in interviews, research projects, etc. We ask for mod approval ahead of time for any such projects.

The fact that these interviews are for a homework assignment I think is somewhat incidental to the fact that the person was using the board to find interview subjects. However, the fact that this was the student’s mom trying to drum up participants for her child’s homework assignment does add another problem about using the board to facilitate getting homework done.

It’s a greyish area, the OP knew it was a grey area when the request was made, and the mods should get the benefit of the doubt in such decisions. No harm for asking, no foul for a polite refusal, no reason to have ruffled feathers for anyone.

Discussion will continue, I am sure, but — makes sense to me; and thanks!

I thought it was pretty clearly requesting “input” of the prohibited sort for homework. I can’t think of a more textbook example of a violation of that rule, although I’ve never fully understood the point of the rule.

IIRC, the original OP included a request that only lawyers and law enforcement respond, or something along those lines. So presumably the “place of business” was just so that the daughter can cite them as sources properly.

Would it have been inappropriate if the OP asked “Does anyone on the board know someone that may want to participate?” And if that question is allowed can a member agree to be interviewed?

It clearly was against “the no soliciting for outside projects without permission” part of the rule, and clearly was not against the “no homework questions” part of rule.

With all due respect to **ECG **who I think is a very good moderator in general, that was a terrible way to greet a new poster whose first-ever post happened to run afoul of one of our many, many, rules by accident.

The response:

was curt, unwelcoming, and left the poster feeling understandably resentful and likely never to be seen here again.

Suggested response:

That’s still basically asking for input for an off-board project.

Ah, okay – the point about “it would not be of benefit to the board for general discussion, and that isn’t allowed” makes sense - although the topic of custodial kidnapping surely is interest? We talk about far more arcane topics with great gusto here.

I strongly agree with Crazyhorse’s comments above. No offense to ecg, but terse moderation is worse moderation! If you can’t take an extra 60 seconds to be polite to a newbie, you need to consider whether your time or temperament are really a good fit with mod duties.

You really think we had a new poster? One who wanted to join the board and become a part of the community? From the first post it seemed pretty apparent that we were just one of the “message boards” s/he was contacting for help with a project.
The mods could have given this member a golden key to the unicorn lair, edited the post, blessed it with glitter, and that member would have gone on to other things once the questions were answered.

I think it’s probably a good idea to read the rules before jumping in and posting on a new MB.