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HOMEWORK abounds

by merlyn (Sage)
on Oct 11, 2000 at 22:52 UTC ( #36286=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

OK, it must be that Perl is now being offered in many more institutions this year. And it seems to be just starting the homework season for these courses.

So please beware of answering homework questions. See my previous posting for my feelings on answering them.

I would be suspicious of any non-practical question that was posted by anonmonk for a while.

-- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker

Comment on HOMEWORK abounds
RE: HOMEWORK abounds
by swiftone (Curate) on Oct 11, 2000 at 23:23 UTC
    merlyn advocates full disclosure. Sounds good to me. Here are some more of my less-than-humble thoughts on the matter.

    1. If you suspect something is a homework question, post requesting a clarification. We've had some cases recently where an apparent HW assignment was not actually one. It's very easy to get trigger-happy on the sarcasm and the flamethrowers.
    2. If a post is confirmed to be HW, be gentle. "You can catch more flies with honey". Posting an answer WHY you will not answer a homework is more useful than posting a rant against the poster.
    3. If a post is confirmed HW, but the poster has obviously devoted some real effort to it, be even more gentle. I have respect for the person who says "We were assigned (this), and I tried (this), but it gives me (this). Can anyone explain why?". I have no respect for "How do I do (artificial sounding this)?"

      I definitely agree with point 3. While I can appreciate people's need to sometimes learn thing for themselves, I can remember being new to Perl, and getting stumped by very trivial irritating little problems, that an experienced perl coder could have spotted in an instant.
      To a newbie, perl docs can seem daunting and often make heavy reading. Plus which, may students may not be able to afford a complete set of O'Reilly books, so finding a good source of information to help you tackle problems may be difficult.
      Just to clarify, I am not advocating giving people complete answers to these 'homework' questions, but the posts do seem to fall into 2 categories:

      1. "I'm trying to do (bizzare / simple / fairly obvious operation in perl), and have no idea how to do it. Can someone give me some help?"
        Generally, the poster gives the impression of at least having attemped a problem, broken it down into parts, having got stuck on one of those parts, and asking for help with that part of the problem.(e.g. Bi-directional communication between 2 clients and 1 server over a single socket)
        Such questions sometimes could also just about be legitimate (though only from a fairly naive individual), so I am inclined to give the poster the benefit of the doubt.

      2. "I need to write a perl script to do (something completely pointless, for instance keeping track of what colour your dogs are)."
        Looks like it's been c&p'd straight from a textbook (e.g. Finite Automaton)
        I think we all agree that these kinds of questions don't deserve to be answered.

      Basically, I think it boils down to whether they are using PerlMonks as a source of information, or just as a source of answers.

(d4vis)RE: HOMEWORK abounds
by d4vis (Chaplain) on Oct 11, 2000 at 23:50 UTC
    Two quick points;
    1.
    It occurs to me that there is a significant difference between homework posters asking for a solution and those asking for help. I would have no problem with helping someone with their homework. The difficulty is when they want a perlmonk to do their homework.
    If done correctly, assisting students can be similar to being a tutor at a university lab. Pointing people to the right docs, clarifying a concept, giving them a place to start...all of these are (I think) valid and useful roles that perlmonks can play in educating a new generation of perl users. It only becomes morally questionable when they don't want to put any effort into their end of it.
    Wouldn't you rather that the new coder that comes to work fresh out of Perl class learned his chops from you folks than from some of the Univ. profs I've known?

    2.
    I think we're underestimating the intelligence of their teachers. I know when I TA'ed PolSci I was able to spot plagiarism pretty easily. If you steal Shakespeare and the rest of your writing isn't anywhere near as good, it's the same as a newbie coder putting a beautiful sub directly from merlyn in the middle of all his crappy code. It sticks out like a sore thumb, and any prof worth his salt will spot it.

    If you giva a man a fish, he'll eat for a day.
    If you tell him to go to the library or buy a book on fishing, he'll ask for another fish tomorrow.

    ~d4vis the scribe
    #!/usr/bin/fnord

      I must say that I agree with point 1. Taken from a reality based standpoint, you've got to figure that within 2-3 years these Anonymous Monks are going to be out in the world (if not sooner). And while it's not a good idea to do someone's homework for them, we'd be remiss not to aid up-and-comers with "good perl coding" practices. Please avoid the obvious desire to rant about who's got good perl coding practices.

      Thusly, I am giving a ++ to let other monks know that I think we should all be helpful, but not to the point of neglecting our own responsibilities. Of course, this seems to be the sentiment of most of the respectable monks around here anyway.

      ALL HAIL BRAK!!!

RE: HOMEWORK abounds
by extremely (Priest) on Oct 12, 2000 at 03:18 UTC

    I'm going to take a page from ctweten and obfusticate the answers. If they are dumb enough to use em the backlash from their teacher should slow em down. =)

    --
    $you = new YOU;
    honk() if $you->love(perl)

RE: HOMEWORK abounds
by Caillte (Friar) on Oct 12, 2000 at 22:42 UTC
    Two things spring to mind

    First, we all needed a little help at the start. Then again, if you need too much, perhaps you are doingthe wrong course.

    Secondly, if they are taking business as well as IT, some of these little little... erm... people will be our bosses in 5 years time ;)

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