Should we be answering people's homeworks?

At intervals, posts appear on discuss that look like they’re students trying to get us to solve their homeworks for them. Should we have a policy against such postings and should we be refusing to answer?

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There is a similar issue on StackOverflow, where some number of students just transcribe their homework assignment and hope for someone to code it up. The policy is to ask them to show their code instead and explain why it’s not working.

So, I try to explain things and find errors without actually coding up an answer. I think this is all to the good for creating a good (and educational) experience with OCaml for students. I wouldn’t personally propose forbidding such posts as long as the replies are careful.


Given that we almost always can identify homework questions by how a post is laid out, I agree with @jeffsco in that we should strive to help without giving away the exact code.

OCaml is still not as popular as Java or Python which have abundant online community resources available, so them putting questions here perhaps was a last resort. We certainly wouldn’t want them to hate the language (or the paradigm) because of how hard it is to get explanations of things.

For what its worth, in the past i’ve usually helped by pointing out the relevant sections of the OCaml manual, instead of straight up solving a homework problem. I don’t know if that is the best approach to the situation but my reasoning was to help them discover a process of looking for resources, and asking the right questions, as opposed to “give me the answer to this problem statement”