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I believe we're not homework machines... should we encourage answers without explanations? what is OS about is what we should but ahead of us once we set out to help people... I suppose. This is not directed to any particular person, just something I was a part of, and besides, some users can be annoying sometimes we just have to deal with it. Do take a look I agree people come here for answers cos they have questions, but what's the point of giving someone some information he's ignorant about...

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If i give him the wrong answer, he won't blame me, he'll blame openstudy for not providing him with the help he needed and even rather made him get that much mistakes in their homework or test or whatever it is they came here to ask a question about...
if my understanding is right, i think openstudy is drifting from a study site, to a Q&A site. I believe our goal is to make students understand concepts of what they don't understand and by the example questions they ask, they can be taught how to go about things, rather than, "I need only the answer" or "just give me the answers" ... it's quite annoying sometimes and sorry to say this but i think openstudy is going down the drain and the older users that realize that leave, but notice that the rate of users leaving is just about the same as the rate of users joining so it's not really being noticed as much of a difference and the growth rate is stagnant. it's not the quantity of new products u make, it's about maintaining the quality of the product you already have and will purchase buy into it. We need to reexamine ourselves, as openstudy, and as openstudents.
I agree all the way with Saso, some of the users on this site have been becoming demanding of answers and no explanations. I get very annoyed by this, and is part of reason why I stopped helping certain people. I believe that we should have this as a part of our CoC. We need to help students by teaching and explaining the answers, not just giving it to them. I always give an explanation to an answer I give, and some thank me for it, while others run off with the answer, not bothering to look at the explanations I took time to make.

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I agree with sasogeek, too bad there are much more people who don't :/
Yes, I agree with saso. I believe we need to develop some sort of rule system to deal with this issue. There have been a few times when this has caused friction between askers and answers who are trying to help. I'm annoyed because I feel I can't respond to this issue as it isn't in the code of conduct and so I feel that I can't tell people off for just giving answers. Maybe this should be a new addition to the code?
I absolutely agree with this sentiment as well. It's certainly not the first time I have seen it come up.
Part of the problem (and a small part at that) is that while we do still have a fair amount of good answerers (teachers as I prefer to refer to them whether they are a credentialed teacher or not) they cannot be everywhere at once and often cannot get their very good and thorough answers and explanations posted before someone else comes along and just blurts out the answer. Saso's link in his question is a good example. While he was trying to convince the user that she should seek understanding to ensure her answers were correct, others were pouring in providing the answers with no explanation. I know that we have discussing this at length in both the feedback group and in yammer and it's a hard nut to crack. As has been stated in previous discussions on this topic, it seems the best we can do is continue providing quality answers and understanding when and where we can, but saso also makes a good point in that some quality teachers maybe being lost due to frustration. Now, I don't know how much truth there is to this statement, not do I know the frequency which which this atrophy occurs (if at all), but if we were to assume that there is some truth to this and even if the atrophy was a low ratio, say 1%, it is plain to see that before long OS would be nothing more than an answer station with askers only looking to cheat and answerers will to facilitate this. I do not think that OS will ever lose all of its teachers because I for one, while annoyed at the situation, will not allow this to deter me from doing what I feel is my responsibility on this site, nor will I allow it to drive me away. Because I know that even if I help a few people, those users will walk away with something that they will never get from those providing the quick cheat. I also believe that this is a resolvable problem that if we keep working at it and discussing it we WILL find a solution, if not in full, at least in part, to this problem. There are some things that we can look at possibly implementing: 1. Teachers on this site generally have a higher rank. Some teachers don't but it seems that for the most part each group has at least one teacher with group leader privileges meaning they can delete answers. These teacher could potentially be given the "okay" to delete the flat-out cheated answers. As long as the CoC outlines that cheating is not allowed there should not be too much flak from doing this. Sure some users, both askers and answerers are going to get bent out of shape and not want to come here, but if you think about it this is in line with our goal anyway. That is to facilitate a community of learning rather than cheating. If the cheaters go away so be it, but I don't think that all of them will. I think that many will come to realize what this site is about. I think that is actually another small part to this problem in that many new users are not aware of this vision. 2. Make it much clearer not just through the CoC, but through chat, cheap/free ads, and other verbiage used on the site EXACTLY what we look to promote here. Make it clear that if they are only looking for the answers to their homework that this is the wrong site for that; making it clear that we look to help and convey understanding to the questions asked without necessarily providing the answer to the question; that after coming here, they should not have to ask the same or similar question again because they will understand how to figure it out themselves. 3. Whenever possible, let people know by word of mouth, chat, or other means what this community is about. If we can spread it virally, it should not be a big task to inform all the current users what we want to do. Overall, this is a tall order; a big task taken all at once, but if we can have a few small initiatives at a time. I think we can eventually get to where we want to be. Sorry for the long post, but this is a very big topic with a lot to be said about it and I'm certain that we will have much more discussion on this before we make much headway. Thanks to those that actually read to the end of this post.
that certainly was a long reply but definitely worth reading, I like your suggestions and I believe we can start from there, everything has a starting point, but we have to be clear of what we're about... not just follow the trend the community is turning into :) I appreciate the time and effort you used to make this... well said :)
Jagatuba, you bring up some very good points. I agree it all starts with small changes that we make in order to change the perception of the open study community. "These teacher could potentially be given the "okay" to delete the flat-out cheated answers. As long as the CoC outlines that cheating is not allowed there should not be too much flak from doing this." Yeah, in order to this I do think we need the backing up of the CoC. I know of atleast one case where a teacher has been "warned" for deleting another users cheated answer. This kind of activity just drives away more teachers. It is a hard nut, after all where do we draw the line between cheated answers and just answers? Especially in questions when you just need to describe something to someone. Though right now its annoying that it is limbo, for example if someone is reported for doing it, how are we supposed to respond?
A person answering a question should give reasons for their answers and those reasons can serve as explanations... but of course, questions that only require say ... a definition, you could just go ahead and state it, or give an external resource in addition to the definition... we can't just give answers and say there's a difference between just answers or cheated answers... i believe every choice we make has a reasoning behind it, and we should make whoever needs the answer understand the material we're giving them, even if it's just a definition answer or the like.
I agree with you on principle, I suppose, but implementation of a mechanical system to further these ideals should be considered carefully. The risks of doing so, versus its direct, measurable utility to us. Can we predict any immediate effects of enacting some of these suggestions? I'm particularly bothered by the ability to delete answers. How is the power distributed? Where do we draw the line for "teacher"? What about some of us who come to this site to practice, not to teach? Is that not also a worthy goal? In our current system, the people who come here to learn, learn. The people who come here to cheat, cheat. The people who come here to practice, practice. However, in the revision above, the people who come here to learn, learn. The latter two, however, will be shooed away. And, I say, we should NOT get rid of cheaters at the cost of getting rid of people who want to practice. Also, some parts of this site (meta-math, in particular) are inherently practice-based. There's no tutoring in the common sense; just a bunch of people writing down what they think are the solutions. Now, I don't like to accuse people of abusing power, but given the very skewed distribution of user rankings on this site, how we distribute the ability to delete answers will not only be difficult but potentially a major irritation if done badly. No, I like to think of this site as an open place to study and discuss, not a strict tutor-student place. If the person WANTS to learn, s/he will learn anyways. If s/he doesn't, well, we have a wasted post, but that's better than potentially scaring away people who want to practice. I may be rambling, but oh gods it's late.
"What about some of us who come to this site to practice, not to teach? Is that not also a worthy goal?" I believe there are thousands of sites out there with practice questions you can get your hands on... this site aims at helping people, not just making ourselves better by answering people's questions, the site isn't about you the answerer, because if you are to answer a question, u already know it... it's about the person asking, helping them understand what's going on. if practice is why you joined the site, then you're actually in the wrong place. Personally imho, if it only remains with even only 5 "teachers" and they actually maintain the quality, not only will I be happy that this site has quality and a focus on goal, but it will make new users really understand what this site is about. When you go to Rome, you do what the Romans do, if we establish that here, new users must adhere to what this site is about. it has grown over time to become a Q&A site, which shouldn't be, and that's the whole point.
"I like to think of this site as an open place to study and discuss, not a strict tutor-student place" I don't have anything against what you said but I don't understand what you mean by "strict" ??? :s
Well, let's compare to several other sites. Art of Problem Solving, StackExchange, PhysicsForums, and certain college net communities (in particular referencing UArizona, UConn, PennState, Duke, MIT, and Stanford). Of all those I mentioned, the only one relying on mechanical methods to enforce their "no answer-trawling" rule is StackExchange. But that's expected, it's a strictly professional-to-professional community. Everywhere else relies on its users tacitly understanding the "no answer-trawling" ethic. Once in a while, you get anomalies, but what do they do? Ignore it. The people who come to cheat will cheat anyways. The people who come to learn will learn anyways. The people who come to practice will practice anyways. Now, we have a much more serious problem than AoPS, StackExchange, MIT, and Stanford's communities. We may even be worse than KhanAcademy. But it's not THAT bad. The amount of people who come here to trawl for answers are already losing--they'll be failing their next test. And those of us who come to practice will get what we want anyways, just posting answers. For those of us who teach? Sure, it sucks to lecture someone who doesn't listen. I won't call out any names, but I've been irritated by this before. But never to the point where I believe we should implement StackExchange's methods. Because we're not professionals. We're openly studying. We're not tutoring or mentoring (as is the case in college communities). We're openly studying. In certain study groups, namely meta-math, the entire point is to openly discuss and practice. No tutoring involved. Now, if we started having select people delete answers that aren't strictly teaching-based, and we give this power to enough people so we won't have too few doing too much, we will scare away everyone except those who come here strictly to learn and teach. OpenStudy? Not at all. No studying. Just teaching.
I'd like to point out that I'm partially playing Devil's Advocate. Mainly because I think this is the most important thing to do when holding a group discussion, but also because I'm sitting somewhere on the fence about whether or not we should do something about answer-trawlers.
"Now, we have a much more serious problem than AoPS, StackExchange, MIT, and Stanford's communities. We may even be worse than KhanAcademy. But it's not THAT bad. The amount of people who come here to trawl for answers are already losing--they'll be failing their next test. And those of us who come to practice will get what we want anyways, just posting answers." you seriously want to watch that person waste his life away? knowing perfectly that there's no good in letting a person go without understanding the knowledge he's going with? seriously? of course you'll be better practicing, but the question here is... what's this site about? and what are we doing about it... it's not about you being a better person cos that's an eventual situation, you'll definitely better yourself practicing... what about the other person on the other end of the computer??? the person this site is about? the asker... what about him? I'd like to mention too that this isn't any of the communities u mentioned, this is openstudy, a community with a different goal. it will be pointless to follow the crowd because they're also a study community... they're different, and we must respect that. keep that in mind :)
If the person comes here to cheat, he will cheat anyways. Proof: Wolfram, Google, Yahoo! Answers, Reddit, any of the #Chans, etc. R forums even, for stats. It's impossible to stop someone from cheating. But let's say the person's here to learn. If I post the answer, with no explanation, so far as the person's concerned he learned nothing. So he may as well stay, until someone teaches him. Someone who comes to learn will learn anyways. To ensure we don't accidentally tutor those who are here to cheat, we merely need to not invest too much immediately per person. JamesJ does this by posting step by step, rather than posting an entire solution in one post. If the person actually wants to learn, we continue. If not... well, hope someone comes over to practice!
Hi guys well some people cheat for answer I agree with everyone but I think their should a some sort of rule that should only be applied for people caught cheating for answers
I ask only that said person is reviewed very, very carefully by moderators.
It wouldn't be fair for everyone ...
I come to website to learn because I want to be better in math my grades have improved mysix points from an 85-91
Hmmm good points here, I would have to agree in-part with both sides. I think it isn't the teachers responsibility (teacher here only referring to people answering questions properly) to ensure that every student is be taught rather than getting answers because at the end of the day the student will not learn anything if they don't want to (ie. the cheaters). It would just be wasted effort. On the same side of the coin though we do need some level of ..something.. to deal with these 'cheaters', if only because it appears to be causing some problems. Deleting answers to questions may indeed give too much power. As you brought up if the student wants to learn and they are just presented with an answer they will stay and ask for the answer. I think the onus should be on the student to learn not the teacher. Maybe we are looking at this the wrong way. Instead of punishing the cheaters we should be rewarding good explanations and have a good way to reward the student for sticking by a question and answering it themselves (with help from answerer) - this is part of the reason I hate that I can't give askers medals.
Wow, what a timely post and great responses all.
This has been a hot topic the past two weeks, and I think we're about ready to take a stance on this given your help.
1. I do think we need to take a stance - we're a community for engaged learners and teachers (the difference being we believe anyone can and should be a teacher - even a a core part of learning).
2. I think the solution involves a few things. A. An official policy stating what we represent, and what we do not. We are not a place for quick Q&A, but rather a place for a *different type of answer* - the fishing rod, not the fish. B. Support from the community in reinforcing (a) - I think you all are ready for that. C. Mechanics that reinforce and incentivize deeper learning from both points of view. e.g. the ability to rate an asker based on how engaged he/she is learning, and the ability to rate the answerer based on the depth (effort) of their explanation and dialogue. D. Reinforce the mechanics in (C) everywhere - this involves changing the leveling system a bit so that it is not as emphasized, but rather what is emphasized is how engaged a learner is and how engaged an answerer is - the quality of engagement and helpfulness.
Hey chris do you think you guys can create a web cam app for OS
that will sound cool
Well, we probably could pokemon, the worry being it's a huge can of community management worms. Maybe we could tie it to levels - i.e. you can't use the cam unless you have a particular credibility within the community.
I think openstudy will like the new changes
seems reasonable
Well, I have more questions for you all. For example do you think there should be something else beyond questions? We have so many users on the site that are excited about the rewards of teaching, should we allow a "share" or "teach" type conversation along with the "question" type conversation users can create now.
I think its a great idea to have share or teach conversation
Yeah I think that would be a great idea for users that would want to contribute that little bit more.. hmm. Would it act sort of like the tagging system?
Good question. I'm not sure. For example there could be two tabs on the left hand side - 1. Learn (ask a question) 2. Teach (share something), and they would be highlighted and sorted differently. Tagging would probably be very useful in that scenario.
Or maybe we'd change "Ask a question" to instead say "What do you want to study?" - and "needing help" is a flag that the user turns on or off in that conversation to indicate that there is a question they need help with in the thread.
It will I like to learn in the mathematics group when I don't understand a question
Seems good
Here's my question. Say I post something in meta-math. ENTIRELY discussion based. A problem that is known to be difficult to solve. What would I post it as?
right, good question. I suppose in that scenario it would be "Teach" or "share" - whatever we called that type of entity.
Or we could do as Trancenova suggested - there could be different tags for question/challenge/tutorial/discussion
I was thinking of an I idea of a video for OS
I don't understand. Tag-based classification, not categorization? While I like the concept, I don't know how well tags will hold up to categories when we really only have a few properties to assign to each post, i.e., "question", "challenge", "tutorial", etc. And I'd like a "discussion" or "conference" option too!
hmmm i think tags would be better because then you would be able to view both/all at the same time? It would be annoying to switch between the two - particularly if you are trying to answer questions and moderate in another section :P Maybe they should just be a little tag thing that goes where the "first question" tag is. Then again it depends how much we want to segregate the two sections.
I mean if we want a super obvious difference then we would have to section it.
Right, well I think there could be filters - for example where it says "All Questions" on the left hand side, that could be a drop-down menu to choose between [All Posts, Questions, Teaching Sessions, etc...]
I like. Also, the menu should close automatically whenever we click outside of it. :D
But I agree - it's an interesting balance to strike. We want it *very* easy for people that need help to get it [especially given we now stand for the "right" kind of help], while also allowing more creative ways of teaching/learning along side.
So, can we have a informal list of tags? Challenge, Teaching Session, Question,...?
Yes, we may need a super obvious tutorial/FAQ/Help pop-up thing to help new students understand.
Well, that's just brainstorming one solution badreferences
Very open to other suggestions - and honestly, it probably wouldn't happen all at once.
I'll be honest. I want to be able to type inside of drawn diagrams first. XD
Well anyway at the end of the day I think we still need some sort of immediate thing that tells us what to do about the situation should it arise in the immediate future.
We're going to take some immediate steps towards enforcing engaged question asking and better explanations (real learning and teaching). Once we are done with that we will probably expand the types of teaching that can happen.
I suppose this is just a non-mechanical enforcement method. Like posting the guidelines very clearly and using tacit agreements.
haha @badreferences I hear that.
yes, well I think both are necessary, but the non-mechanical guidelines will happen this week.
The mechanical enforcement will be entirely positive reinforcement, I hope. Not punishment. Like post deletion. Oh wait, how do we distinguish this new method of enforcement from the already-standing level and medal feature?
Will the new changes happen this week
We're still sorting through the mechanical enforcement - and we would love to keep it positive if possible. The policy and community changes will start to happen this week.
I see
I'd just like to point out that having another "medal" or "level" feature will be meaningless in light of the already existing ones. :( Which will make it hard to do it a la positive reinforcement. Maybe you should tie this in with the sticky feature?
Post deletion probably not, but I'm not sure if we can get away without some kind of scaling rating system [e.g. the ability to give someone 1 star for being off topic, or 5 stars for giving a great in depth explanation]. <--- what are your thoughts on that?
Maybe we just need to keep things positive (as you say). As moderators maybe we should respond to the 'cheaters' by typing a post like "hey, great to see you can get the answer! But we need you to explain it to the asker"
I don't like star system. We already have medals for that.
"This question has x medals." Etc.
you creating a new sort of medals?
Right, I guess my worry with medals only is that it almost encourages poor but fast explanations.
That's a community thing. It'll happen with stars too, as YouTube has proven time and time again.
How do you mean re: youtube
LOL chris you guys should have a " like"
Well I feel like our medal is used by some as a like button.
How about high level group mods, and users, get to put star stickers on questions?
And sticky them so they get priority on front page?
@badreferences I do like that suggestion as well.
oooooh yeah stickers! like teachers do on good work. nothing that collects or anything just a 'sticker' - maybe a little drawing (from pre-set ones). I'll put my hand up for drawing some :P
Stickers that give posts temporary priority on the front page? Yes!
maybe you guys can have a logo of the sticker s thump up with an owl
I'm worried that medals by themselves just don't encourage quality, but rather speed and breadth. What would you all feel about some kind of down-vote mechanism - for example "needs explanation" along with the medals we have.
Medal removal by passing high level users, lol
"Medal auditing."
Hmm medal removal i think would be really down heartening but being able to put up a little sign that says "needs explanation" - that would be good
Actually, have a separate "Contention" category where a certain number of community votes put these questions.
I agree that medal removal is harsh. But we can have certain people add a "review" tag.
As TranceNova put it.
I'll be honest, as I currently see it, we're just devaluing the medal system further and further. I'd like to point out that StackExchange deals with this by limiting medal-giving to certain people.
Well, I agree with that - leverage an additional mechanic [e.g. ability to rate something low or down-vote] or keep it all positive, e.g. enhanced "medal"/reward given by trusted users
Agree that something needs to change in the rules to encourage the right things, and make our reputation system more meaningful.
Positive positive! Or maybe neither, maybe we just need to talk to the users a little more and just tell them to stop, not punishing them or anything. At the end of the day yeah, we just need some rules so we can back up what we do.
I'd like to point out two designs in StackExchange. Being able to acquire certain badges also gives the user certain abilities. Like minor editing. Upvoting or downvoting (the former being easier to get than the latter). Moving posts. Tagging posts.
Maybe now the "achievements" we get can actually mean somthing. >.>
Hey chris I think OS should have a section that contains lesson plans like if a user needs helps in factoring they click on the "handout" or something like that
yeah, but writing 'handouts' and such things takes alot of work - unless we could collect up some old questions or something.
So @pokemon23 you mean like lesson plans that are edited by the community?
We have KhanAcademy for that. I like the idea though, redirection and question-tags.
Actually, remember the "lesson" tag earlier? Maybe we have a single post like this, except it's stickied temporarily and called "Factoring", where a bunch of people help with the abstracts of it XD
Yes that
That would be a good function like the one myinin did
with factoring a trinomial
Well great suggestions all - a lot to think over. I'm happy to hear you're all already thinking about similar things. Unfortunately I have to go for now, speaking on a panel today. But please keep the suggestions coming. We're going to be acting on some of these soon.
But erasing and typing in chalkboard first. >:(
haha, alright @badreferences =)
talk to you all soon.
awesome see you later chris This is a powerful example of what OpenStudy is moving to stand against. Take a good look, people XD. And cry. Or laugh.
i don't get it
Eh, a student asks for help, JamesJ goes above and beyond the call of duty in his answers, the student pretends to get it once it's clear he's not just going to give her the direct answer, JamesJ doesn't relent, and the student escapes by saying, "bye dude".
oh that sorry I have no sense of humor
I have a terrible sense of humor; that you don't share mine means you have a good one, by principle of exclusion.
Wow, this question's answers are really long. You have a good point but it will never stop happening and you can't even really stop it even for a while. When I'm in a hurry I only look at the answer and ignore the explanation/the rest of it but that's rare.
@pokemon23 , did @hero also teach you Myininaya's way of factoring quadratics? :) It is super , but fun. I have a lot to read here. So while I'm reading how would you deal with me as a cheater? What would you say to correct my cheating habits or would I be ignored?
Thanks for your responses, I appreciate your concerns and ideas, I leave it to the mods and devs to pick it up from here, I only hope my message got out there :)
I think I would just explain it and make the person participate. If they didn't then there is nothing more I can do but stop and help someone else that wants my help and not my answers. Any thoughts on what you would do?
exactly what i have actually decided to do, engage the people i want to help, if they're not responsive, i just quit that thread and move on.
I also think it sometimes helps for them to see my explanation first and then maybe in the next similar question they ask I will walk them through the question (and not just provide the explanation)
Well here's an example that Saso right
1 Attachment
That was recently in the math section
i was missed out on all this!? man! i need to catch up
o wow
I was on at that time I didn't sleep
Wow. Hey everyone - just read through all of this. Great stuff. And like Chris said, this is exactly what we have been discussing (in depth) for the last couple of weeks. Ultimately, a couple of things have come up that we feel confident about: 1) OpenStudy at its heart is a learning community - not a place to give quick answers. So, everything we're looking at implementing has that in mind. While I appreciate @badreferences points regarding practice, ultimately I believe that practice can be accomplished in other ways - even on OpenStudy. 2) We will be updating and making very public the reflection of the above 'culture of OpenStudy' in the Code of Conduct. I'm currently working on a final version of this, which will be made public on Monday. Also, moderators will be advising users of these changes (meaning you're not going to get suspended for this right now, we're looking at educating users first).
Also, in terms of how we 'mechanize' this culture, we would prefer a positive reinforcement system (you are rewarded for great explanations, time spent, teaching accomplished, etc). So, this is where our concern with the current medal system lies - I think it's clear to all that this reward system does NOT incentivize the behavior we want to encourage. For instance, @sasogeek can spend twenty minutes on a question, and really convey understanding to the asker, while I could give an answer like "The answer is B" with no explanation or time given - and WE GET REWARDED THE EXACT SAME WAY. So, how do we reward people in a way that is A) Fair B) Easy to accomplish C) Is easily understandable for a new user to understand (e.g. if I see that @myininaya and @satellite are both Level 100 - how do I know this means they can help me? It's obvious to those of us on site a lot, but I don't think it's as intuitive to a new user.
I think @satellite73 is level 100.
Here's my question. What an example of UNFAIR rewarding so we can determine exactly what constitutes fair rewards?
Hi @badreferences, good question. An example (in my mind at least), is a situation where someone asks a question, four people comment on it, but only one person actually provides a solution (the others say that they can't do it for instance). The asker then gives everyone a medal. Doesn't seem to reflect the actual work put in - it's more of a 'thank you'
cshavley does bring out a good point
Not that there's anything wrong with a thank you mind you - but it still doesn't give enough credit to the deserving party in my opinion. Also, though others could theoretically see the question and reward the good answer - this doesn't happen often enough. Also, isn't the asker the best person to judge who helped them the most? And how much they actually helped?
I do remember seeing quite a few posts where the asker specifically asks for an answer without an explanation. "answrs olny plez". The person who gives an answer without an explanation will get the medal, and the person who tries to explain... well? Be told to shut up? In short, I believe the only people who should be allowed to give out these "super-medals" are people who are known to be strong community members.
True bad reference I have seen that happen before
This thread is already so long that more seems like a nuisance; however, here is my ten cents worth. I'll try to keep it short. 1. I am so glad that people are considering solutions to this problem instead of treating it as an intrinsic aspect of the site! 2. Expanding or amending the code of conduct to address this problem is a good idea; however, I think all it will do is give users who try to teach instead of give answers an official leg to stand on. I have actually never read the code of conduct and I think the same goes for most. I don't think it will change much. 3. The long term answer will need to be making modifications or expansions to the site. It is important that the solutions focus on introducing positive re-enforcement mechanisms for productive users rather than on introducing punishment mechanisms for non-productive users. That is very, very important! That way the site will inspire people to become better learners instead of driving them away or discouraging them! Of all the awesome ideas for doing that which are discussed in this thread, I think the stand-out ones are: 1. Creating an asker/answerer critiquing system where users can rate askers and answerers on helpfulness, clarity, difficulty of question, thoroughness, willingness to work through the whole problem, etc. Perhaps display the average results on the currently somewhat, well, blah profile page. 2. Expansion of each group to include discussion questions as well as the run of the mill questions which probably come off homework sheets. The main page in each group could be the run of the mill questions so it's easy for the new users/people who want an answer quickly to find, but the discussion group could be a discreet and inconspicuous link or box for the more advanced users. That way things like this would have a proper place. 3. Compilation or production of some sort of user curated reference material to which askers with very simple or repetitive questions can be referred. This could easily be done by users compiling material (explanations, questions, etc.) from archived questions. And the discussion about how each subject section should be organized, written, compiled etc. would introduce a wonderful new interactive and intellectual element to the site for some of the advanced users. Wow, that response turned out longer than I intended. I did try to keep it brief, but there is just so much room for improvement on the subject!
I only just heard about this site, and have been looking around for the last few days. And even after this short period I found this discussion interesting. I'm not sure if my opinion is appreciated, as I haven't been around long, but maybe a new user point of view might be helpful. I came to this site thinking I could read or participate in discussions or problem solving in general. But instead I just saw a lot of question and answers. It seems to me that OS is being used as a homework solver, more than learning something. People log in, post all their questions, come back an hour later, and their homework is done. As this is the first thing you see when joining the site, I'm assuming that new users will just join in, instead of trying to help each other by explaining things. I saw the ideas of having more guides, stickies and discussion threads on the front page, which would take away the attention for all the 'solve this please' questions. As I'm new I'm not completely sure yet how the medal system works, but could it be possible to have two separate systems, one for asking questions, and one for answering/explaining? I think it might be a good idea to start with rewarding people for asking the right questions. More rewards for people that are asking for an explanation rather than a solution. Or if they add their thought process to the question. For example, if people could tick off a few options when posting a question: - I just want the solution - Can you explain this to me? - Can you tell me where I went wrong? (if thought process or similar is provided) In my opinion the last option would also make it easier to start a discussion on how to get to a solution etc. It also immediately requires for more involvement of the person asking the question, showing that they have put some time in themselves. I'm sorry if I sound negative in this post, was not meant that way at all. Because I think I'll be spending quite some time on here, as I really like idea and involvement of people just trying to help each other, with no immediate reward.
One possibility I was considering: Create a separate kind of medal (call it an Emedal for now) that can only be handed out by a recognized trustworthy party. It would only be handed out by, a moderator or high ranking member when they see a good explanation. Let the regular medals add exp, but not advance you in ranking at certain thresholds. For instance, say you are at level 9, which can be achieved through regular medals. You would need at least one Emedal to advance to level 10. If you give no good explanations, you will not get any Emedals, hence your ranking will plateau. Perhaps this will encourage the user to try to explain something in order to increase their ranking. Similarly you would need 3 Emedals to move from level 19 to 20, and more with higher level, etc. This seems to me fairly easy to implement, since you would not have to do away with the whole system, just modify it. It also doesn't ban the activity of giving away answers, it just decreases the incentive. It also makes it obvious if a user is not giving explanations, since they will be stuck at a particular level for a long time. Just an idea that thought of. Take, leave, or modify it as you see fit.
cheaters don't care about the medals, they want their work done. it means nothing if such a person gives u a medal, the percentage of people who understand it is small which makes it ... insignificant. until those cheaters recognize it, the medals wouldn't mean much since the greater majority of people, the people giving the medals, don't exactly know it's value. i think the community needs a COMPLETE revolution, not the reward system only. I love Altig's response btw

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