Helping students with their homework

Well, we don’t want them to cheat. So no full codes etc.; that’s an important point. Except sometimes you need to cheat and we all did it somewhen. So you don’t want to be too dogmatic about it. Sometimes you have to help somebody to cheat, even when you don’t like it.

Another point I want to emphasize:
I think the atmosphere we are setting with banners and rules shouldn’t sound too nanny-like and unwelcoming. It should sound like with humor and a good community. I mean a lot of students are stressed out anyway so we want to comfort them and support them.

Also, we have to take into account that there are a lot of people (like me) that are not students but hobbyists or artists. I think here, even full code / sketch is okay. Because here, no exams or grades are involved in the first place. They want to get things done and they don’t have to learn to code.

So homework is certainly an important aspect but not all that’s going on in the forum.



Yes you are right: “Rules” is not probably the good word, perhaps something like guide line could be better… And i agree with you about humor!; yet i think that we have to be precise and explain clearly that if someone wants to ask he has to respect some points (i have tried to list some of them, that s all and i can see now that i forgot some others: e.g dont change the topic by asking another question, even if it seems to be related because this kind of behaviour makes the forum very difficult to use)- If we want to avoid cheating what are the (main) points to emphazize that is what i meant…

Second point: i am not a student, i was a teacher, i am now only an artist and a developer… for job! -And so “homework” is not the main problem on this forum…


Perhaps a more unified approach should be used. This would be difficult to implement though.

The idea would simply be to integrate more tutorials on processing which I think is maybe what some people want. The fact that processing is based on java might cause some overlaps with other forums, but from my perspective i have yet to really look into what java has to offer, and I am still very happy with the level of challenge processing has to offer.

Khan academy is a site I often try to refer people to because it’s just in my opinion so well put together. Sure there are a few bugs here and there but in general the live coding platform, is second to none. You immediately see results and that as a beginner can be very motivating. And of course their course covers all the basics. So perhaps that is what we should be encouraging when someone request an answer to a problem, and it seems an awful lot like homework. Not the answers per say but challenges which one can try which would cover most rudimentary thinking required for programming, which in my opinion is the only thing lacking for processing.

However Khan academy is processing.js (from my understanding) and so runnable speed and scope of projects are limited.

improving the keyword detection system to point them in the right direction when someone is making a post might help, however I have often especially at the start ignored many of the prompts and placed the question in the wrong section or missed the fact that it was already similar, soo…

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Adding to members’ thoughts so far, I agree with concerns about not losing sight of the non-student users, maintaining the site’s atmosphere of friendliness, and easy access to site guidance info. Along with addressing the homework questions.

I do like the idea of a dismissable orientation banner. Would that banner appear each time before posting a new topic? Or, just on the very first post as a new user? Or, basic users always see the banner, but member users graduate to not seeing it?

Placing links in the FAQ section, would certainly be better than their current location. But still not optimal in the long term. IMHO. Kind of like a band-aid, but what’s really needed is minor surgery… :face_with_head_bandage:

After reading the comments of other users, I… return to the START HERE approach as a possible direction to consider? I do realize this would likely take longer to implement than building off the site’s current resources. But it seems a very visible tab with directive language to START HERE, would serve as a nice hub for all how-to-use-this-site information to branch from, while maintaining inclusivity for all who come to the forum.


Not every new post, no – that would be text in the post template.

See the discussion that I linked, above. So, for example, the Banner could be called “Welcome” or “Start Here” et cetera. It can be dismissed with the X in the upper right.

Interesting idea about Start Here by the New Topic button! One potential issue is that it becomes a “+” button on mobile. Another potential issue is that this site is hosted – I don’t think that we are going to be developing custom functionality for it and trying to deploy that on the host (at least, I’m not!) although there may be ways to edit the site templates, if somebody is motivated to look into that. Personally, I’m not sure – custom template changes like that tend to get lost almost every time the host updates the software version / template version. If we were to take on a project beyond configuration I think that would probably be up to the person who manages hosting – believe that is @REAS.

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An idea is that a post is visible tag as homework. For example, adding an explicit post saying homework, then a link to guide how to ask questions and a second guide on how to answer homework questions.

I have to say it is challenging to know when it is a homework. I see the community here to be free to ask questions. If they ask a good question, it will deserve a good answer so it will benefit the community as a whole.

I personally wouldn’t want to go through post with half-answers only bc we were helping a student with their homework. Last suggestion would be to have a homework category. i think that would be the best approach, and for moderators to move post to these categories so all community is aligned with helping efforts and brings global visibility.



One problem with categories for homework is that we would then need a homework sub-category for everything (p5.js, Arduino, PI, python, etc.) or else we would be mixing all the homework questions together in a place where fewer topic experts would look at it.

I’m going to look into what it would take to get a simple “tag” system enabled for this forum. Maybe something with only a very few pre-existing tags, like “homework” …?


I’m sure you already found this.

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I was thinking when reading the post on categories too.

For me, when I joined this forum, thought the main tutorial was very complete, don’t remember where, but I read too how to help people with his homework. But I see many people writing without format his code (despite it is in the tutorial if I’m not mistaken) and doing other mistakes, like not check other posts before creating one, etc. It’s a pity, but not all people respect the rules

Also for me, is hard to realize when someone is asking, if is an student or is asking about homework, maybe creating a category or sub-category can help us for identify that cases.

I’m totally agree with this point!

Regards! :hugs:


Just a reminder for anyone who has not voted in the poll above – please do so!

So far, for most of our suggestions we have half or more that don’t like the idea. That isn’t a lot of support to make a change! The only popular choice is “post template hw warning.”

It would be good to hear some of the reasons that people don’t like relatively simple changes, like the FAQ pinned on the homepage, or a dismissible Banner. I thought those might be easy wins, but clearly not with the voters so far.

I wonder if changes could be made on a trial-run basis? The pop-up banner for example? See what happens. If adverse impact on quality of discourse is observed by members then banner is taken down… Or, FAQ restored to original location…


Of course! If people hate something, we’ll change it back. This is a community, after all…


Okay, I hoped a couple tiebreaker voters would wander in, but it looks like we are stuck at 50%, so let’s go ahead with the template linking to an FAQ entry, which 11/14 liked.

A post template that looks like this:

<!-- Tips:
Format your code with </>
Homework policy:
Asking Questions:

Has been added for these categories:

  • Processing (and most subcategories)
  • Processing for Android
  • Processing for Pi
  • p5.js (and most subcategories)

Note that this will only appear when creating a new topic in one of those categories – not when replying. It has to be added to each category manually - it doesn’t cascade down – so we have copy-pasted it in ~20 different places, and will need to do that again when we want to update it.

Here is the draft Homework section language on the FAQ:

Homework Policy

Homework questions are welcome here. Teachers from around the world encourage their students to use this forum, and some of our regulars discuss teaching with Processing.

Our goal is to give you starting points and to help you break down problems and learn how to solve them for yourself – not to do your homework for you!

  • Homework questions should be identified as homework.
  • Do not ask for complete code solutions.
  • Do not offer complete code solutions.
  • Students are responsible for following the policies of their school, class, and instructor. Post as if your instructor is reading.
  • If you only want general advice (NO code), please say so explicitly.
  • Do not attempt to receive help and then hide it by deleting. Posts with answers belong to the community, and will not be taken down. Deleted posts will be restored.

For an overview of how to ask great questions that get the best help, see: Guidelines—Asking Questions .

If you are an instructor with concerns about student posts or answers, please flag them and contact our site administrators.

See what you think. All suggestions welcome.


As part of this change we also have two minor site-wide configuration changes:

  1. “uncategorized” is now disabled. A new post must choose a category before they begin writing. This means they can’t skip seeing the template. All previous uncategorized posts were categorized.**
  2. Pinned topics (sticky posts) are now manual-unpin, not auto-unpin. Click the pin and they sort down among the rest. If you don’t click the pin, they stay pinned.

** …and there were only 7(!) – thanks @GoToLoop

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This is GREAT!!
:grinning: :grinning:

I feel like I should know this, but what is a sticky post? And where are they?
:face_with_monocle: :nerd_face:

A pinned topic. Like the two on top, here:

Click the pin and they stop sticking to the top (for you).

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On that time I didn’t feel like I could find a category home for those 7 threads. :thread:
So I’ve just left them “uncategorized” on purpose. :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

Totally. It made sense, I just had to shoehorn them in today just because Discourse doesn’t allow anything to be uncatgorized when you deactivate that feature.

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I am trying to activate a site-wide tag, “homework.” New users can use it to self-tag their posts, or other users can (I believe?) modify a post and add the homework tag to it. We can try it out and see if it is helpful.

Site search also includes a tag field that lets you filter by homework:

This is a test – we may have to deactivate the tag system, but let’s see if people like it. Right now the ability to create new tags is restricted, but ideas for tags are welcome, and if it seems like it is working and useful we could open it up more.

Okay, we have a rough tagging of about 300 past posts with “homework”:

  • in:title “homework” or “assignment”
  • “homework” “school project” “my assignment” “our assignment” “assignment is” “my class” “our class” “my group” “our group” “professor” “teacher” “we are not allowed”
  • Scan for things that are not yet tagged homework with keywords from above, plus -tag:homework

If an answerer asked “is this homework?” and the responded ignored the question, it was tagged homework.

If a questioner asked multiple questions at the same time, and identified the first one as homework, then in general they were tagged homework.

There are still many things on the forum that are homework but not tagged, of course – we can’t possibly know everything that is – and the goal isn’t to get to 100%. It is just to see if this helps.

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