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Re: [OT] Homework - Was Re: java programe help

 
 
Andrew Thompson
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      10-28-2004
On Wed, 27 Oct 2004 05:22:25 GMT, Andrew Thompson wrote:

( X-posted to c.l.j.programmer )
> On Tue, 26 Oct 2004 16:56:06 +0300, Aki "Sus" Laukkanen wrote:
>
>> Hint:
>> See:
>> 1. http://www.mindprod.com/jgloss/homework.html
>> ,especially this part:
>>
>>> "If you simply post your homework assignment verbatim, people will
>>> slap you senseless. Don't even dare directly quote so much as a
>>> phrase from it!"

>
> ...hmmmm. I always had a problem with that last bit.
>
> I think it is quite unproductive for people to come here with
> homework related questions and to *not* mention that it is homework.
> It can go quite badly for them if they not only do not mention,
> but then deny when challenged(*), that it is homework.
>
> * Usually, as soon as it is (almost invariably) spotted.
>
> That statement, as it stands, encourages the "no it's *not*
> homework" response", which gets the OP nowhere.
>
> I think we, as a group, should encourage people to
> a) mention when a problem is related to homework.
> b) ask a specific Java related question, quoting as
> little of the problem statement as necessary.
> c) demonstrate their current understanding of the
> relevent coursework.
> d) provide code samples where appropriate.
>
> ..thoughts?


Later in that thread on c.l.j.help, the following was added..

On Wed, 27 Oct 2004 14:45:15 -0400, Bryce wrote:
> On Wed, 27 Oct 2004 16:54:51 +0200, Thomas Weidenfeller wrote:
>>Aki "Sus" Laukkanen wrote:
>>> Bad phrasing there, I agree.
>>> It might be better rephrased to "Trying to get help to a specific
>>> problem with your homework project is OK, trying to get someone to just
>>> give you the answers to homework questions or make an entire program for
>>> you is not."

>>
>>Trying to get help to a specific problem with your homework is OK only
>>if the following conditions are met:
>>
>> - You have spent some serious time to read the available
>> documentation (your course notes, textbook, Sun's tutorials
>> and API docs, etc.), you have spent some time reading previous
>> answers in the newsgroup and you seriously searched the net
>> for answers.
>>
>> - You have spent some significant time to formulate a
>> comprehensive, precise question, in plain simple English,
>> without using leet-speak or slang.
>>
>> - Your question demonstrates some understanding of basics and
>> of your coursework.
>>
>> - You tell us what you did, what you expected, and what you got
>> instead in precise terms. "it didn't work" is not precise
>> information and unworthy for a student perusing some higher
>> education. Tell us version numbers, complete(!) error
>> messages, and SHOW US YOUR CODE.
>>
>> - You don't ask to just give you the answers to your
>> homework, or to write the program for you.
>>
>> - You are honest about the problem being homework-related. And
>> you don't hide behind alleged or real anonymous services or
>> nick names. Telling us the name of your university if not
>> apparent from your e-mail address is a bonus.
>>
>> - You post to one group only (comp.lang.java.help is often the
>> best choice). You don't repeat your posting in this one
>> group or in other groups.
>>
>> - You live with the answers you get, and don't go on people's
>> nerves, even if you don't like the answers.
>>
>> - You live with the fact that you might not get any answer at
>> all. The people in the newsgroup owe you nothing.
>>
>> - You don't try to rush things. The people in the newsgroup owe
>> you nothing. It might be urgent for us, it is not urgent for
>> us.

>
> adding
> - Don't be upset if you are given a link to a website with the
> answer. This usually means the question has been posted many times at
> least. In fact, try googling your answer. You'd be surprised how many
> times your question has been asked and answered.


Yes, these are all good points, the reason I have congealed
the two posts is that I want to cross-post this to c.l.j.p.
as well for comments.

So far we have heard from the people who are more likely
to agree with my basic philosophy of 'show some effort, and
be prepared to research and learn'.

Now I want to hear from people who have a distinctly different
view on it. Note that I intend adding an entry on 'homework' to
my Java FAQ*, thus far it is looking like the list prepared by
Thomas and Bryce about sums it up.

* No, not *the* *group* FAQ, but one of the most referenced,
and linked from the Mini-FAQ.

What other thoughts and views can I elicit before I draft an
entry? I would be happy to qualify the entry as
'Many who contribute, feel..' or 'Some who contribute, feel..',
or 'With unanimous outroar, it was thus declared that..'.

Now is the time to speak/write.

[ BTW - thanks to all who have contributed thus far. Aki,
Thomas, Todd, Bryce, Alex, and of course, by default, Roedy. ]

--
Andrew Thompson
http://www.PhySci.org/codes/ Web & IT Help
http://www.PhySci.org/ Open-source software suite
http://www.1point1C.org/ Science & Technology
http://www.LensEscapes.com/ Images that escape the mundane
 
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Chris Uppal
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      10-28-2004
Andrew Thompson wrote [quoted out of order]:

> What other thoughts and views can I elicit before I draft an
> entry?


The way I'd put it is that c.l.j.p is not interested in helping people complete
homework assignment or otherwise get pass-marks in courses. What c.l.j.p /is/
happy to do is help people understand Java, the Java class libraries, and
design/programming in general -- both in detail and in broad. And that will
probably help with any particular problems a student may have.

I agree that students should mention that their problem is course-work, and
that a failure to do so will inevitably result in them either being ignored or
lambasted.

One thing I like to see is the student being specific about their problem: both
of "I am having difficulty seeing how to get started" and "I've done everything
up to X, but that has me stumped" are acceptable; "please write this assignment
for me" is definitely /not/.

Some specifics (stuff is clipped where I have no disagreement):
[Note the double quoting, this is not written by Andrew]


> > b) ask a specific Java related question, quoting as
> > little of the problem statement as necessary.


Probably too narrow -- it implies that only certain sorts of question are
legitimate, but the range is in fact very broad. E.g. design questions are
welcome here.


> > c) demonstrate their current understanding of the
> > relevent coursework.


Probably good advice, but not a prerequisite IMO (it depends). The main point
is that it's very difficult to discuss an issue if you don't know how much the
reader knows already.

(Aside: a particularly effective way to nark me is to ask a simple-sounding
question, and then respond to the simple answer with "I /know/ all that ! I've
been programming for 20 years, and helped write 3 JVMs, I was interested in
<some subtlety>". If you want to discuss something at expert level, then make
it clear that you /are/ an expert up-front, otherwise you're just wasting
people's time)


> > > - You have spent some serious time to read the available
> > > documentation (your course notes, textbook, Sun's tutorials
> > > and API docs, etc.), you have spent some time reading previous
> > > answers in the newsgroup and you seriously searched the net
> > > for answers.


But note that expecting someone to have read /all/ of the JavaDocs, or all of
the JLS, or whatever, is unreasonable. Yes you should make an effort to find
the information you want, but there's no shame in having looked but not found
it, even if it is there (somewhere).


> > > - You have spent some significant time to formulate a
> > > comprehensive, precise question, in plain simple English,
> > > without using leet-speak or slang.


This could use some explanation, it sounds -- on the face of it --
unreasonable; like the classic grumpy middle-aged English teacher. It also --
again, of the face of it -- suggests posters are not welcome unless they can
use English as well as a native would.

One point here is that good programmers tend to be quite careful about how they
use language. Programmers who are able to provide a clear and understandable
explanation (of whatever point) even more so. If you want them to pay
attention then it's a good idea not to irritate them by using trendy
contractions, or other bent language, that they don't use themselves.

But, of course, the main point is that if your question isn't comprehensible
then you aren't going to get useful answers.


> > > - You tell us what you did, what you expected, and what you got
> > > instead in precise terms. "it didn't work" is not precise
> > > information and unworthy for a student perusing some higher
> > > education. Tell us version numbers, complete(!) error
> > > messages, and SHOW US YOUR CODE.


/FAR/ too specific. If you have a coding question then show the code, but not
all problems fall into that category. (There's been a nasty tendency on
c.l.j.p recently to emphasise the above point -- completely mistakenly, IMO,
the most interesting questions are often the ones where actual code would be
irrelevant)



> > > - [...] And
> > > you don't hide behind alleged or real anonymous services or
> > > nick names. Telling us the name of your university if not
> > > apparent from your e-mail address is a bonus.


I disagree with this. /Very strongly/. And will attempt to shout-down anyone
who tries that on here (I probably won't manage it, and will merely end up by
kill-filling the bugger, but I /will/ make the attempt). By all means use your
real name if you wish, but there's no need to. Many people don't. Usenet is
faceless. By all means use a "proper" handle -- something that is intended to
be your identity on the Net for a while, that's just as good (maybe better -- I
particularly like "abrasive sponge"). Using an obviously temporary identity is
maybe not such a good idea, there's nothing /wrong/ with it per-se, but some
readers may be reluctant to respond to posters who don't appear to have a
stable identity on the net. Using a temporary identity may also suggest that
you are knowingly trying to cheat (i.e. that you are trying to make it
difficult for your instructors to identify you from your post, so you clearly
know you are in the wrong), and if you give that impression then it's unlike
that anyone will give you the assistance you think you need.

I'd actually advise /against/ naming the university, or other school -- it can
only be counter-productive.


> > > - You live with the answers you get, and don't go on people's
> > > nerves, even if you don't like the answers.


I don't disagree with that, but wanted to add: also remember that this is
Usenet; whatever you post, no matter how reasonable it is, no matter how
carefully you phrase it, there's a good chance that /someone/ will
misunderstand, or jump to a mistaken conclusion about what you are asking. If
you are lucky, they'll just ignore you, if not then you'll get called an idiot,
or worse, or perhaps accused of ignoring posting guidelines. When that happens
to you, try not to let it get up your nose, and don't give up hope of other,
more helpful, responses.

-- chris


 
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Alex Hunsley
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      10-28-2004
Chris Uppal wrote:
>>>>- [...] And
>>>> you don't hide behind alleged or real anonymous services or
>>>> nick names. Telling us the name of your university if not
>>>> apparent from your e-mail address is a bonus.

>
> I disagree with this. /Very strongly/. And will attempt to shout-down anyone
> who tries that on here (I probably won't manage it, and will merely end up by
> kill-filling the bugger, but I /will/ make the attempt). By all means use your
> real name if you wish, but there's no need to. Many people don't. Usenet is
> faceless. By all means use a "proper" handle -- something that is intended to
> be your identity on the Net for a while, that's just as good (maybe better -- I
> particularly like "abrasive sponge"). Using an obviously temporary identity is
> maybe not such a good idea, there's nothing /wrong/ with it per-se, but some
> readers may be reluctant to respond to posters who don't appear to have a
> stable identity on the net. Using a temporary identity may also suggest that
> you are knowingly trying to cheat (i.e. that you are trying to make it
> difficult for your instructors to identify you from your post, so you clearly
> know you are in the wrong), and if you give that impression then it's unlike
> that anyone will give you the assistance you think you need.


I see what the >>>> poster (who wasn't attributed) is getting at, but
the nature of the net is that people can be and are anonymous, and you
can't really change that. If we start shouting at people with anonymous
looking nicks, then posters may just come back with real looking names
that are fictional. And looking at peoples posting history doesn't take
long via google, but once you start routinely policing like that it all
gets a bit annoying and silly.

On the other hand, people with anonymous nicks can feel free to say and
act how they want, without regard for others; the rudeness in them can
come out if us java doggies aren't playing their games just the way they
want us to. Also, anonymity gives them free reign to attempt to cheat on
homework etc. without any potential comeback.

alex










> I'd actually advise /against/ naming the university, or other school -- it can
> only be counter-productive.


I think that it could be counterproductive and certainly shouldn't be a
*requirement*. I have in the past, however, asked a dubious homework
poster which university or school they were at, in an attempt to smoke
out cheating attempts (and never got a straight answer).

>
>
>
>>>>- You live with the answers you get, and don't go on people's
>>>> nerves, even if you don't like the answers.

>
>
> I don't disagree with that, but wanted to add: also remember that this is
> Usenet; whatever you post, no matter how reasonable it is, no matter how
> carefully you phrase it, there's a good chance that /someone/ will
> misunderstand, or jump to a mistaken conclusion about what you are asking. If
> you are lucky, they'll just ignore you, if not then you'll get called an idiot,
> or worse, or perhaps accused of ignoring posting guidelines. When that happens
> to you, try not to let it get up your nose, and don't give up hope of other,
> more helpful, responses.
>
> -- chris
>
>

 
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Andrew Thompson
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      10-28-2004
On Thu, 28 Oct 2004 10:45:13 +0100, Alex Hunsley wrote:

> Chris Uppal wrote:


(Thomas Weidenfeller)
>>>>>- [...] And
>>>>> you don't hide behind alleged or real anonymous services or
>>>>> nick names. Telling us the name of your university if not
>>>>> apparent from your e-mail address is a bonus.

>>
>> I disagree with this. /Very strongly/.


On reflection, I agree, though I think it might be worthwhile
explaining you are more *likely* to get help if you post with a
'real sounding' and ..especially 'not idiotic' name.

Obviously it is a matter of taste to the observer as to
what constitutes idiotic, but anything that says, or implies
rude words is definitely on my list.

In times when I am busy and need to start making arbitrary
choices as to which posts I will and won't read, the ones
from 'silly names' are the first to be dropped.

And ultimately..

> ..If we start shouting at people with anonymous
> looking nicks, then posters may just come back with real looking names
> that are fictional.


I think that sums up the pointlessness of demanding any
such thing, if 'Dennis Bradshaw' made a post, is this a
new poster who's name is Dennis Bradshaw, or is *her*
name actually Denise Smith, ..or Anna Cheung, or...

Even though I will give more time to those who are prepared
to post under a 'real sounding' name that they post under
consistently, I do not think we should attempt to rob people
of their anonimity at the outset. To post under an obviously
fale name is saying (politely) 'I am what I write, nothing more,
nothing less, accept my words for what they are, not who you
presume I am' (wow - very zen..)

Though if posters begin to drag in their college, or it becomes
overly apparent they are attempting to pass off other people's
work as their own (as has happened recently) all bets are off.

--
Andrew Thompson
http://www.PhySci.org/codes/ Web & IT Help
http://www.PhySci.org/ Open-source software suite
http://www.1point1C.org/ Science & Technology
http://www.LensEscapes.com/ Images that escape the mundane
 
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Joona I Palaste
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      10-28-2004
Try searching for "Homework" on Google Groups. There are apparently
people and organisations who make a living from doing people's
homework for them. And this is advertised publically! Doesn't anyone
have any ethics any more?

--
/-- Joona Palaste ((E-Mail Removed)) ------------- Finland --------\
\-------------------------------------------------------- rules! --------/
"A friend of mine is into Voodoo Acupuncture. You don't have to go into her
office. You'll just be walking down the street and... ohh, that's much better!"
- Stephen Wright
 
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Yogo
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      10-28-2004

"Andrew Thompson" wrote:
>
> So far we have heard from the people who are more likely
> to agree with my basic philosophy of 'show some effort, and
> be prepared to research and learn'.
>
> Now I want to hear from people who have a distinctly different
> view on it. Note that I intend adding an entry on 'homework' to
> my Java FAQ*, thus far it is looking like the list prepared by
> Thomas and Bryce about sums it up.
>


>>> - You live with the fact that you might not get any answer at
>>> all. The people in the newsgroup owe you nothing.



I think something should be added for the people in the newsgroup too: You
don't feel the obligation to respond to homework questions only to point out
that you won't / can't help someone because there is no code or the person
hasn't done any research or the person ask that someone makes his/her
homework etc.

Having to read all those replies saying things like the following can be
very annoying too: where is your code!, go read your books!, that code
doesn't even compile how can we help you!, ask your teacher!, what are you
doing in school? etc...

There are a lot of replies saying only that. Ok, if the guy asks why nobody
help him or if he reposts the same unanswered question, this would be
appropriate. Otherwise it's just more annoying than the question about
homework itself.

I am learning Java myself and I actually enjoy all the small homework
problems that are posted. I'll often try to solve them in mind or in real.
So I find them very useful for my own learning process. And it's also useful
when answers to homework are "given". People don't always have all the time
they want/need to do research and try things out. I'm not talking about the
people that need to do homework, they should have enough time for that. But
this is a public group. When you give an answer *a lot* of people may learn
from it.



Yogo




 
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Alex Hunsley
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      10-28-2004
Yogo wrote:
> "Andrew Thompson" wrote:
>
>>So far we have heard from the people who are more likely
>>to agree with my basic philosophy of 'show some effort, and
>>be prepared to research and learn'.
>>
>>Now I want to hear from people who have a distinctly different
>>view on it. Note that I intend adding an entry on 'homework' to
>>my Java FAQ*, thus far it is looking like the list prepared by
>>Thomas and Bryce about sums it up.
>>

>
>
>>>>- You live with the fact that you might not get any answer at
>>>>all. The people in the newsgroup owe you nothing.

>
>
>
> I think something should be added for the people in the newsgroup too: You
> don't feel the obligation


How can a FAQ tell people to not feel an obligation to do something?

> to respond to homework questions only to point out
> that you won't / can't help someone because there is no code or the person
> hasn't done any research or the person ask that someone makes his/her
> homework etc.


People in this group feel obliged to point out how posters could be
better helped, by changing how they post or by posting code examples.
The ultimate aim here is to make the newsgroup more useful and make
people more 'helpable'. What is wrong with that aim?

They are not replying for the sake of meanness, or to annoy you in
particular!

> Having to read all those replies saying things like the following can be
> very annoying too: where is your code!,


What is more useful: the regulars just ignoring people who don't post
code and have vague questions, or requesting code, and then being able
to help the people that have some code to post? The latter.

> go read your books!,


Knowing how to use API documentation, books, and google et al are
important skills. When appropriate, pointing out to someone to use these
things is much more useful than the regulars simply being a proxy for
google, API, books etc. To paraphrase Andrew Thomson (I think it was he,
anyhow): You give them some fish; I teach them how to fish.

> that code
> doesn't even compile how can we help you!,


People come here wanting help, that's fine. But why should the regulars
spend an age fixing others peoples code before they can even run it? If
someone wants help, they can learn how to post compilable code.

> ask your teacher!,


I've not seen this reply an awful lot....

>what are you doing in school? etc...


A valid question when the OP seems to be allergic to idea of learning or
actually doing their own work....

> There are a lot of replies saying only that. Ok, if the guy asks why nobody
> help him or if he reposts the same unanswered question, this would be
> appropriate.


.... which would happen a lot more if the regulars here didn't answer
initial posts as much as they do.
Would you really prefer that we ignore the posters of poorly formated
(etc.) questions, rather then telling them how to best use the newsgroup?

> Otherwise it's just more annoying than the question about
> homework itself.


This is about more than just the homework thing.


> I am learning Java myself and I actually enjoy all the small homework
> problems that are posted. I'll often try to solve them in mind or in real.
> So I find them very useful for my own learning process. And it's also useful
> when answers to homework are "given". People don't always have all the time
> they want/need to do research and try things out. I'm not talking about the
> people that need to do homework, they should have enough time for that. But
> this is a public group. When you give an answer *a lot* of people may learn
> from it.


Yes, there's a lot of benefit in seeing java problems and solutions. I
just get uncomfortable when it happens to be someones homework that they
expect to be done for them (from scratch).

Thinks . . o o O O (maybe we need a series of non-homework puzzlers!)

How about some simple(ish) problems posted regularly, with answers
posted later, and people can enter their own version and comments?

alex





 
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Yogo
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      10-28-2004

"Alex Hunsley" wrote:
> Yogo wrote:
>> "Andrew Thompson" wrote:
>>
>> I think something should be added for the people in the newsgroup too:
>> You don't feel the obligation

>
> How can a FAQ tell people to not feel an obligation to do something?
>


I was just trying to express my feelings and to give give an idea about what
I think, this was not meant to be litteraly written in the faq, but I guess
you didn't get that...

>> to respond to homework questions only to point out that you won't / can't
>> help someone because there is no code or the person hasn't done any
>> research or the person ask that someone makes his/her homework etc.

>
> People in this group feel obliged to point out how posters could be better
> helped, by changing how they post or by posting code examples. The
> ultimate aim here is to make the newsgroup more useful and make people
> more 'helpable'. What is wrong with that aim?
>
> They are not replying for the sake of meanness, or to annoy you in
> particular!


I never said it was. I just said that I find it annoying.

>
>> Having to read all those replies saying things like the following can be
>> very annoying too: where is your code!,

>


<big snip>

Hmm, I was just giving some examples, there is no need to discuss each
example, that is not the point...

>
>> There are a lot of replies saying only that. Ok, if the guy asks why
>> nobody help him or if he reposts the same unanswered question, this would
>> be appropriate.

>
> ... which would happen a lot more if the regulars here didn't answer
> initial posts as much as they do.
> Would you really prefer that we ignore the posters of poorly formated
> (etc.) questions, rather then telling them how to best use the newsgroup?
>


Yes, sometimes I really do. Actually, I think the problem is more how things
are said than what is actualy said...

>> Otherwise it's just more annoying than the question about homework
>> itself.

>
> This is about more than just the homework thing.
>
>
>> I am learning Java myself and I actually enjoy all the small homework
>> problems that are posted. I'll often try to solve them in mind or in
>> real. So I find them very useful for my own learning process. And it's
>> also useful when answers to homework are "given". People don't always
>> have all the time they want/need to do research and try things out. I'm
>> not talking about the people that need to do homework, they should have
>> enough time for that. But this is a public group. When you give an answer
>> *a lot* of people may learn from it.

>
> Yes, there's a lot of benefit in seeing java problems and solutions. I
> just get uncomfortable when it happens to be someones homework that they
> expect to be done for them (from scratch).
>


You don't have to help them. Their messages are not meant personnally to
you... You could just ignore them...


Nevermind...


Yogo


 
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Tim Ward
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      10-28-2004
"Alex Hunsley" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
>
> People in this group feel obliged to point out how posters could be
> better helped, by changing how they post or by posting code examples.
> The ultimate aim here is to make the newsgroup more useful and make
> people more 'helpable'. What is wrong with that aim?


Well, the answer to that question is obvious.

What's wrong is that it will produce more programmers that are actually any
good at anything, and thus reduce the price for those of us who are there
already.

Far better surely just to post answers to the homework questions so that the
students never learn anything and never get jobs and never compete with us


--
Tim Ward
Brett Ward Limited - www.brettward.co.uk


 
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Thomas Weidenfeller
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      10-29-2004
Alex Hunsley wrote:
> Yogo wrote:
>> ask your teacher!,

>
>
> I've not seen this reply an awful lot....


I tend to use it. And I use it, because it seems to be an extrem novel
idea for some people to ask the people for help who are supposed to
help. Not only supposed to help, but have nothing else to do because
this is their job, are trained to explain things, and are paid to help.
Often paid by the students - and I have been told that at US
universities the students pay quite a fortune.

So, what is so scary? Ask for the service you paid for.

The same goes for the absolutely unbelievable, disgusting act of opening
and reading a textbook. The idea seems to be unthinkable for many of the
homework posters. Maybe they fear they get blind by opening a book, or
just checking their course notes.

/Thomas
 
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