14
$\begingroup$

Intro

Consider two likely scenarios:

Q: How many grams of $\ce{O2}$ are there in one mole of oxygen gas?

I know that O is 16, so it should be 16 grams, AMIRITE? Please halp ugrant kthxbye

Q: How many grams of $\ce{O2}$ are there in one mole of oxygen gas?

I know that O is 16, so it should be 32 grams, AMIRITE? Please halp ugrant kthxbye

The major difference is that the OP got the answer wrong in the first, and right in the second. In the first case, there is something to be said, and in the second, there isn't. Let's call these questions 'AMIRITE' questions (i.e., 'Am I right' questions).


The Issue

Our current — and certainly future — homework policy requires that at least questions that require some calculations and look like exercises from a textbook demonstrate some minimal effort done by the OP, to ensure the site doesn't become useless in an influx of homework questions by lazy OP's who can't bother to spell correctly.

Too little effort is harmful for the thread; but apparently, too much effort is as well. I've witnessed some questions that provide too much effort.

Take a look back at the second scenario. The answer is a yes, you're right! Is there anything to be said? Is there anything left to be said? Of course not, and seldom I have witnessed answers that do not quite match up to our quality standards and the answerer has tossed the argument I just provided. There's nothing to be said about the question, so the answer, albeit of poor quality, is meant to "close the case".

A similar outcome is a comment pointing out that the OP is right in their thinking, or wrong due to this one-line reason. Again, nothing is left to be said unless we delve into off-topic lands. At the best case scenario, we just end up with another question to throw at the heap of the unanswered.

When there's nothing to add to what the question already offers, there is no way the thread will garner good answers and result in a productive interaction, and one of the main reasons we close questions is to prevent bad answers from being given.


Possible solutions

To prevent such misfires, we can

  1. Close 'AMIRITE' questions as either homework, or dedicate a new slot to them. They're usually closed cases from the beginning anyway. We're just letting some of the other unanswered questions breathe.
  2. Officiate self-answers or CW answers to AMIRITE questions. We would either notify the OP, or make a CW answer of our own that includes the answer the OP have provided themselves in the question body, and edit it out. After all, there isn't a need to provide effort in the question if the OP is providing a self-answer.
  3. Another solution or a combination of the above.

So, what should be done? Let's discuss a policy for these.


Side Notes

CW = Community Wiki
OP = Original Poster
AMIRITE = AMIRITE
Relevant discussion: What should be done with "Is my calculation correct ?"-type questions?


$$\Huge \mathrm{AMIRITE}?$$


$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ This morning I thought I thought of more solutions than two. Whatever, I'm just forgetful. Both solutions I thought of have their own ups and downs. Closure is more consistent, but harsh. Self-answers are inconsistent, and sometimes the OP's train of thoughts is wrong but still leaves no more to be said than 'You're wrong. Good day', but they align well with the policies network-wide and the policies we have. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ Oct 20 '16 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ relevant Physics Meta discussion: meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/6093/… $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Oct 24 '16 at 17:44
9
$\begingroup$

I might as well get things started, to prove that others care too, you know...

My opinion can be summed up with a single image. This is not going to be a well-reasoned or well-organized argument, but a "me first" 5-espresso-fueled tiny rant.

Nuke them. Nuke them with extreme prejudice.

The questions themselves may be well-researched or show lots of "effort", which who knows what that means anymore. But most of the amirites I've seen are clearly homework, either plug-and-chug or introductory (general or organic chemistry) concepts that could be answered by 1. doing more practice problems, 2. finding a second textbook and re-reading the concept(s), or 3. coming to chat.

The point is that well-researched and lots of effort doesn't necessarily imply content that is useful for the site. And what do we want this site to be?

I know what I want this site to be. I don't want it to be a homework ghetto. I don't want it to be a clique of only the most elite either. I want those two to coexist without hurting one another.

Amirites will lead to a homework ghetto. They are even more shallow than "conceptual misunderstandings". Most importantly, I think that they can't be improved to provide information or insight that isn't somewhere else.

One "pro" (really a neutral point, though) for leaving them is that such questions probably won't come up in Google search results, at least with higher priority than the better content here. So then, what's the likelihood that these aren't one-off questions and will show up in someone's search results? If the questions are more general, then they can probably be edited to not be an amirite, then improved, etc.

This is part of my semi-secret crusade to blow up most homework. Can you tell I didn't like doing most of my own homework?

tl;dr Close most, especially rote calculations. If it can be edited to not be an amirite, do so.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ When we vote to close, under off-topic, there are several choices. These are the "custom close reasons" and we have three of them to play with; two of them are currently being used - the first being homework and the second being personal medical question. That leaves one free slot. Do we dedicate the free slot to amirites, or lump it under homework? $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Oct 20 '16 at 23:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Oh, I just realized how the dramatic the message you quotes is. Sheds some tears And regarding the first one, it was a 'generic' Klaus, meaning Klaus, you, and a bunch of people I missed. Anyway thanks for voicing your opinion. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ Oct 21 '16 at 6:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Point. AMIRITE questions tend to be very localized even if they're referring to very general concepts. That's an argument in favor of closing them. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ Oct 21 '16 at 6:27
  • $\begingroup$ @orthocresol I need to do more research before responding properly to this. $\endgroup$ – pentavalentcarbon Oct 21 '16 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ @M.A.R. What does "localized" mean? Too specific? $\endgroup$ – pentavalentcarbon Oct 21 '16 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ Again, this is where it would be amazing if sufficient-rep users could invite sub-20 users to chat. $\endgroup$ – hBy2Py Oct 21 '16 at 14:37
  • $\begingroup$ Penta 'too localized' used to be a close reason until it was misused a lot and removed. It basically looked like a 'this question only will help you and no one else, so we close it.' Man, all the good things should go away . . . $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ Oct 21 '16 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ @pentavalentcarbon Yes, too specific. Essentially a question that is only helpful to one person. Although that is always a rather debatable judgment. $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Oct 21 '16 at 16:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I am going to hunt for that list of old "these are the types of homework questions we receive", but I agree with the idea that it should be lumped under homework, because the ones that cause problems are homework. $\endgroup$ – pentavalentcarbon Oct 24 '16 at 3:09
7
$\begingroup$

TL;DR Close under HW policy

So, my stance is in the comment section.

My first thought is: close the question, but in the spirit of friendliness, we can still leave a comment saying "yes, you're right". What exactly do we want to close the question as? That depends on whether we want to dedicate a custom close reason to this, or whether we want to expand the homework policy to subsume such cases. I vote for the latter. This is very easy to phrase in the policy: "You must be facing an actual conceptual problem." or something along the lines of that will take care of this. Amirite people are not facing any conceptual problem, they just want a proofreader.

I think that this would be a waste of a custom close reason. This kind of questions are invariably homework-type, and by right, ought to be adequately dealt with by the homework policy.

The question therefore turns into: how do we phrase the HW policy, so that it draws a clear distinction between what we want to deal with and what we do not want to deal with? And obviously that further raises the issue of: what do we want to deal with?

That's a discussion for another time. For now, let's agree that

  1. we don't want to deal with such questions
  2. the HW policy should be modified to deal with it

If we want to implement this in the short term, before the HW policy is reworked, then we can simply add a "manual exclusion" line:

Questions to which the answer is simply "yes, you are right" will be closed.

My suggestion for the long term is in my comment:

You must be facing an actual conceptual problem.

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ There's also one other issue. I worry that introducing a closure policy to these questions would result in anything that has 'AMIRITE' in it get closed, and sometimes the questions that contain the phrase are interesting. I'm not sure how to educate close voters to use their common sense, or to draw a line between AMIRITE questions and questions that contain 'AMIRITE'. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ Oct 22 '16 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ @M.A.R. You have a point, so I had a think about it. I stand by blanket closure of such questions. If there is something worth salvaging inside, then it should be edited to make it more conceptual or otherwise interesting. In fact, the same can be really said of a lot of homework questions or poor answers, but we still close/downvote/delete them, so I don't see the need to make an exception here. $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Oct 24 '16 at 18:09
7
$\begingroup$

Turn them into canonical questions, close as duplicates.

I personally am not a big fan of these kinds of questions, as they basically already violate our homework policy, which clearly states that a question shall be conceptual. (One of the points I would like to highlight in a revised version.)
If it is already fully answered, then there is not much to be done with them anymore.
On the other hand I personally don't like closing such questions, because they might be good worked examples. Additionally I don't want to discourage these questions as they provide a nice entry to the site in general and I'd rather check a calculation than doing all the work. Unfortunately as worked examples, they are not really helpful, if the underlying concepts are not equally well explained. In the long run, this would clutter the site and makes finding particular questions difficult.
As a solution to this, like was hinted in the meta question, we might consider turning them into canonical posts. (There have been rumours, that canonical posts for certain topics are planned already. One could use exceptional examples like these as a starting point.) Newer questions relating to the same concepts should then be closed as duplicates. In principle I would apply this to all kind of study-type questions.

With all that of course the common sense quality identifiers remain unchanged. If it is bad, simply down-vote and the system will take care of it eventually.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Do we move their working to the answer section, or encourage them to post a self-answer or something like that? // I guess that making canonicals and dupe-closing is the ideal case for all HW questions (obviously the downside is that it takes some effort to organise/improve these questions), as opposed to directly closing them, which is a stopgap measure. If we were to adopt this stance, then I guess we should start discussing the HW policy without further ado, since this has implications on how we treat all HW questions. $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Nov 2 '16 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ @orthocresol that is probably best decided on a case by case basis. In principle we should try to encourage the OP to write an answer and maybe enhance it with more background. That really depends on how much work has been done. I guess the most difficult part would be making them conceptual (or generic) in the first place. Maybe I hadn't thought that through enough... $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Nov 2 '16 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, perhaps we can have the best of both worlds. Raw amirite questions can be closed under HW (or whatever the new policy is called) for not being conceptual. If OP (or somebody else) edits it to become a normal conceptual question with an answer, then we can reopen, and if the Q&A is good, use it as a dupe in the future. $\endgroup$ – orthocresol Nov 3 '16 at 9:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @orthocresol that's kind of what I was shooting for. We probably have to focus on how to close now. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Nov 3 '16 at 9:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .