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Yahoo! Answers helps student cheat

Lately, I have been using the Yahoo! Answers forum as a means of promoting web sites. You can’t directly promote a site, but there are ways to do it in a subtle manner so as to not upset the powers that be. For one site, I have seen nearly 10% of the monthly traffic come from Yahoo! Answers, with very minimal effort.

In my travels in their forums, I did find out one of the things that Yahoo! Answers is helping people do. CHEAT! I had seem lame posts where people will ask for help with their homework, and others where people ask for help coming up with slogans or naming a business (talk about free marketing consulting) but for the most part I ignored them.

As I perused the forum, I found this Q&A dialog between Yahoo staff and a Yahoo! Answers member:

(submitted by stevenp9891)
Q: I’m constantly seeing multiple questions from single users that sound like they’re straight out of a text book or worksheet. It’s annoying when people try and cheat on their assignments with Yahoo Answers. There should be an option on the Abuse page for Cheaters or at least have a maximum number of questions a person can post every hour (like 2 or 3) and a daily limit.

(by Yahoo! Answers employee Katie)
A: It is not a violation of the community guidelines or the Terms of Service to use Yahoo! Answers for help with your homework. You have the option not to answer a question if you do not want to, but if you chose to answer it your post must also be within the community guidelines and the Terms of Service.

To prove that I didn’t make this up, here is the URL to the dialog:

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One Response to “Yahoo! Answers helps student cheat”

  • From what I’ve seen, and granted I’ve only been hanging out at Yahoo! Answers for a couple of weeks now, there’s not a lot of real cheating going on.

    No one offers to write essays for students, although they may help them brainstorm some good ideas, or proofread/critique what they already have.

    And as for math homework questions, since when is it cheating to have someone explain an answer to them? If their parents knew how to do senior level math, I’m sure the parents would be walking their kids through the calculus problems, step by step, just as many of us answers do.

    Yes, some kids are going to be lazy, copy steps, and make it look like they did their homework. But they’re just going to fail their tests anyway, so what’s the harm done? It’s not like these kids are succeeding because of Yahoo! Answers.

    It’s unfortunate but true — most teachers today don’t have the time to help their students really understand their homework. And, even if they did, the students who SEEM all punk and bad-ass (but who really are just teens) don’t often have the sense or skills to “win over” their teachers. But, if I can overlook some “plz help meeeee!!!” and assume that a student genuinely wants to understand something, then I can fill the void that his own classroom teacher can’t.

    It’s no different than going to a tutor — but we’re tutoring for free, on our own time, out of the goodness of our hearts. (or out of the thrill of chasing a few points.) Boy, we should be punished!! Some older teens even try to help out younger students, saying that they try the questions to see whether they can remember how to do them, or hoping they can help out a younger student.

    I was a face-to-face tutor for 18 years, and I have a special ability to connect with teens and help them succeed. Now that I’ve moved to a remote part of the country, I shouldn’t continue doing what I do best to help a few kids out? In just the week that I’ve been answering questions, I’ve already had 3 students write me to thank me and say that I explain things better than their teachers do. One wrote to tell me that he got an 87% on a test that he wrote after I explained 3 problems for him.

    If you want to look for cheaters, look for the companies that sell “example” papers for students to use “as models.” Very few, if any, people on Yahoo! Answers are really interested in sitting around doing kids homework for them.

    Besides, what you neglected to mention is that right below Katie’s post in the message thread is the original poster again, saying:

    by stevenp9891 | 5 months ago

    yea, im not mad anymore, i actually kind of like helping out the young-ones

    Even the original poster, after discussing it, realized that no harm was being done.

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