# User feedback on forum changes

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This is the thread for discussing the changes outlined in the announcements forum. Let us know what you think about both the forum front page and homework help.

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Isnt it a bit like ripping the front cover off a book so you can get to the index a bit quicker, Granted its more functional, but somehow it just doesnt seem right?

count me as only Half an opinion though, as I never use the front page or those areas subject to change anyway.

as for the homework help, how are we to know which is which when it comes to giving complete answers (or not), or wont it matter and we just answer all questions anyway?

Im not fussy either way.

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as for the homework help, how are we to know which is which when it comes to giving complete answers (or not), or wont it matter and we just answer all questions anyway?

Im not fussy either way.

The idea is to just allow people to answer the questions how they want: full answers or not. I don't really see a problem with that.

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My \$0.02 on the HW help are that I see a fair number of homework questions posted outside of HW help, that are then moved to the appropriate board.

Not having that may save you guys some effort in moving those around.

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I like the subforum descriptions on the front page, but I'm not exactly opposed to the change. As for Homework Help I think it's OK to remove it.

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Not thrilled with the new sample format. I have to scroll side to side to see the far right edge. I'd rather use the scroll wheel to go up and down.

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Soemthing to think about in terms of the HW forum - the mere fact we have a homework help forum might actually bring us more traffic (SEO wise). Many people look for 'homework help' or 'homework solutions', and though our policy is NOT to give out solution (but rather the method), I think it's worth a check.

Can we check how many new users we're getting out of the homwork section? How many of the search-keywords have "homework" in them?

And another thing -- Anyone can rewrite his hw question in a way that can seem non-hw and thus get the answer on any other forum, but I actually think that since the HW forum has the 'don't give answer, give method' rule, we are helping people get focus and work out problems on their own.

There's a different approach in answering a hw problem than in answering a science question, I think that the hw forum actually helps organizing our forums more and avoids messing up other forums.

That's my two cents.

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Looks good to me, kind of removes the collapse function though.

From the perspective of a student, it would seem that a homework thread or section within each category would be easier. If you want to ask a Physics question, post it under homework in the physics section. But, I don't ask or field such questions, so maybe not.

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The idea is to just allow people to answer the questions how they want: full answers or not. I don't really see a problem with that.

Homework questions need text book answers, I (and many others) would not want our speculative answers to be the cause of exam failures. Neither student nor speculator should be banned, but, they should be separated while keeping both in the Science section. Only the Trash Can should be banished to the back pages. Students benefit from reading intelligent speculation as long as it is made clear that it is just that and not something they can put in an exam paper.

That is to say that students should be encouraged to be free-thinkers while at the same time realizing the need to learn the standard knowledge bank.

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Homework questions need text book answers, I (and many others) would not want our speculative answers to be the cause of exam failures. Neither student nor speculator should be banned, but, they should be separated while keeping both in the Science section. Only the Trash Can should be banished to the back pages. Students benefit from reading intelligent speculation as long as it is made clear that it is just that and not something they can put in an exam paper.

That is to say that students should be encouraged to be free-thinkers while at the same time realizing the need to learn the standard knowledge bank.

Perhaps a note somewhere to new users about specifying which questions are homework related and which aren't?

Usually it is fairly straightforward to tell the difference, even when the poster doesn't explicitly mention it.

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Front page looks fine: but maybe I would do away with the title “science” because it makes me think there are other “categories” somewhere yet that I can’t find or see. (Giving me the feeling of “a not well laid out site”).

Meaning it should be called “Site Categories” “Our Categories” “Destinations” “Menu” etc... (in my opinion).

In regards to the homework “enquiry” - let them post wherever they want - maybe let them choose an icon or something that designates it a homework question...

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Speculative answers should NOT be given in the science sections, unless they are very clearly marked as such, and preferably reasoning given for the speculation. Psydoscience ideas should never be given as answers.

IMO pet "theories" should also not be given as answers imo, as people have a tendency to put the across as fact.

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I like it. the front page should be easy to view all at once and i've long thought that the front page here was too bulky

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Soemthing to think about in terms of the HW forum - the mere fact we have a homework help forum might actually bring us more traffic (SEO wise). Many people look for 'homework help' or 'homework solutions', and though our policy is NOT to give out solution (but rather the method), I think it's worth a check.

Can we check how many new users we're getting out of the homwork section? How many of the search-keywords have "homework" in them?

And another thing -- Anyone can rewrite his hw question in a way that can seem non-hw and thus get the answer on any other forum, but I actually think that since the HW forum has the 'don't give answer, give method' rule, we are helping people get focus and work out problems on their own.

There's a different approach in answering a hw problem than in answering a science question, I think that the hw forum actually helps organizing our forums more and avoids messing up other forums.

That's my two cents.

This is almost word-for-word my thoughts exactly.

If someone is really dedicated to getting someone else to answer their homework problem for them, they will just reword it to sound like a "normal" question. I really, really, really like having a homework section with a "no doing work for the person asking the question" rule. I think that without this rule, it invites too many people to just seek the easy way out and hope that someone on the forum does their problem for them.

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I rather like it. I'd recommend: a login section, and a blog updates section.

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There's already a login form to the upper right. Or did you mean something else?

As for blog updates, I'm not sure how we'd do that. Just a list of latest blog posts like on the main page?

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I've never seen a login form on the main page (and yes, I was logged out). Perhaps I need new glasses?

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First of all, we seem to be talking on 2 topics here. For me the "front page" is the one you get when you click "home" at the left top corner. The "index" is the one with all the subforums listed.

I personally like the front page (the one you get when you click "home"). It shows the latest posts. Since I visit quite often, it is relevant for me. But I think that a newcomer might not find the "view forums" button easily (because of the wealth of information thrown at you on the front page)... therefore removing it might make sense.

I think I like the new index (subforums listing). I have looked at it a couple of times now before answering... I guess I could get used to it. Less scrolling is always a good thing. I think that all the links might be a bit close. Using a little bit more white space between the links might make it more calm to the eyes.

As for homework. It would be nice if it remains very obvious that we're dealing with homework... so if the subforum is removed, perhaps a tag of some kind can be introduced to indicate that it's homework? I agree that it makes more sense to keep all questions in their separate subforums rather than having a big mix of questions in a homework forum.

 on second thought - I miss something on the new index. The name of the thread with the newest post! I check that all the time on the current index. In one scroll-action, I can see if there is any activity that interests me.

Edited by CaptainPanic
second thoughts
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First of all, we seem to be talking on 2 topics here. For me the "front page" is the one you get when you click "home" at the left top corner. The "index" is the one with all the subforums listed.

same here, hence my comment about ripping the front cover off a book.

again, Im quite happy to go with whats most functional and efficient with Bonus points if it looks funky too.

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Thanks for the feedback so far guys, much appreciated.

on second thought - I miss something on the new index. The name of the thread with the newest post! I check that all the time on the current index. In one scroll-action, I can see if there is any activity that interests me.

Don't worry, that will still be there! This image is of a little development forum which obviously doesn't have that many posts. I hacked around a little bit to get it to show post/thread counts, downside is there's no thread link with the hack. Generally the finished product would look a little different to that as we'll be using the styles we have here.

Since most of the comments so far have been about the HH forum, I should probably point out some of my own reasoning for wanting to get rid of it.

• I don't like the entire "this is a homework problem, we're not going to help you so do it yourself" attitude that the no homework policy brings about. It doesn't really encourage people to come here and ask questions, and at the end of the day people need help with their problems in order to advance. If they're not getting the proper support from their teachers or supervisors, then they're going to rely on places like this to get some assistance. Even if they don't stay here, Google certainly has a lot of answers out there.
• Lots of these questions in HH are going unanswered. I think that part of this is that we have gone to great pains to separate out all of the science-related topics and create new forums for them, but a homework problem of any subject type is just bunged in one generic forum. It reduces the number of replies that any poster might get, because (I assume) often people tend to stick to one area on here and don't want to trawl through trying to find relevant threads.

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• I don't like the entire "this is a homework problem, we're not going to help you so do it yourself" attitude that the no homework policy brings about. It doesn't really encourage people to come here and ask questions, and at the end of the day people need help with their problems in order to advance. If they're not getting the proper support from their teachers or supervisors, then they're going to rely on places like this to get some assistance. Even if they don't stay here, Google certainly has a lot of answers out there.

Not to try to quibble about it, but I think that your quote there is just a little off. It isn't so much "we're not going to help you so do it yourself" as it is "we're not going to do the work for you". There is a difference. On the one hand, the person is spoonfed an answer -- they really have little or no idea where it came from, all they know is that they have an answer and their instructor gave them full credit for it. What have they learned? That they can take advantage of some nice people on the Internet to give them answers.

On the other hand, by helping draw out some of the knowledge the poster probably already knows, and guiding them in the right direction, nudging them back on course when they make mistakes, but not actually doing the calculations/work for them, they at least have the opportunity to learn form the experience.

Similarly, if a person just posts a question, I think that it is fair to ask them what work they have done to answer it so far. If the answer is 0, I think that it is completely reasonable to not give them anything back.

When I was a Teacher's Assistant at university, I saw these exact same issues come up all the time. Students would come in hoping that I would show them exactly how to do the homework problems. They were hoping I'd tell them what equation to use, how to solve it, and them maybe just leave it up to them to "plug 'n' chug" by putting the problem values into the equation. I never did. If they hadn't done any work, I sent them away. I always told them that they should have at the barest minimum 1) a drawing of the situation 2) a list of the variables that are known and unknown 3) a list of the equations that may be relevant toward solving the problem and 4) a list of assumptions that may be applicable and their consequences to the equations. If the student didn't know how to answer that 1-4), then I helped point them in the right direction, but I definitely didn't just do it for them.

Look, in the real world, they are going to have a boss that is going to expect them to be able to do these type of problems. They aren't going to sit there and spoon feed them the equations and the assumptions they need to do their work. The boss and the company hired them because they are supposed to be able to do these things. The students have to learn how to do it for themselves, or, simply put they get fired.

I think that in general, the policy is working pretty well, at least the way I interpret it. I always try to get the poster to answer questions similar to those 1-4 above, and usually that gets them going in the right direction. Not always, and so it sometimes takes more specific guidance. Nothing is written in stone.

In summary, it is a small difference in words, but I think it is an important point. It isn't "this is your homework, do it yourself!". It is "we aren't doing the work for you, but let's see if we can't guide you towards the right answer".

I like the idea of tagging different threads as homework threads. In a similar idea, I wonder if the mods couldn't just move all the HH threads to their respective forums. That way, the threads are seen by each sections regulars and should get more eye-traffic. But, they are still linked back to the HH section, so that people know that the HH policy still applies to. You'd still have to put some sort of HW flag on them, too, though.

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same here, hence my comment about ripping the front cover off a book.

again, Im quite happy to go with what`s most functional and efficient with Bonus points if it looks funky too.

I guess that's the difference between a book and a magazine. A magazine will actually give several titles of several articles on its cover (if only they'd add the page numbers on the cover too, then I could go straight to the good stuff).

I believe we should consider ourselves closer to a magazine than to a book.

• I don't like the entire "this is a homework problem, we're not going to help you so do it yourself" attitude that the no homework policy brings about. It doesn't really encourage people to come here and ask questions, and at the end of the day people need help with their problems in order to advance. If they're not getting the proper support from their teachers or supervisors, then they're going to rely on places like this to get some assistance. Even if they don't stay here, Google certainly has a lot of answers out there.

There is just a category of students who are not interested, and will simply copy paste their assignment in the hope of being able to later copy paste the answer and be done with it. That is something we should prevent at all costs... both to protect the students from their own laziness and to protect the forum from being flooded with lazy students who want answers ("because their assignment is due tomorrow, please help!!" ). - (I repeat: no need for a separate subforum for homework - but we should distinguish between homework assignments and curious people with questions).

Edited by CaptainPanic
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• Lots of these questions in HH are going unanswered. I think that part of this is that we have gone to great pains to separate out all of the science-related topics and create new forums for them, but a homework problem of any subject type is just bunged in one generic forum. It reduces the number of replies that any poster might get, because (I assume) often people tend to stick to one area on here and don't want to trawl through trying to find relevant threads.

You could always create a subforum within EACH of the parent forums for Homework.

• Physics Homework Help
• Math Homework Help
• Biology Homework Help
• Chemistry Homework Help

...where each fits snugly within the parent forum.

Whatever is decided, many people are going to ask questions and get help. We're just trying to make things as straight forward and simple as possible for noobs to find where to ask and for residents to offer answers. Most people are submitting their very first post as a homework question, so trying to figure out where to put it can already be somewhat daunting with all of the existing categories and sub-categories.

Maybe keep the Homework parent forum and create topics within as subforums (per the bullet list above).

I dunno. I like the way the boards here work, as well as the caliber of the membership (which reminds me frequently just how much in this world I don't yet know or understand), so I don't have many suggestions since I'm happy.

That's my only even prime number of cents...

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I wish there was some simple hack that would allow for you to tick a box when writing a thread that it is a HH question and then it could drop into the normal forum but with a (HW) in the title or similar...

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