# Fighting exam fraud

Every so often there is a clear example of exam fraud on EE.SE, where a picture of a problem is posted from an easily disposable account (low rep, fake name) and often a message along the lines of "quickly needed".

Most of the time these questions are quickly downvoted and closed, but too often hints or solutions appear in answers or comments. Often the OP deletes her own question (and account) once the answer is found (and to cover up traces). In my opinion it is unacceptable that people cut corners with serious matters like formal education.

To counter such abuse of EE.SE I propose to introduce a 2hr waiting queue for new questions from low rep users. Two hours is long enough for most exams to pass their deadlines and is in my opinion acceptable for sincere new users. I also propose for the OP to be unable to delete ones question during these two hours.

Good questions get upvotes, poor questions are downvoted. The low rep threshold can therefore be set as low as eg. 15 or so. Too many downvotes and a user drops below the minimum rep, then the question will disappear again during those two hours. It would require fair amount of time to prepare an account with 15+ rep in advance just for use for an exam, and once an account receives more rep it gets unlikely to get disposed of because she put effort into it.

Fortunately such questions are often quickly closed and deleted, unfortunately for this meta question I don't have any good examples at hand. For those with super power, search for "exam fraud" in my comments and you'll find several examples.

• You are gender biassing your rhetoric. In fact, I think men (read tiny little boys) do this way more often. – Asmyldof Dec 1 '15 at 18:35
• I would encourage all to link suspected exam fraud questions to this question. Exams are coming up again in a couple of weeks. – jippie Dec 1 '15 at 20:35
• An extremely similar basic issue has already been addressed on META SO meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/278771/… and META SE, and the decision there seems to be that this isn't SE's problem "Do not flag questions because they are part of an ongoing competition, a homework assignment, or they somehow violate someone's honor code." rather questions should be evaluated based on their technical merit and fit for the site as questions. – Chris Stratton Dec 3 '15 at 7:32
• The difference with a contest is that you don't get a criminal record when caught for posting contest question online. @ChrisStratton As a matter of fact today, this very day, 4 youngsters were convicted in NL for exam fraud, although they used a somewhat other means of cheating than posting on SE. – jippie Dec 3 '15 at 16:49
• The idea that "exam fraud" would be a criminal rather than school disciplinary issue is very jurisdiction dependent. SE as a whole seems to have decided as a matter of policy not to be in the business of policing other people's rules, perhaps because that is a process without limit. If you really want to debate that, try meta SE. – Chris Stratton Dec 3 '15 at 17:40
• @jippie could you post a link to the exam fraud conviction? I find that extremely surprising that it even would've gotten to a criminal level. Usually institutions handle this internally. – Funkyguy Dec 3 '15 at 22:44
• In Dutch @Funkyguy nu.nl/algemeen/4176265/… – jippie Dec 4 '15 at 7:31
• what kind of exam allows anything more complex than a scientific calculator? Even sneaking them in was hard in the UK – JonRB Dec 4 '15 at 13:30
• Exam cheating was almost unheard of when I was at Uni in the 1980s Its good that people on stack are proposing to try to do something about it .It is much more of a problem these days.I would have thought that the acedimics would have realised that its much easier for students to cheat on assignments and therefore put much less emphasis on them. – Autistic Dec 5 '15 at 12:04

I agree exam fraud is a problem but I see a couple of major drawbacks with your proposed solutions:

• Something I see a lot more of from new users are genuine questions missing details such as a schematic or clear description of a problem. At the moment they often get fast feedback in comments and can amend the question. The two hour delay would often leave a crappy question around that gets closed while they're asleep / at school / at work instead of being fixed quickly so it can be properly answered.

• A deletion delay might not be such of a problem, although at the same time I've seen quite a few off-topic posts deleted as soon as someone points it out in a comment and fairly recently someone deleted a question after I pointed out it had a single character typo with the wrong case. So those save a bit of hassle over having to close a question or having questions with an answer like "Change Atan to atan".

The other thing is that a change like this would likely be a network-wide thing and similar suggestions that lead to delays in questions being visible have all been rejected because the downside from a new user perspective is not being able to get a quick answer to their problem, which for the majority of on-topic answerable questions is a good thing.

I can't really thing of any system changes that could be made that wouldn't have a negative impact for the majority of new user questions, and while Matt may not have expressed himself well by saying it's not a big problem I agree with the point I think he's trying to make that they do really make up a small percentage of overall questions.

I'd probably just stick with down votes, close votes and delete votes (when possible) to try and get rid of them as quickly as possible and discourage anyone answering via comments. I'm not an academic but surely the bigger problem is institutions allowing unfettered Internet access during an exam, I'd be surprised if there weren't fairly cheap services around for that purpose not to mention various freelancer sites.

I don't think exam fraud is really that big of a problem, and can only think of a couple examples in my nearly 3.5 years here. What happens almost daily is "Oh, I need to do this homework that's due tomorrow, but would rather play video games. I'll just ask the internet." We need to continue to dispatch those quickly.

• I agree that regular effortless homework is a larger problem, but nobody thought of an easy fix yet. Although I do think my proposal will have some minor positive effect there too. Suspected exam fraud pops up periodically and I see an increase over time as this site's popularity increases. I have seen several examples of suspected exam fraud this past half year. – jippie Dec 1 '15 at 20:31
• In many countries around the world exam fraud is a very serious thing. – jippie Dec 1 '15 at 20:38
• @jippie I'm not saying it's not serious, I'm saying I think you're overstating how common it is here. – Matt Young Dec 1 '15 at 20:39
• @MattYoung It's still worth considering, even if only as a thought exercise. – Nick Alexeev Dec 1 '15 at 23:53
• If the exams were in shielded rooms and to get a C you must crack 50% then if people cheated on thier homework it wouldnt allow them to pass the course by knowing nothing. – Autistic Dec 5 '15 at 12:10
• @Autistic Speaking of shielded rooms. There are now dogs trained sniff out cell phones. I have a friend who is retired from law enforcement. He was describing the problem with cell phones which get smuggled into prisons, so convicted criminals can work from home. – Nick Alexeev Dec 7 '15 at 22:33