Amend Gitter chatroom description to include advice against posting direct answers

This is a continuation of the discussion on the same topic on Github. I was advised to post here instead.

Having spent quite some time in the Help (and HelpJS) chat rooms, I’ve seen many instances where people (especially newcomers) post direct answers to campers looking for help with specific challenges.

I think posting answers is detrimental to the camper’s learning process in the long run. Many people just tend to copy-paste the answers posted, instead of understanding the logic involved. Needless to say, they get stuck right on the next challenge and come back asking for help, more confused than ever.

I’ve also noticed several incidents where people tend to get very offensive if we ask them not to post answers, with replies like “don’t tell me what to do” being quite common. Explaining why posting answers is not a good thing, doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.

I, therefore, propose that the gitter chatroom(s) description be modified to include a note about not posting direct answers. Just my two cents, though!


Amending the chat room description was just an idea, I’m sure you all have some more/better ideas. Let’s discuss here?

@coymeetsworld @erictleung

I definitely agree with the spirit of your suggestion, but changing the description will do little to combat this.

As with the rest of the internet, active moderation is probably the only thing that will work.

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I also agree with the above sentiments that there should be a way to curve the posting of direct answers, especially if there was no prior effort to help a camper understand the requirements of the challenge and come upon the solution by themselves or with the aid of documentation and other resources. However, the code of conduct does not take this into consideration, so there is no effective way to fully enforce this or reprimand people for this line of action.

I believe including something in the room’s masthead pertaining to not posting direct solutions might have an effect, although minimal, as the masthead description is not constantly visible, and most campers might not know of it’s existence. Another option, separate or in addition to the one above, is to have camperbot relay this message via a command. This way solution posters won’t see it as a personal affront when a fellow camper tells them to stop posting direct solutions, but that they are acting as an intermediary for fcc.

This is my line of thinking on how the camperbot command would work:

  1. Camper posts direct solution as answer to camper asking for help in a challenge.
  2. Another camper points out the detrimental effect on the learning of this action not only to camper who asked for help, but also for campers who haven’t reached that challenge yet.
  3. Camperbot command is initiated that links to a wiki that admonishes the effects of cheating others out of learning.


  1. Most of the solutions to the challenges on fcc can be found online in part or whole, so essentially, people can seek out the answers on their own regardless of it’s provided them with no effort on their part or if they have to actively search for it.
  2. The camperbot command would also need to be executed in a discretionary manner. This would mean that the executor would also need to consider the circumstances that lead to the posting of the direct answer such as:
    2.1. Was the answer only posted after several exhausted efforts were made to help the asker and showing them the answer would be a bigger help in aiding them seeing the error in their approach and/or code?
    2.2. Did the asker even make an attempt at the challenge?

A poster might challenge the executor if they deem they were in the right, but at least there will be a discourse and raise awareness amongst other campers that direct solutions should be withheld unless it’s a last resort. This camperbot command will have the same effect as camperbot’s command on code formatting - it always makes people aware of markdown and how to put it to use.

Alas, these are all just passive deterrents to posting solutions which would only slightly encourage the learning together culture that fcc wishes to cultivate, but a systemic change would need to be implemented to curtail and/or reprimand active solution posters, although it would have to be less severe than outright banishment.

definitely agree with the above… Let’s be all Socratic and ask questions until they have that ah-HA! moment and figure it out themselves…

As I replied to the original GitHub issue, I agree with the sentiments of changing the culture of giving help in the chat rooms.

Putting that giving direct answers is frowned upon in the room description would help. In the onboarding process for freeCodecamp, we could edit this line and mention something along the lines that learning is a process and people in the rooms will be guides, rather than answer keys.

Otherwise, maybe we should make a wiki for how to give help in the chat rooms.

Story time!

As a teenager, I worked at Sears in the backroom. When a person bought something like a fridge or a toolbox, they would come round the back to meet a machine with a scanner and a touch screen. Normally, they would scan their receipt, answer some questions, and my wireless computer infotron would direct me to their purchase so I could wheel it out. Well, one fine day, the once mighty scanner overlord stopped working. Clearly this meant that I, consumer slave monkey, must wait for the expectant new owners, take their receipt and search for the item manually. The screen was blank and the lights were all off, so it should be pretty obvious to anyone with a pulse that it wouldn’t work, but we all know you can’t give users too much credit. To communicate the problem to customers, we wrote a message on a piece of paper big enough to cover the screen and taped it over the whole unit. This not only told people that they could not scan their receipt, but physically obstructed people from trying. One of our first customers that day was obviously too important to be bothered with things like reading or physical obstruction. I watched as he marched swiftly down the hallway, went straight to the scanner, lifted the sign and tried to scan his receipt. He moved the sign telling him that the thing wouldn’t work, and then tried to make the thing work anyways. Noticing me standard there, he holds the receipt up. “It’s not working”, he says, sign still in his other hand. :confused:

Moral of the story: signs don’t work.

What I think would work is what I wanted to do that day: take the user’s face and press it into the written message, and don’t take it away until the user makes it clear they have taken in and understood its content. In the case of FreeCodeCamp, we could have the student read a code of conduct and then answer a multiple choice quiz before being directed to the forum or Gitter.

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That’s true, but of course it doesn’t force you to engage with those sites, just visit them. I’m not sure a quiz site would be much different.

Maybe the way to accomplish this goal would be some “coding” challenges that involve manipulating the text of the CoC? Of course, as indicated upthread, it doesn’t seem that document addresses this issue, so either another document needs to be drawn up or that one expanded. An “Academic Honesty” doc seems appropriate.

I’m still convinced that nothing short of active moderation in the chat channels will suffice. Moderators who can temp-ban people for feeding other people answers. Sadly gitter does not seem to have a command to directly do this, so it would necessitate manually banning and unbanning, which is a pain. Not to mention the amount of work involved.

I fear there’s no definitive solution for this issue, since Gitter doesn’t support post editing by mod like in Github, where often solutions are removed from comment thread.

A good step forward would certainly be writing a small COC or little description asking politely to not give away code solution to people asking them in chat explaining why it’s bad.

Finally I guess we all do need to put in little bit of effort and try to be more proactive in chat and reply to all those who give away solution, which usually don’t think it’s a detrimental habit, asking them not to and explaining why:

Please don’t provide solution, it’s not helpful for the camper in understanding his errors. Also explaining concepts is a good exercise to test your knowledge! :thumbsup:

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Just to bring it back up to the original suggestion of the post…

I’ve also noticed several incidents where people tend to get very offensive if we ask them not to post answers, with replies like “don’t tell me what to do” being quite common. Explaining why posting answers is not a good thing, doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.

there’s a few of us in there regularly and are pretty pro-active in gently suggesting not to post answers but we do get blow-back on it as there isn’t an obvious and official policy on it… knowing full well that people don’t really read lists, signs and policies, it’s nice to at least be able to point to something after having a strip tore off your backside :wink: