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><<@lepomis.psych.upenn.edu:murphy!acmcr!vr@uunet.uu.net>> (Vicki Rosenzweig):
>>I'm not aiming this specifically at Seth Tucker and Jim Carter--it's
>>been on my mind for a couple of weeks. Basically, to what extent is
>>it appropriate for people to be posting open-ended requests for
>>information in order to do their schoolwork?
>>If you all decide I'm just being crotchety, you can ignore me. But
>>the following paragraph is _at least_ as relevant if you think we
>>should be answering such questions.
>No, Ma'am, I don't think you are being crotchety at all.  I've been
>mulling over this message since I got it, debating how to reply, or
>even to make an issue of it.  But I must agree, this kind of fishing
>for someone to do the hard work simply isn't acceptable.  Any kind of
>answer will provide at least a template for the report, if the not
>entire thing.

Well, I don't think it has become a real problem (at least yet).  It
would be nice if we had a FAQ that we could point people at.  But until
someone with the time and expertise volunteers to manage it, that's not
a real option.  There are a lot of books with misleading or outdated
information.  Some of the more rural or poor schools and libraries may
be the least likely to have up-to-date materials.  A FAQ might even be
an acceptable citation (at least for grade school use).  The posts that
specifically mention a report, should probably be responded to with
a list of recommended references (appropriate to the level of the
requestor).  I'd like to see such a list get into the hands of the
teachers that might be on this list, but encourage them to teach their
students that, as science gathers new data and ideas, old theories
(and old books) tend to become obsolete.  I'd hate to see this list
become hostile to every question that can be found somewhere in print.
Even research level questions could fall into that category.  Let's
try to treat each request on its own, and use some common sense.  If
the noise level start to increase, then maybe we'll find a way to create
the FAQ.