×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Shadow Scholar Details Student Cheating

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the cloak-and-dagger-academia dept.

Education 542

vortex2.71 writes "A 'shadow writer,' who lives on the East Coast, details how he makes a living writing papers for a custom-essay company and describes the extent of student cheating he has observed. In the course of editing his article, The Chronicle Of Higher Education reviewed correspondence he had with clients and some of the papers he had been paid to write. 'I've written toward a master's degree in cognitive psychology, a Ph.D. in sociology, and a handful of postgraduate credits in international diplomacy. I've worked on bachelor's degrees in hospitality, business administration, and accounting. I've written for courses in history, cinema, labor relations, pharmacology, theology, sports management, maritime security, airline services, sustainability, municipal budgeting, marketing, philosophy, ethics, Eastern religion, postmodern architecture, anthropology, literature, and public administration. I've attended three dozen online universities. I've completed 12 graduate theses of 50 pages or more. All for someone else.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

542 comments

Wow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34240840)

Wow, that guy should go to University or something.

The source of the problem (3, Insightful)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240986)

You can't really test students with projects/papers. They cheat. Even if they don't use a professional service. I spent years teaching CS students and it was always a problem. It helps to use detection software, like the system Berkeley provides. But the humanities just have to suck it up and admit that they need to give only in class exams.

Re:The source of the problem (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241140)

My wife ran into that and caused hell for an instructor.

She turned in 10 years ago a paper on a subject.

last semester she use the same topic and paper as a basis for her new class, updated it with new info.

You can not plagiarize or cheat from yourself. But it was marked as copied from another student. So she challenged the school and won.

Software makes the teacher lazy. Get off your ass and READ, you can tell if johnny pot-head wrote the paper or if he copied a lot of it.

Re:The source of the problem (4, Informative)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241254)

Many schools have a rule that you cannot use work you did for a prior class.

Re:The source of the problem (1, Interesting)

happy_place (632005) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241202)

I believe one of the reasons why students cheat on the Humanities is because we don't value the humanities and we force students to take course that they simply aren't interested in. Sure, I suppose there are those who could use these services to go through their whole education and use this as a crutch--I bet there are those that get in over their heads, but I don't see this as the trend, because eventually you have to be able to hold an intelligent conversation with people. What I believe these services do is allow students the opportunity to get through work they simply will never have any interest in--or they BELIEVE they won't be interested in. When was the last time a person with an English Degree really had value in society? And since when is essay writing all that valuable in say the techie world? Heck, this guy that's writing all these papers, probably is the most entrepreneurial English major around.

Sure professors can do more to breathe life into their subjects. Sure they can test harder and stop giving the same tests to students and using the same identical curriculum year after year (which is where most cheating in college occurs, btw... just ask the foreign grad students who have whole batteries of "study aids" that they pass around in secret). Sure they could even find new ways to teach the humanities, or they could even get rid of the requirements for those who don't value the arts of taking them... but ultimately I think mostly we just need to take a step back and start acknowledging that these classes are worth doing a good job at--even if they won't be the primary source of income for students.

Re:The source of the problem (5, Insightful)

jeff4747 (256583) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241246)

No the source of the problem is the value of the degree exceeds the value of the courses.

The piece of paper at the end is the important part, the classes leading to that piece of paper are failing to provide sufficient benefit to the students.

No engineering? (4, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240842)

FTFS: "I've written for courses in history, cinema, labor relations, pharmacology, theology, sports management, maritime security, airline services, sustainability, municipal budgeting, marketing, philosophy, ethics, Eastern religion, postmodern architecture, anthropology, literature, and public administration."

Hah! I'd love to see how this guy would do a physics or calculus paper...

Re:No engineering? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34240860)

What physics or calculus papers? Lab report maybe...

Re:No engineering? (1)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240908)

A good math class will include some research projects of some kind. For instance, I remember back in Calc 1 I wrote a report on the math behind fonts that allows them to scale (can't remember the name for it anymore), complete with code to draw and scale using the squiggly lines.

Re:No engineering? (2, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240938)

code to draw and scale using the squiggly lines.

Splines?

It's pretty funny that you wrote a report on this but can't remember the name for anything :p

Re:No engineering? (1)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241018)

Meh, it's been years since then, and I've never had the greatest memory, though if I was at home I could look it up in my old textbook. It was something named after the guy who developed the math behind it.. The only other detail I can remember is that the dude who came up with it worked for a European car company and used it to determine how to build the curves on the bodies of cars.

Re:No engineering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34241088)

Mon dieu, Google est ton ami!

Pierre Bézier [wikipedia.org]

Pierre Étienne Bézier (September 1, 1910 – November 25, 1999; [pj etjn bezje]) was a French engineer and one of the founders of the fields of solid, geometric and physical modeling as well as in the field of representing curves, especially in CAD/CAM systems.[1] As an engineer at Renault, he became a leader in the transformation of design and manufacturing, through mathematics and computing tools, into computer-aided design and three-dimensional modeling.[1]

Bézier patented and popularized, but did not invent the Bézier curves and Bézier surfaces that are now used in most computer-aided design and computer graphics systems.

But I cheated; I used to be heavy into computer graphics. That name came to me pretty quickly. Anyone who's ever gone halfway through a 3D programming tutorial would have come across Bezier curves :D

Re:No engineering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34241132)

Are you talking about Bezier Curves?

Re:No engineering? (1, Funny)

DeathToBill (601486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240914)

Exactly - when I read the list I thought, "So, nothing that matters then..."

Re:No engineering? (3, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240988)

That's flamebait if every I've seen it.

In what world do you live in that accounting, sustainability, maritime security and ethics do not matter?

Would you really like to live in a world where your employer had no money to pay you, farmers had no crops left to feed you, and pirates and foreign armies were free to invade via sea to rape your wife and daughters while everyone else either watched idly, or cheered them on?

Re:No engineering? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34241034)

That's not what he implied, the article is about writing scientific papers and therefore I assume that the parent meant that all the scientific disciplines mentioned are not important. Not the subjects, that's a difference.

Now, I do agree that is a bit harsh but I have to agree that anyone dumb Joe can probably become good at any of the above mentioned subjects -- but you would need intelligence to excel in mathematics, physics, engineering and the like.

Re:No engineering? (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241192)

It's not that they don't matter it's that degrees and the subsequent salaries that they probably command are often over valued.

Re:No engineering? (2, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240942)

He says he doesn't do anything that requires math (or video documented animal husbandary).

Re:No engineering? (3, Funny)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241050)

Note that animal husbandry is okay, as long as it's not video documented.

Re:No engineering? (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240952)

Engineering students just copy from each other. The penalties are harsh though, I had some friends that were caught doing it for one of the easiest possible classes and they were all instantly failed from the course. I've never personally cheated during my coursework, but from my own anecdotes I would say about 30-40% of my classmates were cheating. Either by copying homework solutions directly from solutions manuals, from previous years papers, or by copying the work from someone else.

People would also always be trying to cheat during exams, trying to copy other students answers or bringing in cheat sheets that weren't allowed. The intro classes were the worst, to the point where students were not allowed to wear hats in class because some students had previously tried to tape answers underneath the bill. The only calculators we were allowed were simple scientific calculators, no graphing calculators since students would try to cheat with those as well.

Re:No engineering? (5, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241002)

I had professors who simply gave every student the chance to bring a note sheet to the exam.

One 8-12x11" sheet of paper. Both sides. Put whatever you want on it. The kids who printed it up with every possible item in 3-point font failed, those who put down the relevant concepts and formulae in a quick and easy-access format succeeded, because the test was actually structured to test whether you had learned the concepts and how to apply them.

Of course, this requires that the professor isn't a lazy asshole who's been using the same, unchanged scantron-based multiple guess test for the past 20 years.

Re:No engineering? (4, Interesting)

umghhh (965931) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241204)

In my time at school some of our teachers gave us free hand - bring what you want and see if you succeed. The problem was that these were the most difficult exams of them all as they required:
  • understanding of the tested subject
  • ability to solve puzzles related to subject

And as such exams are time limited no dead tree or electronic material can really help you solve the task in time if you have no clue. These were exams I actually enjoyed as I could pass (albeit not w/o difficulties) and majority of my colleagues (the cheaters and those that learned by the letter) needed few more attempts usually.

Re:No engineering? (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241214)

Yeah, I had a lot of classes like that as well. Half my classes were actually open book, but the book didn't help you much if you didn't know what you were doing to begin with.

Re:No engineering? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241028)

A paper? He'd probably do fine. An exam however? He'd flunk it quite badly.

This is the difference between subjective and objective metrics.

Re:No engineering? (1)

crow_t_robot (528562) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241042)

The subject matter, the grade level, the college, the course—these things are irrelevant to me. Prices are determined per page and are based on how long I have to complete the assignment. As long as it doesn't require me to do any math or video-documented animal husbandry, I will write anything.

It's nice to know that our beloved engineering is safe........for now.

Re:No engineering? (1)

holamundo (1914310) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241150)

The subject matter, the grade level, the college, the course—these things are irrelevant to me. Prices are determined per page and are based on how long I have to complete the assignment. As long as it doesn't require me to do any math or video-documented animal husbandry, I will write anything.

It's nice to know that our beloved engineering is safe........for now.

Not really. There are engineering courses that do not require maths. From non-technical ones like "Engineers in Society" to technical ones like "Web Security" (of course it can involve maths but you don't need maths to write a paper on web security).

Re:No engineering? (1)

crow_t_robot (528562) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241250)

I have a BSEE and every one of my classes required a lot of Math...even Engineering Administration. Classes like "Web Security" are not engineering courses and fall more within the realm of "Information Systems", "Business Systems" or whatever they are calling it these days that can be picked up by anyone with an engineering background in a weekend.

Re:No engineering? (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241098)

Probably not well. He says he doesn't do math. It's fair enough really. Everyone can't be good at everything.

Re:No engineering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34241226)

Hah! I'd love to see how this guy would do a physics or calculus paper...

This guy would probably fail, but I'm sure there are others with a more scientific background who could do this. Coursework is trivial, as this doesn't even require coming up with new ideas. But, I'm pretty sure this works even up to the PhD level, if done properly. The key is to stay under the radar, so that no one will bother to check your results. Heck, you can even get bogus papers through the peer review process at a mediocre journal if they sound only boring enough.

However, it will be much harder to find someone in science/engineering with several years of work experience to work for only 66k a year.

It's the American dream (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240846)

If you have enough money, you no longer have to try.

By the way, I see obvious homework projects on the freelancing sites all the time now (some with the actual homework document posted). Thankfully, myself and most of my colleagues avoid bidding on them.

Re:It's the American dream (1)

Auroch (1403671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241222)

Actually, if you have money, donate enough of it to a university and get an honorary doctorate.

No science? (1)

unixcrab (1080985) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240854)

Interesting the lack of scientific subjects amongst his claims. Yes, he mentions psychology but I'm talking about things like physics and mathematics which are not that easy to plagiarise or regurgitate from other sources without justification.

Re:No science? (2, Informative)

Spad (470073) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240874)

Science & Engineering papers usually depend on new work or research, whereas a lot of the subjects he mentioned just want you to repeat whatever the current received wisdom is with your own little bit on why you agree with it

Re:No science? (1)

augustw (785088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240906)

Science & Engineering papers usually depend on new work or research

Not at undergraduate level they don't.

Re:No science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34241182)

Science & Engineering papers usually depend on new work or research

Not at undergraduate level they don't.

Really? I'm an Undergrad Engineer and I'm doing research (new, not reading and recompiling like an english major) for my classes

Re:No science? (3, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240972)

science and physics course work you can copy much easier by yourself as it's "absolute truth" from the course material(that's been running in any given university for couple of decades with the same problems and assigments). it's much harder to prove that you copied 1+1=2 than to prove that you copied sentences directly from someone else.

here's a nice plagiarism tip: use a source that's in another language than the one you're submitting in, then just translate. it's a method many many many songwriters, book authors, reporters, national heros etc have used with great success. the less has been translated to any given language the easier it is.

Re:No science? (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241082)

here's a nice plagiarism tip: use a source that's in another language than the one you're submitting in, then just translate. it's a method many many many songwriters, book authors, reporters, national heros etc have used with great success. the less has been translated to any given language the easier it is.

Yup, and the most well-known french 'rocker' who became famous cloning all the rock songs of the 50s is now the leading campaigner of DMCA-like campaigns in France against copyright infringement. Dishonesty doesn't kill and it pays very well indeed.

Re:No science? (1)

zandeez (1917156) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240974)

I earned my Computer Science degree the old fashioned way. Hard Work. This is why the World is full of people who cannot do their own job properly, because someone else did the learning for their qualification.

Re:No science? (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241026)

I suspect a combination of two factors:

1. Humanities and soft sciences, in my experience, tend to be taught in courses whose grading depends much more on take-home essays than in class exams. Unless you have a smartphone with a nice camera, and a very on-the-ball internet cheating service, you can't really cheat in class over the internet; but doing so on a take home is absolutely trivial. Math and hard sciences often have take-home problem sets, some even worth a few points; but those are mostly just drill/practice for the exams that will curb-stomp you if you haven't done the work outside of class.

2. I'm sure that internet cheating is a large enough business to support specialization of labor. The writer of TFA clearly specializes in writing. He/she probably has a good academic prose style, and good research skills, along with a jstor subscription or nearby university library. Quite possibly, he did a liberal arts or social science degree, which gave him the necessary practice; but found the job market unexciting with those credentials. Those things would equip him to produce adequate material in a wide variety of writing-heavy areas. If his skill is in writing, and he gets enough business, why would he turn away paying customers in order to brush up on his math, which, unless he has a genuinely unusual talent in the area, could take a couple of years? Presumably(and, taking a quick look at rentacoder, certainly), there are equivalent people who specialize in math, CS, and science. If his area of comparative advantage is writing, why go up against people who have a comparative advantage in other areas?

Re:No science? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34241216)

Interesting the lack of scientific subjects amongst his claims. Yes, he mentions psychology but I'm talking about things like physics and mathematics which are not that easy to plagiarise or regurgitate from other sources without justification.

It's not that much more difficult. A friend's father wrote some twelve PhD dissertations for other people for a living, in mathematics and economics, at the Sorbonne no less (not exactly a degree mill). All the while he never completed his own, for personal reasons. Basically it's all about having at least some grasp of the ideas behind it, and about being express yourself in the language and jargon of the subject.

If you know the methodology and the style of the typical paper or dissertation well enough, I don't think there is a fundamental difference between subjects. I have degrees in Oriental philology and CS, and I don't think it would have been that much easier to write a paper in the former just because it's not considered a "scientific subject". After all, knowing a language or two (to the extent that you can do critical editions of ancient texts in it) doesn't come cheaper than calculus or compiler construction. One shouldn't be too smug as an engineer - other people do hard work, too.

Re:No science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34241264)

There are forums online where this kind of activity is rampant, so there's no need to pay someone to do it for you. It's easy to ask a quick "how do you find the partial...", question. Maths are abstract enough to capture a large knowledgeable audience on the interwebs whereas more specialized topics requiring actual research would never engender such replies.

what a douche! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34240856)

"..municipal budgeting, marketing, philosophy, ethics, Eastern religion, "

guess u didn't really get the meaning of that one mate..

Re:what a douche! (1)

oobayly (1056050) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240898)

Just because he doesn't have any ethics doesn't mean he doesn't understand the concept. I studied engineering, so I've never had to write a paper on ethics. The fact you can write a paper on it gives me the feeling it more about working out how to screw somebody over while still being "ethical" in a business sense.

Re:what a douche! (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240936)

Theology is a little disturbing too.

Re:what a douche! (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241030)

heh, that was the best part of the whole article. OTOH, it's not like academic dishonesty is explicitly forbidden in the bible, unlike homosexuality, so who cares, right?

Re:what a douche! (1)

Hungus (585181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241120)

Theology is a little disturbing too.

Why? Regardless of ones particular viewpoint most theology is lies. The religious person only believes their own theology to be correct the rest are lies, the atheist believes all theology to be lies and the comparative theologian is often times just trying to compare the lies.

Re:what a douche! (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241176)

of all of them pharmacology is the one that bothers me.. that is a subject that can get people killed.

the other? eh let the people who cheated pass and then fail in real life.. but i don't want their lack of understanding the subject to get others hurt.

Re:what a douche! (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241166)

Some poor saps persist in believing otherwise(hence the usual 1-required-ethics-course-per-MBA-course-of-study...); but the study of ethical philosophy and behaving ethically really don't have much to do with one another.

There are, arguably, a few cases that are genuine conundrums, where "ethical common sense" doesn't tell you anything, and you have to call in the professionals; but the vast majority of the time the person in the situation isn't acting ethically because they know ethics, or unethically because they don't, they just either care or don't(sorry Plato).

In fact, it might actually be easier to study ethics, as a matter of philosophy, if you are an amoral sociopath yourself. For normal people, so many ethical conclusions are simply blindingly commonsensical. It takes an active effort of will to ignore that and focus on why 'ethical' is what it is. For an amoral sociopath, treating 'ethical' as a dispassionate exercise in descriptive taxonomy and constructing theoretical patterns and structures that govern it is much simpler, no emotionally salient ethical instincts to get in the way.

An analogous situation might be an atheist studying theology. An atheist doesn't believe in god, so their study of theology would have no operational relevance; but they will be fully capable of doing textual analysis of whatever 'sacred' text you plunk in front of them, in exactly the way an English major could analyze the character of 'Tom Sawyer' from the text, without believing in his existence.

Legal Cheating (0, Troll)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240870)

"I didn't much care for my classes, though. I slept late and spent the afternoons working on my own material. Then a funny thing happened. Here I was, begging anybody in authority to take my work seriously. But my classmates did. They saw my abilities and my abundance of free time. They saw a value that the university did not. It turned out that my lazy, Xanax-snorting, Miller-swilling classmates were thrilled to pay me to write their papers. And I was thrilled to take their money. Imagine you are crumbling under the weight of university-issued parking tickets and self-doubt when a frat boy offers you cash to write about Plato. Doing that job was a no-brainer. Word of my services spread quickly, especially through the fraternities. Soon I was receiving calls from strangers who wanted to commission my work. I was a writer!"

And that's how capitalism works, friends. From the smallest college to the largest corporation, cheating is profitable.
Legal cheating the way of big business in the US and all over the world. Just look at how businesses avoid paying taxes with off-shore locations, lobby for de-regulation, hire illegals, and use corporate espionage to further their relentless pursuit of profits. So what makes this guy any worse than any business in how they bend and break the rules? He just learned how to work the system for his own profit, just like every other big business.

Re:Legal Cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34240966)

So what makes this guy any worse than any business in how they bend and break the rules?

This guy's buisness relys on someone else violating the rules to exist. I guarantee that every one of those students he sells to signed an honor code that stated they wouldn't do presceisly what they're doing.

The trend? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34240884)

They're all bullshit courses and degrees! Take that, no-science majors.

Re:The trend? (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241258)

That isn't his specialty. I guarantee you could find a "him" for physical sciences. The trick would be finding a physical science course load that wasn't heavily lab focused (Note: I don't doubt you could find this, just saying it would be your first challenge).

I saw this when I was in School (1)

ndavis (1499237) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240896)

I have to say I think this is a very large problem and part of the reason why a Bachelors degree doesn't mean as much as it did in the past.

While I didn't cheat (although I was tempted at times) I had numerous friends who did. They had more free time then I did, had more fun but also didn't really learn anything from the classes they had signed up for. I think in the long run this leads to longer education times as people are forced to go for a Masters (where cheating can still happen). At the same time colleges are becoming less about learning and more about taking a students money and giving them a degree so they can get the next cash cow in.

Re:I saw this when I was in School (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34240992)

I think you missed the part where he mentions that he does masters and PhD thesis papers...

Re:I saw this when I was in School (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241198)

It's easy enough to fix though. All you need to do is have actual in-school-exams that count for the majority of the grade.

It's not as if the Internet is magical - the essential quality that enables rampant cheating, is the fact that you're allowed to do the work in a environment where nobody knows if the candidate handing in the assignment, is the same person who wrote it.

Even without the Internet, students can and have cooperated with eachothers, if I am really good in subject A and you're really good in B, the logical choice is for me to write 2 essays on subject A, and for you to write 2 essays on subject B. We both get better grades, and the odds of being discovered as cheaters are miniscule, assuming each work is actually only ever turned in once. (the only cheating they've got any hope of discovering, is where blocks or entire essays are copied verbatim or near-verbatim from one paper to another)

No STEM (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240922)

Notice there's no STEM items here (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). Highlighting that all these "soft" type courses accept, potentially, a lot of BS. (I think philosophy classes are enormously important, the root of our culture, but still... I know it's BS'able in many cases.) No wonder some students find the actual hard sciences -- that have actual right and wrong answers and require justification -- overwhelmingly difficult in comparison.

Re:No STEM (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240994)

The big difference is the amount of coursework. My degree only had a couple of modules that were more than 20% coursework, while people in humanities courses had a lot that were completely assessed by long essays. Paying someone to do all of the coursework on my degree would, even if they got 100%, only just be enough to move you up one grade boundary. The coursework was mainly there so you knew before the exam whether you really understood the subject.

To cheat, you'd need to pay someone to sit the exam for you. There were a couple of cases where students were suspected of doing this. They were foreign students with (very) rich parents who were thought to be paying someone else to basically pretend to be them for the entire degree. It's pretty difficult to prove, but it's also a lot more expensive so less of a problem than paying someone to write the occasional essay.

I think philosophy classes are enormously important, the root of our culture, but still

Philosophy is the root of our culture, philosophy classes are not.

Re:No STEM (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241102)

Replying to myself. FTA: "My customers are your students. I promise you that. Somebody in your classroom uses a service that you can't detect, that you can't defend against, that you may not even know exists."

Um, no, actually I can guarantee that no one is using your services for work in my classroom.

"...As long as it doesn't require me to do any math or video-documented animal husbandry, I will write anything."

There you go.

Re:No STEM (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241196)

The question is, though, whether there is no STEM because this guy doesn't do STEM work, or because there is less cheating in STEM...

With our cheating-outsourcer sample size of 1, it is difficult to say.

anonymous coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34240928)

don't be so smug, engineering-assholes, a little humanities would go a long way toward civilizing you.

Re:anonymous coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34241038)

We're plenty civil, we just don't like listening to people spout off bullshit like this.

Re:anonymous coward (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241076)

i know i'm not supposed to feed the trolls, but dude, you're funny! this is a prime example of irony, if i ever did see one. (get it? he's criticizing the engineering-assholes for not being civilized, thus displaying his own lack of manners? funny, right?)

It's the modern way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34240932)

Business calls it "outsourcing".

Re:It's the modern way (1)

FullBandwidth (1445095) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240976)

Exactly, I could use a little freelance work myself, and I have a Liberal Arts degree - where do I sign up?

Re:It's the modern way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34241100)

You have a liberal arts degree and you're looking for work? What happened, did McDonald's have an employment freeze?

Students will only punish themselves (4, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 3 years ago | (#34240996)

Students are placing a lot of trust in these folk. What if one of the writers sells an old laptop on eBay and the recipient posts the hundreds of essays on the interwebs. If you were to wait twenty years before doing so, you would probably find at least a few of the clients now hold well paid jobs. Similarly, these folk are at very great risk of future blackmail when their job, family and home are on the line.

Students will eventually suffer if it becomes too much of a problem. Courses will simply revert back to 100% final exams.

Re:Students will only punish themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34241266)

Someone who steals their way in life like that, will deserve every bit of pain it brings them. But the sad truth, is that someone who has street smarts, who cheats instead of study, will always fare better than someone who does not.

Nice guys finish last ...

Re:Students will only punish themselves (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241278)

Courses will simply revert back to 100% final exams.

i would have preferred that when i was in school..

my favorite part of doing classes by distance ed (even as i was taking others on campus) was that all the course work was put out ahead of time.. i would take 1-2 weeks and every night just sit down and crunch it out.. at the end of that the class was over for me except the exam..

honestly the slow pace of classes is what i hated the most.. i would much rather get them over with - summer classes where easier and more informative than normal semester classes.

if they would have had 100% finals i would just read and learn on my own and stop by to ask questions and then show up for basically any special lab/review sessions and the final - and i would have been much happier that way.

I work hard for a living (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34241000)

I've read enough academic material to know that I'm not the only bullshit artist out there. I think about how Dickens got paid per word and how, as a result, Bleak House is ... well, let's be diplomatic and say exhaustive. Dickens is a role model for me. I will write anything.

It's not implausible to write a 75-page paper in two days. It's just miserable. I don't need much sleep, and when I get cranking, I can churn out four or five pages an hour. First I lay out the sections of an assignment—introduction, problem statement, methodology, literature review, findings, conclusion—whatever the instructions call for. Amazon is quite generous about free samples. If I can find a single page from a particular text, I can cobble that into a report, deducing what I don't know from customer reviews and publisher blurbs. The subject matter, the grade level, the college, the course—these things are irrelevant to me.

The 75-page paper on business ethics ultimately expanded into a 160-page graduate thesis. It was a passionate condemnation of America's moral decay as exemplified by abortion, gay marriage, or the teaching of evolution.

I say yes when I am asked if I have a Ph.D. in sociology. I'll admit, I didn't fully understand that one. And these students truly are desperate. A few hours after I had agreed to write the paper, I received the following e-mail: "I like semin". Our lives are in capable hands.

also he may be a liar (5, Interesting)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241012)

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, why are we prepared to take it on trust that this man who claims to make his life from cheeters isn't himself cheating the system by exaggerating the extent of his abilities and achievements?

If it is easy to write an undergraduate nonscientific essay, it is even easier to fake correspondence.

Re:also he may be a liar (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241054)

So let's ask him to publish extracts of 'his' multiple theses...

Re:also he may be a liar (2, Interesting)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241118)

Which, of course, won't be plagiarised...

Except he can't release evidence because that would get the non-authors in trouble.

So we can't reasonably falsify his statement, as he is aware.

I get the feeling this man is a scientist and a troll, and he intentionally indicated that he was not writing science/mathematics/engineering papers to mock the other disciplines as bullshit.

8/10 very good effort.

Re:also he may be a liar (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241104)

i think it's somewhat irrelevant whether or not he's telling the truth, since intuitively it seems implausible that what he describes doesn't exist, from a simple demand/supply point of view (and i know the demand is there...).

Re:also he may be a liar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34241122)

Because it's written on the internet. ;-)

Notice, there is no mention of his writing bills for Senators or Congressmen. Those are only done by industry insiders, where the Senators or Congressmen get paid to say they wrote them. And the others get paid to vote on them without reading them!

Personally, I don't care how much a student cheats. What's more important is how much he learns, how easily able to get the correct answer to problems, not what he submits to professors in an artificial setting. When he starts working, as his boss, I'd want him to get the correct info fast. Now, if he wants to marry my daughter, that's another thing...

So I guess he doesn't sleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34241020)

And sort-of works for an organization more secret then the CIA. Lawrence Block is that you? Heh

Total bullshit (1)

nysus (162232) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241072)

Just the tone of the article is a giveaway. Another giveaway: google "widespread cultural, social, and economic change that would define" which he says is one of his stock phrases. Surely someone would have posted at least one of the papers he claims to crank out. Aside from references to this one article, nothing comes up.

School to Corporate Prep (3, Insightful)

mbrod (19122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241078)

It doesn't take students in higher education long to see cheating and lying are the norm, even required. It prepares them for what they are about to have to do for the Corporations.

Wonderful Article (2, Insightful)

crow_t_robot (528562) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241112)

This article is loaded with gems. This one particularly caught my eye:

I, who have no name, no opinions, and no style, have written so many papers at this point, including legal briefs, military-strategy assessments, poems, lab reports, and, yes, even papers on academic integrity, that it's hard to determine which course of study is most infested with cheating. But I'd say education is the worst.

These are the people that will be future teachers that are too inept to do their own course work that will eventually fail their own students who will in turn purchase academic papers from a professional writer. The vicious cycle continues.

This appears to be a business that will continue to boom for a long time especially considering how everyone is pushed toward college these days.

That's really amazing and conflicting (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241146)

This article gives me a very mixed feeling. On one hand, holy crap, that's one clever and dedicated guy. I'm not sure about how good is his output, but from the sounds of it, it could be pretty decent, and he takes the job very seriously. I think if he applied that towards some other endeavour he'd be worth his weight in gold. There's got to be a place somewhere that could use his skills for a better end.

What is really a pity is that what he uses the talent for is for unfairly advancing dribbling morons that shouldn't have passed high school.

Shadow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34241180)

Isn't the Shadow Broker that guy from the Mass Effect universe?

leik omg! lol! (2, Interesting)

Sean_Inconsequential (1883900) | more than 3 years ago | (#34241188)

"thanx so much for uhelp ican going to graduate to now".

He helped Lolcats graduate. Now they can "haz cheezburger and duhploma."

Honestly, I would love to be able to afford to go back to school. I would absolutely bust my ass the entire way through, and do so proudly and without complaint. This is either sickening and disappointing or i am just old and cantankerous.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...