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Computer Science Students Outsource Homework

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the what-happened-to-putting-it-into-your-graphing-calculator dept.

Education 512

Carl Bialik from the WSJ writes "'If U.S. companies can go online to outsource their programming, why can't U.S. computer students outsource their homework--which, after all, often involves writing sample programs?' Wall Street Journal colummnist Lee Gomes asks. 'Scruples aside, no reason at all. Search for "homework" in the data base of Rent A Coder projects, and you get 1,000 hits. (An impressive number, but still a tiny fraction of all computer students, the vast majority of whom are no doubt an honest and hardworking lot.)' Some of the Rent a Coder users appear to be outsourcing their way through school, at low costs--probably less than $100 per assignment. The posting are, of course, anonymous, but Gomes traces one to a student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where an instructor tells him that Rent a Coder contributed to a problem of plagiarism last semester."

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KALEB (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14506382)


Why bother? (4, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506388)

Why even bother getting the degree in something if you don't want to do the work anyway? Isn't that shooting yourself in the foot? Besides the fact that you won't have a clue what you're doing since you'll never have learned anything, if you don't have any desire to do it in the first place, why are you in the field?

Re:Why bother? (5, Funny)

19061969 (939279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506463)

They're aiming for middle management.

good experience (5, Funny) (142825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506709)

Outsourcing your homework is good experience for middle management. That way, when they get their job, they have experience in outsourcing programming and getting poor quality code back.

Re:Why bother? (5, Insightful)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506471)

Why even bother getting the degree in something if you don't want to do the work anyway?

Because Universities have become the 13th grade, a prerequisite for even unskilled labor. A bachelors degree is worth about the same as a a high school diploma was worth 50 years ago.

Re:Why bother? (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506506)

Then why not go into a field easier than computer science? Going into something technical when you don't actually want to learn it is the easiest way to get overwhelmed and fail.

Re:Why bother? (-1, Troll)

cmacb (547347) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506654)

Because there IS no easier field than Computer Science (well, OK, excluding Journalism) particularly the way it is practiced today.

Computer Science .ne. Rocket Science

But one good thing about the article, is that it reminds us that a good education prepares us for what we will be doing after we get out of school. I'm afraid standard operating procedures around many American companies will be to have the guys here write up some loose specs that can be refined and implemented over in countries where they learned how to do something more than click "Wizard" commands in Visual Studio.

Re:Why bother? (1)

DetrimentalFiend (233753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506673)

Where did you go to school? Around here CS is way up there in dificulty, though the school of technology is a subtle joke.

Re:Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14506691)

Then why not go into a field easier than computer science?

Because jobs in computer science may pay better than jobs in liberal arts fields? If you are going to cheat your way through college, why not cheat your way into a degree that will get you a decent paying job right after graduation. Then, you learn the bits you actually need to know to keep the job, without having to go though all the hassle of learning stuff you'll never need again.

Me, I'm a liberal arts graduate who never cheated in a class in my life, graduated with a more or less B average, and took 30 some years of up and down jobs to get one that pays just a little better than entry level IT.

And, being a liberal arts guy, the only reason I'm on /. is because someone told me the links to the best pr0n are here. I think they lied.

Re:Why bother? (1)

FuzzyBad-Mofo (184327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506645)

Indeed--in fact, today's college dropout is now only the educational equivalent of yesteryear's high school dropout!

Re:Why bother? (2, Interesting)

guacamole (24270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506685)

Only if your major is political science and the like. AFAIK, people in engineering, many sciences, computing, operations research, statistics, accounting, CIS, and the like are getting decent job offers because their years of study weren't wholly 'wasted' on subjects that do not find direct applications in the real life. Going back to the topic, a bachelors degree in Computer Science from a respectable university is still worth a lot. I had many friends who graduated with BA in CS and related subjects from a respectable state university in the US and all of them seem to have gotten excellent job offers right after graduation from -major- e-comerce and software companies.

Re:Why bother? (1)

peteremcc (913806) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506484)

so true average joe, especially here in New Zealand. Peter []

Re:Why bother? (5, Interesting)

general_re (8883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506485)

Besides the fact that you won't have a clue what you're doing since you'll never have learned anything, if you don't have any desire to do it in the first place, why are you in the field?

The types of people who cheat in their CS courses are likely the types of people who'd cheat regardless of their chosen field. My wife teaches history (on the high school level, though), and there's just been an explosion of plagiarism in the last few years or so - it's just tremendously easy and tempting to CTRL-C CTRL-V some website into your paper.

Of course, what these knuckleheads don't realize is that the same developments that make it easy for them to cheat also make tremendously easy to catch cheaters - there have been course sections where literally half the class has gotten caught with a hand in the cookie jar, and it really, really makes me wonder what the fuck these kids are thinking. Forget about not learning the tools for your career - some of them are bound and determined not to learn a goddamn thing, period.

Re:Why bother? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506524)

Of course, what these knuckleheads don't realize is that the same developments that make it easy for them to cheat also make tremendously easy to catch cheaters.

If I were teaching, I'd explain to the class on the first day that I not only know how to use the Internet to check for plagerism, I'm going to, and that I'll fail any and every student I catch. Depending on how I feel I may or may not actually check, but as long as the students think I will...

Re:Why bother? (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506544)

Easier than that... Just call them up randomly to walk the class through their code, and explain what the code that they ostensibly wrote does.


Re:Why bother? (3, Interesting)

Browncoat (928784) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506557)

Today my professor (a communications class) told us a story of a student she had who kept on plagiarizing, even after she failed his paper (the first incident), kicked him out of class (second incident), and let him back into class when the Dean of the department asked her to give him another chance. He cheated again after that, when he submitted his final projects. The idiot was supposed to write two papers, one on something he was passionate about, and the other was a book report.

For the book report, he copied and pasted a bunch of movie reviews together, and submitted it. For the other paper, he wrote about the history of Quakers -- who exactly is passionate about Quakers? But beside that point, she thought it looked familiar, and she found the article in some mid 80's history magazine. It hadn't been published online anywhere, but she still caught him, because she recognized it.

Futile attempt, because he had already failed the class by then!

Re:Why bother? (1)

springbox (853816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506665)

If I were teaching, I'd explain to the class on the first day that I not only know how to use the Internet to check for plagerism, I'm going to, and that I'll fail any and every student I catch.

It's good to state that upfront. My school has a very strict no cheating policy that will, at worse, fail someone out of a course.

Re:Why bother? (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506553)

I think it's a bit different between college and high school, though - in high school, you don't have a choice of what you're going to learn. They tell you, and you comply. If you couldn't care less about history (as much of a shame as it is), you're not going to do the work.

College, though, is supposed to be about choosing something that you WANT to be doing, and actually wanting to learn how to do it. It makes no sense to put time and money forth preparing yourself for a career in something you don't want to be doing. If you don't want to do the work now, what screwed up brain process makes you think you'll want to do it for the rest of your life?

If you don't want to learn anything, forget the degree. It'll be worthless for you anyway when the employer finds out that you don't know anything (even more so in technical fields). Just go get yourself a customer service job and don't bother with college.

Re:Why bother? (1)

dotpavan (829804) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506649)

imagine if the prof also did the same, and the same person (from happens to solve for the student as well, its a win-win situation for him :)

Re:Why bother? (5, Interesting)

arcsine (541576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506687)

Cheaters are everywhere, that's for sure. I was a teacher's assistant several years ago. I graded all the programs and quizes. My personal policy was to report every cheater. Generally we had them put on academic probation and removed from the class. I've caught 4-5. I only had 30 assignments to grade normally, so I had a pretty good memory of what someone did. I caught two because they had the exact same comments for their program, and upon closer inspection, had nearly the same program. The professor was a bit gunshy, and didn't have them removed from class. However, after I caught one of the students cheating with another, I at least got one removed from the class.

You have to a zero tolerance policy, otherwise students will think that they can get away with it.

Prostitute Schedule for Jan. 18 at the MBOT in SF (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14506491)

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Re:Why bother? (1)

aprilsound (412645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506580)

A lot of schools require that Engineering and/or Math majors take at least the introductory courses. If you're a major unfortunate enough to be taking Into 1 during the Spring semester, you'll more often than not be the only major in the class.

I used to tutor engineering students for $30/hour, but it gets to be a pain because they don't really want to learn it, and don't necessarily have the mindset for it.

Re:Why bother? (1)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506589)

Besides the fact that you won't have a clue what you're doing since you'll never have learned anything, if you don't have any desire to do it in the first place, why are you in the field?


I met my share of students who had no real passion for their major in college. They were simply there because they figured once they got their degree, they could rake in the cash.


springbox (853816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506650)

Exactly. The people in businesses who are making decisions to outsource programming tasks are probably not programmers themselves and do not need to understand how to write stuff. People, such as the computer science student, are ultimately going to be doing said outsourced work, and they actually need to have a clue as to what they're doing.

It's things like this that really tick me off. This is probably worse than the reason "I'm doing it for the money" when I ask people why they're getting a degree in computer science. That seems like an indication they don't have a real desire to go beyond the minimum of what's required of them.

If someone is going to cheat their way through their course work, they need to stop wasting their money and go do something else.

Re:Why bother? (1)

Sathias (884801) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506675)

They are just preparing for when their IT job is outsourced to India ;)

The objective (1)

DevanJedi (892762) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506688)

Why even bother getting the degree in something if you don't want to do the work anyway?
The objective is to postpne hardwork until it is absolutely necessary. I'm not justifying it; just telling you why things are the way they are.

Re:Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14506694)

Because the student doesn't actually want to do anything, but doesn't know how to get paid for that, and lacks the racial or socioeconomic status to acquire political office

Bigger Fish to Fry... (5, Insightful)

Chris Bradshaw (933608) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506389)

The obvious answer to the question is Hell NO! Students need to do their own work so that the University granting $StudentX with a degree doesn't loose credibility by certifying that "$GraduateX is now Capable of doing the job" when he really doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground.

What really needs to be done is for instructors to wake up and realize that most people don't even need to outsource in order to complete thier projects. After all, who needs to pay a "Rent-A-Coder" when so many instructors provide obvious shortcuts via working examples of the projects right along the assignment, i.e., Java classes, etc... Why "outsource" when you can decompile Jad, change a few variable names and viola! Project Complete. []

To really combat plagarism, instructors should focus more on theory, algorithms, deisgn patterns, etc.., and less on the actual solution to a particular problem in $programmingLanguage. If you really must assign projects, insert subtle flaws or traps in the assignment that would make the project all but impossible w/out direct interaction with the Professor to clarify requirments, etc... This would expose the weak students, the obvious cheats. and give a clearer picture of what's really going on in the classroom. Problem is there are too many instructors out there who just don't care, and aren't in it for the right reasons. In other words, they just don't care!

Re:Bigger Fish to Fry... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506555)

Students need to do their own work so that the University granting $StudentX with a degree doesn't loose credibility by certifying that "$GraduateX is now Capable of doing the job" when he really doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground.

Too late. ;-)


Design for Moral Erosion (3, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506583)

The schools keep cutting prof wages. What do they expect?

I look at this as a kind of moral erosion that will eventually lead to greater teaching discoveries.

I'm a programmer and I did all my own work through college. But thinking about this problem of cheating in a realistic light -- so what if they outsource? They should get some experience in outsourcing, and if they start early then they will be well ahead of other coders who work in a project management capacity.

That said, it's dishonest to pass work off as your own, if it's outsource material.

What profs should really do is:

1. Allow and encourage outsourcing.
2. Mark much harder on students who have outsourced.
3. Require all outsourcing meeting minutes (from RAC, MSN...etc).
4. Require superior design elements.
5. Require a receipt to keep track of how much was spent on the project.
6. Require project management reports.

This would give coders an idea of what it's really like, plus it will keep students from learning to become great liars (which really hurts us all).

Eventually computers will simply case out most code for us, so teaching coders to be casers is not really that enlightened, and yet most schools pound these kinds of requirements into students, dulling their wits and making them crabby.

Teaching coders to see the big picture will only come from a strong project management regiment, which is currently missing from most major programs. To them it's more about the lexicon, than the abstract understanding!

Re:Bigger Fish to Fry... (4, Insightful)

freaks_and_geeks (773345) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506707)

If you really must assign projects...

If? Look, maybe I'm just dumber than the average engineer, but without projects, I don't think I would have learned a damn thing in my Computer Science courses. It's important to discuss the theories of CS, but you won't survive in the real world without some practical experience.

The projects also help reinforce what you've learned in class. Talking about object inheritance models is all well and good, but the benefit really hits home when you find yourself copy/pasting code all over the place. Talking about compiler theory is all well and good, but it's not a whole lot of help when gcc/javac has spit out some errors at you,and you've never seen them before.

In short, someone who hasn't written much code at the college level will have a very rude awakening once he's out of school. Those who have cheated their way through the projects should not make it past the technical interview at a decent company, and even if they're hired by a second-rate one will be exposed within a week.

Let them do it. (4, Insightful)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506390)

Go ahead and outsource your homework. When you graduate and get a job, your company will realize you don't know anything and outsource your job to the same people. I've seen it happen. []

Re:Let them do it. (1)

wesw02 (846056) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506443)

me too, i work at a dot com, as an intern and I seen people come in with degrees that know way less than me, and are like linux, programming, is this new?

Re:Let them do it. (4, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506513)

Or, you can become a consultant and bid out jobs locally, then have Indians do it for next to nothing. After four years of doing this at school, you would be pretty good at managing such projects.

I know a few consultants in my area that don't do any programming anymore. They have a team in Asia and a team in Eastern Europe working on their projects 24/7. It's not a complete retirement, because you do have to negotiate cultural barriers (such as what "I need it tomorrow" means), and you are not within ass-kicking distance of the people you are relying on.

I'll keep in mind (2, Insightful)

wesw02 (846056) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506391)

I'm a C/S student at WSU in ohio, I'll keep that in mind when I am in the middle of my exam and I don't know how to write a program.

Really thought whats the point of going to college if your not going to learn it?

If that's your approach... (4, Insightful)

ThaFooz (900535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506393)

...why not be a buisness major instead? I mean, if you're not really passionate the work, why not pick an occupation that a) pays more and b) is easier to fake your way through?

Re:If that's your approach... (1)

conteXXt (249905) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506481)

and me with out mod points.

Love the "fake your way through" part.

The truth in this rings so clearly.

If that's your approach...Bearing False Witness. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14506610)

"...why not be a buisness major instead? I mean, if you're not really passionate the work, why not pick an occupation that a) pays more and b) is easier to fake your way through?"

One question for you.

How do you know it's easy to "fake your way through", or "pays more"?

You must have tried then so you could give us your expert opinion.

RE: Bodies Celestial (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14506395)

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let em do it (1)

ilmdba (84076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506397)

and nail them on the final. what's the problem?

Re:let em do it (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506433)

Wonderful idea. Especially if it's:

1) in-class (obviously)
2) a significant portion of the grade (get a low score, and you're screwed)
3) something that can be done in a single class period ONLY because it makes heavy use of the other projects that you've turned in during the year (so people who didn't program them to begin with will have no idea how they work)

Sadly, I've run across a lot of teachers that just don't care enough.

Re:let em do it (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506620)

Sure that works, but if you RTFA, the one example they used was a take-home final exam.

The only reason to give a take home exam is if it's going to require more than three hours (or however long your exams are) to complete.

Anything else is pretty much asking for some of the students to cheat or work together on the exam.

Likely not a problem overall (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506401)

Most geeks *want* to learn. They don't want to steal code
to pass a class. However, stealing (borrowing) GPLed code
is expected (why re-invent the wheel?).

Re:Likely not a problem overall (2, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506470)

However, stealing (borrowing) GPLed code is expected (why re-invent the wheel?).

There's a pretty big divide between utilizing some code someone else created to help solve a problem and outright getting someone else to do your work for you. Let's face it, there's enough easily accessible code out there that someone can cobble together a program in relatively easy fashion. Of course, it would take effort to actually assemble a bunch of "free" code to make it work. Is it any wonder that so many script-kiddies out there copy and try to utilize virus code, only to do such a bad job of it that the virus doesn't work?

Re:Likely not a problem overall (5, Insightful)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506499)

The times are gone when most people in CS are geeks.

Many, many, *many* are in it for the money, or because people keep telling them computers are the place to be. I'm in computer engineering myself, but I've had to take up through jr level comp sci courses, and in each and every one I see people who fail to exhibit basic programming knowledge, or only a middling skill level in using the computer in general.

Re:Likely not a problem overall (4, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506613)

Many, many, *many* are in it for the money, or because people keep telling them computers are the place to be. I'm in computer engineering myself, but I've had to take up through jr level comp sci courses, and in each and every one I see people who fail to exhibit basic programming knowledge, or only a middling skill level in using the computer in general.

And a lot of them are just mildly ok at math and figure you have to major in SOMETHING. I mean a lot of them wouldn't feel passionate about anything, but you have to pick a major, so why not computer science? Why does everyone here think that computer science is a field of study so noble, so exalted, that it and only it should escape the mediocre masses that muddle along in any other field? I mean, plenty of those English majors don't read books outside of school, and plenty of those engineering majors never even looked at a schematic they weren't assigned in class, and plenty of those astronomy majors don't even own telescopes. Just have to learn to deal with the mediocre people instead of urging them to go infest another field.

Re:Likely not a problem overall (2, Funny)

genner (694963) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506692)

Ok you had me until you said astronomy majors.
It's not like there out for the money.

Obligatory Dilbert quote:

Kid:What's a black hole?
Planetarium worker:Well my career would be one example.

I knew these guys... (1)

dasil003 (907363) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506402)

There were always several of these types in the low level classes I took when I got my BS. Why would you take computer science if you didn't actually want to learn it? There are much easier degrees to get, and almost anything would be more useful than csci if you don't plan on actually working with computers when you graduate. I mean seriously, what good could come of it?

Disgusting! (5, Funny)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506403)

Why in the old days we had to post the problems on USENET and hope not to get *plonked*! Kids today are sooo spoiled.

Re:Disgusting! (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506501)

LOL... I haven't seen that term *Plonked* in a loong time.

along with ROT13

$100 per assignment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14506408)

I couldn't afford that as a student. We need better rates.

Re:$100 per assignment (1)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506440)

Replace "assignment" with "beer and a good chance of getting laid" and I'm sure $100 would be affordable :)

You're only cheating yourself (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506413)

It baffles me why people would buy "Strategy Guides" to games that they own. It isn't like the games are designed to be undefeatable without them. Much of the point of playing the game is lost if you are told exactly how to win it.

Homework is no different. If you don't do it, or cheat on it, no one loses out except you. In the real world, asking for help and passing off work to others is common. There's no test at the end where you aren't allowed to bring notes or ask someone for more information. It's all a group effort outside of school. So what's the problem with skipping a few assignments? The problem is that you don't learn anything, and you don't get any practice reinforcing what you've learned by doing the projects. That's your own loss, not anyone else's.

Re:You're only cheating yourself (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506467)

A lot of the people that I've run across who buy strategy guides are "completists". People who have some sort of obsession/compulsion to get every single item/spell/power/whatever in the game. The type of person who has to play games multiple times ONLY because a few items are mutually exclusive from each other. If I ever designed a game, I'd make a bunch of different endings and mutually exclusive items just to bother these people ;) (That said, I've bought a couple strategy guides myself, but damn it that FFXI guide is just so pretty.)

With homework, it's a little different, as these people are likely to be the ones not only making their project, but making it absolutely perfect.

I think I'd liken it more to cheat codes - an easy out that completely removes any sort of challege from the game (at least with strategy guides, you still have to be somewhat decent at playing).

You're only berating yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14506532)

"It baffles me why people would buy "Strategy Guides" to games that they own. It isn't like the games are designed to be undefeatable without them. Much of the point of playing the game is lost if you are told exactly how to win it."

Try Schizm: Mysterious Journey then you'll have your answer.

"That's your own loss, not anyone else's."

Nothing happens in a vacuum. Even consequences.

Re:You're only cheating yourself (4, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506575)

The problem is that you don't learn anything, and you don't get any practice reinforcing what you've learned by doing the projects. That's your own loss, not anyone else's.

No. It's everybody's loss. These losers devalue the degree of Computer Science. Employers are starting to realize that a lot of these dolts don't really have any clue at all, and this alters their perceptions of CS graduates in general. I put in the long hours and hard work to really earn my degree, but many do not. Employers are not blind -- they realize that a lot of CS "grads" are total nitwits. This might lead them to believe that I am as well.

"You're only cheating yourself" might be true in high school but certainly not at the collegiate level. These sorts of people piss me off.

Re:You're only cheating yourself (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506667)

The nitwit is not the student but the professor who is using homework assignments as a basis for grades.

How hard you work is never a basis for anything. The only thing that matters is results. A lot of couples try to work out their differences. Many times, no matter how hard they work at things, the problems they have persist. The end result is that their problems are never resolved and they eventually split up. The problem isn't how hard they work, but that they can't reach a successful conclusion. If you work your ass off and fail, you can't argue that you're better off than someone who sailed through and succeeded. It only means that you have less aptitude than the person who does better than you.

If a student can pass exams without having cracked the textbook or glanced at the homework assignments, they should pass the class. It goes without saying that perhaps they should have probably taken a different class where they might have learned something, but that's not the point. The point is that the only thing you should be graded on is how well you learned the contents of the course. That can only be accomplished at the end of the course when all topics have been covered. Everything before that is only a means to teach the course topics (homework) or to judge the progress of the class as a whole (mid-term exams).

A degree is just a formal announcement that you have understood some area of study to a certain level of mastery. If professors will pass a student who fails a final exam because his homework was good, that's a problem with the professor, not the student. And yes, if your school has nitwit professors who do this, then your degree is worthless.

Re:You're only cheating yourself (1)

LardBrattish (703549) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506599)

It baffles me why people would buy "Strategy Guides" to games that they own. It isn't like the games are designed to be undefeatable without them. Much of the point of playing the game is lost if you are told exactly how to win it.
I'm time-poor. I like gaming but I simply do not have the time to figure out some of the oblique puzzles in RPGs or have to revisit places to pick up key items I missed the first time around, so I buy (or find on the web) a strategy guide & I get more new experiences/hour than if I had to figure it out for myself.

I could have finished "Baldur's Gate" without help but it would have probably taken twice as long and I would have missed a whole bunch of cool stuff. Cheat codes are a different beastie I don't use them to complete games. Although I did use them to recreate my BG1 character to inject into BG2 after a HD crash took out my only copy of the BG1 savegames...

Silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14506416)

why can't U.S. computer students outsource their homework ?? Mainly because (despite what students might say) the purpose is for the students to do the work and learn from that, not to get a finished assignment/program. Whereas a company isn't so much as interested in the process as it is in the finished product.

Cheating (4, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506429)

Well, cheating is cheating, whether you get to use the work from a classmate or from someone in another part of the world. And if someone is really determined to take the easy way out, there is not a whole lot you can do to stop them; I doubt the majority of cheaters in college ever get caught (but allow for the fact that stupidity probably is a major factor in the need to cheat to begin with so that by itself increases the capture rate).

But what happens afterwards, when they're looking for a job and blow every interview since, well, they don't actually know what they're talking about? My guess, they blame the outsorcing trend for their failures...

Re:Cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14506614)

The statement that most cheaters never get "caught" is somewhat true, but not quite accurate. The problem is that the school has to be able to prove that the cheater cheated.
Unless the cheater is extremly stupid, or caught in the act, it is not possible to prove anything.

If have seen such a case where two students who had been sitting next to each other during the exams had given the same wrong answer. Nobody else (out of 400 others) made the same mistake. However, the school could not do anything because it could still be argued that the two same wrong solutions are due to a coincidence. It could also be that the students only copied this one question, in which case it does not matter much since the answer was wrong.

To summarize, it is harder to punish cheaters than one thinks, but in the end, if such students graduate and cannot deliver the required work, they will realize that they cheated themselves.

Outsourcing your job won't be an option... (1)

Phae (920315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506430)

I'm sure you could pay anyone to do your programming for you whether they're in another country or across the hall... but that's not the point.

If you're going through programming classes and not trying to learn programming, then why are you taking the classes in the first place?

I may have missed something, but I thought the whole point of paying thousands of dollars to take classes was to actually learn something, not to pay more money to have someone else learn for you.

If you manage to get a comp sci degree without learning any programming, then congratulations, but don't expect your boss to care what your degree says when they learn you can't even make a "Hello World" program.

Exams?? (3, Interesting)

Freaky Spook (811861) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506438)

If I was to pay someone when I was at uni to do my Java assignments for me, apart from the good mark I could have got it would have been bugger all help for me in my exam.

Going to a Java exam armed with a pencil and my brain was all the help I had, and by doing my assignments during the semester i learned everything i needed to know to pass my exam.

Cheaters will get found out eventually, if they manage to pass uni, they will not get very far.

You can only bullshit your way through something for so long before you hit the wall.

great idea! (5, Funny)

pohl (872) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506439)

I want to become a really great guitarist. Maybe I can hire someone else to practice all those tedious scales, arpeggios, and chords. When they're done, I'll be able to play like Steve Vai!

Saw this on Elance too (5, Funny)

zjbs14 (549864) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506446)

I saw an Elance posting once for an obvious CS student project. Funny thing was that I recognized the professor's name as being from my alma mater, so I sent him an email with the project link.

Th better part was that the student also used his real name in the listing.

Cheaters (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506462)

Before anyone forms an opinion they should watch a movie called "Cheaters". []
It made me think differently about cheating.

Sure... (1)

MP3Chuck (652277) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506465)

"the vast majority of whom are no doubt an honest and hardworking lot."

If by "honest and hardworking" you mean "getting their homework from a knowledgeable friend rather than outsourcing" ... then yea. ;)

Not a major concern (1)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506468)

This happens all the time without pay. Hasn't everyone here been assigned to a group project, and one or two of the four members pick up all the work? And they don't get paid a dime to do the work of others -- they do it because they need the mark. It is pretty similar to the situation here, minus the renumeration and plus the frustration.

Academic integrity aside, this isn't really a problem for the workforce. These student's will either not make it past the recruiting stage, and if they do, will likely be filtered out of the system when their superior's realize these graduates are useless.

Re:Not a major concern (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14506543)

Are there any jobs open where you work?

Cause that sure doesn't sound like anyplace I've worked at. :>(

Re:Not a major concern (5, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506597)

I had a teacher that let you decide your own groups, but with the understanding that along with the final paper/presentation/whatever, you would 'grade' your fellow group members.

You had 100 points to split up between everyone in the group and he'd add up the seperate 'grades' for each student and then multiply the final grade by that number.

So if the group paper was worth a 74% and your group 'grade' was a 94%... you'd get a 70%

It gave you the opportunity to penalize the asshats who weren't pulling their weight. And the people who did outstanding work could get a grade higher than 100%.

Re:Not a major concern (1)

siriuskao (614113) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506666)

True, that why a buddy of mine always volunteer to do documentation (class diagrams, proposal, any paper work) whenever he is doing group assignments. He hates programming and can't program, he only finished computer science because he was 2 years in and did not want to waste the credits he took(he was also doing a dual degree in Economics as well). By volunteering doing documentation he was able to survive group evaluation.

The confusion over plagarism. (1)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506472)

When I took a C++ course back in 1996, I was writing all my code on a Unix system through the shell. Everyone was, that is how the course was taught, and that is how I got started with Unix/Linux.

However, having come from an English and Biology major background, I was really confused when on one assignment the instructor praised one student who had used some GPL code to complete his assignment, in fact, all most all of the code was borrowed. The instructor told me about how code reuse was a good thing.

Given that he had a big beard, we worked on Unix, and we all had to use Emacs I think you can see which side of the camp he came down on. But before I really understood how code is used and shared (or not as the case may be) I was confused to no end how plagarism was acceptable in writing computer code.

Now that I understand how the GPL works, and why re-using code is a good thing, it makes more sense. Still, if you can do your job by outsourcing your job... well... I almost want to say more power to you.

I guess I don't totally agree with the above statement. But I guess what I really learned is that in school co-operation and simple solutions to problems are discouraged because instructors need to evaluate your performance. In the real world as long as the goal is accomplished, most people generally don't care about the means.

Integrity.. (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506478)

Why not? Because doing so violates the academic integrity policy of every last university in the nation, and as such makes you subject to anything from instant F in the class to being expelled.

One would think that's a good enough reason, considering the student is paying for the privilege of being in college.

Delegate (1)

schlichte (885306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506490)

A lot of this went on in a game design course I took for Lead Game Designer. A lot of us (students) found others that excelled in certain areas and used it. After all, we were "Lead" designers. Cant code? Well this guy can code direct-x drivers. Cant even draw a stick figure? This guy can not only draw amazing art, but he knows how to design and animate the 3d models as well. Everyone traded talents and a lot of collaborating went on.
We didnt just buy work or have it done for us, it was always a team involvment. We all taught and learned from eachother.
Its one thing to have it done for you, its another to get help in exchange for help, backing one anothers weak areas and helping to improve them.

School Work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14506492)

Though I guess this would be useful if I wanted more time, I would much rather learn how to do it myself, and as an added bonus I get to keep my $100 bucks.

Some instructors make it too easy (3, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506496)

I took the time to RTFA. In the first example, a student who'd been more interested in night life than their studies found somebody to fill out a take home final exam. Letting the students take the final of all things outside the classroom is simply begging for them to cheat. If not this way, some other, such as getting help from an older friend. That instructor should be fired, unless there's tenure involved. If so, simply don't assign him or her any more classes. Let them strut about with their title of Professor, and their tenure, if they want, but unless they're actually teaching, I doubt they're going to get paid, and they won't be giving any more good grades to cheaters.

Re:Some instructors make it too easy (1)

magicchex (898936) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506655)

You'd be firing alot of quality instructors I have and have had while at school if you implemented your plan.

Re:Some instructors make it too easy (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506702)

I disagree strongly. If someone wants to cheat, they'll find a way, whether the exam is in-class or take-home. It's not the professor's fault for expecting his students to exhibit a tiny bit of integrity.

A nation of managers....*shudder* (1)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506502)

It really looks like we're (unwittingly?) creating a nation of managers whose only goal in life is to have a lot of money, live in luxury, and pawn off all the work to other people.

Students are presumably going for CS/IT degrees to get those "high-paying" jobs by managing their outsourced schoolwork. Imagine a world of Office Space Bill's -- I shudder to think. But sadly, I see this more and more - why do/learn it when you can pay someone else to? Odd no one stops to think about where they'll get the money to pay someone to live their life for them?

It's funny... (1)

mtDNA (123855) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506536)

I used to get really frustrated about those cheater types when I was doing my degree. Of course, now they're making $15 an hour in data entry while I'm pulling $110k in design...

(And you young whippersnappers who think $15 an hour is good - think some more.)

Oxford tutorials (3, Interesting)

ScaryMonkey (886119) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506546)

I did my undergrad at Oxford (granted, it was history, not CS, so maybe slightly offtopic here) but the system in use there is a good model of how to eliminate this kind of problem. You write an essay (or program as the case may be) and then sit down and get grilled about what you wrote for an hour with your professor. If you are bullshitting, or god help you plagiarizing, it becomes obvious in about two minutes. It's not perfect, but you really have to focus on understanding, rather than regurgitating material or producing a set amount of text.

These days, sadly, a lot of people complain that this system is too "archaic" and "inefficient", which makes me wonder what exactly is gained by "efficiently" pumping out graduates who don't remember anything about their subject when finals are over.

Entrepreneurship and "example" code (4, Insightful)

keilinw (663210) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506549)

I have a few thought on this:

First of all, it is probably morally wrong for students to have "other" people do their work for them. However, sometimes it really helps to have some "example" code from which to start learning. I'm torn between the two teaching methods but I believe that a good balance is necessary.

As an Electrical Engineer I was forced to learn to code (despite that fact that I really don't enjoy coding that much). I found that sometimes when a student jumps feet first into something they have a really steep learning curve. If they start with sample code and then get weaned off of it then that would be effective.

Ironically, "some" of those idiots were blamed for plagiarism! Oh how sweet justice is when students learn "Quality Control" through cheating.

On the flipside, I've seen arguments here that those students wont get anywhere in the workforce. I could imagine a scenario where individuals outsource their "personal" assignments (in the workforce) to India :) Hows that for Entrepreneurship? One can telecommute and then outsource all of his work to India....lets just hope those fools don't violate any NDAs!

I know I'm ranting but its my style.... I feel that I'm at least semi-on topic and that, at a minimum, made an attempt to say something interesting...

Matt Wong

Productivity (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506690)

Yes - working examples are usually very helpful. They greatly boost ones productivity.

Especially on the Windows platform. Microsoft documentation can blather on and on and cross-reference a plethora of other items without once giving a simple example. If a picture is "worth a thousand words", working "hello world" programs, with all the logistical hoopla for the target platform, are worth two pounds of documentation.

Many a time I have trolled the Internet for an example of something I needed to do in software. Often I would find an example that was close to what I needed. Out of dozens of "samples" only once have I been able to use what I found without completely re-writing it (lots of "example" code is not "professional" - logic tied to the UI, no error handling, just plain wrong in some cases, etc. etc.) Of course, if I do use anything even close to the original code I find, I have no problem keeping/adding proper attributions/credits/etc.

I think it would be perfectly fine to hire someone to write code for you, as an example to learn from - it's no different from hiring a tutor. But turning it in as your own work? Only if you are a business major, not a CS major :-)

There is a difference between the theoretical world of "jump thru this hoop to get result x", and the practical world of "get result x". The difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, I guess.

Ethics of cheating (3, Interesting)

gv250 (897841) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506564)

It is obvious to all of us that cheating is unethical from the cheater's perspective. It only hurts yourself, it isnt' fair to the others, yada, yada, yada.

But, is the transaction unethical from the perspective of the industrious coder whom the cheater hires? Does the rent-a-coder have an obligation to look beyond the color of his client's money, and into the content of his character?

From the article, we see that Rent A Coder has "tried but failed to curb the practice before." Is Rent A Coder obliged to try to stop the practice? Are they obliged to try harder?

In the long run it doesn't matter (1)

Vilim (615798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506577)

As other people have said, perfect on every assignment won't help you in the midterm and the final. I am a physics major and I have seen the same sort of stuff, students will download the assignment solutions for next years classes and hope they are the same (often they are), or order the solutions manual from the publisher (alot of them are suprisingly lax in who they send it to).

Personally I find that sort of pointless, sure it means I can get 100% on the assignments, but when the exam is worth 55% of the mark and the midterm is worth 20%, that doesn't amount to much. I generally learn the course by struggling through the assignments, no matter how little they are worth. When it comes time for the final I have significantly less studying to do.

another way cs education has changed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14506581)

now with everyone equipped with a webcam or digital camera geeks can see if the vixen on the other end is a troll or not. I had to drive 5 hours to an all woman's school once to find out.

ah, to be young again. i could outsource my work so i could concentrate on my primary focus, getting laid.

You guys are looking at this all wrong. (0, Flamebait)

theCSapprentice (921974) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506588)

If I'm good at programming, why shouldn't I be able to SELL my hard work? Isn't that what capitalism is about? Supply and Demand. I have the supply - they have the demand. Now I agree that they should be punished if caught using my code for a project - but I have no problem selling it to them. It might be wise to include some small hidden sig - just that if someone complains I can prove its my work. Hell, I should put a EULA on it - "YOU AGREE NOT TO USE THIS FOR ANY SCHOOL ASSIGNMENTS".

No surprise (1)

crazylocks (939464) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506591)

Considering the work I've seen from some Masters and Doctorate level graduates, I'd guess this has been going on for years.

Sure, Live a Lie (1)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506593)

I suppose if you did outsource your homework, you would then get killed on exams because as other people have pointed out, you would be a practical dunce. But, let's say you didn't fail the exam and went out and successfully passed yourself off and got employed. You would then end up living under the stress of being found out. Ultimately that's one of the biggest problems with being a fraud, the fear that you will be found out and nailed. Every time you hear someone is going to be canned, you will have the nagging fear it will be you, and every time you get a difficult assignment, you will sweat bullets whether you can handle the assignment or not. Look closely at people you know lie a lot, they are not happy people. Makes for a crappy life. Stress kills and the lies we tell are one of the biggest sources.

I love to Pick Easy Money Up from Stupid US Studs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14506600)

This question is like the question "why dog lick its balls?" the answer is because it can.

Just remember... (1)

dcapel (913969) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506604)

to edit out the copyright notices and comments in other languages :)

I'm serious about the copyright notice though; one time in school, a kid copied a major assignment verbatim... so verbatim he forgot to take off the big 'ol 'by Bruce Proctor' off the top.

When he read it in front of the class, the teacher was very impressed (the student is not the best ever :D), but as he was talking out the door, you hear a bellow of " Bruce Proctor... SYED!"

Good times ;)

plz (1)

dotpavan (829804) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506606)

could somebody post on my behalf for a week, I got finals. and yeah my karma has to increase, shall offer $XX

MOSS + Common Sense = Failure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14506608)

First of all any computer science program worth anything at all will keep all previous assignments and run them through Moss [] . If your school doesn't do this your degree probably isn't worth anything anyway.

So now all those outsourced coders need to have a fresh implementation for each sale.

Second. Most upper division CS projects take a lot of time. I mean it's like a full time job. Not even most ace students could bang one a completely new version on top of their own course load. Most of these projects are simply not designed to be completed 100%. So that leaves professionals. And even if a student could afford a professional's rates a professor could spot a professional's work instantly. Either they would use some toolkit or framework or if they were good enough to bang it out without one then the work would be too good to be from a student that would not be familiar with the material before taking the course. Or even if that was a question a 5 minute interview would tell him the truth.

But now for the bad news. Most CS degrees ARE NOT worth anything. Most do not do due diligence. Many professors are not qualified to catch a cheat. Many professionals today are total frauds or grossly incompetent.

You pay money to a university to get "damn good" at something. If you want to be a fraud just fake your resume. Lots of people do it. I've met them. Especially if they are from other countries that do not speak English. How is your manager going to call India to see if you really have a degree from IIT and 10 years of experience as an architect? How is a behavioral interview going to find out if you really have a 2 year certificate and worked as a junior programmer for 2 years?

Nothing. But the barriers for entry are really that low out there.

Outsourcing is a skill. (1)

bronney (638318) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506629)

I know the dudes who outsource are probably not gonna get thru finals. And I agree to siblings that yes we pay thousands of dollars to learn. But there're so many noobs in college that have no clue why they're there. They don't know that they're there to learn and merely view the education as a process they must go through in order to head for the big world.

For these students, you can't talk them into the learning theory. They won't buy it. Perhaps they're rich, perhaps they don't know what they want to learn. But time goes on and they must hand in that assignment anyway. I've seen it happened countless times.

Now you can't deny that outsourcing (or using whatever means possible) to get the job done is a skill in itself. The art of hiring people might actually got billy gates where he is today.

Wrong Major, obviously (5, Funny)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506641)

It's fairly clear that particular person should've majored in Business Administration, not Computer Science.

Prices (1)

gsmalleus (886346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506663)

Rent Me! Cheap Prices! $10 for Hello World!

Like all good drugs .... (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506671)

sometimes the first one's for free ... for all those new incoming southern hemisphere comp sci students here you go:
#include "stdio.h"
printf("hello world\n");
carefull though ... also like all good drugs, going cold turkey can be a killer

Re:Like all good drugs .... (1)

gv250 (897841) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506700)

Wow. Three bugs in five lines. Bzzzt.

#include <stdio.h>
int main(void)
  printf("hello world\n");
  return 0;

What about the garbage can by the printer? (1)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506672)

When I took my programming classes, I rocked and wrote good code. I found that some other students were stealing my discarded code printouts from the garabage can in front of the printer. I eventually figured out they were stealing my work and left them a present :)

At the end of the semester, our lasy TA left our graded final project folders and CD's in a box in the hall outside his office and mine was stolen before I could collect it. No matter what you do, the slackers of the world are going to find the path of least resistance whether they beg, bribe, borrow, or steal to get it done.

The good news is that these losers won't last long when they are actually forced to do some work on their own and end up dropping out of IT or shifting to the call center or PC support. Academic dishonestly is a huge problem through all degree programs. I put the blame squarely on beer, women, Microsoft (Xbox), pool tables, bars, casinos, money, cars, P2P applications, sporting events, and general lack of caring. If we could just get rid of all these useless distractions and make academic dishonesty punishable by death, I think students could focus better.

Had this one too (1)

Regnard (803869) | more than 8 years ago | (#14506677)

As a freelancer, I often get cold calls from clients. But in more than one occasion, I was contacted by a group of graduating students who needed a system up IN A WEEK'S TIME for their final requirement.

I declined, of course, but I can't also help but sympathize with them (Hey, I was a student too). What struck me is that they reached THAT far in to the semester to realize that they can't deliver or needed any help.

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